Life as a working mum can be a sweet and bitter experience, one time you feel confident, valuable, ambitious and happy that you have your dream family. At other times, you are anxious, overwhelmed and feeling guilty that you are not performing your motherly, wifely duties, marriage duties as expected.
Many times, working mums find themselves measuring themselves by the societal construct, social media and religious construct of the “ideal mother”, “ideal wife” “employee”. These misogynist constructs confine womanhood to the traditional role of nurturers and guilt trip you into believing that they are failing.
I remember the case of a working mum whose story went viral on social media some months back in Nigeria. This working mom had left her 3 months old baby with a babysitter only to be told that her baby had died at the crèche.
The highly patriarchal society went agog and blamed the mother for being such a terrible mom to have left her 3 months old at the crèche. Such is the fate of working mum. The same misogynist society will criticise a full-time mom as being a liability to the husband who does not bring anything to the table.
Trying to fit into the societal ideal mum will sap your positive energy and leave emotionally, mentally and physically stress.
Life as a working mom tests your sense of responsibility and all the hard skills you pride yourself to possess (multitasking, communication, time management, emotional intelligence etc.)
You are constantly in-between proving yourself in a patriarchal work environment, or a work environment where merit is the standard and gives no preferential treatment to female employees while juggling your motherly duties and your wifely duties and sometimes even a side hustle in the difficult financial times we are in.
Most working mums think having a successful career, being an excellent mother and good lover as a mirage and an illusion that can never be achieved however balance is achievable. Being a Working mum of two myself, here are the few tips that has helped and I will like to share it with you
Believe in Yourself
Have faith in your capacity to achieve a balanced and healthy life and understand that being a working mum is just a necessary phase of your life your life must go through. Enjoy both roles and understand the challenging times will pass. Be confident that you can excel in all the roles and do not give in to any form of self-doubt or societal pressure. The fact that you can do you playing all the roles means you can do it and you can always get better.
Define Balance, organise your Priorities, Plan to achieve Balance
Define what a successful mother, an excellent career and good lover means to you. Don’t fall into unrealistic standards and expectations from social media, church/mosque, friends, family and acquaintances. Defining what balance means to you helps you set your priorities right as well as in organising and focusing on your tasks and successfully achieving them. For example, for me the goal of being a good mother, means having healthy and happy children.
I use the result chain approach that I learnt as a project manager, which says to achieve a particular goal, you have some input (time, resources and equipment) in undertaking an activity, which will give an output and outcome and can make you achieve your long-term goal.
My goal of being good mother means having a healthy, growing, smart, expressive and morally sound children which demands that I give my children healthy homemade food with fruits and vegetables, pray and share the bible with them, ensure that their homework are properly done, communicate with them (by asking them how their day went, who cried, who upset them etc. This demands my time, money, and gadgets that make chores easier and faster. Some of the tasks I do daily, some once in 3 days.
I do the same for my professional goals as well. I identify my career goals and what is needed to achieve them. If it requires a skill I don’t have, I plan on how to get the skill and how much time I can spare to learn the skill weekly. I do the same for all the roles and what it takes to have a balance.
I Spend time with your family especially during weekends and when not at work. If you do not intentionally create time for your family, you will only discover that you are only living as strangers. An imbalance in one area will disrupt the progress of the other. It sometimes deprives you from attending some social and religious functions especially if they are not close friends and family. You can support social functions with cash gifts and Aso-Ebi.
Delegate, seek help and Outsource where necessary
At work, delegate where necessary, and at home, seek help from your spouse, (if they are supportive), from friends and family and involve your children in chores. It is important to prioritize your spouse and share and harmonize your plan with them.
It helps them make valuable contributions, prioritize and offer support in any way they can. Don’t try to do all the work alone. Involve your children in some of the plans as well and in doing some of the chores. That way, you are training them to be responsible, buy gadgets that will make your job faster and better.
Save your energy, money and time for the most important things in your priority list. Identify the stressors tasks especially the chores and devise how to work around it.
If shopping is stressful for you, try shopping online. If cooking is your stressor, you can order home food online. In Nigeria, there are good cooks who package ready-made soup like vegetable, Okro soup, you can patronise them when you are very busy, time saved could be spent on other important priorities.
Outsource if you can afford especially for chores that you notice stress you. You should have friends and family you can keep your kids with when you are busy or you need time alone.
Focus on whatever role you are playing while at it
There is always the tendency of being anxious at home, while at work and being distracted by thoughts of tasks at work while at home. Wherever you are at home or at work at any point in time, make sure you are giving each task the attention and the devotion it deserves.
This will make you valuable at work and at home. The challenge with most working mums is that they are anxious and their attention is always divided and we get easily distracted. This is easily noticeable by co-workers, spouses, and children. Avoid being anxious and always be optimistic that everything is going to be alright. Make sure you are spirit, soul and body at work while at work and home while at home.
Family is a major motivation
Let your employer, superior and colleagues know that family is very important to you and is one of your major motivation, so they can give you time for important moments in your children’s and spouse life
Take time to rest and lead a healthy life
Eat good and nutritious food and do some physical exercises that can be done at home. Many working mums skip meals and eat a lot of junk food because of their busy schedule.
Be intentional about eating healthy food, remember, you are what you eat and you need a healthy body to build a highflying career and be a responsible mother and lover.
Rest and relaxation requires a good and refreshing sleep so take enough time to sleep. Rest however rest goes beyond just sleep, It could be a mental rest or emotional rest.
It could take the form of a special treat you give yourself when on a short break, a hobby that relieves you of stress. take screen time off. If you can afford spa and massaging, try it, it is a good way of relieving yourself of stress and relaxing. If social media puts pressure on you, take some time off social media .
Remember, you can do anything that you want, just try.
Photo credit: hellopostpartum