The Working Mom Survival Guide – 11 Steps To Better Work-Life Balance

By SANDRA GORDON– In an ideal world, you’ve got a satisfying career with plenty of time and energy to play with your baby, help with homework, relax with your spouse, get to the gym and catch up with your friends.

Working moms handle work and childcare, life trips to the doctor.

Working moms handle work and childcare, life trips to the doctor.

The reality? You’re exhausted from toiling harder and longer just to keep your job and it’s taking a toll. You’re time-crunched, short-tempered and wound so tight that even relaxing takes effort.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

“In today’s competitive culture, there’s greater stress on an internal and external level,” says Ann Chanler, Ph.D., a psychoanalyst in New York City.

The more that’s expected of us, the more we demand from ourselves to be the best wife, doting mom and caring friend because we don’t want to let anything slide.

But feeling frazzled and the ripple effects on your professional and personal life aren’t fun for anyone or healthy for you over the long run.

Something’s gotta give.

But what? We tapped work/life experts like Chanler and working moms like you for their top sanity-saving tips on how to rebalance the balancing act.

11 Ways A Working Mom Can Achieve Work-Life Balance

1. Put you at the top of your to-do list.
“If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to do a good job of taking care of everybody,” says Chanler, herself the mother of two teenage daughters. She likens self-care to the oxygen mask demonstration on airplanes.

Although it feels counterintuitive, you’re instructed to strap your mask on first, before your child’s.

That means that if, for example, you have a choice between returning e-mail or strolling with your baby, take the walk. Block out an hour in your datebook each week for yourself and arrange your own play dates at least once a month, too.

“Parenting can be isolating but other moms can give you help with issues you’re facing and make you realize you’re not alone. Friends who don’t have kids can help you connect with a part of yourself that existed before you had a family,” Chanler says.

2. Think less is more.
For a greater sense of calm, ask yourself: What can I nix from my to-do list? Then choose one thing to delete from that day’s or week’s agenda.

Ah.

Also, stop multitasking.

“Create a schedule when you’ll work, take care of the kids, spend time with your spouse and concentrate only on the task at hand. Ask yourself: What should I be doing now and do only that,” says Leah Aharoni, a managing director at a translation agency and mom of six.

3. Snooze away stress.
“To manage stress, you have to be well-rested,” says Savitri Dixon-Saxon, Ph.D., associate dean of the Walden University School of Counseling and Social Services, an online university.

Lack of shut-eye increases your body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone, so try to log in six to eight hours of sleep each night. Your brain needs the down time.

A study in the journal Sleep found that people who slept that much performed the best on tests assessing cognitive function, memory, reasoning, and vocabulary tests.

Sleep is also the ultimate fatigue fighter. To log in more zzzz, turn off the TV and go to bed earlier.

4. Exercise your options.
Try to get in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise—Mother Nature’s reset button. To spend more time with your family while you’re at it, be active together by going for walks, strolling after dinner or hiking or biking together on the weekends.

Family time is so important in and of itself. If you can incorporate activity into it, it’s a double bonus.

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