More motherly advice on how to balance your family and career.
As any working mother can tell you, balance is deceiving, and it is more of a juggling act than a crisply conducted orchestra. The balls in the air are: children, entrepreneurship, friends, happiness, health, “me”, relatives, spouse, and work. There is no specific order of importance; in fact, I put them in alphabetical order to avoid ranking the “balls”.
In part 2 of this series I would like to point out certain life themes to help you juggle day to day controlled chaos.
Be Proactive not Reactive
Life has changed since being a carefree undergrad and going to class, practicing lacrosse 4 hours a day, studying, grabbing a bite with friends and making my way to party here and there. TIME IS NOT MY OWN…however I can control it, by planning in advance when possible.
I am a room mom in two of my four children’s classrooms. I have made strong connections with their pre-school teachers over the years and it gives me a chance to have my finger on the pulse of the class without being there for every drop-off and pick-up. I plan in September with the teacher and other room parents the special events throughout the year. In that regard, I can schedule my operative days months in advance around the END OF THE YEAR SHOW, for example. The less that I can add to my calendar at the last second for my children’s events the more I can attend.
Proactive also comes to giving balance to my husband’s life. He has a demanding professional job, is an incredible father, and certainly would like to spend time with his friends over the weekend. So, when the word “golf” comes up, (don’t roll your eyes yet…) we have been trying to plan in advance so that I have someone to help take the children to birthday parties and sporting events when they take place at the same exact time. We share our calendars on our smart phones so that we know the family’s and each of our schedules at all times. When golf is entered in the calendar 2-4 weeks ahead—and doesn’t just pop up the night before, I am prepared for the day. I may even make it an opportunity for my mom to come up and visit and plan a great day with all of us at a Summer Fair. Be proactive at scheduling all events in the calendar.
Also, have back-up plans! Someone is going to get sick, work may run late, karate belt testing may pop up tomorrow. Find out which relatives or neighbors may be able to help out in a pinch. Is there a last-minute nanny service that may solve the conflict? Do you have a babysitter that can also work some extra hours as needed—or maybe a couple in a rotation? It is nice to have someone that your children know and trust. Family is certainly wonderful, but when that is not an option, a babysitter or two who have been working with you for years is a lifesaver. It is nice to have children get to know a couple babysitters throughout the years so that if one cannot help then they feel comfortable with someone else.
Praise Your Children
This truly seems like the most obvious phrase, but it is a goal I have when I walk into my home after work. Try to find something your children are proud of from their day and tell them how amazed you are at their accomplishment. Your day may have been full of stress and you may still have 4 hours worth of work to do that evening, but it puts a smile on everyone’s face when you start off in the right mindset. It could be as small as asking “Who made the cute glitter popsicle stick animal at preschool?” or “What job did you have today at school?” It gives me a minute to focus on what my children are learning, to understand how my children are using their creative minds, and to feel good about being a mom.
The juggling continues and probably more balls will be added to the routine at any second. Whew! No doubt that IT IS WORTH IT!
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