I have working mom problems. Specifically work/life balance problems. I can’t tell you how many times per week I leave work in a flurry because I’m late for something to do with my family. It could be a special family dinner, an important milestone at AJ’s karate class, dr.’s appointments, whatever. I’m always late. I find myself driving waaaayyy above the speed limit literally having a panic attack because I’m going to miss this memory that is about to be made.
I work in public relations – client services industries are hard. Communications is also hard, there are crises, there are product launches, etc. All of these things have defined dates so the work has to get done. I’ve never been able to, literally my entire life, have never been able to just get up and be like “see ya”. Why? Because I don’t have the power within me to just get up and walk out in the middle of something. How do working moms do this?
I’ve developed a few tips that I have found to help me with work/life balance. But I’m going to be honest, I still struggle in this department. I’m not perfect – in fact, FAR from it but these are a few things I’ve found to help.
- Your inbox isn’t a deal breaker. I heard Anne-Marie Slaughter speak at an industry event (I think it might have been SXSW) and she said, “If your inbox is at zero, your priorities are in the wrong place.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. I used to come home from work every night and clean out my inbox. It always needed to be at zero. I’ve since stopped this process. My inbox currently has 2019 unread items. I do try to clean it out while I’m in flight for work trips, but honestly, I miss emails. I simply can’t get to them all in a given day. Sometimes I write back to people weeks later but there are only so many hours in the day. I need to spend some time with my family and I need time to do things I enjoy – like this blog!
- Communicate early and often with your significant other/child care provider. I’m very lucky that my husband is home with our kids but I’ve learned that if I wait until 5pm to tell him I’m going to be late that doesn’t not go over well. It takes second to send a text that simply says, “I might be late.” I find that when I wait until the very last minute to make arrangements that is when I have even more anxiety.
- Make opportunities for and with significant other. I travel for work. I go to work dinners. My husband is home all day with a 5 and 2 yr old. He wants adult interaction as well. I encourage him to go to classes, go to dinner or drinks with friends – just get out of the house. Along these same lines, I also make a point to do things often with my husband, just him and I. We don’t do a regular date night but I do plan at least a night away every 2-3 months.
- Create “special” activities with your kids. I learned the hard way on this one. After Rosie was born, my husband and I didn’t make enough time for AJ and he was upset. We’ve since made an effort to do one-on-one things with the kids. Even if for AJ, that means tagging along with dad on a trip to Home Depot or Rosie coming with me to the post office. These don’t have to be huge activities – even a trip to SkyZone is a good option.
- Be open with your co-workers. If you need to leave early to go to your child’s art show. Just tell them. People react much better to honesty. When AJ started pre-school, I wanted to be able to take him so that I could have some role in his school, meet his teachers, etc. I explained this to my boss and it was totally fine. I skip a formal lunch break or just tack on my time at the end of the day.
I’ve seen Elon Musk speak about spending time with family and recently read this medium post from ustwo. I think this style of taking large chunks of time is the way to go. What are your thoughts on this?
I would love to hear any tips you have. I’m really trying to work on this challenge. So if it is tips about how to communicate to my husband, or how to deal with the guilt (both mom and work guilt), I’m all ears!