When you’re a busy working mum, it can be easy to get so engrossed in motherhood that your other relationships begin to suffer. It’s not intentional, but you barely even have enough time in your busy day to take a minute for yourself, let alone return phone calls or make friendly visits that aren’t child-centred or important family occasions.
After a while, you begin to feel the guilt seeping in slowly but surely, as your mother exaggerates on your voicemail that she has begun to forget what you look like (for those of us who don’t you granny help for childcare)! As if that wasn’t bad enough, when you’re done listening to the message you retreat to your bedroom only to find your overlooked husband cuddling a pillow comfort.
So, on top of being completely overwhelmed with a million things to do around the house and with the children, you now have shame resting comfortably on your shoulders for isolating your nearest and dearest.
If this sounds like a realistic view of your daily life, here are a few simple ways to balance your different roles without going crazy in the process.
- Be realistic and honest with your loved ones
Communication is so crucial in all relationships. Some of the worst feelings and assumptions we and those nearest and dearest make often rest on the things we just don’t say.
These days, a smile text to say “I haven’t forgotten you, but such and such is happening and I’ll call you on x day” is better than stone cold silence.
- Don’t take the burden on yourself ALL the time
Working mums often feel the responsibility to take on the entire family agenda. By the time a friend or family member extends an invitation to do something fun you are completely exhausted and don’t have the time or energy to take part.
Try planning activities and trips for your family that you can do in conjunction with others – those abandoned friends, sister, cousins and grandparents you don’t see as often as you’d like to.
- If you can’t beat them, join them
Team up with your girlfriends when planning the children’s extra-curricular activities so you can hang out while they’re occupied. Arrange your hair appointments and weekend shopping so you get to spend time with your sister. Schedule an early bedtime once a week so you and your husband can spend some quality time alone without getting consumed in housework that you complain never gets done anyway! And no matter how busy you get, make sure you find 30 seconds to ask your spouse about their day has been and.
- Technology is on every mum’s side
After a hectic few weeks of mayhem at work and home, it can be easy to feel out of touch. Why not hop in front of the computer and send emails to let everyone know what’s going on in your world. If you’re the kind of busy mum who doesn’t have time drool and coo over friends’ baby pics on Facebook, and think Facebook chat is a total waste of your time, and you are just too busy to talk on the phone, send quick text messages when you get breaks in your busy day.
- Take some time out for reflection
It’s so easy to forget the things that make us mums feel happy and complete when we focus solely on everyone else. Remember to take out some time to reflect – write down things you used to enjoy and miss doing. Write down any activities you have never tried but would like to experience. Now come up with creative ways to merge them into your monthly schedule, and you’ll start to see a change in your world.
- Learn to talk
The key factor in making time for the important people in your life is to be able to effectively communicate your needs and desires. If taking care of the children is holding you back, speak up and ask your spouse or a family member or friend for help. The people who love you will want to assist you in some way. Try not to ask the same people for help all the time – you don’t want to become a nuisance or turn them into an unofficial babysitter without their consent. Tap into your entire support system so you don’t take advantage of one person’s kindness and willingness to assist.
- Enjoy life, your family and your job!
Being a working mum is not doom and gloom. Yes, it can be stressful at times, but it is the most rewarding job in the world…eventually!
Make spending time fun with your children – it’s the little things like taking time out to have a chat and laugh, going for walks together, watch a movie together and lock your phone away, play in the garden…all free and easy to do if you would stop and look at what you do have.
Your job, even if you hate it, pays the bills. It might not be earning you all you want, but it is doing something, so start to appreciate it, and if it isn’t making you financially free, then take steps to change that. Start a course to get the next promotion, or look for another job. Or start your own business. Remember, there is always a solution…