Column: For working moms, the key to fulfillment, success is setting priorities
Working moms have a Herculean task of managing their time, raising a family, generating income, seeking professional fulfillment, and also trying to maintain their identity.
It’s easy to be caught up in hassles throughout the day. Kids are increasingly busy, and more pressures are added to them in school to prepare for college. A spouse or partner may stay at home, but stay-at-home-parents often work from home. All this work and energy is meaningless if you work to provide a fulfilling life for you and your family, but the time you actually spend together is minimal or filled with stress and chaos.
There may also come a time when you realize that not everything you want to do is getting done, and you’re nowhere near achieving your goals, professional and personal. In comes prioritizing. Working moms have to determine the essential elements to achieve those goals and bring personal fulfillment.
Analyze your list of responsibilities, organize them by how much you value them, being honest about what can be deprioritized, and then implement a strict structure to follow so you don’t slip into bad habits—or lose track of those priorities.
What to do if your home is your office. For the work-at-home parent, it’s difficult to separate out work life from home life. Maybe you have a hard time settling down to work when you have a pile of laundry next to the computer, or dishes piling up on the countertop. Maybe you have a hard time stepping away from work, feeling obligated to be available to your clients or employer. How, then, do you establish set hours?
If you can, carve out a dedicated work space. If there is room for a home office, that is your office. Once you’re in there, you’re at work. If you worked at an office outside the home, you wouldn’t be tempted to vacuum when it’s time to write up that invoice or set up that spreadsheet.
Carve out dedicated working hours. If you were at a different location and not your home office, determine what your working hours would be and stick to those.
If you can’t have set working hours because of the nature of your work, keep track of your hours. Do you get paid by the project? If so, how much time do you spend on that project? You may be excited about a project that will yield $200 at the end of the week. But if you find yourself spending more than 30 hours working on this project, and prorate that, you just worked for around $6 an hour, which is below the federal minimum wage. Is that money worth the time you spent on it, when you could have been doing something else? If the time you spend forwards your goals, then it’s an investment. You’ve given a value to that time beyond its monetary worth, and therefore, it isn’t time ill spent. However, if that $200 isn’t what you needed to keep the lights on or gas in your car, then ask yourself if that’s the most effective or fulfilling way to spend your time.
Be a rigorous organizer. Many people are under the assumption that chaos breeds creativity. Chaos almost always breeds more chaos, which in turn breeds stress. If you’re stressed out all the time, you are not making the best connections with your family.
- Get ready the night before. If you have multiple kids to get ready for school before you go to work, have lunch sorted and bagged, set out clothes, and have easy-serve breakfasts.
- Have a set place for things such as keys, purses, backpacks (and homework), shoes, and rigidly keep to the orderliness of those places. Nothing can derail your morning like searching for something as you head out the door.
- Always budget time to be early. Not just 5 minutes early, but 20 minutes to a half hour early. Lateness breeds stress, which affects your mood, diminishing quality of time with your family.
Don’t be a servant to your family. Every meal does not have to be your kids’ favorite. It doesn’t mean you can’t treat them when it suits your schedule, but you’re not their short order cook. Casseroles and crockpot meals are easy to reheat the next day will save you a lot of precious time.
Have your kids help you cook dinner. It’s important to look for creative—but also functional—ways to be together when free time is limited.
Delegate housework. Kids can make their beds and picking up their rooms even when they’re kindergarteners. Setting up these habits early will teach them to value organization.
Don’t stress perfection. If you don’t have time to make things perfect, you can live without perfection. Is it really your priority to have your kids’ rooms spotless if you don’t have the time to fit in your other tasks? Rigid perfectionism takes a lot of time and mental energy.
Don’t lose yourself. Make sure you’re able to prioritize things that make you fulfilled, that remind you that you are a person with wants and relationships, and not just an outlet for generating income.
Make time for romance with your partner. Reconnect on a meaningful and personal level, and remember that you are partners in this.
Remember love. If you have a family, you want to be making the memories with them and cherishing each moment, all the different phases, the small details. It’s the love that best melts away the stress and helps you stay grounded. And it should be a priority. If you start to lose connection with loved ones, you lose a valuable support network, the people who can boost you up and remind you that life is about living between the mile markers.
At Moms Making Six Figures, we prioritize helping working moms to fulfill their goals while supporting their families, and we work together to build a community of empowered women. If you’re ready to join the community or would like more information, give us a call at (858) 837-1505, or visit our website at momsmakingsixfigures.com.
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