Finding Balance As a Working Mom

2:15:00 PM

photo by: Jennifer Martin Photography

Being a working mom is hard. Not only do we have the responsibilities of taking care of our homes and families, but the added responsibilities of our jobs as well. If you are new here, here is a little background on me. I am a hair stylist and small business owner. I have worked behind the chair as an independent hair stylist for nearly 8 years now and have been a mama the entire time. In these past 8 years I have adapted from being a mom of one, to a mom of three. I have learned a lot in my short time being a mama bear, but am by no means an expert on the subject. Motherhood, I believe, is one of those amazing things that you never actually master. Each day brings new challenges, new blessings and new opportunities to learn and grow as a mother to the tiny humans God has entrusted us with.

If you are a working mom to young children, this post is for you. First and foremost let me tell you, in case no one has told you recently, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB! You are enough! Let me also preface this post with letting you in on a little secret....scootch in close. Can you hear me. I do NOT have it all together. I do not have all the answers. I simply wish to share with you some of my life experiences and how I have learned to find balance in my own life as a working mom. Hoping that maybe it will help you as well.

Finding balance in your life is key, whether you are a mom or not. Married or not. No matter what season of life you find yourself in, life should be all about balance and I feel there are no arguments there. We can't eat French fries for every meal, nor can we eat kale for every meal. We can't only work. We can't only play. The human mind needs balance, just like the body. Our lives need a good footing in lots of things so that we don't experience burn out.

I have experienced burn out many times. As a natural people pleaser, I am the worst at saying "no". I never want to let anyone down. But I heard something a few years back that freed me from my people pleasing chains. Every "yes" to one thing is a "no" to something else. Sit on that for a minute. What are you saying "yes" to that might be stealing time and energy from something else? For me I was saying yes to every appointment, every seemingly good thing at the expense of time with my family. At the expense of my mental health. I was giving my best to everyone else besides the people in my life who needed it the most, my kids and my husband.

THE POWER OF "NO"
The first way I learned to start finding balance in my own life was by learning to say no. And guess what?! It didn't make me a bad person. People were not picketing in my yard demanding more of my time. I had to learn to weigh out what I was saying yes to with what that meant I was saying no to and find, for me, what was most important. I don't know who needs to hear this, but it is okay to not be everything to everyone. Let me free you from the idea that only you can do _______ (fill in the blank). 

Sometimes the no, is the most powerful yes to something else. I've learned that it is okay to say no to taking more clients and working more days. It allows me to say yes to other things, like eating dinner with my family; tucking my kids into bed at night; a park day with friends; seeing my kids at their sports practices and games. 

It is not only okay to say "no", but in my opinion, it is good. It helps set up healthy boundaries between your personal life and your work life. Now I am not saying that this gives you an excuse to say no to everything all the time that doesn't fit your fancy. I simply mean, it is wise and healthy to not say "yes" to every project or every (even seemingly good) thing that arises in your schedule. That for me, finding the power of saying "no" even if it was just every once in a while has helped me find more balance and more joy as a working mother.

photo by: Jennifer Martin Photography

THE POWER OF PRESENCE
Making sure you are present as a working mom can sometimes feel impossible. You work all day, run kids here there and everywhere, make dinner and honestly are just plain pooped by the end of the day. Girl, I get it! How can you really be present with your kids when you feel like you have been run over by a semi truck half the time? I don't think that there is a one size fits all answer to that question unfortunately, but something that has truly helped ground me and helped me become more mentally present when I am physically with my kids is putting away the phone, turning off the TV and just having simple good old fashion fun with them. Sometimes I let them choose a game and I put my housework on pause for a few minutes, sit on the floor and let them have my undivided attention. Other times I include them in the things that need to be done, like cooking dinner. It might mean things get done a little bit slower, but it is time we get to spend together and memories made at the same time. Another thing I love to do is find fun conversation starter questions and ask my kids silly questions, sometimes at the dinner table, sometimes just randomly while we are driving. It spurs the most beautiful, unique conversations and helps me get to know my kids even better. 

One more big thing, aside from all of the coffee. If you know me personally you know coffee basically runs through my veins. But, I digress. The biggest thing that helps keep me present is waking up a few minutes before the rest of my house, making myself a cup of coffee and getting much needed quiet time with Jesus. I try to start every morning this way, although there are many days that somebody wakes up early, or the snooze button gets pressed one too many times and my quiet time is not so quiet. However, even if my time in my Bible is not spent alone, I really try to get this time in each morning at the very beginning of my day. It helps ground me and set the tone for the rest of the day. There is no way us mamas can pour out our hearts and souls to our families and kids and jobs if our cups are empty. I will get to more on that in my next little section, but starting your day on a good note, something peaceful and something that helps center you really does help keep you present the rest of the day.

THE POWER OF REST
Rest. What the heck really is that? Honestly, on the regular I find myself repeating the quote, "there is no rest for the weary..." I haven't rested since before I was even pregnant with my kids. But there is power in rest. True rest. Unplugging from your devices. Turning off the television. Finding little pockets of time to just sit and breathe and be.

I think one of the best decisions I have made in my career (and I know that not everyone has this same flexibility) is to work only Monday, Wednesday, Friday and some Saturdays as needed. Now I do work longer hours (sometimes 12 hour days) because of my fewer days in the salon. Some nights I am closing up after 8 or 9pm and miss tucking my kids into bed those nights. It is hard, but it is a trade off. Because for the most part, I do not work on Tuesdays, Thursdays and I never will work Sundays (that is our sacred family day). This gives me time to find rest within my work week while the kids are at school and is much needed time to get other things done around the house, but also a much needed mental and physical break.

I am somewhat a weird person and rest for me doesn't necessarily mean taking a nap. I must admit, I am actually a horrible napper. I think it is because there is just too much to be done all of the time and I can't seem to shut myself down to take one. For me, rest is more like listening to a good podcast or audiobook while doing the dishes or folding the laundry. Or sitting here now writing this blog post. I don't get to write very often anymore, but it is something that fills me up and that feels restful even though it is still something productive. Finding 20 or 30 minutes for a nice workout. Being outside on a beautiful day, spending time in my garden. There is something so therapeutic about being out in nature. 

Whatever rest looks like to you, my greatest piece of advice, especially to all of you working mamas, is to be intentional about it and write it into your schedule. Schedule a meeting with yourself one hour each week to just breathe, get a coffee and read a good book. Or go for a walk. Put it on your calendar so you can't forget about it or put something else in it's place. Take a little bit of time for you. As I mentioned earlier, you can't pour from an empty cup. You won't be good for anyone if you are strung so thin feeling like you are on the brink of a panic attack (been there many times, it is no fun). Leave some room in your week to be still. You will find the more you do this on a regular basis, the more balanced your life will feel and in turn let you be an even better mom, wife, daughter and friend.


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I will wrap all this up by telling you a brief story that was a turning point for me in my motherhood journey. It was after I had my second son, I was still in the relatively beginning phases of growing my business. I felt guilty saying no to my clients and for even trying to take 6 weeks off for maternity leave that I started coming back to the salon after just 2 short weeks. If you are a mom, you probably are thinking that I was crazy and how could I possibly even physically do that. Well, you would be right! I was crazy and I paid a big price with my mental and physical health. I was tired (you know, the newborn baby tired that you feel like you may die you are so tired), nursing, working way too much, trying to be a good mom to my other son and also leading a bible study that I had already committed to doing before getting pregnant. 

I brought my newborn with me and wouldn't work long days at first. Just a couple of clients at a time, feeding baby in-between. But it wasn't a couple weeks into this crazy, non stop schedule that not only did I start having postpartum depression from the lack of sleep and hormonal fluctuations, but my body was also just weary. I ended up getting a clogged milk duct that gave me a high fever and flu-like symptoms for a weekend. Thankfully, my wonderful husband took the boys, I took a boiling hot bath and put myself to bed at like 4pm that first night and didn't come out or was needed by anyone except to feed the baby. My body was trying to tell me something that I didn't quite get at the time. It was trying to tell me to slow down. To give it a break. Give myself a break. Rest! 

I wish I could tell you I learned my lesson after this incident, but I didn't. There have been a handful of times in the last few years that I have burned myself into the ground trying to do everything for everybody. However, it was a turning point for me. A realization that I can only do so much and take on so much. There are only so many hours in the day and I don't want to spend all of them doing everything for everybody else. Something had to give. I had to make a big mental shift to saying "no" to some of the very good things on my schedule so that I could honestly make room for being a more present, more involved, happier and healthier mom to my kids and wife to my husband.

Although I don't wish burnout on anyone, it is no fun, and the consequences can be much worse than what mine were. If you can allow yourself to learn from those pivotal moments in your life and change the trajectory afterwards than it can be worth it. Life is a journey, let us not miss all of the fun things along the way because we cannot find the balance in our lives to do so. 

If you feel like your life is out of balance, start today!! Start small. Take one step at a time and slowly you will start feeling much more fulfilled in your daily life. Remember that it is okay to say no, to pause and be really present in those small moments with your kids and to find time to rest. I may not be an expert, but I am living proof that finding balance between work and motherhood has made me such a happier person and I enjoy motherhood as well as my career so much more now.

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