Balancing Summer Fun and Work: A Guide for Working Moms
Summertime brings warm weather, vacations, and a sense of freedom for many, but for working moms, it can be a juggling act between career responsibilities and family time.
As we begin our last official week of summer – can you believe school starts NEXT WEEK?!? – it’s not too late to establish a healthy work-life balance that can sustain you through the transition back into the school year.
In this blog post, we'll explore practical tips and strategies to help working moms find harmony between their professional commitments and creating memorable experiences for their families, regardless of season.
Prioritize and Set Realistic Expectations:
The first step in achieving work-life balance is acknowledging that you can't do it all. Prioritize your tasks and responsibilities, focusing on what truly matters. Understand that perfection is not attainable, and it's okay to delegate or ask for help when needed. Set realistic expectations for yourself, both at work and at home, to alleviate unnecessary stress and pressure. Let a day at the pool count as a bath once a week. Skip the ironing or tap TaskRabbit for an assist a couple times a month for the necessities.
Create a Schedule:
Designing a well-thought-out schedule can help you manage your time effectively. Consider creating a shared family calendar that includes work hours, children's activities, and any family outings or vacations. Set aside specific blocks of time for work, family, and personal self-care to ensure you allocate adequate attention to each area of your life. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re working. Set a time to snap you out of it and walk away. The break and distraction sometimes provides the fresh perspective you need, and you never know where inspiration can be found.
Flexibility and Remote Work:
If your job permits, explore flexible work arrangements or the possibility of remote work part of the time. If you’ve been following along here for a while, you know I’m a big fan of block scheduling. Mondays and Fridays are my admin days – during the summer that could happen poolside some days, while my kiddo swam with a friend. During the school year, it can happen at the tennis court or at a coffee shop near the school before I have to report for lunch duty. Remote work offers the advantage of being physically present with your family while still fulfilling professional obligations. Discuss potential flexible options with your employer to explore what may be feasible for your specific circumstances.
Engage in Quality Family Time:
Make the most of your time together by engaging in activities that foster family bonding. Plan outings to local parks, beaches, or community events. Establish a regular family night where everyone can participate in games, movie marathons, or cooking sessions. Engaging in shared experiences creates lasting memories while strengthening your family's connection. At our house, family dinner is sacrosanct. Friday nights are pizza movie night, and Sundays are reserved for hosting burger nights for my son’s pals. These traditions are small but memorable, and provide the building blocks for our family structure and the blueprint for my son’s life when he has his own family one day.
Delegate and Share Responsibilities:
Don't hesitate to ask for help or delegate tasks to your partner, family members, or trusted friends. Assign age-appropriate chores to your children, teaching them the value of responsibility and contributing to the household. As a 5-year-old, my son was the perfect size to wipe down cabinet fronts and appliances with Windex and a rag; at 6 he could steer the vacuum and take on trash duty; at 7 he could load/unload the dishwasher; and at 10 he began doing his own laundry. Sharing the load eases your burden and ensures that everyone plays a part in maintaining a harmonious work-life balance. Divide and conquer is the key here.
Take Time for Self-Care:
Self-care is essential for your well-being, both as a working mom and an individual. Schedule regular breaks for yourself, whether it's a quiet evening reading a book or walking up and down every aisle at Target with no particular shopping list or deadline in mind (who’s with me?!). Self-care doesn’t necessarily have to mean a spa day (although they’re nice, don’t get me wrong). To me, it is scheduling weekend brunch or dinner with a girlfriend for a catch-up sesh. Or prioritizing a pilates class before I start my work day. Keeping space for self-care helps you recharge and show up as the best version of yourself in both your professional and personal life.
Set Boundaries and Unplug:
Create clear boundaries between work and personal life. Establish "no work" zones during family activities or outings and avoid checking emails or taking work calls during those times. Disconnecting from work allows you to be fully present with your loved ones and recharge mentally and emotionally. I spent years “on call” in my first career working for elected officials – your every moment as the beck and call of someone else. It served it’s time and purpose as a young single gal and before children. But I learned early on in my next career as a self-employed person, that you “train” your clients. Don’t get me wrong all of you wonderful clients reading this now – I love you and appreciate your business and one of my greatest delights is anticipating your needs and being responsive – it’s the people-pleaser in me – but I’ve learned that if I email or respond to a message at 9 p.m. on a Saturday once, I’ll be expected to always email or respond at 9 p.m. on a Saturday. So start out how you can hold out with your availability and accessibility to others.
Achieving work-life balance as a working mom requires intentional effort and a commitment to family care, self-care, and sharing the load.
By prioritizing, creating a schedule, and leveraging flexibility, you can successfully navigate the demands of your career while enjoying quality time with your family.
Remember, it's not about achieving perfection but finding harmony that works for you. Embrace these tips to create lasting memories and nurture your personal and professional growth. And let me know what some of your work-life balance hacks are!