As a mom, you rock. Your kiddos love you, and they’re fed, clothed, and cuddled. You kick butt as a professional, too. But while you’re busy being the best mom ever, who’s taking care of you? If, secretly, your multiple worlds collide and collapse over each other sometimes, you’re not alone.
That’s right, most of us struggle with mom work-life balance.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I find myself riding on the struggle bus sometimes, wondering how in the world I’m supposed to fit an entire day’s duties in 24-hours and still keep track of my own needs. As a mom of one, I’m in awe of moms who do this juggling act with multiple kids.
After an especially hectic week, I’m ready to explore ways we can all master the mommy juggling act. For stay-at-home moms and working mothers alike, the key to it all is finding room for self-care.
Why Taking Care Of Yourself Will Help You Be A Better Mom
I know that self-care feels counterintuitive. There are bottoms to wipe, piles of dishes to do, playgroups to attend to, and of course, every family member needs to eat. But if your mommy role is never-ending, you’ll burn out eventually.
I don’t want to think of mommy burnout. The concept alone makes me twinge with guilt. But I also can’t ignore that it’s a thing. Whether we want to or not, we get tired, either physically or otherwise.
Just recently, I’ve been going nonstop, as many working women do. With deadlines to meet and a kid who’s readjusting to school, who needs rest and me-time, right? But I didn’t realize I was running on empty. And then my kid brought home the ever-dreaded stomach bug. While I helped him get better, my lack of self-care made me more vulnerable to the virus. Before I knew it, we were both down for the count.
I have to remember that taking care of myself is the very thing that keeps me refreshed as a mom. It’s only with good health and endless energy that I can be my best self. And that energy and good health can only come from taking time to recharge.
How To Find Your Mom Work-Life Balance
Self-care branches out into anything that meets your personal needs. Sometimes this might mean that you put off work and home for a little more snuggle time with your baby. Sometimes it means you doodle a note to “watch video bloopers on Youtube” in your to-do list to ensure you get those five minutes of laughter.
Here are some concrete ways in which to boost that healthy balance with a little bit of self-care.
1. Keep Up With Your Fitness
What’s your fitness routine like?
If it’s somewhere in the middle of “I have one in mind” and “nonexistent,” do yourself a favor and squeeze one in somewhere between work and family.
I recently started a brand-new fitness routine. Though it was slightly derailed due to being sick, it’s been healthful and invigorating. Every morning after dropping my son off at school, I stop at the park by my house for a morning jog. It’s nothing strenuous, just a lap or two around the small park. Even if I can only fit in a 20-minute walk, it does a world of good.
- I get to be alone with my thoughts and music for a while.
- I have something healthy to look forward to each day.
- Walking boosts my mood.
Hopefully, my morning jog will help me get in better shape and build up my immune system too. But for now, it’s helping me manage my time better, and that in itself is a benefit.
Spend at least 20 minutes a day on your fitness goals. Before you know it, you’ll feel less overwhelmed, and your life will get that much easier.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Does the idea of a full night’s sleep feel more like a distant memory than your reality?
A recent study shows that most parents are sleep deprived for the first 24 months of their child’s life. Each night amounts to about five hours of sleep, most of which is interrupted. Simply put, by the time your baby reaches toddlerhood, you’re at a six-month deficit in terms of sleep.
I know — it feels counterintuitive to make sleep a higher priority when you have a million things to do and so few hours in a day. But a better night’s sleep will actually help you be more efficient at your tasks.
I didn’t care about a full night’s sleep for a while as a new mom. With a flexible work schedule, I figured I could catch up on sleep anytime. I lived for nap time when I could snuggle in alongside my kid and snooze too.
Sleep deprivation breaks down your immune system over time. It also wreaks havoc on your circadian rhythm. I found that out the hard way. When I finally wanted to catch up on sleep, I was met with insomnia instead.
If your circadian rhythm is thrown off, try a melatonin regimen. For a week or two, take a small dose of melatonin at the same time each night. Do so about half an hour before going to bed. This will jumpstart a new healthy sleep routine again. Allow yourself six-eight hours of sleep each night.
3. Schedule Time With Friends
When was the last time you went out for coffee with friends?
If the only downtime you get these days is when you’re grocery shopping, it’s time to reach out. Reconnect with some old friends. Find a loving aunt or uncle to babysit for a while so you can step out for a coffee and some adult conversation.
If you have trouble relating to your non-mommy friends, that’s unfortunate but normal. I had my son right out of college. Before my last semester ended, I had a gaggle of friends to bond and commiserate with. After my son was born, they felt like a world apart. My girlfriends were living the exciting lives of young professionals. Meanwhile, my world was filled with dirty diapers and breast milk.
As difficult as it was, I found new friends who had more in common with me. It wasn’t too hard to meet other new moms in playgroups, at the park, or even through an app like Meetup or Peanut.
Though it’s tough for most moms to find time apart from their kids, I proposed a few adult-only get-togethers. Usually, my idea was met with grateful relief. Other moms wanted to get out for some time with friends, too but felt like they should forego that.
Think about it, though. If you don’t take a bit of time for yourself, there’s less room in your head for calm and clarity. You need both to be the best mom possible.
4. Schedule Date Nights
Has it been a long time since you were out with your spouse? I’m not talking about going out with your family in tow. How long has it been since your last date?
Scheduling date nights is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of self-care. Yet, it’s so integral to a good work-life balance for parents. You need to spend time with your spouse one-on-one to retain your sanity and recharge. If you haven’t had alone time with the hubby since you’ve been on maternity leave, it’s time to rectify the date night deficit.
Here are some tips to help you stay on top of scheduling regular date nights:
- Find a reliable sitter, and then a backup too.
- Take turns planning out your date night.
- Try to dedicate at least one night a week to just the two of you.
If you need a little help getting into the swing of things for your first date night, use retail therapy as your motivator. Go and buy something you’ll look forward to wearing on your night out. Or you can treat yourself to a full mani & pedi. Whatever makes you feel special to mark the occasion is fair game.
While on your date, focus on reconnecting with each other. Don’t worry about the kids or the household chores. Soak in each other’s presence and enjoy the atmosphere. Date night can go a long way to preserving a strong parenting team.
It’s true; parenting is a full-time job. But don’t feel guilty for needing some self-care. Working moms have two demanding jobs, and stay-at-home moms have a single job that they never get a break from. A mom’s work-life balance is important no matter your circumstance, and you deserve it both for yourself and your family.