Motherhood & Work: How I Survive

I am not a supermom. Supermom doesn’t exist in my house. I’m a juggler. A multi-tasker. A problem-solver. But I’m not a “Supermom” — or this idea of a woman unharmed by the stress of working motherhood.

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As a lot of working moms know, being an “everything mom” (as I call it) comes at the expense of my own mental health. Stress is among the leading causes of physical and emotional health decline in the realm of motherhood, and yet we continue to pour ourselves into everything we do like unintentional martyrs — because it’s expected of us.Every morning, I focus on checking things off my usual to-do list and the pressure to be an “everything mom” — one who works, nurtures, cooks, cleans, loves, disciplines, drives, etc. — settles in. I make two to-do lists in the morning. The first contains goals I know I can get done – taking care of these gives me a feeling of accomplishment. The second list is ‘things I would like to do but it’s not a big deal if they don’t get done today.’ Even crossing one or two of those items off helps me feel like I’m moving forward in life.

A typical day for me begins well before 4 a.m.  I exercise in the early morning so I get my exercise in before work and before the rest of the family wakes up. It’s the ‘me’ time I need, and exercise also helps me manage work stress. I get up early, and by the time my daughter is waking up, I’ve finished getting ready for work and can spend at least an hour with her. It is so worth it.

My work time is shared with answering emails, researching, and handling any random errands that need to be done. I use part of my lunch break to take a nap. It’s key to my energy level and sanity!. I leave work early so I can spend some time with my baby before she goes to sleep.

When I get home from work, the television stays off. Instead my husband and I get down on the floor and play with our daughter until it’s time for her to go to bed.

I’ve become much better at doing a little cleaning or some laundry each night instead of saving it up and tackling it all on the weekends. I need my weekend time with my daughter. Keep weekends as free as possible. After spending very little time with my baby during the week, I love to be able to relax with her all weekend. I never make plans, and only attend the weddings, birthdays, and other get-togethers of my closest friends and family.

The days often feel hard and full, yet empty in the same breath. I often go to sleep reflecting on how much living I’ve missed, promising the next day will be different; better.

Both my husband and I kept our interests alive by scheduling regular times for our hobbies. Every once in a while, we review our schedules and decide if there’s enough alone time, enough couple time, and enough family time, and figure out ways to increase whatever is lacking.

The biggest trick for keeping it all together is to relax, which sounds counterintuitive. Everything always works out – maybe not the way I want it to, but it always does. Stressing out over little things is never productive.

There is no such thing as perfect balance, so don’t add pressure to your life by trying to meet an unrealistic goal. Realize that you can only give so much, and decide where you are going to expend your energy most effectively and happily.

Finally be kind to yourself. Things will get easier.

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