At Least It Sounds Easy
Being a mother was never easy – just ask your mother. Women today continue to disproportionately bear the responsibilities of domestic work and childcare, according to a California Women’s Law Center report. For working moms, the confluence of family, household and work-related obligations pull them in multiple directions with competing demands on their time and conflicting priorities, says Natalie Gahrmann, owner of N-R-G Coaching Associates and author of Succeeding as a Super Busy Parent.
“Women are acculturated from an early age to neglect their own needs in order to please others,” adds Encino-based psychotherapist Judith M. Harris, who counsels high-achieving mothers in professional careers. “It becomes a problem when they try to do this on the job, at home and in a marriage,” she says. But whether working or not, endless tasks and the desire to be the best mothers and wives they can be often leave women exhausted, frustrated, and with a sense of lost identity.
To avoid these pitfalls, experts recommend the following tips to help women achieve balance in their lives:
• Prioritize and set limits. Women take on too much to prove they are capable, says Harris. By determining your priorities, you can decide what is truly important and what to give up. Don’t be afraid to say “no” if there is too much on your plate.
• Identify all options to make the best choices. Achieving a successful life balance means making choices about work, childcare, values, and lifestyle. The decisions women make allow them to integrate motherhood into their lives without giving up what is important to us, according to author Sheryl Gurrentz. Guilt is the outcome of discomfort with choices made. Gurrentz encourages women to explore all possibilities, not just those that are immediately apparent. When women choose correctly, they eliminate guilt and end up happier, more productive and better mothers.
• Don’t be a perfectionist. Seeking perfection in every endeavor is futile. For tasks that are not critical, putting in 75 percent effort is acceptable.
• Negotiate household responsibilities. “Families are a system, not one person being a slave to everyone else,” says Linda Goodman Pillsbury, author of Survival Tips for Working Moms. By delegating chores to spouse and children, women unburden themselves while teaching that the family is everyone’s responsibility.
• Keep one area for yourself outside the home. Women need a sense of gratification outside their family’s four walls, says Harris. Volunteering, working a few hours a week or engaging in a hobby fosters self-fulfillment and helps to maintain one’s identity.
• Make time for yourself. Experts agree that this is one of the most critical yet frequently neglected tips for all mothers. Doing something for yourself leaves you refreshed and gives you more energy to face the challenges ahead.
• Find support. Several national organizations for at-home mothers have local chapters that coordinate activities and provide a sense of community for mothers and children. Fewer outlets exist for working mothers, but experts suggest building systems of support with other working moms through your children’s activities or professional networks.
Updated August 2012
At Least It Sounds Easy