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Really…can working mums have their cake and eat it without burning out?

Not that long ago bringing home the bacon was the father’s, and while women may have done some things that generated money, their primary and sole purpose was to raise the family.

how to be a working mumFast forward to 2012, a global economic crisis, lone parenthood and high cost of living meaning that many families can’t survive on the father’s income alone, working mothers are bringing home the bacon, too.

According to stats from the government, 50% of mums are working. For many the choice of being a stay at home mum is not financially viable, but for many mums the thought of not having some outside stimulation, or a chance to make their own money just spells misery.

So, leaving all the reasons aside, are working trying to balance too much? Is it unrealistic to expect to raise a happy family, while climbing that career ladder – or run your own business? Can you really have your cake and eat it as a working mum?

Not so recently millionaire business mum Michelle Mone split from her husband of more than a decade because of her commitment t her business causing them to drift apart. Celebrity mum and fashion designer Victoria Beckham recently hit out at reports on her appearance saying that she was tired like every working mum because she doesn’t have hired help to help with new baby Harper, and her three sons with husband David Beckham.

So, when even the rich and famous with a lot more of a disposable income than the average Mr and Mrs Smith, who can afford to work less, who can take time out of work for long periods of time, who can pay for childcare and still bank a million or two in the bank can’t have their cake and eat it, what about so-called normal families?

The only way working mums can have it all

When asked if it is possible for working mothers to have it all, I always answer: “Yes. It is possible for working mothers to have it all, but only when they know how to ask for and accept help, delegate and have their priorities straight.”

The trouble with many working mothers is that they have difficulty asking for help – if you try to do everything yourself, you will burn out…it really is as simple as that. You have two arms, which will open so wide, and stay wide for so long without you feeling the ache.

You also need to have a clear idea of what that cake you want to eat looks like; some people love a Victoria sponge, other prefer carrot cake and for some, chocolate cake is too rich. What would be the perfect balance for you and your family? Is working full-time the only way to bring in enough money to sustain your family, or make working worth your while? Or do you not need the money a full-time job brings, but just want to keep your toe in the professional water for when you’re ready to go back fully?

Whatever the reason behind working, you also need to accept that as soon as you start to work, you reduce the time at home, and the workload increases – less time to spend on homework with the children, less time to do chores are just two examples to consider.

Preventing working-mum burnout

Even though most mums know it take a village to raise a child, most mothers don’t ask their village for help. A village here just means your support network – friends, family (if they are close by). This puts undue pressure on working mums and their families.

So here are three simple ways mothers can ask for help and prevent parenting burnout:

Being a mum is a big job in itself
Get real – when you add work into the mix, you can’t do it all by yourself. The first step is to realise that the best thing you can do for your family is to ask for help – that means everyone is involved, you’re less tired and stressed and enjoy life more. Burning your candle at both ends only leads to burnout, so you want be nice to be around at home, and you won’t be very productive at work, either!

2. Graciously accept help
When someone asks if they can help you, just say yes and then figure out how.mount embarrassment aside, and stop feeling like accepting help will make you look like a failure – it’s a lie! Let others in your life, especially your children and spouse, help you more. Remember to thank them and focus on what they did well so they will want to help you in future, and until it becomes a way of life for your family (reverse psychology works!).

3. Find ways to farm out the things you don’t like doing
Don’t like ironing – consider sending them to the cleaner and use this extra time to focus on your family. Don’t like to clean but love to cook? Trade chores with your spouse if they love to do the things you don’t. Or hire a cleaner…yes, it costs money, but you can choose the frequency of the cleaning according to your budget.

Here are just a handful of tips – the first step is to write down your wants and needs and start working out what your cake should look like for you and your family, then take action!

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Editor - motherswwhowork.co.uk