How To Balance the Work/Mum Life!

How To Balance the Work/Mum Life!
Nikki is wearing the 'Embrace Bra' in stellar.

After having a child, we’re all in very different boats, some far more stable (financially speaking) than others.

For many of us, going back to work while your kid/kids is/are young is non-negotiable. Whether it be for money, or perhaps you need the stimulation your job provides.

Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say a lot of mothers struggle to get the balance right between working and being 'mum.' There’s a lot on our plates. Not only do we strive to be the best mother we can be, but we’re often expected to perform our jobs to the same standard we did before having children in order to guarantee job security. Combine that with keeping the house somewhat tidy, the kitchen cupboards full, getting everyone to football practice or swimming etc. on time, being a loving and ‘available’ partner, sister, daughter, friend, auntie…etc. It’s a lot, and although some days will be easier than others, it can often be a very difficult juggling act.

A few months ago, Cadenshae conducted a survey asking our loyal customers how they balanced the working mum life. A plethora of answers came in, well over 2000, and there were some golden little nuggets of advice that kept being repeated. We at Cadenshae thought it was vital we shared this information for those who’re about to go back to work, those who have just gone back, and those who’ve been back a while, but still find it all very overwhelming.

We hope through our amazing community of gorgeous, supportive mothers worldwide, you’re able to take something away from this that will make things a little easier on you. Here goes!

First and foremost, many mamas said they relied heavily on their partner to make things work. It seems in order for our mums to have some zen in their lives, they needed a solid ying to their yang. This partner has to be a true ‘partner’ in every sense of the word. They’re not a ‘supportive’ partner or a ‘great babysitter,’ they are an actual 'team-mate' who takes on 50% of the load. As to how that looks is entirely different in every household, but many women said in order for them to go back to work comfortably, their partner had to make changes to his/her work/home life balance too. For example, their partner had to agree to come home earlier than BC (before children), and they had to be more readily available to pick their kids up from daycare etc. Said partner had to lift their game with the house-work, cooking, shopping, the works. It’s simple really…the secondary care-giver is no longer a title given to the ‘dad,’ per se, it’s 50/50 now and things have to be re-jigged on both sides to make things work.

Aside from a solid team dynamic at home, many women spoke about having a reliable ‘village’ waiting in the wings. This was particularly vital for single mums (you guys are absolutely amazing by the way). Grandma, Grandad, uncles, aunties, friends etc. Ensuring there’s a number of available people with whom their child felt comfortable with when needed, makes things much easier for the working parents. If for example mum or dad (or dad and dad, or mum and mum) can’t take the day off to look after their sick bubba, calm the heck down – Nana’s got this! Work this out with your nearest and dearest well before you go back to work so you’ve got your bases covered and everyone knows their responsibilities. 

Organisation was talked about A LOT. For example, many mums found cooking meals and freezing them over the weekend was a life saver. It meant that when they got home after a busy day at work, there was no rush to get dinner on with screaming/hangry children in tow, thus starting the evening off negatively. The pre-made meal is a ‘yes’ from many of our hard-working mums.

Routine. As soon as you have a baby, there’s always talk of routine, and in order to manage everything efficiently, a lot of mothers swear by a sturdy routine. You know what’s happening, the kids know what’s happening, so everything runs on autopilot (eventually) and life can roll out as smoothly as possible. 

A few tips:

1. Pack lunches and school bags the night before.

2. Lay clothing out the night before.

3. Get everyone up at the same time every day (if they’re not up earlier of course!) so you know exactly how much time you have before getting out the door.

4. Have breakfast at the same time every morning, and put a limit on how long your kids have got to eat it, i.e. 30m. If it’s not eaten in that time, too bad. Teach your children they can’t muck about in the morning, and there’s a schedule to stick to. CHOP, CHOP CHILDREN!

5. Don’t get fancy with breakfasts on a work day, just give them what you know they’ll eat to avoid fuss.

6. When you’ve got 15m before you need to head out the door, turn some music on so the kids can recognise it as a ‘bell,’ and they know to get their teeth done, shoes on, go to the bathroom etc. in that time. Give them a treat if they do it within that time frame the first few times…just like a dog, train them up so they’ll always do it! Plus music is so good for the soul and a fantastic way to start the day.

7. When it comes to picking the children up, try and be there at the same time every day and just like the morning routine, have a solid night-time routine too. As with the breakfasts, just give them a dinner you’ll know they’ll eat on work days to avoid the drama. Wait until the weekends or a day off to attempt new flavours and textures (when you have more energy and time to encourage and/or bribe them to try the salmon)! Make it easier on yourself woman! 

Another fantastic piece of advice was to set realistic expectations with your colleagues and employer as soon as you head back to work after having a baby (your partner will need to do this too). Have a think about how you’d like things to work for you. Some women in our survey said once they’ve left the office, that’s it…they deliberately stop emails coming through on their phones until around 8:30 the next morning (you can set your phone to do this). If it’s an emergency they are available to be called, but for the most part, once 5pm rolled around - it’s kid time. Other mothers said the same thing, but that they’d be available after a certain time in the evening to respond to emails, i.e. 7:30pm once the children are down and she’s had her dinner. Setting this expectation from the start with colleagues leaves no room for miscommunication and everyone knows what your boundaries are. Don’t budge. Your time is valuable.

Acceptance. A lot of mums spoke about accepting that on some days you won’t be able to run at 100% and that’s okay. Forgive yourself, you’re not a robot. Lower your standards and let go of perfectionism. Unless your boss is calling saying you’re not doing a good enough job, then let it be…sometimes you can only do the minimum, and that’s okay – you don’t always have to go the extra mile.

One final theme worth mentioning was that of ‘self-care.’ Don’t think of self-care as a luxury or an indulgence, it’s a NECESSITY so you can re-charge and be the best version of yourself…for you...your kids…your work…your partner. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. If you need to, take a mental health day every now and then. A day where you don’t work, don’t look after any kids and take time for yourself doing whatever it is that replenishes you. Sleeping? Exercise? Brunch with friends? Binging on Netflix? Recognise when you’re feeling burnt out and manage it in a way that works best for you. They say, ‘the fish rots at the head,' and it's true. If mum (or dad) isn't being taken care of properly, then no one is. Make sure that no matter what life throws at you, you're looking after yourself as best you can.

There were a lot of other excellent pieces of advice, but you’d be scrolling for hours if I were to write them all down (and sorry, I’m a working mum too and I’m happy with stopping this soon so I can pick up my kids at 4:30pm…boundaries people, boundaries)!

In the words of our beloved Beyonce, “boy you know you love it, how we're smart enough to make these millions (or a few thousand for the majority of us!), strong enough to bear the children…then get back to business!” BOOM.

Now get back to work, slacker! ;)

Written by Ellen Chisholm.

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