The topic of balancing work and motherhood could fill several encyclopedias! And yet many of us feel anything but balanced during those years with young children. In my practice, I talk to new moms every day who tell me about the unexpected challenges of the triple whammy: caring for young children, attending to their personal needs, and dealing with the demands of their jobs. When I was writing The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book, my assistants and I interviewed over one hundred mothers about pregnancy, work, and that ever-elusive “work-life balance.” Here are some strategies that many moms have found helpful when dealing with the inevitable challenges of parenting while holding paying jobs.
Be proud of your juggling abilities. Although you may sometimes feel overwhelmed, step back and look at all you're achieving. By handling it all, you become an inspiring role model for your kids.
Learn to live with guilt. Most moms feel guilty when dividing their time, attention, and loyalties between home and work. Accept that you'll sometimes feel conflicted, and then move on.
Think creatively about work options. Try to negotiate work hours that fit with your whole life. Ideas include part-time, flextime, job sharing, and having your partner work less and parent more.
Find child care that works for your family. Learn about your childcare options as early as possible, and pick the one that will free you physically and emotionally to do your best on the job.
Have backup child care at the ready. Plan ahead for when (not if) a child care crisis will arise. Some ideas: visiting nurse "sniffle care" for mildly sick children; trading child care with other parents; getting you or your partner's boss to allow an emergency day off.
Simplify your domestic life. Shop online; redistribute housework between you and your partner; have dry cleaning, groceries, or drugstore items delivered; pay for a lawn mower or house cleaner.
Be efficient and organized. Spend the last few minutes of your workday preparing for the next morning. Keep only one calendar and coordinate with your spouse--doctor appointments, kids' activities, work obligations. Put clothes out for the next day; make lunches the night before. Pick up toys just once a day.
Book grown-up time. When life gets busy, you need to schedule time for yourself or you won't get it. Nurture your relationship. Rather than role modeling mom-as-martyr, model an adult with a balanced life. A happy parent has happy kids.
Do a reality check. Periodically reassess how your arrangements are working for you and your family as a whole. If you're miserable, make changes. Saying "no" to people who want too much of you is okay.
Things every new mom should know: click here
Remember to enjoy life. Take pleasure in your children. The time you have as a parent of young children passes more quickly than you expect. Think of parenting as a gift, and make time for fun with your family.
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Marjorie Greenfield MD is a practicing board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, and associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center MacDonald Women’s Hospital, Cleveland, OH. An esteemed expert in her field, she is the author of The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book (Yale University Press).