Thursday, December 22, 2016

Life as a working mom: Top tips to help you improve your juggling skills

I'm a working mama. I've always been career-driven so when I became a mother six years ago, a lot of changes and adjustments and soul-searching were done. I tried full-time work, I tried exclusive stay-at-home mommyhood, I tried part-time jobs and freelance work, and now that my youngest son has weaned (more on that soon!), I'm actively looking for a full-time job. I now know I'm so much more fulfilled when I'm working—with or without kids, whether I need to or not, and whatever the job may be. I just really like working!

More and more moms are working. Going to work every day gives you a sense of purpose, some time to be you, and of course financial independence. To stand on your own two feet financially is one of the most empowering joys in life and I believe every woman should have this. 

However, working and raising children can be a juggling act—and mothers get a lot of criticism for daring to be more than wives and mothers. How do you find time to do everything? Is it cruel to leave the kids in preschool or with a sitter? Is it ever possible to find a solution that benefits everyone? If you’re a working mom, here are top tips that I've used which will hopefully help you achieve the balance that works for you and your family.
My Baby Magazine job was perfect because we all worked from home and met at the office once a month!
1. Choose the right job.
If you already have a job that you love, you probably don’t want to give it up. If this is the case, there are alternatives to looking for a new job. You could ask your boss about reducing hours and working part-time. Or you may wish to consider working from home instead of spending every day at the office. More and more people work remotely, and this can help you to strike a balance between enjoying your work and being there to bring up your kids. When you work from home, you have more flexibility. You also save time on your commute, and you can adjust your working day around your parenting commitments. This is my life now! It's absolutely amazing, but I'm ready for something new now that the kids are more independent.

If you’re looking for a new position, try and opt for child-friendly options. You don’t have to change careers completely but look for ways of making your working week more flexible. I know a few moms who took a nursing job for newborns, for example. This actually pays really well! And they get to take care of cute babies, too. It's not exactly like a nanny job, it's more like an experienced mom helping out a new mom. If you love helping out people but working in someone else's home doesn’t suit you, consider other health care vacancies

2. Work near home.
With our terrible commute, people spend up to 6 hours in traffic. That's 6 hours you could've spent with the kids! So much time is wasted just being stuck in traffic and that makes us moms exhausted—physically, mentally and psychologically. So if your dream job is three cities away and your boss won't let you work remotely, you might consider looking for work nearer your home. 

That's my plan. I'm looking for jobs based in my residential community. I'm also considering jobs near my sons' school. It will definitely make it convenient for us because we can go to school together, go home together, and I'll be near in case of emergency.

3. Learn to say no.
When you’re single and you don't have children to rush back to after your working day, you may be more eager when it comes to taking on extra work or working overtime. Yes, do that while you can! But when you're a parent, you’ll quickly learn two things: Your time is precious and you can’t do everything. 

One of the best lessons you can learn is how to say no. You have to prioritize when you have children, and they always come first. Moms actually learn this quite fast because our lives will fall apart if we're not efficient, and ruthlessly so. So many people depend on us—and if you're a working mom, even more people count on you. We need to plan every minute of our day and if something—a project, a favor, work taken home, a night out yet again with co-workers—takes up too much of our time, it makes us less efficient. Worst of all, it takes us away from the most important people in our life. So say no. And don't feel guilty about it!

4. Make the most of your time.
Children grow up rapidly, and before you know it, years have passed, and they’re toddling off through the school gates. This is why working moms feel so much anguish about having a career. Now, I believe that the presence of both parents is vital in their children's lives, especially in the formative years. That's why my husband and I chose to work from home the last 5 years. But not all of us can work from home, so don't feel bad if you do work. Your job puts food in your kids' tummies, clothes on their back, and everything they need. That's a good thing! Be proud of it, mama!

As a working mom, you have limited time with your kids, so make sure you take advantage of every minute. Organize days out, or have fun together at home. I love going out on weekends with my kids—just a simple lunch out and a movie makes everyone happy. If my project allows it, I take my kids with me to work. 

Being stuck in traffic isn't so bad because I get to spend so much time with my kids!

Many of us are working moms trying to establish a balance between work and being a parent. It’s not easy to get it right, especially if you work full-time. However, there are ways of making life easier. Plan ahead, manage your time effectively, and try and come up with solutions that enable you to be more flexible at work. Learn to say no, and make the most of the time you have together as a family. 

Creating happy memories doesn't mean you have to be with your kids 24/7. In fact, I've found that when we spend too much time together, we get annoyed with each other. Just make sure you carve out special times with your kids and be truly present when you're together. Good luck, fellow working mamas! We can do this! 

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