If you're a working mother, you're probably no stranger to stress and of course, guilt. Whether you're working full-time, part-time, working from home, etc., there may have been many times you wish you could do more for both your children and your work. In fact, it is said that working mothers have a special type of guilt. When at work, they feel guilty about not being there for their children, or not being able to manage their home as well as they'd like. When at home, they feel guilty about not being able to do more at work. It seems that guilt and the tension of managing work and home are inevitable. Hence, below are some practical tips to help you keep your stress to a minimum.
Maybe you can't make a cooked breakfast every single morning of the week. Opt for 3 or 4 days a week and the rest of the days do something simple that you can assemble quickly. You're no less of a mother for making choices like these and cutting yourself some slack. Basically you are being smart by choosing to keep things manageable.
Choose a manageable workload
You may want to prove to your colleagues and bosses that you can do it all - be a fabulous mother and a model employee. It's a nice concept but it can cause a lot of guilt. Take on a workload that you can manage and don't over-commit yourself. It's better to take on a little less and manage it well than take on more and feel like you can barely keep your head above water. The endless race, always trying to squeeze in another half hour of work can be sustained for a few months maybe, but in the end it will drain you.
Do something for yourself everyday
You've heard this a dozen times. Start now. Yes you might have to forego some chore, but self-care is important. Usually mothers leave self-care for last. If there's time left over, they'll spend on doing something for themselves. Self-care and self-maintenance should not be discretionary! Maintaining yourself will make you feel happier, less stressed and more in control of yourself. More than a perfectly running home, your family would rather have a less-stressed mother. So reducing your stress means everybody wins.
Let it go
So your child had a late nap and consequently went to bed late and everything got thrown out of order. She had a meltdown in the supermarket over some Gems and you did not handle it very well. Your baby missed a nap and was overly cranky the whole evening. It happens. Don't keep beating yourself up over it. Sometimes we make mistakes or get delayed. All parents have bad moments. Don't waste time brooding. Tomorrow is a new day. Start over. Your children will be fine.
Stop comparing yourself to other mothers
Figure out what works well for your family and stick with it. It's not a competition.
Make a change
Believe it or not, sometimes guilt can help you make positive changes for your children and family. For example, let's say you feel guilty for putting your kids in front of the TV everyday. You feel TV time is too long but on the other hand it does give you time to do other things without interruptions. Make a change. Set a timer and tell the kids they can watch till the timer goes off. Once they're done, be ready with an activity or simply go for a walk with them. Your guilt is gone and they gained quality time with you. Sometimes guilt pushes you in the right direction!
Since you always have something to do, you will have to choose the thing that is relatively more important in any given moment. Yes there are clothes to be folded, bottles to be washed, beds to be tidied, stories to be read to the children, a cup of tea to be had with your husband. The list goes on. In fact it is this list which robs us of living in the moment and enjoying each thing for what it is. So from today on, make wise choices about how to spend your time. Once you've chosen, enjoy the moment. Whether it's not checking your email so you can focus on your child, tidying up after you've sat down and had a cup of tea, ordering out so you can have quality time with your husband this evening, the choice is yours. Making intentional choices and then enjoying those choices will leave you feeling more in control.
Set a timer
If you really cannot let those household chores go, here's a good tip. Cleaning and tidying can be endless. So set a timer. Give yourself 20 minutes on the timer to tidy one area that's really bothering you. Or 30 minutes to dust and rearrange something. Once time's up, that's it. You've done what you could do for today. Be happy with it and move on.
Nurture your marriage
Feeling guilty that you're neglecting your husband? Make sure you both have that daily 15 or 20 minute check in. It's easy to just carry on with the routine, but daily talks are necessary to maintain the relationship. Nurturing your marriage is something you should do even if you're not feeling guilty!