Working mums have it tough. Being committed to building your business and prioritising your family is an difficult task for many of us. It can be exhausting and thankless, leaving you feeling that you’re never fully present as a business owner or a mother. Whilst my kids are now adults and have grown and flown the nest, I remember the days when life and business was impacted massively by the academic timetable. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to pursue a fulfilling work life while taking an active role as a mum, if you learn to find a balance that works for your life.
These tips will help working mums to make juggling the two sides during the school holidays a little bit easier.
Let go of the mum guilt
I know that the reason that many of us small business owners chose to start to a business is the lack of fulfilling part time work available and the desire to be around as much as possible while our children are growing up. However, the desire to meet both these needs can leave you feeling conflicted especially when the school holidays are coming up and there are lots more demands on your time.
Deciding to be a working mum is a choice that should be admired, not judged or shamed. If you’re feeling guilty about not being with your child all the time, it’s time to let it go. You are providing your child with a positive role model and you need to be proud of your ambition and what you’re aiming to build. Talk with your children about your business and help them to understand the challenges you face and make sure that they get to celebrate your successes too. Teaching children about the benefit of grit and the ups and downs of business life helps them to understand better what they need to do when they get stuck at school.
Focus on the positive things that your work life is contributing to your family. Be confident that you are making the best choice for your whole family, including yourself, and your child will feel the extent of your love and understand your determination and commitment will be admired.
Say yes to less
You don’t have to say yes to every BBQ and social invitation or activity that comes your way, especially if it is causing you more anxiety than enjoyment.
Determine how much your schedule can handle and choose the activities that you and your child will enjoy the most. Don’t feel bad about saying no to the rest. Overbooking takes all of the fun out of the experience and leaves no time for much needed rest, for both you and your children.
Find childcare providers that you trust
Knowing that your child is cared for is crucial to having peace of mind when you’re working. if you need to work during the holidays and your children are school age it may be that you need to find some support and not many of us have families who are willing or able to help out. Your options then, depending on the age of your child are to find a nursery, kids club, nanny, child minder or someone you know that you trust with your child.
For nannies, look for one with extensive experience and great references. Have at least one trial day to observe if it is a good fit and make all of your expectations clear from the start. You might want to get together with some other business owners and a nanny between you.
If your kids are now of an age where they no longer want to go to holiday clubs or sports camps then sit down with them and find out what they want to achieve during the holidays. It’s important that both of you agree what is and isn’t going to happen. What freedoms they can have and what your expectations of them is. Tell them clearly when family time will be and what they need to be contributing to the family in terms of time and helping out. If them spending the morning in bed is going to upset you then talk to them about what time you expect them to be up and also what time they must be in bed, or at least in their rooms.
Use time saving hacks
To get the most done in the least amount of time, use shortcuts and plan strategically.
Do as much of your shopping as possible online and have it delivered to your home.
Schedule the tasks that absolutely must be done and consider getting up early in the morning and getting as many of them completed as possible. Also decide what can be left undone. Create a don’t do and add things that for the next few weeks you’re going to pop onto the back burner. These can be business related or even household chores.
If you go into an office, then quick errands done during your lunch break to free up more time during the week.
If your children are old enough to breakfast, pop all the things they need out first thing in the morning when you get up so that they can help themselves. Start getting them to take responsibility for prepping vegetables for meals for doing the washing up.
Reduce distractions and time wasters
Time is such a precious commodity when you are a working mum.
Be mindful of the time you might be wasting doing low value activities such as scrolling on social media if it is affecting your productivity. You need to limit distractions and surfing the internet so that you can get the most out of your available work time.
Use time the run up to the holidays to schedule social media posts and write blogs so that they tasks are done.
When you’re working, make sure that you switch off notifications on your phone and laptop so that you’re not interrupted. On most phones you can set up priority people who will still be able to get through if they call or message you.
Look at using techniques such as The Pomodoro Technique to work as productively as possible. You can also use the 5 minute break to check up on the children if they are watching T.V. or playing in the garden. Click here if you’d like to download my cheat sheet.
When at home, focus on your partner and your child rather than your phone or the TV to ensure that the time spent together is meaningful and intentional.
Get organised using calendars and lists.
The mental load that working mums must take on is a responsibility that no one else can understand.
You are the one in charge of keeping track of doctor’s appointments, signing permission slips, organising summer activities, remembering birthdays, writing cards, staying on top of clothes and sizes, knowing what’s in the fridge and never letting the house run out of toilet paper, just to name a few.
Use planners, apps, and other resources help to keep track of your endless to-do’s and let go of some of the mental weight. I like to use Wunderlist as a place to make and share lists and so that everyone knows what needs to be done.
Plan ahead as much as possible so that everything is not left to the last minute.
Share the housework
The burden of the housework should not fall solely on the woman’s shoulders. This is an area that is easy for your partner to pitch in and take some of the burden. Also, if your children are older, delegate simple tasks to them so they can learn to build good habits early on and play an active role in contributing to the family.
Another option to consider is getting a cleaner. It can be hard to justify spending money on something you can do yourself, but if having an untidy or dirty house is a major source of stress, it would be money very well spent. You could just get someone in to do a good clean before the holidays start and at the half way point and then again just after the kids go back to school.
Lower your expectations
A lot of the pressure that mums have to cook healthy and delicious meals daily, maintain a beautifully clean home, and be the perfect parent are expectations that you put on yourself. No one else demands as much as you demand of yourself.
When you lower your expectations, you will find a lot of the unnecessary stress can be eliminated.
Your house does NOT need to be spotless every time a guest comes over, especially if the guest is a friend, family or also has children.
Buying a pizza or a take-away once a week instead of cooking from scratch yourself does NOT make you a bad parent. Home cooked meals everyday is a great goal to strive towards, but leftovers and the occasional take away will also feed your family just fine. Many men like to BBQ so if the weather is nice then get him doing the barbie, the always think of it as a special treat.
Make time for ‘me time’
Finding time for yourself is crucial in maintaining inner peace and balance within the hectic environment of work and home life. As women, we have a bad habit of putting our own needs last in order and taking care of everyone else first. But if you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of anyone else well?
Do not stop your regular activities over the summer just because the children are off. Find the time and an activity that will allow you to relax and recharge. Some ideas include: meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, catching up with a friend, or pampering yourself.
Create special and meaningful family activities
Make the time that you spend with your family really count by planning activities that everyone will look forward to and enjoy. Organise a weekly family games night, have a picnic in the garden or park, or go to the cinema. Ask for ideas from your older kids and let them get involved in deciding where to go too. Time with older children is important in building those long-term future relationships.
Make sure that you take lots of photos and spend time with the children looking at the photos and talking about what you did.
Connect with other working mums
You are not alone. There are millions of working mothers who are going through the same thing you are on a daily basis.
Seek out other business women who are also working mothers; these are women you will be able to relate to on a whole different level. Coordinate playdates and mom groups on the weekends or take walks together after work. Find mums near you using Facebook groups and local networks.
Laughing together, sharing stories, and finding your community will show you that you don’t have to do this all by yourself.
Best of both worlds?
Can a working mum have both a successful business and a fulfilling family life?
It is absolutely possible. It may not look exactly like how you pictured it, but don’t let that deceive you. Recognise and appreciate all of the great things you do have, and just take it one day at a time.
If you need to get organised for the summer, I am offering a one hour strategy call to get you clear, organised and focused. Email me to find out more.