Having a full-time job while juggling the responsibilities of being a mum and wife can lead to a lot of stress. It’s hard to strike a balance between your work and family life without potentially affecting one or the other. But sometimes, we need to learn how to take a step back and learn how to create a proper work-life balance.
These women share their secrets to how they manage their time between work and their families.
1. Being organised is everything
“You have to be organised with your time, both at work and at home, otherwise you’ll find that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it. This means knowing what you’re doing every day of the week and prioritising certain activities over others.
My children usually have enrichment classes and sports events after school and on weekends, and my own work schedule is quite packed as well. I can’t see to my kids if I have to stay behind at work, meet a client in the evening or have a fitness class to attend, so I make sure to keep to a strict schedule, not just on weekdays but on weekends as well.” – Gemma, 35, designer
2. Leave your work in the office
“We all want to excel at our jobs, but this doesn’t mean overworking yourself – especially when you don’t have to. When I was a teacher, I used to bring test papers and worksheets home to mark, but I soon realised that this ate into my personal and family time.
So I left my work where it belonged – on my desk – when I clocked out for the day, and did my best not to think about or deal with work-related issues when I got home. It’s important to set boundaries between your work and home life, and this is something that only you can do.” – Robin, 42, stay-at-home mum
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3. Spend quality time with your spouse
“When you’re a busy career woman and have children to attend to, it’s easy to neglect your spouse. But this is dangerous because once you and your hubby stop communicating and no longer spend quality time together, you run the risk growing apart.
So my tip is, no matter how busy you are, set aside time for your husband every single day. You don’t have to go on a date or even have sex – you can just spend 10 minutes sharing your day with each other and updating each other on whatever’s been going on in your lives. Don’t talk about the kids or work – you want to keep the focus on yourselves.” – Doreen, 39, editor
4. Be present in your kids’ lives
“Kids grow up really fast, so it’s important to be there for them every step of the way. My mum worked so much when I was a child that we hardly spent time together, and then I became an adult and moved out of home. She was never there when I had news to share or when I needed help with my friendships and relationships.
I promised myself to be the mum I never had, so I make it a point to listen – really listen – to my kids when they want to talk to me, and to find out what’s going on in their lives, who their friends are, what their teachers are like, and so on. As a result I feel close to them and know that I’m doing my best as their mum. And when I know that I’m at least trying to be a good mum, I find that I can function better at work.” – Lisa, 40, graphic designer
5. Ask for help at home if you need it
“Too many of us try to be “super women” – we want to be there for our spouse and kids, be the perfect boss or employee, and be a domestic goddess, all at the same time. But that’s just not possible. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’re the one who’s going to burn out in the end. So, just do what you can, and if you can outsource some of the work to someone, by all means do it.
Most of us have helpers these days, but if you don’t, it might be a good idea to hire someone to come in once or twice a week to do the most time-consuming household chores for you. Or, if your kids are old enough, involve them in the housework and cooking. It’ll take some of the burden off of you so that you can manage your time a little better.” – Marrell, 39, product manager
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at work
“If you’re struggling with your work assignments and your deadlines are keeping you from seeing your family, talk to your boss about how you can better manage your workload. Hopefully your boss gets where you’re coming from and will find ways to help you maintain a more sensible work schedule.
From my experience, the best way to get your boss on your side is to be open with her about your family life. If your kids haven’t seen you in days because you’ve been stuck in the office, let your boss know. Even the best employees sometimes fall behind because they just have too much to do, but if they have an understanding and realistic boss, they’ll be able to come up with practical solutions to such problems.” – Jacqui, 37, office manager
7. Take time out for yourself
“If you want to be effective at home and at work, you must first take care of you. This means managing your time wisely, knowing when to say no – or yes, and knowing when to slow down or stop. As a mum who does freelance work from home I’m always busy and running around. If I didn’t take a few moments for myself a few times a week, I’d go bonkers!
My self-care ritual involves meditating first thing in the morning, going to the gym after sending the kids to school, and engaging in some mindless activity on my own in the late afternoon or at night. I’d love to be able to go to the spa every other day but I can’t afford it, so right now, to relax, I’ll knit, bake cookies, make flower arrangements, or sip on a cup of tea while staring out my window. Find out what helps you wind down and allow you to focus on yourself for a while, and make time for it.” – Carolyn, 41, stay-at-home mum and freelance writer