Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
The days when single income households were the norm are long gone, as nowadays both Mom and Dad must work in order to make ends meet. That reality has left many women juggling the obligations of motherhood with the obligations of a successful career.
Such a juggling act is seldom easy, and many mothers find themselves neglecting one obligation for the benefit of another. The following are a few tips to make balancing work and family a little easier.
• Share the responsibilities. While the days of the single-income household may be a thing of the past, many of the conventions of those days remain. Women may still feel the responsibility to cook family meals, clean up after the children and make it to all of their children's sporting events or other school-related events. But those responsibilities should be shared so women can ensure they're giving both their careers and families the attention each deserves. Devise a schedule where both parents tackle such responsibilities equally so each parent knows when they have some wiggle room. For example, if your husband routinely cooks on Tuesdays, then you know you won't need to rush home on Tuesday night and you might be able to stay at the office a little later to work on a project or catch up on work. Such sharing and scheduling can considerably reduce the stress of juggling a family and a career.
• Exercise daily. Juggling a family and a career is often stressful, and stress can have a very adverse effect on your health. Women with high stress levels are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease. But the American Psychological Association notes the positive impact of exercise as a means to alleviating stress, citing studies that have shown that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than people who are sedentary. It's easy to become irritable when stressed, and no mother wants to be irritable in the presence of her children. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is a great way to alleviate the stress of juggling a family and a career, and you can even incorporate your family into your exercise routine, going for nightly walks after dinner or playing with your children in the yard.
• Stay involved with your child's school. Many mothers find staying active with their children's school is a great opportunity for them to bond with their kids and keep abreast of developments at their school. Such involvement can be minimal, such as attending a monthly luncheon with kids or agreeing to be a chaperone on one or two class trips per year. Such events are typically scheduled months in advance, so you should have ample time to arrange a break from the office without neglecting your professional responsibilities.
• Take advantage of work-from-home policies. As technology has advanced, many companies have become much more lenient with regard to employees working from home. If your company allows you to work from home, even if it's only once per week, then take advantage of that offer. This can provide more time with your kids, it will likely save you money on childcare, and you are certain to appreciate the opportunity to skip your daily commute, even if it is only once a week or a couple of times per month.
• Plan ahead. Looking ahead is another way to make juggling a family and a career easier. Plan meals in advance to cut down on preparation time when it's your night to cook. This can involve placing foods in a slow cooker in the morning or preparing part of the meal in advance so it's ready to go in the oven the moment you arrive home.
Another way to plan ahead is to look at kids' school schedules and plan trips during the school year when school won't be in session. A three-day weekend is a perfect opportunity to plan a getaway to a nearby locale where the whole family can relax and reconnect without the pressures of daily life.
Juggling a family and career is not always easy, but there are ways that today's mothers can raise a happy family and still have a successful career.