Work-Life Balance for Working Moms

Where does the time go? It’s already late May of 2013! My baby is finishing Pre-Kindergarten and will soon be going to Kindergarten! How did that happen?! It seems like she was just born, and I was sitting in the rocking chair feeding her night and day…!

Do you remember your parents telling you how time flies by?

I remember my Mom telling me, “enjoy what you can now, because it’s gone in the blink of an eye.” But neither my parents, nor my teachers, nor my professors ever really talked about balancing my family life and my job — both of which I love dearly! I find myself every day making mental lists of everything I hope to accomplish in an 18-hour day, and still saving at least 6 for sleep.

But you know what? I never get the list accomplished. And I sometimes find myself more frustrated at the end of the day, because I was unsuccessful in reaching my goal. But then I wonder: was the goal even attainable?

As working Moms, I’m sure we all feel that we have to do everything for everyone — have dinner ready, get the laundry done, make sure the house is cleaned, be available for whomever needs anything, be at the Girl Scout meetings and swim lessons and all the other activities they are involved in — and still be on top of all our work outside the home too. But let me tell you all a secret…

…I can’t do it all.

If you can, then you’re a better person than I.

What I have learned to do is set priorities: what’s most important in my life? What’s the most important thing for my kids today? What are the most important things I need to do in the office today?

I’ve also learned that some things that are just not as important as others.

My family is Number 1 in my life. No, I can’t be there when my girls get home from school, and I can’t make it to every one of their parties or extracurricular activities. But I try my hardest to be home to put them to bed each night, and to spend as many quality moments with them as I can. I may not be able to go to all the soccer games or swim lessons, but I go to as many of them as I possibly can.

In my life as a working Mom, quality time is more important than quantity of time. I know I’ll never be able to have as much quantity as I’d like, and there are always a multitude of things that prevent me from having as much as I hope for, but I do my best to limit those interruptions, and to make the most of every moment we do have.

If the house doesn’t get cleaned this week, and the dishes are still in the sink when I get up the next morning, is that really so bad? Especially if, instead of cleaning the house or doing the dishes, I spent the afternoon or evening with my children at the park? What’s more important? Laundry, or sitting down and playing a game? (Well, okay, there may be times laundry is a bit more important, but hopefully we’re not on that last pair of underwear too often!)

Our children are only young once, and we don’t want to miss the first step, the first day of Preschool, and all those other firsts we can never get back for things that just aren’t as important. The more quality time we spend with our families, the stronger our families will be. And a strong family can make it a lot farther than a weak one, even when torn apart by schedules and work.

I don’t have all the answers, and I still haven’t found the perfect work-life balance. But I do have my priorities, and I know the one thing I most want in life — to be able to come home every night to my children and my husband, to talk about what happened in our days, and to spend precious time with each of them.

Yes, there are things I’m going to miss, and things I have missed. But there are also things I’ll never forget… The Mother’s Day school celebrations, the fighting over bed time (!), the First Girl Scout Camping trip, night-time prayers, soccer games in the rain, and even battles over homework, just to name a few.

We only have so much time to enjoy as much as we can, so find your own priorities and use them to your advantage.

(*Note: Here’s an article with 5 good tips on how to improve your work life balance. See if they can help you!)

Dr. Alicia Hartung, a shareholder in the practice, has been a Kids Plus Doc since 2001.