10 Ways How Working Moms Can Stay Closer to Kids
It’s always a tough juggling act for working moms to balance work and family. No matter how much work and effort they put in at work and at home, they are often judged for not being a perfect employee or a perfect mom. A lot of women also face this tremendous mom guilt for not having it all together. It’s really hard to imagine the mental and physical workload of moms. Working moms are often found moving from tasks like meetings, memos, to pick-ups and playdates. Even when they are physically not moving from one task to another, they are mentally adding to their never ending to-do lists. Doctor’s appointments, vaccinations, piano recitals, basketball practice, tutor hunting, maths homework, volunteering at work or kids’ schools (even though it’s online) playdate invites, books collection from school, just to name a few.
It is important for working moms to create and maintain healthy boundaries to be able to find the right balance between work, family and me-time. One can’t pour from an empty cup. We have posted below some ways for working moms to enable them to feel more present at home and more efficient at work.
- Keep Work Separate
It used to be relatively easier to steer away from laptops and office phones until 2019. Owing to work-from-home situations as a result of the pandemic, it has become tougher to segregate work and family. Despite that, in order to maintain and strengthen the parent-child bond, it is advisable to spend 20-30 minutes each day with your child while you keep the phone/laptop away (perhaps leave them all in another room). It may seem tough at first, but simply physically separating the gadgets during family-time will go a long way in managing that work-life balance.
- Step Out for Some Fresh Air with Kids
If you are working from home, chances are you’d be eyeing the unfolded laundry, the rubbish bin that’s filling up fast, the crumpled beds that the kids have jumped on a hundredth time, the shoes that haven’t been placed back in the shoe cabinet, the messy dining table, and so on. To avoid getting distracted with whatever is there on your mental to-do list, it is best to step outside with your child and put that mental struggle to finish chores on hold for a bit. An impromptu walk, or a snack outside can help you stay in-the-moment with your kids.
- Maintain Open Lines of Communication with your Managers
Moms are usually seen as the primary parent when the child is sick, if there is a vaccination schedule, or a parent-teacher meeting and so on. It is crucial you keep your manager in the loop about your needs and commitments and discuss how you will continue to keep doing your job well. Usually, managers are understanding and appreciative of the transparency and proactive communication.
- Set Right Expectations
If you always answer work calls late at night or send emails out before bedtime, then your colleagues and managers will expect that promptness from you all the time. It would be a good idea to draw the right boundaries and unless absolutely critical, leave work alone and stay offline after 7 pm. Another firm boundary to develop is for the entire family to have a meal together on the dining table everyday without any gadgets being brought on the table. Use this time to talk to kids about their day and share yours.
- Stay Disciplined Regarding Social Media Distractions
Owing to invasion of social media in our lives, it has become practically impossible to do a task without either getting a notification on WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram or Facebook. While they offer us the much needed entertainment and connectivity, they can also drain us off of our productive hours. Some working moms suggest that it is best to keep social media interactions restricted to an hour during the day and that too at a particular time in the day. For some, that can mean during commutes, for others, it can be after the kids go to sleep. But if we keep letting ourselves get distracted by social media notifications throughout the day, neither can we do sufficient justice to our job, nor to our families.
- Outsource to Helpers or Vendors
Some of the families are lucky to have the services of domestic helpers as they can really help us take care of the daily household chores to a great degree. From dishes, vacuuming, cleaning, to laundry, they can take off a lot from our plate and help us immensely by offering back the time that we can use to be with our families. For some families who cannot avail the services of a helper, it is imperative to outsource certain things, such as, using restaurant food occasionally instead of all-the-time home cooked food, dry cleaning clothes instead of ironing, having grocery delivered in bulk instead of going to the store daily. No one can do everything by themselves. So cut yourself some slack, and outsource the unimportant things to others.
- Share the Workload with Family
Managing home is not just the woman’s job. If you are running a family, everyone should contribute to it. Your partner should chip in and offer to do part of the chores. You can chalk up a plan together as to who does what. It is also advisable to include the kids in doing household chores. Not only will this take the burden off you, it is also a great learning moment for kids. Doing chores is a basic life skill that everyone should learn at an early age. Your kids could help with things such as folding laundry, making beds, arranging their rooms, cleaning the bathrooms, setting up the dining table (chores will vary depending on their age). Not only this teaches them how to be more responsible, it also lets you interact with them in ways they feel special. You could call them “mom’s little helpers” and it can turn into a fun game for kids.
- Don’t Underestimate the Touch Therapy
Don't forget to hug your kids at least once a day- be it a morning ritual or bedtime one, make sure your kids feel your complete presence during that time. Children are energy sensors, they know when the parents are really present and when they are distracted. When you hug them, you naturally feel you are in-the-moment. Regular hugs can become a family ritual and one that will strengthen the parent-child bond for life. You could also use night times to do a bedtime story for younger kids or talk about what happened at school today with older kids. A 10 minute chat goes a long way for kids to feel connected.
- Create Special Family Activities
There are lots of activities to choose from- You could organise a weekly fun movie night for the entire family or could have a pretend restaurant setting at home (you could be the server and the kids can act as customers). For younger kids, you could do Sunday afternoon board-game time, playful yoga, and for older kids, you could do baking times, weekend hikes, or go for a daily evening walk which could transform into your own special ritual. As the kids grow older, they will look forward to that family time and will carry on doing something similar with their future families too.
- Make Use of Technology
Some moms swear by planners, apps, and other resources to keep track of their never ending to-dos as they truly help let go of some of the mental weight. There are so many task management apps out there such as Todoist, Google Tasks, WorkFlowy, TaskPaper. Take time out to go through a few to see which works best for you. You can share these with your partners too to help navigate the weekly tasks.
Working moms have it tough. Nobody has this completely figured out. We are all trying to find the ways that work best for us. Kids and spouses expect us to be perfect homemakers and the employers expect us to be exceptional employees. It can be a guilt-ridden and exhausting trip for moms to be perceived as a not fully present mother or employee. That said, using some or all of the ways highlighted above can really help moms pursue a fulfilling career and also successfully take on the role of a caring mother. It also helps if you connect with like-minded working moms or be part of some mom groups where you could exchange tried and tested time-saving hacks and tips on balancing work and family. And finally, don’t forget to take good care of yourselves too. You need the much deserved ‘me-time' to be able to balance this rope with ease.
What are some of the ways you manage your job and home successfully? We’d love to know!