It’s way too easy for working moms to become overburdened. Break the cycle with these road-tested tips from a mother who’s been there.
You know the feeling. You pull into your parking space at work and realize the files you need for your morning presentation are still sitting on the kitchen table. Your child’s first Halloween school parade is the same time as a mandatory work meeting. After spending a small fortune on a family vacation, arguing and complaining erupts before your flip-flops are on. It’s enough to make you want to fall headfirst into a big pile of unfolded laundry. Welcome to working mom reality. The rewards of parenting are abundantly rich, but sometimes a working mom needs a break!
Working mothers know what it takes to get stuff done and do it day after day. We face a daily swirl of demands to do our best, leaving many of us feeling like we just can’t keep up. We often end our days exhausted—yet feeling like we’re not doing enough. We over-compensate by over-giving and over-doing so we can be the mother, partner, co-worker and woman we set out to be. Life becomes a mix of have-tos, should-haves and “you blew it again” moments.
When I was raising my daughter, there were so many times I felt like I was faking happiness. And I felt guilty for feeling that way. After all, I was blessed with a spirited daughter and a good career. But, I was busy, tired and grumpy most of the time. The irony for me is, I was, and still am, a healthy living and wellness consultant specializing in mindfulness. I felt like a fraud. I was giving the best of myself to my work and bringing home the leftovers.
In an odd way, I felt right at home with this fast pace. Every woman I knew was doing the same, so how could I complain. Feeling guilty was just part of it; it certainly wasn’t a reason to cut back and do less. But at some point we need real nourishment that can recharge our body, mind and spirit. If not, we eventually become resentful and angry. That’s when you know it’s time for a Me Intervention! So I came up with five ways to feel truly happy, break up with busy and remind myself to live life free of guilt as often as possible.
First, decide what brings you a unique sense of fulfillment and pleasure. Tap into how you feel during and after. To enjoy the benefits of your guilt-free time, make sure it’s something that nourishes and revitalizes you. Then ...
1. Dump the junk from your day.
Remove three nonessential chores from your day. Perhaps it’s something that you do every day that someone else can do. Take a look at your big picture—are there things you’re doing that aren’t making a positive impact in your daily life? Once you’ve dumped the junk, you’ll have space for self-enrichment.
2. Remember that consistent boundaries help create sacred spaces.
My mother used to say if there isn’t blood or smoke, don’t call me at work. And she meant it! Unless it was an emergency, it had to wait. This is a clear boundary that you can decide when and how to use, and when you do, stick to it. Consistent and clear communication is the No. 1 way to establish and develop a sacred space to restore your inner balance. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll create when your kids understand that no means no, and mom’s time is non-negotiable. You’ll be modeling healthy boundaries and at the same time reaping the benefits of doing so.
3. Be curious and inspired.
This may seem frivolous, but I assure you, you’ll be fully rejuvenated when you give your mind this innovative time-out. By creating this mindful space, you’ll likely design new ways of bringing more of what you want into your life and reduce time-zapping distractions. To do this, focus on honoring your time with curiosity and inspiration for 15 minutes each day. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to learn something new; take this time to explore where and how you can do this. Lead with your curiosity, not with what might get in your way. Curiosity can spark imagination, memory and learning. You brain lights up like a neon sign and releases the feel-good chemical dopamine—just by being curious. Feeling inspired can move you from indifference to optimism, and it’s easier to problem-solve and manage daily stressors. Look for what inspires you and you’ll transform the way you experience your world.
4. Shore up your sisterhood.
No one understands how busy life gets better than other working moms. Make your sisterhood group a priority. Gathering a diverse group of women gives us an opportunity to learn, exchange ideas, share resources and have some well-deserved fun! My group is part therapy and part comedy show, and I always feel lighthearted and re-energized after spending time with them. If you don’t have a group or a close friend, be bold and step out of your comfort zone to join a group or take a class that interests you. You’ll meet other like-minded people, and at the very least, you’ll be a part of something that brings you joy.
5. Drop the ‘should’ and reinstate the ‘could.’
When we continually do things that are should-based, we actively feed the insatiable appetite of guilty. Before saying I should do xyz, pause and consider the could factor. Try it on for size here: I should make my day less busy and guilt free. Now, try this: I could make my day less busy and guilt free. Which one invites new possibilities? Try it, and with the space you create by getting rid of a few shoulds, you could be on your way to more busy-free and guiltless Me time.
Written by Yvonne Tally for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.