Boost Your Productivity As A Working Mom: Tips, Tools, And Strategies To Balance Work And Home Life
As a working mother, it can be challenging to balance the demands of work and home life while also trying to be productive with your time.
I would know.
Despite this, it’s important to stay productive to achieve success in both areas. It seems next to impossible to excel in our career, prosper in our relationship, run a functional household, and be a great mother all at the same time.
In this post, we’ll talk about the challenges of being a working mom and provide tips, tools, and strategies to help you increase your productivity and achieve a better work-life balance. Whether you’re seeking to maximize your time, manage your responsibilities more effectively, or prioritize your well-being, my goal is to provide you with the resources you need to be more productive and succeed as a working mother.
Understanding The Challenges Of Being A Working Mother
Balancing work and home life is hard for anyone, however, being a working mother brings a unique set of challenges to the table,
Leaving out the fact America is not set up to support the working mother, there are very few if any, options to help relieve the stress and burdens that tend to fall on the working mom.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Affordable child care.
- Child care options for a sick child.
- Opportunities to meet with your child’s school.
- Attending school programs or field trips
- Before and after school care at every school.
- Parent participation for class projects.
These are some things that I’ve struggled with just this year.
On top of feeling like I can’t give 100% to my child, I still have to take care of the other things that I am responsible for, like my job, my relationship with my partner, my home… By the end of the day, I don’t have anything left to give to myself.
Balancing Work And Home Life
It might seem like we’ve got it together looking from the outside in, but the truth is, I can barely stand up on two feet without life knocking me down immediately.
I am constantly faced with whether to put my job first or my family. The dilemma here is that I want to put my family first. But for me to do that, I have to put my job first. Because without my job, my family won’t survive.
If I lose my job, who will pay the bills and buy the groceries?
I can’t call out of work every time Ember gets sick and has to stay home from school. Or every time the school has a staff development day and the kids get off half a day. I need to be efficient at work if I want to keep my job.
To do so, I have to make sacrifices and unfortunately, my family is usually the ones losing out.
Juggling Multiple Responsibilities
So how do we do it all? How do we get every single little thing that needs to be done completed? How do we get it all done and still have time to breathe in between?
We have to prioritize.
Hypothetically and God forbid if you and your family were in an airplane crash and suddenly you all need to use the emergency oxygen mask that pops down from the ceiling, who do you put the oxygen on first? Yourself? Your spouse? Or your children?
Your automatic reaction will be to put it on your children, correct?
But then what happens when you and your spouse have passed out from lack of oxygen and now your children, who have oxygen on, are left alone? There aren’t any adults to care for them and save them because they’re unconscious.
That is hard to grasp but the idea there matters. You can’t save your family without first saving yourself.
It may seem like you’re putting your family second, but what you are doing is making sure their needs are met, even if that means making them wait a few extra seconds while you get the first things on your priority list complete.
For everything to work out properly, things have to be completed in order of priority. This is especially important when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities, as a working mother often does.
Dealing With Stress And Fatigue
After we’ve completed our day’s worth of responsibilities and everything is as good as it’s going to get, we now get to deal with the stress and fatigue that follows.
Because you working moms are likely not taking their spare time to catch their breath or rest for a second, they struggle with stress and fatigue.
Stress and fatigue go hand in hand. Just like depression can cause its victim to sleep days at a time, stress can cause the same symptoms of fatigue. The kicker to this is that working moms typically can’t give in to their body’s overwhelming want and need to sleep. Instead, we are forced to carry on and finish our job (without it we don’t get paid), maintain our home (our families have to eat and our kids have needs that need to be met), and then do it all over again tomorrow.
This can be especially difficult for a single working mom who doesn’t have any help with her children at home. I am lucky enough to have a spouse that I can usually unload on if I need to, but some parents don’t have that luxury.
Ideally, we would make time for ourselves. We would make time to unwind and recharge for the next day, but how do we do that when every second of our day is filled with responsibilities?
This will sound silly, but bathroom breaks are a nice time to catch your breath.
I know that the world wants me to tell you to MAKE time for yourself because you need it and you deserve it, but the truth is, that’s not always possible for everyone, and the people who can’t take an afternoon to get a manicure need help, too.
So use your bathroom breaks as a quick recharge. Take an extra three minutes and sit there. Scroll through your phone if you want to. Close your eyes and meditate for a second.
No one is going to need you to be there at that exact moment. You can take three extra minutes in the bathroom to gather yourself and breathe through your stress. This can be done while working and while you’re at home.
Make it a habit to give yourself three minutes of extra bathroom time every time you go.
I bet your spouse does it.
Give Yourself An Extra Hour Of Sleep At Night
Not happening, huh?
I didn’t think so, either. But the minute I got into a good sleeping routine, my days became much more productive.
Not everyone thrives on the same amount of sleep every night. Me? I’m fully functional on six hours. I wake up at 2:30 am every day and get my day started. Everyone is in bed and sleeping, usually, by 8:00 pm.
I am more productive waking up early to get things done than I am in the evening after I’ve worked all day. So I started going to bed early. When days get rough and the fatigue is worse than usual, I will add thirty minutes to my morning and evening to add up to an extra hour of sleep. One extra hour makes me feel incredible.
Commute To Work Time
Your commute to work is something you get every day, right? Use that time for you. Listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook. Lose yourself in your favorite music for a while.
Even if it’s just a few minutes, you can turn your brain off and listen to something that helps you to relieve some stress and unwind for a minute.
The time I drive to work after I drop Ember off at the babysitter is precious to me. This is when I listen to my podcasts and audiobooks. This is a time that I take strictly for myself. My brain isn’t usually going a hundred miles an hour and my body can relax.
Turn your notifications off on your phone and drive in silence if you crave silence. Your commute to work doesn’t have to be awful. Take that time and use it wisely, and in this case, it’s for yourself.
How To Be More Productive As A Working Mother
All of your problems probably come down to one thing- you’re not using your time productively.
What do I mean by this? You aren’t planning out your day to be for optimal productivity.
Routines, schedules, and habit stacking are very helpful for productivity.
Habit tracking can be an eye-opening experience for those of us who have never done it before.
What are some things that you wish you would do a little less? Binge-watching tv? Scrolling Facebook? How much time are you wasting by doing these things sporadically throughout the day?
Using your time wisely will enable a more productive life.
Setting Priorities And Goals
I mentioned priorities before.. But now I want you to set them. I need you to go through your day and write down everything that has to be done.
- Ember of to school
- Go to work
- Cook dinner
- Do homework
What things should be done?
- Light housework
Now, what things do you want to get done?
- (insert goals here)
This is different for everyone and will probably be different every day. I usually add an after-work task here. These things don’t necessarily have to be completed, but when you can get to them, you’ll feel so productive.
Tackle your “has to” first, your “should be” next, and then your “want to”. Start with your worst and most time-consuming task in each category, first, because when you’re done with that you have nothing left to dread.
Now, where do you schedule time for yourself in this? Well, where can you? Do you have free time at any point in your day? Or do you have something that you usually do routinely that you can combine with another task to free up some space?
Time Management Strategies
I have a really good cleaning routine and I suggest everyone formulate a cleaning routine that works for them. A cleaning routine that is easy and you can do quickly makes a huge difference. I don’t like cleaning schedules because life doesn’t always follow a schedule, instead, I use routines to keep my home and work life functional.
I do a lot of habits stacking because if I can get multiple things done at one time, then I am freeing up time elsewhere in my day.
If I wipe the bathroom counters down while I am brushing my teeth then I don’t have to backtrack later and do it and come my off days, it’s clean and doesn’t have to be added to my list of things to do.
Habit Tracking And Time Audits
Because seconds turn into minutes, and minutes turn into hours, it is important to know where you are spending those precious moments.
Doing a time audit is a great way to figure that out. A time audit is keeping track of how you are spending your time, down to the minute. Writing down exactly what you are doing at all times can be very eye-opening.
Doing a time audit can give you an idea of where you are wasting time and how you can use your time more productively.
While you do your time audit, you can also do a little habit tracking. Habit tracking is the same idea as the time audit, only you are taking note of the things that you do every day.
By using these two tools to see where you are wasting time in your day and how you can improve your habits, you are very likely to be able to use your time more productively.
I love time blocks. Instead of using a schedule stating, “at 2:00 I will wipe counters and at 2:07 I will load the dishwasher” A time block says, “from 2:00-2:30 I will clean the kitchen”
By using a time block, you are allowing yourself a certain amount of time to get things done before needing to move on to the next task. A schedule is more detailed, meaning you have to stick to one thing and you only have so much time to do it.
In my experience, knowing I have such a small amount of time to do something makes me anxious and I am less likely to get that thing done.
But a time block lets me choose what I’m going to start with and doesn’t micromanage my time. Does that make sense?
Taking Care Of Your Physical And Mental Health
Taking care of your physical and mental health is just as important as figuring out where your time is going when it comes to becoming more productive.
Without feeling motivated and being in a good head space, all of your work will be for nothing. You can’t be your most productive and successful self if your physical and mental health isn’t taken care of.
Scheduling annual health visits can help you to make sure you are in your best shape. Preventative care is the best care.
Being sure to give yourself a break once in a while does wonders for your mental health. Remember, you can’t work all of the time. Even doing something you love. By taking a break you are giving yourself time to recharge and get back to your 100% self.
Delegating Responsibilities And Asking For Help
I am the queen for trying to get everything done alone. It’s a fault of mine and I’m well aware of it.
As a working mom, a lot falls on my shoulders and when I can’t get it all done I start to feel like a failure. I want to get all of my work responsibilities, my home responsibilities, and my mom duties 100% complete by the end of each day. However, sometimes, that just doesn’t happen.
We have to remember that it is okay to ask for help. We can ask our spouses for help with household chores when we’re running behind or we just don’t have the willpower to get to it right now.
It’s ok to give the other members of our family consistent chores to do to help out with the housework. Moms don’t have to do it all alone. We shouldn’t.
To teach our children how to be responsible and independent adults, they have to learn to be responsible and independent humans. Meaning, they can bring their clothes to the laundry room and load and unload the dishwasher.
Delegating house chores can save you a huge amount of time. One less thing you have to do is one more opportunity you have to make your time more productive.
Consider everything that you do during the day and decide what things could be handed off to someone else, reasonably. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders all of the time. Your family can help with the burden, too.
Passing off smaller things can give you more time to focus on the bigger and more important things, while also freeing up precious time and possibly giving you time to breathe.
Achieving Success As A Working Mother and Increasing Productivity
As a working mother, it is important to prioritize your well-being and productivity to succeed in both your professional and personal life. Understanding the challenges and taking the steps to overcome them can help you to improve your productivity and achieve a better work-life balance.
Whether it’s maximizing your time, managing your responsibilities, being more productive, or being more present, following some of these tips may help you succeed.
I hope you can find something useful from this and, in turn, make your days a little easier.
Remember, you are not alone. Being a working mom is hard and sometimes we don’t spend every minute of our time working the most efficiently. Sometimes you won’t get enough sleep, or you’ll have to miss important things. But one thing is for sure and will always be- you are a wonderful and productive mother.