The life of a working mom looks different for everyone. Some working moms seem to have it all together. They can breeze through life without ever losing their calm all while maintaining a perfectly manicured, immaculate presentation in all areas of life. The rest of us would glare and throw peanuts at her image of perfection if only we had a free moment to take a breath. We’re constantly on the go, stressed out, and usually a mess.
What is it that makes the working mom life look so easy for some but so stressful and chaotic for others? Most of the time, the calm, cool, and collected moms have developed strong habits that serve to make their lives more manageable, organized, and peaceful.
Before we get to far, I want to make it clear that the life of a mother is hard. Ridiculously hard. Throw in a full time job, school functions, church and volunteer responsibilities, and a marriage to maintain, and the life of a working mother is next to impossible to survive. Even the calm, cool mom who has it all together is struggling in some ways. It is not “easy” for anyone and we should never buy into the lie that there is some image of perfection and ease that we can someday hope to attain. It will always be hard, there will always be stressful, chaotic days.
However, it doesn’t have to always feel like we’re drowning. Life can actually be really fun and beautiful and enjoyable, and most importantly, it should be all of those things. If you have spent far too long in survival mode, just trying to keep a million balls in the air, it’s time to take a deep breath. Take a step back from your crazy, chaotic life and develop some habits and strategies that will serve to bring more calm and order to your life so you actually have a chance to enjoy this one, short life that you have been blessed with.
Here are five key habits for working moms that the most calm, cool, and collected women you know have likely mastered. If you are struggling to keep your calm, take a few minutes to consider your circumstances and determine which of these five habits are missing from your life, and start finding ways to develop them today.
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I’m not talking about weekly trips to the spa for a massage, facial, and express mani and pedi, those are called indulgences and treats. They are nice to have, but not a requirement for self-care.
When I talk about self-care I mean things like eating nutritious foods, drinking a lot of water, staying active, and getting enough sleep. Self-care is also about doing things that refresh us which might include reading a book, spending time with friends, listening to music, or just finding a few minutes of quiet and calm each day.
Have you heard the saying “You can’t give from an empty cup”? You have a lot of responsibilities on your plate, you’re juggling a lot of things. The only way to keep up with everything you have going on is to bring your best self to life, every single day. The way to do that is to prioritize taking care of yourself over everything else. It might feel like you don’t have the time to worry about self-care, but I promise you, if you take care of yourself, you will have more energy, more focus, and more desire to get everything else done.
Self-care and self-prioritization is not selfish. By making sure you are healthy, well rested, and refreshed, you will have far more to give to others. It makes you a better person, a better mother, and a better employee. Just try it for a while and you’ll see what I mean.
Just say “no”
Your boss asks you to work on an extra project that’s going to require extra hours and extra travel time in the coming months. The church asks you to head up a new committee. Your kid’s school wants you to volunteer in the classroom once a week. The cheerleading coach wants you to assist with practices. That new friend wants to meet for coffee to discuss her new business venture. You’ve been invited to yet another fundraiser next week.
The list of people pulling for our time and abilities is never-ending. You have limited resources. Yes, you want to be a good employee, mother, friend, and all around person, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything you are asked. You have the option to say “no”. Always. You get to make the call. It is your life. You are the only one who gets to make the final decision for how you live your life. Don’t give control of your life to everyone and every opportunity that comes along.
Recognize your priorities and what those look like. Just because God is your first and ultimate priority in life, doesn’t mean you have to serve on every single committee that does good things in your community. Talk to God and find out exactly where He is leading you to serve (or not serve), and then say “no” to everything else.
Your kids are really important to you. You already miss out on so much as a working mom. I get it. But just because your kids are a priority, doesn’t mean all of their clubs and sports and schools and activities need to be your priority as well. Talk to your kids about what is best for them to realistically be involved in and discuss with them what role you are able to play in all of their various activities. Your participation in any event or activity should be a personal and family decision, not one made out of guilt or obligation to someone who isn’t even a part of your family.
If your schedule feels out of control, take some time to look at all of your responsibilities, determine where your priorities lie, and start saying “no” and stepping away from the things that are not serving you and your priorities in this season of life.
No one called you to be superwoman. You cannot and should not do everything. Who would want to live like that? Do the things that matter most to you and the things that make you the happiest and get rid of the rest.
That might mean delegating some of your work assignments to another member of your team. It might look like hiring a cleaning person to come in a few times a month to vacuum your floors and scrub your toilets. Maybe you need to figure out a carpool schedule with a mom in your neighborhood so you’re not driving all over the city everyday. It also might mean having a lengthy discussion with your husband to redistribute some of the household chores and responsibilities.
You don’t have to do everything all yourself. You don’t have superhuman abilities. It’s not only okay to ask for help, but for most people, it’s a requirement for survival. We were made for community. We were made to live with one another, help one another, and depend on one another. Stop trying to do everything yourself. You have specific skills and abilities given to you by God, live within your skills, abilities, and desires, and find help for everything else.
Work yourself out of a job
Your kids can probably do far more than you let them. Our goal as parents is to raise bright, intelligent, capable, compassionate kids into bright, intelligent, capable compassionate adults, or something along those lines. Which means we must give them opportunities to be bright, intelligent, capable, and compassionate.
Yes, you can fold towels way better than your kids can. It’s true that when you sweep up the floors they look a lot better than when your son does it. And you can empty the dishwasher in half the time it takes for your daughter to do it. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Your kids won’t ever learn how to do things well or efficiently if they are never given the opportunity to try.
Start helping your kids become independent early by assigning household responsibilities to them and then step back and let them actually be responsible for those tasks. Don’t go back in and refold the towels, don’t follow behind them with your own broom, and don’t rearrange the dishwasher.
You will need to take some time to teach and train your kids. There will be a period of coaching and redirecting. And there will be times when you just offer grace and do the job yourself. But your goal should always be to guide your children into doing things for themselves and taking over some of the household responsibilities. It might take a little extra time on the front end, but imagine how much time you’ll save in just a few short months when you can cross that task off your to do list for good (or at least until you send them off to college).
Being present is a big buzzword these days. And I think it is really important to be present in the exact moment that you are in. Trying to do a million things at a time, worrying about an event 3 hours from now, or being constantly glued to our phones does absolutely nothing to serve us and steals precious moments of our lives when we should instead be focused on the here and now.
However, the most important thing we must do to allow ourselves to be present in each moment, is to carve out time for planning and preparing. I think this is often missed when we talk about being present. “You tell me to be present, but I have 1,365,452 things to accomplish today and not enough time in this century to get it all done. Of course I’m distracted and worried instead of being present.” Sound familiar?
The only way to learn to slow down and be present for each of the precious moments of our lives is to take a step back on a regular basis to figure out where we’re going, what we’re doing, and how we’re going to get there. We must find the time in our busy lives to consider our priorities, develop some goals, and craft a plan to achieve the life we want to live.
Spend some time developing your goals and plans. Hold a family meeting to discuss everyone’s schedules and responsibilities. Develop a family calendar system that actually works and keeps everyone informed. Create a daily schedule and to do list that keeps you on track. And then follow through. Trust your plan, trust your schedule, and live each moment doing exactly what should be done in that moment. You won’t need to multi-task and stress and worry about that event next week, because you’ve taken the time to schedule it, plan for it, and now is the time to enjoy the here and now.
The working mom life will never be easy and stress free. And I don’t think life would be very interesting if everything always went according to plan. There will be obstacles and setbacks, challenges and surprises that come along. But when we have systems, processes, and habits in place to keep us on track, we can manage those challenges that come our way as if they were just a small bump in the road.
Action step for today:
Take some time to consider the five habits listed above and determine which of these areas you struggle with the most. Develop a plan to start implementing this habit into your daily life by developing some routines and systems to get things on track. Focus on one thing you can do each day to help you develop a new habit in this area that will better serve you and your family. Let me know in the comments what area you are focusing on first.
Additional resources to develop these habits for working moms:
I’ve found an additional resource for each of the 5 habits listed above. Be sure to check out the extra resource for the habit you are hoping to work on first.
Self Care – If you struggle with taking care of yourself, this post on 101 Ways to Practice Self-Care is a good place to start in finding out what self-care practices serve you best.
Get Help – During my devotional time today, I was reading 1 Corinthians 12 which talks about how everyone was given different gifts and we all play a specific role as a part of the body of Christ. This really encouraged me to focus on my area of talent in life and find ways to delegate tasks to others who have different skills that I do. If you have a hard time feeling like it’s okay to get help, take a minute to read and pray over 1 Corinthians 12 and see what God might be leading you to get help with.
Work yourself out of a job – There are lots of lists of age-appropriate chores out there on the internet, I found this one to be really helpful if you need some ideas for tasks you can assign your kids.
Looking ahead – If you struggle with setting goals, planning, and scheduling, I would highly recommend the Make over Your Mornings course by Crystal Paine. It is completely affordable and was incredibly helpful to me on my own journey to figure out how to map things out and create a plan and schedule that works.