5 Strategies for Balancing Motherhood and Employment

Today’s post is brought to you by Sabrina O’Malone. A workshop speaker at our 2012 Hearts at Home conferences, Sabrina is the founder and President of WorkingMom.com. She’s an author, speaker, internet missionary and former Mrs. America Pageant Contestant. (She says that’s a long story for another day!)

Working with her husband Daniel, WorkingMom.com has become an online powerhouse, saving time, energy and money for a half-million families every year. The free checklists, coupons, inspiring articles and practical resources share the good news that it is indeed possible for moms to find balance between work and home.  

(Jill’s note: Whether you work outside the home or not…check out her free checklists! They work for any mom!)

And don’t forget, if this doesn’t apply to you, please pass it along to a mom who would be encouraged by today’s post!

If you’ve noticed that holding down a job while raising children can be challenging, you are not alone. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, The percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 who are working or looking for work is now 70.6 percent.

Need some help finding balance? I’ve found these five strategies helpful for balancing motherhood and employment:

Choose Mentors: Your “Inner Circle.” Consider supportive friends and family as mentors. Specifically, the people in your life who tend to provide encouragement and accountability for you. They “speak the truth in a loving way.”

78635191 (2)Professionally, pay close attention to what stellar employees or leaders do and say. Doing similar things yourself may lead to a promotion or raise. Remember, when things are going smoothly at work, there’s a whole lot less stress to spill over at home.

Learn from the Experts. Read books on work/life balance by inspiring authors like: Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey and Stormie Omartian. You can learn how to make the most of work and family from people who have made a career out of teaching others principles to live life to the fullest.

Eliminate the Extraneous:  Just because something is good, doesn’t mean it’s good to do right now. You already have a full plate raising your children and keeping your home. Add in a job and your cup can literally “runneth over.”

Understand that at this stage and season of your life, it may not be in your family’s best interest for you to do extra volunteer work. It may not even be the right season of life for your kids to be engaged in multiple extra-curricular activities. If it’s gotten to the point that your family rarely sits down together for a meal, that’s an indication to scale back – at least for now.

Time together as a family deserves high priority and should be something of a non-negotiable. Though you may be temporarily unpopular with your kids as you require them to reduce some of their outside commitments, it’s worth it.

Delegate: One of my mentors told me “Chores are not something you do TO your children, it’s something you do FOR your children.” Working moms, do not let guilt over the fact that you spend time at work somehow mislead you into requiring less from your children. When I first started working outside the home, I didn’t want my precious time with my kids to be wasted spent fighting over chores. But that was a short-sighted mistake. Here’s why: these are future adults. And if they grow up accustomed to being served, instead of serving others it’s be a recipe to creating spoiled, entitled, self-centered adults.

Household responsibilities build character and teach a work ethic to your children. And simply put, you need their help! Don’t deny your children the opportunity to be a blessing to your entire family. Make sure you require them to do regular, recurring, unpaid work around the house. For help in assigning age appropriate chores, try our “Working Mom Chore Chart” and the “Kids To Do List.” http://www.workingmom.com/age-guidelines.htm

Set Goals: “If you have no idea where you’re going, you’re guaranteed to get there!” (A pearl of wisdom from my Dad.) He was right. The importance of setting personal and professional goals cannot be overstated.

Jot down a list of things you like. Things that bring you joy. Things you enjoy. Then jot down some of the things you want out of life. Things you’d like to accomplish, places to go, relationships you wish to mend or forge. Lastly, jot down what you would need to do to make them become reality. Ask your mentors for their opinions on how you can get where you want to be. It’s amazing what clear goals and a sense of purpose can do for your entire countenance.

Take a Day off and Rest: This is a shocking truism, but you will actually get more done at home and at work in six days when you are focused, well-rested and productive than you would by working yourself into exhaustion each and every day – either inside or outside the home.  Even the Bible says take a day of rest every seven days. Not only that, but God himself rested on the seventh day after six days of work creating the universe! Get organized and be intentional about regularly taking time to recharge, replenish and refresh your body, mind and spirit.

In other words, put yourself on your own to-do list.

You work hard – both inside and outside of the home. And in case you haven’t heard it in a while, remember that earning money to provide for your family can be a tremendous blessing. Be thankful and grateful for what your family and your work bring to your life.

How about you? If you work outside the home full-time, what balance strategies have been helpful for you? 

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12 Responses to 5 Strategies for Balancing Motherhood and Employment

  1. Bridget Bareither says:

    Having a daily to do list helps keep me focused on my days at home. I work part time outside of the home 3 days a week and I find that many chores, errands, and phone calls to be made get shoved onto my days off which can sometimes be overwhelming. Having a daily to do list helps me stay focused on what needs to be done and move through my list quickly instead which leaves more time for more important things like playing with my daughter!
    Also, I’ve found that setting a timer for 15-20 minutes helps me keep focused when I am cleaning up the house, or after lunch time when my daughter has gone down for a nap. Then I still get things cleaned up, but I also get the rest of her nap time to do some “me” things!

  2. Sylvia says:

    I like the reference to finding good mentors. No matter what my status has been in life: single, married, parent… I’ve learned I can’t live without one or two solid mentors to show me how to do life. Great blog.

  3. Lisa.Breakfield@mecklenburgcountync.gov says:

    I loved this article. The idea of having a mentor Mom is a great idea.

  4. SageAlum says:

    Don’t forget to find time to exercise! Even 15 minutes at lunch can help you maintain your energy levels once you get home from work.

  5. Tawnda Andrews says:

    Many good strategies here. Need to start with prioritizing with my husband, what home care is ok to let slide and what I should focus on since it feels like I am all about cleaning the house when I’m off work.

  6. Jill sidlowski says:

    Great tips….I am especially encouraged to hear another mom talk about kids and chores. It DOES help out in a practical sense, but ameeeeen to teaching them responsibility! Sometimes I feel like too much time is spent on chores….always feel like we’re doing something….and then I am reminded that thats because people actually liver in this house!

  7. Anna Rusche says:

    I was at the conference and did not sign up for Sabrina’s session because at that time I wasn’t working outside of the home. Boy do I wish I had now! I recently went back to work and have had a major learning curve for how I operate at, and away from, home. These were great tips to think about and act on. Thanks!

  8. Sarah says:

    I suggest determining what else you can trade off. If you are working, can you afford weekly cleaning help who deep clean for you? Can you and your husband look at your schedules and alter them so that you maximize the time one of you is home when the kids are home- so they have more parental influence? can you use the crock pot for meals so that dinner is almost ready when you get home and you get more time with family? should you organize life differently- we put all our weekday clothes in outfits over the weekend so that there is one less hassle in the morning. Teach your kids appropriate support routines– back pack is always empty- lunch box goes to kitchen counter, folder on table, etc.. shoes always in one spot, coat, etc… make appointments with your children like you do a coworker- to teach a new game, read together, watch a movie– schedule family fun as a priority! Remember you are allowed to keep balance- but only YOU can make it stay balanced!

  9. Shelly Burke says:

    I SO agree with taking a day off! It had made a HUGE difference in what I get done during the week. My family wasn’t too happy with being responsible for their own meals on Sunday, but they got used to it. 🙂 No one will encourage you to take a day off from caring for them, so you must do this yourself, knowing that it’s Biblically ordained and that it will make you a better mom, wife, employer/employee, friend, etc. during the week.

    It took me awhile to get into a routine of making sure necessary tasks were done by Sunday–that everyone had clean clothes and towels, the dishwasher was cleared out and house neat enough that I didn’t spend the day feeling guilty, an unable to relax in a messy house. I freeze casseroles to stick in the oven for Sunday supper or we splurge on pizza. And if there are tasks I didn’t get done, I have become much more comfortable saving them for Monday. 🙂

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