So, we all know that being a mother in general is hard work; you never get a day off, you are always on call and you get very little thanks, but we also know that it is amazing at the same time. The real fun starts when you try and be a ‘modern’ woman and sustain a job as well as a family. Whether you are self-employed or work for someone else, this blog was written with input from mothers far and wide, friends, family and complete strangers on Twitter! Everyone agreed that being a working mother is difficult but here are some tips & tricks to make you a little more productive and a little less like a ‘headless chicken’.
- Plan Ahead: Get organised – well as much as you can anyway. Make packed lunches, get out clothes and set up breakfast the night before, do anything you can to make the morning rush easier. Not only does it give you a little more time but makes you feel like you are starting off the new day on the right foot.
- Be Realistic: No matter how much we feel (and act) like super-women we all have to take a step back and be realistic. Set yourself achievable tasks for the day and don’t try and do absolutely everything. Something has to give, don’t let it be you!
- Set Boundaries: No one will ever look at their watch in a meeting and say, “Oh my goodness, it’s 5:30, don’t you have to get home to your kids?” You need to take the bull by the horns and train people to recognise that you generally leave work at a reasonable hour, or you don’t work on certain days – full stop! What you will do, however, is work in the evenings / at other times of the day, work smart and work efficiently. Do more than what you’re told to do, enjoy your job but also set the boundaries you want and don’t be intimidated by snarky comments from co-workers!
- Find the right time for you to work: Not everyone is at their best after 8pm, but if you set the alarm an hour earlier you could start the day doing what you need / want to do before family demands on your time appear.
- Set up a reliable childcare system: There are lots of nurseries, pre-schools, nannies, au-pairs, after-school clubs etc. out there but you have to find what works best for you, your working requirements and your children. Speak to friends, see what worked for them and why, read up on childcare review websites and think through the logistics of home/work/childcare distances, opening times and cost.
- Accept Help: I am very lucky that neighbours have offered their help as I have a 3-year-old daughter, a baby on the way and I run my own business meaning that I don’t have a standard 9-5 job. At first I would rather have gone without than ask for anyone else’s help outside of paid childcare but then I realised just how helpful and convenient it was to have a trusty neighbour or two lined up in times of need. Whether you have a friend with the same-age kids or a helpful neighbour, set up some dependable people to support you.
Finally, Don’t let the guilt get to you: Starting my business when my daughter was 16 months old meant that she had had my undivided attention day and night for all of her life… but then I started my business so she went to nursery 2 days a week. Of course, I felt guilty that she was not with me but then I saw how much she was learning and developing from having her own life. I want to bring my children up to value hard work and to have their own professional aspirations and I can only do that by providing a strong female role model for them, thus no guilt allowed!