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Balancing Work and Motherhood: Can Moms Really Have it All?

Women have made tremendous contributions to our country’s workforce, but being a boss lady has its challenges – especially for women who want to advance their careers while raising a family. Balancing work and motherhood can feel overwhelming, impossible, and downright exhausting. The good news is, families can benefit greatly from having a working mom. Though you may never feel perfectly balanced, there are ways to make your dual roles a little easier. 

So what can working moms do to balance their careers and motherhood?

1. Make mornings easier

Mornings are especially hectic for working moms – getting everyone dressed, fed, cleaned up, and dropped off, all before you have to clock in. While you can’t completely avoid the morning chaos, you can decrease the stress by preparing the night before. Make lunches right after dinner, lay out clothes for the next day, fill up on gas if needed, and fully stock backpacks and briefcases before you go to bed.

2. Talk with your employer

It can be scary to ask your boss to accommodate your family’s needs, but many of today’s employers realize that being family-friendly is essential for employee retention and growth. Brainstorm some ways that you could better balance your work and home duties and present them to your employer for consideration. 

A few examples:

  • Leaving an hour early to pick the kids up from school, knowing you may have to answer some emails from home after bedtime  

  • Scheduling meetings early in the day so you don’t miss family dinner

  • Allowing you to work from home when your child is sick

  • Designating a private place in the building where you can pump every few hours

  • Allowing you to keep your cellphone on your desk in case of calls from daycare

3. Make “away time” special

There are ways to make your child feel that you are with them even while you’re away. Put sweet notes or corny jokes in their lunch box, give them a “good luck charm” from mom to carry throughout their day, or consider buying one of those recording storybooks so your child can hear their favorite story in your voice while you’re at work.

4. Get real about guilt

As a working mom, you’ve likely felt guilt about missing your kid’s soccer game or skipping family dinner for a conference call. You may think, “If I didn’t work, I’d be a better mom.” But remember that stay-at-home-moms also feel guilt, just for different reasons. They may feel inadequate for not contributing financially or being unable to constantly keep the house clean and the kids entertained. Keep guilt in perspective by remembering that with or without a career, no mom can give 100% in each area of life at all times.

5. Aim for quality over quantity

While some believe it’s best for moms to be home, there is no scientific evidence that a mother’s employment negatively impacts her child’s development. Factors that are influential are your family’s emotional stability and the quality of childcare your kids receive. Rather than fretting over not spending every moment with your kids, aim to make your valuable time together special.

Some fun ideas include:

  • Reciting positive affirmations together before you start your day: “I’m going to do great at work/school/dance/camp today!”

  • Singing “car karaoke” on the way to drop-off

  • Dance parties or other active play

  • Nightly story-time

  • Having your kids help with making dinner 

  • Backyard bonfires on the weekend

  • Practicing mindfulness exercises together to release stress

6. Prioritize relationships

If you’re married or in a committed relationship, make an effort to connect with your partner on a regular basis. You may feel guilty for going on occasional date nights when work already keeps you from your kids a lot, but children benefit tremendously when their parents enjoy happy, fulfilling relationships. The same goes for friendships – even if it’s just once every few months, get a girls’ day on the calendar from time to time. Feeling the support of loved ones can reduce the stress of juggling work and motherhood.

7. Believe in the benefits

Working moms may envy the time stay-at-home-moms get with their kids, and stay-at-home-moms may envy the fulfillment of building a career. While there are unique benefits to each lifestyle, try to focus your attention on the many advantages of being a working mom, including:

  • Modeling a strong work ethic for your kids

  • Less financial stress 

  • Allowing your kids the social & educational benefits of childcare

  • Empowering more independence in your children

  • Being less prone to depression than stay-at-home-moms

  • Getting a break from your kids, making it easier to be patient and engaged when you’re with them

  • Daughters of working moms are more likely to achieve higher education, supervisory roles, and higher incomes

  • Sons of working moms tend to spend more time caring for their family members when they grow up

  • Your house is probably cleaner – no one’s home all day to mess it up!

8. Take comfort in “temporary”

Whatever your situation is today, remember that it’s temporary. Maybe you’re working long hours to advance to the next stage in your career, but this sacrifice will mean more financial security and time with your family down the line. Or maybe you turned down a promotion to be there for your kids, and feel some regret over not fully “leaning in” to your career. Remember that today’s sacrifices are temporary and things may change drastically as your kids grow older and you progress in your work.

9. Look inward for acceptance

Regardless of how much or how little you work, there will always be someone out there who will tell you you’re doing it wrong. Stay-at-home-moms and working moms are both the victims of judgmental jerks from time to time, so it’s important that you reflect on whether your lifestyle is what you believe is best for your family. It can be difficult to let others’ opinions go in one ear and out the other, but remember that what’s best for someone else is not necessarily right for you.

10. Get support

Let’s face it, mommin’ aint easy! Whether you are a working mom, stay-at-home-mom, or work-at-home-mom, there are many challenges that can make you question whether you’re giving your kids your best. If you’re struggling to balance the demands of your family and career, our specialists can help you decrease your stress and support your family.

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More about Variations Psychology

Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.

Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).

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References:

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McGinn, K. L., Ruiz Castro, M., & Lingo, E. L. (2019). Learning from Mum: Cross-National Evidence Linking Maternal Employment and Adult Children’s Outcomes. Work, Employment and Society33(3), 374–400. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017018760167

Miller, C.C. (2015). Mounting Evidence of Advantages for Children of Working Mothers. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/upshot/mounting-evidence-of-some-advantages-for-children-of-working-mothers.html

Norr, S. (2015). 10 Ways Moms Can Balance Work and Motherhood. Parents. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/parenting/work/life-balance/moms-balance-work-family/

Shinn. M.M. (2018). Am I An Emotionally Intelligent Parent? 6 Tips for Moms and Dads to Boost Their EQ. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/am-i-an-emotionally-intelligent-parent-6-tips-for-moms-dads-to-boost-their-eq

Shinn. M.M. (2018). 6 Tips to Prepare for Your Teen’s Independence. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/6-tips-to-prepare-for-your-teens-independence

Shinn. M.M. (2018). The Unexpected Loneliness of a Stay At Home Mom. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/the-unexpected-loneliness-of-a-stay-at-home-mom

Shinn. M.M. (2019). How Can My Family Master Mindfulness? Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/how-can-my-family-master-mindfulness

Shinn. M.M. (2019). Get Moving! 10 Reasons to Engage Your Kids in Active Play. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/get-moving-10-reasons-to-engage-your-kids-in-active-play

DeWolf, M. (2017). 12 Stats About Working Women. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved from https://blog.dol.gov/2017/03/01/12-stats-about-working-women

How to Cite This Blog Article:

Shinn. M.M. (2019). Balancing Work and Motherhood: Can Moms Really Have it All? Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/balancing-work-and-motherhood-can-moms-really-have-it-all