By the way, all mothers are working mothers.
But in recent times, some mothers work outside the home, either due to quest of self – fulfillment or the pressure of a biting economy, or both.
Your circumstance and support level may be different, but here are some of the things that helped me find a near-perfect balance with work and family life.
1. Communication – In my home country, Nigeria, it is not very common to see husbands who would sincerely want their wives to work outside the home. Most men in my locality, takes pride in being able to provide for their wife and kids, part of the reason is that they will have to demand unswerving loyalty and subservience from the wife, and this they think is impossible to achieve with women who is financially independent. (Note: This is not and cannot be a general rule about Nigerian men). The background I provided is to help you see how much is involved in telling my husband that I wanted to work, and that I wanted to further my studies. In my opinion,this discussion is better before marriage than after.
But regardless, I was open to my spouse about my dreams and aspirations. I also allayed his fears about a working woman who isn’t submissive or one isn’t available for the family or one who is too busy to do her wifely and motherly duties. My husband is well-aware that I am a complete woman who loves her family and enjoys caring for them, so I had no hard time convincing him that I want a career, but one that will make it possible for me to still be the best mom and wife to my kids and husband respectively. Over time, he gradually accepted this fact, first grudgingly, and later willingly. Personally, I needed his support but not exactly his permission.
2. I Make Schedules – I don’t even try to remember all dates, details, passwords, events, appointments, not even my child’s PTA meeting date. I write a lot, so I use my pen and diary; better still, go digital! Your phone’s calendar can be of much help. A short pencil is better than a long memory.
Make lists, either ‘to-do lists’ or ‘shopping lists’. It helps you to be organized. My family accuses me of making too much lists of items to buy or things to do…. I really don’t know if it’s becoming my obsession, but it sure helped me get through each day.
Take time to go through your schedule for the day and check off items accomplished, it feels good! Try to stick to your daily plan and make room for exigencies.
However, if you have numerous items on your daily ‘to-do list’, you are not being realistic and the feeling of not-doing-enough can get the better of you and sap your motivation and energy.
3. I try to be Super-Organized – Yes, limit clutter, try and have a place for everything. A place for socks,placed one into the other, a place for the kids spoons, different from adult size spoons, a place for needle, button and thread things, a place for underwears, a place for daily work clothes different from occasion clothes. I clean lunch boxes, dishes, iron e.t.c. the night before….. because I love to wake to a clean house, a new day. Just anything that saves you time and stress of looking for things all over the house especially on a work-day morning. At work, i try not to allow countless papers flying all over the table. I file papers and deal with them in order of priority.
When cooking, I try not to be like my mum, who likes to clutter the kitchen while she is cooking….. maybe because she has a handful of girls to do the cleaning up.
4. Delegate – It is easy to be carried away by praises… Oh! She is a super – mum, the best staff and so on… And then you work, work and over work. Well that is nice, but remember that you will eventually pay for it either with your health, stress level, family relationship or something else dear to you. So bite only as much as you chew!
In the office, learn to delegate when you should. I always remembered that i am keeping two full-time jobs…outside and inside the home. When i come home, am simply resuming a new shift….which is why when you get home from work with your husband, both of you obviously tired, you head to the kitchen, while he heads to the sofa in the sitting room waiting for your meal. But regardless, I love my role as a mother and Wife. Feel free to share with us how you feel …..
So back to the issue of delegating….In the house, enjoy doing chores happily, with your spouse and kids. Initially, they may create more work for you than working with you, but do not give up… It does get better with time.
No matter how super you feel, you can’t do it all alone.
A lot is achieved when all hands are at deck.
In the bedroom especially and if there are kids in the house, things can pile up, real fast. So begin by trying to keep everything you picked up, back in place. It is important to teach kids early to do this… in time you will reap a cleaner and organized home.
Discuss with your spouse and kids (if they are older) on the kind of help you need. For example, do you need a nanny? ‘Live in’ or ‘Live out’ nanny? Or should you take baby to the daycare centre?
5. Learn safe multi-tasking – Women tend to be naturally gifted with multi-tasking. But the fact that you do it does not mean that you do it well.
This helps: ‘Combine similar activities. Make all your phone calls at one time. Do all your errands at the same time. Pay all your bills at the same time. Do all shopping in one trip’.
You can load clothes in the washing machine, start making the beds. You can be cutting veggies while the meat is simmering on the cooker.
You can be folding clothes while baby is on the potty or even while answering a phone call.
But it may not be appropriate nor safe to be making a phone call while stirring the boiling sauce.
6. While at home, be at home – This is not easy for an university lecturer who likes to read, write journal articles, surf internet, mark/grade scripts at odd times…. just whenever the brain wave comes. This was a challenge to me, but I started making conscious effort to limit work at home. I even try to hang out with the kids in the sitting room once they are there. I pretend to enjoy PJ masks, Paw patrol, Mr Bean, Tom and Jerry, Barney sing along and Sophia the first cartoons, with them. I try to be with my husband too when it is his turn to watch national news and pretend to enjoy the endless political news that bore me a great deal. All these I do, when all I really want to do after a day’s work was prepare for the next day’s meals, wearables, e.t.c. and rest my bones on my bed. So my point exactly: I make the house feel my presence positively once am at home…..i try to laugh and make jokes with all…..and above all…I make my weekends and vacation periods count.
Even if you are a stay-at-home mother, chances are that you may go through the motions of your daily chore without fully interacting with the kids and warming their hearts regularly.
The kids will not be around you forever, don’t miss out on the joy of one of the most rewarding job ever, parenting!
7. Care for your soul, you are someone’s child! – All mothers need time to Rest, Refresh and Rejuvenate. You may not have to take a swim or go to country-side to achieve the 3R’s. It may be less than an hour of rest, whilst the kids are taking afternoon nap or immediately you return from dropping them off at school, or during your lunch break. If you cannot achieve this daily, then plan towards it weekly or monthly. Signs that you are not getting enough of the R’s are: Irritability, mood swings, anger, impatience and fatigue. These manifestations rub off on the family’s mood and atmosphere.
My early morning routine has helped me in ways too numerous to mention – improves my mood, relieves stress, maintain healthy body weight, improve self confidence, improves my mental focus through the day and so on and so forth.
Dear Mama, Please Note: Your Mood Determines the Mood of the House – We are that Special!
8. Have a long range view of all challenges – I can not believe that a day will come when am not backing my baby to the university for my post graduate classes…yes i mean the African way…i did all of that. Didn’t know a day will come when the kids will grow and i don’t have to run and breast feed my baby in the middle of my exams. Didn’t know a day will come when my handbag will not be filled with diapers, wipes, baby powder, e.t.c.
So be it pregnancy, parenting, office demands, extra degree… hang in there and enjoy it while it lasts….‘Nothing’ lasts forever!
Relish every moment!
Look on its brighter side!
Take the challenges in their strides!
Special Thanks to my Husband and all the Supportive Husbands, all over the World.