There is no denying that working mothers are great at multi-tasking. However, between work, staying on top of chores, and helping children with schoolwork, one starts to realize there are not enough hours in the day. The to-do list never ends and people become desperate to find work-life balance. I’ve been there.
Striking the right balance of professional and personal life can be challenging. In the past, I have gone through my own obstacles and frustrations. Being committed fully to my growing businesses and family while somehow finding time to do the things I love has been daunting. The good news is that it can be done. We can all strike a balance.
Over the years, I have learned some valuable lessons that help me manage my time and energy more effectively to care for my daughter, manage two growing businesses, and squeak out time to pursue my passion for endurance sports.
Below are 5 tips that helped me balance my role as a mother, entrepreneur, and triathlete. Hopefully you will find them helpful too.
- Have a plan. Planning is crucial when you’re trying to balance your personal and professional life. As an entrepreneur, I don’t have a typical 9-5 schedule, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a set schedule for myself. Planning my day so it is structured ensures I’ll have the time to do everything I want (or need) to do without letting hours slip away doing menial, low-priority tasks. There is no “one size fits all” method, but an effective planning tool – whether an app or paper and pencil – can help you stay organized, manage your daily to-do lists, and help you stay on top of your goals.
- Start early. Sometimes, no matter how much we plan, it seems there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and the pandemic has only made this more complicated and challenging. For example, a paper published in Gender, Work & Organization found that mothers of young children reduced their working hours four to five times more than fathers, widening the gender gap in hours from 20% to 50%, due to COVID-19. As a working mother, I have learned that in order to get things done I need to get up early and find some time for myself before things get chaotic. This way I start my day calm and refreshed, rather than jumping out of bed in a frenetic state.
- Set attainable fitness goals. In other words, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Everyone has an idea of what their idea of fitness looks like. Endurance sports happens to be mine. It helps me to destress, and over the years running has actually given me more energy to tackle my daily chores. Running has also helped me maintain a sense of balance. Initially, I started running to lose weight after giving birth to my daughter. Despite my best efforts, I could not give it continuity. Eventually I realized I was setting myself up for failure by putting too much pressure on myself. I had to take a step back and start looking for ways I could enjoy working out and create attainable fitness goals.
- Be patient with yourself. If you’re experiencing guilt that you’re not giving your 100% to your professional and personal life, you’re not alone. Many of us have felt this way at one point or another. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s more adaptive to be patient with myself in navigating life challenges. There’s only 24 hours in a day, and sometimes you can’t get everything done, and guess what? That’s okay. Don’t be so tough on yourself. There will be another chance to get it done.
- Forgive yourself. Sometimes it feels that society puts constant pressure on us to do more, be more, and give more to all areas of life all the time — something that’s impossible. In fact, studies have shown that women’s experiences of pressure toward perfect parenting are related to higher levels of guilt and stress. There will be times where you’ll miss your child’s game because of work or not attend your colleague’s farewell party because your child needs you home. Life happens. Don’t burden yourself with undue guilt. Give yourself the permission to press pause and forgive.