They can change identity at a moment’s notice, going from nurse/executive/educator to soccer-practice chauffeur almost instantaneously. They have an uncanny ability to do 10 things at once: Make dinner, help with homework, fold laundry and send an email to the boss at the same time? No sweat. And they’ve got a sound moral code, always putting the welfare of others before their own. Working moms are basically called upon to save the day, everyday.
But just because these women might make doing it all look easy, doesn’t mean it is.
A new CareerBuilder survey on working mothers found that many have a difficult time striking that elusive work/life balance; especially in a time when a lot of families are still feeling the effects of the recession, and more women find themselves as their household’s sole income provider or working longer hours at an understaffed office. According to the survey:
- One quarter of working mothers reported spending two hours or less with their children each work day, up from 17 percent who said the same last year.
- Twenty-four percent said they take work home with them at least once a week.
- Nearly a third said that they’d take a job with less pay if it meant they’d be able to spend more time with their children.
While all working mothers could use a few extra hours in their day, there are ways to make the most out of the time that is available – both at work and at home. TheWorkBuzz talked to two working moms with booming careers and busy home lives, who shared with us their top tips for maintaining their hectic schedules — and their sanity:
Get organized: “It sounds silly, but in all seriousness, actually taking the time to streamline the daily work routine can take a lot of stress off that side of the scale,” says Pilar Clark, who — among other things — is a mother of two, a social media consultant, the writer behind Chicago Parent magazine’s popular “Cosmotot” column and the mastermind of her own blog, WindyCityMom.
“Whether you use color-coded desk calendars, little pocket-sized datebooks or web-based reminder services, it’s a matter of keeping everything in front of you so surprises are kept to a minimum,” she says. “Jot or input everything — appointments, conference calls, deadlines, recurring meetings, etc.”
Remember quality over quantity: You may not get all the time you want with your kids, but make the most of the time you do have. “When you’re home, it’s all about them,” says Hope Gurion, chief development officer at CareerBuilder and a mother of two. “Wait until after the kids go to bed before checking email or finishing up that presentation.”
Ask for help: “Having reliable people around you, be it family or outside caregivers is a cornerstone for building a balanced work/home framework,” Clark says. “The more that can be delegated — chores, cooking duties, cleaning, bill paying, yard work, carpooling to/from school and extracurriculars — the more things run smoothly. Believe it or not, having a solid yet not strict routine in place can make everyone involved — even kids — more relaxed in that everyone knows what to expect.”
Establish a support network: “Many families are in the same boat as you and having a support network is essential to your personal and professional sanity,” Gurion says. “Get tips from other working moms on how they juggle personal and professional commitments, how they’ve managed through difficult financial situations and how they’ve moved ahead in their careers.”
Don’t forget about yourself: Moms are wired to put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own, but penciling in “me time” is important as well. “Working moms need to take care of themselves, too” Gurion says. “Put actual time on the calendar for an hour or more of doing something you enjoy such as going to the gym, taking a walk, reading, etc.”
Last but not least, says Clark, remember to be flexible. “There is no such thing as true balance in life when you’re a parent. Things happen and having the ability to not only roll with whatever life throws at you but embrace those little highs and lows can do a lot in terms of personal happiness,” she says. “While schedules and routines are important, it’s also being able to add a sense of being grounded and realistic to the mix that can go a long way.”
Are you a working mom? How do you manage to “do it all?” Let us know in the comments section, below.