When I ask you what you love about being a working mom, you share how you love having many roles and ways to contribute. And when I ask you what stresses you about being a working mom, you share how there is never enough time to do everything you feel like you need and want to do. While there are definitely positives about being a working mom, I hear your you that it’s a lot to juggle. And sometimes you meltdown or freak out. I get that too!
The Real Truth About Working Mom Stress
Last month, I surveyed working moms including women that work from home, for an employer, and those that are part time and full time. Out of 78 working moms:
- 42% of you have 2 kids
- 21% of you have 3 kids
- 31% of you do more than 41 hours of paid work each week
- 28% of you do 31-40 hours of paid work each week
- 81% of you spend most of your time running errands when you aren’t working or at home
- 72% of you spend most of your time watching or driving to your children’s activities
- 66% of you are also involved and volunteering in a community group, such as PTA, schools, churches, and charities
When I saw these numbers, it hit me how much working moms really are trying to do in any given day or week. Your heart is so big but you don’t have an endless supply of energy and time. You have so much you want to give and birth into this world, but there is only so much of you to go around. You want to be and do all, and it’s hard to choose between so many competing priorities.
And then enters the guilt and pressure that you can’t do more. All the while, you feel like you are drowning in the juggling, balancing act of trying to do it all from work to volunteering to errands and driving kids around. Who has time for anything else but crashing into bed at the end of the night, only to find your mind is still racing with more to do?!
Creating Space for What You Need Too
If you are tired of feeling depleted and like you need to do more, more, more to feel valuable, then it’s time to create some practices where you can begin to care for yourself as much as you care for others. Because when you tune into what you need not just what everyone else needs, you hear the whisper of what you really desire to receive more of:
- Time to breathe, relax, let go of responsibilities and demands
- Care for your health and physical body
- Make memories and have fun with your children
- Date and spend alone time with a spouse or partner
- Catch up with friends other than through text or their Facebook wall
Since we can’t add more hours to our day, how do we create space to care for our own needs in addition to our current responsibilities? I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers from one working mom to another. Instead, I am going to give you permission to recognize and consider your own needs too. Here are a few steps to help you tune into what you need:
- Do a Time Study: Before you change anything, pick one day to write down everything you do that day, noting the time of day, and how long it takes. Literally, record everything, and yes that includes checking your email, emptying the dishwasher, driving to the office, and scrolling Facebook. Then at the end of that day, pull out your notes and reflect on the ways you spend your time and energy. What did you learn? Where are you out of balance? What’s working well already?
- Acknowledge Ways You are Making an Impact: Remind yourself daily that you are already making a difference and having an impact on your world, your kids, and your community. You ARE doing enough.
- Shift Your Mindset: Instead of focusing on more ways you can give, do, or work, shift your mindset to how you can retain some energy for yourself and your own needs and desires. What would you need to say no to? What would you need to say yes to?
- Check in with Yourself First: Develop a routine of checking in with yourself throughout your day, preferably both before you check your phone in the morning. What do you most need to give and/or tell yourself today?
- Take Breaks: Set a timer, reminder, or use an app to encourage you to take breaks. Balance all the doing with embracing being and letting go for at least 10 minutes during your day. And during your break, do something you love to do, energizes you, or allows you to catch your breath. (That doesn’t include folding laundry!)
The Cost of Not Creating Space for Yourself
If you aren’t creating space to meet your own needs, chances are you are headed to burnout or are already pushing through an almost constant feeling of exhaustion. By now, you’ve learned how to push through the fatigue, but only to feel too wired to relax and make time for yourself.
The best gift you can give to your kids and the community you live in and work in is to create space to love and care for yourself too. From this place, you will be able to give to others and projects with less resentment and overwhelm. And you may just find that energy or joy you’ve been missing.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC provides stress counseling for burned out working moms both online for Missouri residents and at her office in Independence MO. If you are struggling with guilt, anxiety, and overwhelm of trying to juggle it all, then schedule a free 15-minute phone consult with Marci. Take the next step to catching your breath and designing a life that not only nurtures others but also yourself.
Or if you aren’t ready to start counseling or just want more tips for working mom stress and anxiety, subscribe to my newsletter here.