It doesn’t exist. I’m serious. As a working mom myself, I am constantly told, “You need to make sure you are balancing work and your kids“. Well the cat is out of the bag…this is a mythical, made up expectation!
Can we try to stay centered and equally divide our time, focus, and energy between work life and home life? YES! But give yourself some grace…it won’t always happen and THAT’S OK!
As working moms (especially if you work from home), we seem to always have so much—too much—on our plate. We need to “do” all of the things that come with the territory of staying at home: clean up the house, get kids off to school, pack lunches, make dinner, do laundry, grocery shop, chauffeur kids to and from sports, lessons, activities, play dates, homework, bath time, bed time. Are you just as exhausted reading this list as I am writing it out?! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Then, we add into the mix the fact that you actually have a job or career to attend to on top of all of our other duties/expectations. You run your own business, you’re an assistant, you work remotely for your company, etc. You have a full-time job to do!
For me, that looks something like this:
Shoot (Weddings, Portraits, Engagements, you name it….)
Social Media Everything
Never ever are there enough hours in the day to get everything on my to-do list done! Never do I have a day that is fully dedicated to just “work”. So, I have to get creative! I absolutely LOVE my job but I absolutely LOVE my children and role as a mother and wife.
So how do we “DO IT ALL”??
Haha! That’s cute. WE DON’T.
Truth be told, some days I feel like I’m drowning…and then someone hands me a kid that needs his poopy diaper changed and the dinner I had cooking just caught on fire in the kitchen!
Other days (these are the ones I LIVE for!), I feel accomplished, balanced, centered, and on top of my “mom” game and “business owner” game! I’ve got dinner in the Crockpot ready for later that day, I took my kid to Occupational Therapy while the older two were at school, I edited an engagement session and had it uploading to my client during naptime, and was able to remember to switch over the laundry so it didn’t sit in the washer overnight (gross but so true)! It’s little wins like this, that make certain days feel like HUGE accomplishments!
Now, enough about me…how can I help YOU?
I want to share what I have learned over the last 8 years of being a working mom and the last 4 of being a Stay at Home, working mom that have helped me find days of “Balance”.
I have a schedule for every person in my google calendar. Each person gets their own color. Each “business item” gets its own color. For instance, Brady is GREEN, Charlee is PINK, Blaine is ORANGE. This is so I will know right away when I look at my monthly or weekly calendar who has what going on each day. I personally have YELLOW, the business has BLUE and even social media (like blogging content and Instagram) has its own color as well! I am super visual and it helps me see what days are full and what days I might have a little more freedom.
There are days that I deem “Mom” days. These are days that I spend with my kids. They don’t go to a babysitter, they stay home and we play, go to a park, the pool, grocery shop, make Costco runs, go out to lunch for fun- you name it, we do it! Some days are less glamorous and are filled with house cleaning, chores, laundry, reading books or getting some screen time in, but “mom” days sometimes feel busier and crazier than my “work” days!
That feeling you get when you not only conquer the laundry, but the BUCKET full of socks to be matched!!
Then, there are “work” days. These are the days I send my 3 year old to a babysitter (consider this outsourcing…which we will get to later!). I learned early on that I cannot be both, an attentive mom and a working mom. So, I gave myself working days. These are the days that I try to crank out as much work as if I was working 5 days a week at a normal 8-5 corporate job. I put on a podcast or Netflix and I GO TO WORK! It doesn’t always work out as planned, and I never get as much time to work on my business as I would like….but I do the best I can with the hours I do have.
While I NEED to know my schedule ahead of time, I also make to-do lists, both personally and professionally. These lists are basically a brain dump of everything I can think of that needs to be done or taken care of! I look at the list every night before I go to bed to prepare myself for what I need to accomplish the next day and to also see how it will all line up with what’s on the schedule.
Did I say monsters? I meant blessings! 🙂 This one is new (ish) to my routine. I haven’t always been a morning person. If you knew me in college, you know I LOVE my sleep. While my roommates were up by an acceptable and appropriate time on the weekends, I would say my days started around noon! I love to stay up late and sleep in! But this doesn’t work in the adult, working, mom world. ADULTING IS HARD! I used to stay up late and get as much work done after the kids went to bed, and then sleep in until they woke me up. But this was not good for anyone! I was tired, cranky and rarely felt like I was doing anything for ME. Now, I wake up early, hit the gym and get my sweat on! Which leads me to my next point…
For me, this means starting my day at the gym. My alarm goes off at 5:20. I push snooze. It goes off again at 5:30 and I finally get myself out of bed. It may be hard at first, but I noticed a HUGE change in how I felt, how I mothered my children and what I was able to accomplish without worrying WHEN I would be able to get to the gym. I get my endorphins in and I am a better person because of it. But, that means I have to force myself into bed earlier. It’s HARD. I still have plenty of work to be done once the kids go to bed, and then there is that guy I call my husband I want to spend time with as well. But I just have to remind myself that it’s okay to not get everything done on my “to do” list and that’s just the nature of the beast!
I’ll be honest, I am not the best at this. There are days, weeks, months where I am ON TOP OF IT, and then my husband reminds me of the time where I was so busy and had completely lost focus of anything that remotely resembled a wife and mother. There was no food in the house, and while I was at yet another engagement shoot, he had to get creative for dinner and ate “Dinosaur Chicken Nugget Tacos”. A delicacy for sure! But not one of my finer moments.
Luckily, where I live there is this awesome healthy meal service called Citrus Pear and it has CHANGED THE FREAKING GAME!! In 2 hours, I was able to meal prep 20 meals (10 recipes, doubled) with no shopping, no set up and no clean up!! Yes you read that right! I showed up at 7 PM with for girl time with some of my favorite friends from my neighborhood. While we laughed, chatted and drank Diet Coke together, I meal prepped 20 meals for the month of March and left at 9 PM with a cooler full of delicious meals to pop in the Instapot or Crockpot!
If you don’t live in Utah or Idaho, have no fear! There are plenty of healthy meal delivery services that are AMAZING! Check out: Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Freshly, Home Chef, or Purple Carrot. There are so many out there!
The point is, you need to PLAN! If there is no plan, plan to fail!
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s 100% worth of its own section. I schedule “MOM” days! It feeds my soul, reaffirms my “WHY” (no big shocker, but my kids are a huge driving force to my why!), and honestly sometimes we all just need some quality time together. Go to a park, take them to a fun lunch (my kids think a trip to Chick-Fil-A is living their best life!), or watch a movie together. My personal favorite is snuggling and taking a nap with my kiddos!
I also do my best to make sure I have one-on-one time with each of my three kiddos. This is WAY easier said than done- especially because my 3 year old needs more attention than most and my 8 year old is pretty dang self sufficient and LOVES and worships the water his dad walks on! I am still always looking for ways to show my 8 year old how much I love him and how to score some “brownie” points in his book as well, but I know he will always look up to his dad as his “HERO”. Luckily for me, my 6 year old loves anything I do…so I’m set there!!
OK and last but DEFINITELY not least…
Consider this to be anything that you can take off your plate as a working mom.
Once a month, I have a house cleaner (sometimes once every 3 weeks if I’m feeling like I can’t keep up). She is heaven-sent and I would donate plasma for extra money just to pay for her services if I had to!
Curbside grocery pick up…this was a game changer, too! No more wandering the aisles with littles pulling things into the cart we definitely don’t need!
Childcare…this might not seem like something that you would consider as an outsource, but I do! Having someone you trust help watch your children so you can do other things you have on your plate is HUGE! We have used the same sitter since my oldest was 9 months old. Each kid has been watched by her…and at this point she is family.
And last but not least: I hired a virtual assistant. She was everything I knew I needed and then some. Honestly, as an entrepreneur I need at least 3 of me to get everything in order and crossed off my list. Add in the fact that I have 3 kids, one of them with special needs, and I just can’t do everything I need to in order to make my business thrive. So, I swallowed my pride, made room in my budget and outsourced! SHE IS AMAZING! A LIFESAVER! And truly not only steps in where I fall short, but has helped me stay on track and keep myself focused on what matters most! Elle, you’re the REAL MVP!
I hope you found one, if not all of these tips helpful! The most important thing to remember is that you cannot do it all, and you can’t do it all alone- and that’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of an awesome momma! Working Moms UNITE!
And if you need a friend, someone that just “gets you”, I will be here for you cheering you on every step of the way!!