Last week on Instagram I posted a question to all of you career moms out there. It went something like this, "HOW?? What's the secret? I need your advice on how to be a working mama!"
My lovely readers, the support and beautiful advice you posted was the exact encouragement I needed. I can't thank you enough!
First, let's backtrack. Six months ago I had my first child, Desi. Since then it's been a (dare I use the clichéd word?) JOURNEY. I went from an all-or-nothing workaholic to an all-or-nothing momaholic to...well, to whatever it is I am now — a girl trying her best to find joy, happiness, and some semblance of balance.
It ain't easy! Some days I'm buzzing around thinking, "I CAN do it all! I'm a rockstar!" While other days I barely keep my head up long enough to drink that much needed third cup of coffee.
I have to plan like never before, but also be OK with all of those plans getting tossed out the window. I now sing all of my daily activities to Desi while thinking, "Oh my GOSH I AM SO TIRED. AM I DEAD? Is this what death FEELS LIKE??"
The quote below floats to the surface of my brain regularly. The many famous times it's been said, I don't think it was ever in reference to working moms, but it should be!
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Isn't that exactly what we are, mamas? We feel an ache to be with our children, but also a need to nurture ourselves as autonomous adults! I love my job. I love my son. How do I make room for both? I feel like the definition of a house divided!
Balance vs. Chaos or Balance AND Chaos?
After a full weekend visiting my husband's family in Michigan, my father-in-law found me in a quiet moment early on Sunday morning. He wanted to know how I felt since starting back to work. I began mumbling about a lack of sleep and time and hygiene, and then finally said, “I feel a bit lost, actually.”
Later that evening, after thinking about that conversation all day, I realized so clearly that even though I may feel lost on how to proceed as a mom and business owner, it’s not because I am lacking. It’s because I’ve expanded my life — I have so much MORE that I care about!
I then asked those on Instagram if you had one piece of advice to offer on how to be a working mama (funny or serious), to share it in the comments. I am only including 50 of those comments here, but there are over 400. (And over 70 on Facebook.)
If you are, or have struggled with finding the balance or lack of balance in "having it all" as a working mother, I encourage you to click on this post and read through some of the comments. They have helped me embrace my "house divided" through a sense of community, togetherness, and, most importantly, love!
How to be a Working Mama: Your Advice
Reading through this list I hope you feel a little bit wiser and a whole lot stronger. We're in this together.
- When given the option to work or be a present mother, choose the latter.
- Don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) take over… consider what really matters to you.
- I think it really just comes down to not trying to return to your pre-mom self. That person doesn't exist in the same way anymore. Not in a sad way, though.
- Talk to the people you trust and admire to get ideas and advice, but in the end, you have to do what's right for you.
- It’s OK to put family first at times, and it’s okay to put work first other times.
- Choose your battles and know the battles you choose will be different from the battles other moms choose. Choose what’s important to you, and stick to that, and be unapologetic about what works for you and your family.
- Whatever you are doing — answering an email, feeding your baby, taking a shower — do only that one thing. We all multitask to a fault. Focus on what you are doing while you are doing it.
- Make time for yourself.
- Embrace the chaos.
- Surrender to each new day. Some days are super productive, others not so much.
- Remember that you are not alone. It is not your sole responsibility to do it all.
- Keep your own interests going. It teaches your kids about being independent and following their passions, then when your kids move out, you will still have your own identity.
- Anyone who says it’s easy is lying. Anyone who makes it look easy is having a massive meltdown when no one is looking.
- Baths fix everything. For everyone. Most of the time.
- Be kind to yourself. Look in the mirror at yourself with the gushiest heart eyes and a giant dose of tenderness.
- Don’t try too hard to have it all figured out, cause it’s just going to change again!
- The feeling of being lost is very helpful for reflecting and repositioning.
- If someone close to you, preferably not a stranger offers to watch/take/babysit your bubba so you can have 5 min peace/break/coffee/cry/sleep/work...say yes please!
- It’s ok to miss things you use to have in your prior life (before kids). It’s completely normal.
- My husband and I have a “survival mode” code. Anytime work/life/everything is too much for either one of us we make decisions based on “survival mode”. That means if we don’t have the will or energy to cook, clean, or really, do much aside from work and keeping the toddler alive then who cares!
- Give yourself 15 minutes of you time a day to let your mind rest and be creative during that time.... that and dry shampoo. Dry shampoo is a lifesaver!
- Be present. Feel the love, the pain, the frustration, the pride and amazement. Feel the warm sunshine or cold breeze.
- Make sure to make your own physical and mental health a priority. Whatever that looks like.
- Allow yourself permission to say THIS IS REALLY HARD!!! Because it REALLY IS!!
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind and change your plans.
- You kind of figure it out as you go. Just keep moving forward. Oh.... and if you can't tell if it is milk or under boob sweat.... just keep your head up.
- Women CAN have it all, but maybe NOT all at the same time.
- Take time to smell the baby shampoo.
- Cherish each moment… unless the moment kinda sucks. Then just muscle through and treat yourself to a good snack.
- Babies have not read the book! They won’t know if you go rogue!
- Trust yourself.
- Be where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
- Take time to encourage your kids, even if you’re really tired.
- Buy yourself clothes that make you feel good.
- Don’t forget to love your husband even if you don’t feel like it, because someday, your kids are going to move out and you’ll be stuck with each other again!
- Screen time really is ok for everyone sometimes.
- It’s ok and normal for women to stay home or go to work while mothering and both are equally special and important. Doing both at the same time is just another version but maybe with a hint of extra chaos and humility. Lol. A beautiful mess
- Wait 3 days. Things will be different.
- You’re allowed to complain.
- Messy houses are more fun.
- Don’t judge. Also, tell other people, “don’t judge.”
- Record your memories! There will be a lot of things you wish you didn’t forget!
- It took me a while to learn that I don’t have to achieve everything I want to achieve at once. Sometimes doing it all means I’m really tired and not very nice to be around. I’d rather be nice and take a bit longer to reach my goals. The goals don’t need to change if they still inspire you....just the timeframe.
- It’s not all glamorous and happy being a mom but it’s really great raising a kid!
- I try to do something every day to make my daughters feel seen and loved.
- Remember the girl you were before you had a baby. Take care of her.
- Get out of the house at least once a day.
- Being a new parent is a shock to the system. It’s just so hard to dive into a project and do it all day like you used to be able to. You can only peck away a little at a time at something now since you have a baby that demands something new every hour. You’ll soon forget your old life. lol!
- Work life balance is 100% BS. Sometimes, being a mom comes first, sometimes the job comes first, sometimes being a wife comes first, etc. Being a working mom means living in the tension, and the tension is healthy, normal, and the only way to stay sane.
- Being a part of this mom club is the greatest membership there is, but it's also really, really, hard. It never feels like we are doing it well enough. What we need to do as women and mothers is to be kind and supportive to one another. We all stumble and we need to pick one another up and nudge each other along. We can be better moms when we are loved not judged by one another.
Spread the Love!
If you were in an elevator with a mom and her kids and it was clear that the mom was struggling, what would you say to lift her up? What would you do? Let us know in the comments and help spread the love.
In the picture below I am trying to drink a margarita while holding Desi. It's a skill I intend to master.
34 thoughts on “How To Be A Working Mama: Your Advice”
I’d tell her that her kids were great and she’s doing a wonderful job with them. I’d also tell her to enjoy every second with them as they’re grown and gone in the blink of an eye.
Every day will be different depending on who/what needs your attention the most. I’ve always worked full time and my kids are growing up with this fact. Juggling it all is tough and no one will dispute that and unfortunately there’s no secret. As hard as it may be to realize now the day will come when your son is older and doesn’t need full time attention. Savor your time with him as much as possible because you never get that time back.
Hoo boy, I’m about 8 years ahead of you in the work/mothering bizzo, and let me say, it constantly changes! But the best thing I ever did was finally realise that I can only do one well at one time. So during my work time (AKA school time, now), I do work. When the kids are at home, I’m doing mum/house/life stuff. No, it’s not 100% perfectly split like that, and each often encroaches on the other’s time, but hey, that’s life!
The days can be long, but the years are short. Take the time when they are little to appreciate having them close, because they grow up too fast & move on and the quiet house is probably not as much fun as the chaotic house with kids! I was the mom who volunteered at school, sports, or clubs as often as they needed a parent to be involved. Thankfully, I learned that what mattered to MY children, was my time with them and not the entire school or PTO. I started saying NO once in awhile, and it opened up hours and days for me to say YES to my children & family and what mattered most to us. It was a game changer & I never looked back or felt bad about choosing my family.
These are great. Moments and brings me back. The kids have kids🤙🤙🤙
Treasure each moment. I love that expression I read above” days are long but the years are short.”
I would tell her to really consider what her self-care is. I took me years to learn that self care was different for everyone. the concept of getting my nails done as self care would not work for me. I have to work to do laundry and pay the bills on time so I can truly relax into the stuff I really want to do – like quilt or paint, or play with the kids. its not fun self-care but it is what I need to stay above water. 🙂
also, I would say you should have a 2nd baby too! in a few years they will play
I’d tell that woman in the elevator that her family is beautiful and that she is killing the momming thing with a smile, a hug or fist bump, and a “we’re all in this together”
I would say, “What a beautiful baby. S/he obviously is well loved by you. Look how healthy/happy/content s/he is.” Btw…. I had three boys in 4 years. Always worked full time. When they were teenagers I also went back to school to get the PhD I’d always wanted. That was the most selfish thing I’ve ever done but I don’t regret it. The boys are all in their 30’s now, in healthy relationships. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to parent them and not screw up too badly. You can do this. Every day is a new challenge. Learn from them, suck at some of them, rock some of them and move on!
In gaming language..you’ve “leveled up” meaning this is new territory you explore, enjoy, navigate thru. Just like leveling up each grade in school or college, married life, etc. You’re not alone. You’re doing great. This will bring out a new side of you, new ideas, just like your relationship with your hubby broadened you. The life puzzles get more challenging but they are fun to solve and even if they are hard…there are so many many moments that make it all worth it. The first 6 months I thought I’d never get my energy back and could not understand how any one had more than one kid. I had four;-).
My advice is laugh at it all it makes everyone feel good. Don’t stress about a mess they can always be cleaned up.
I used to pour on the rice and cornmeal on the kitchen floor so my boys could play with their tractors and truck.They had fun I had a time to myself to take care tasks and could still watch them and everyone was happy. A few minutes with the broom and it was all cleared away! I think I created bigger messes than they did but it was always easier and kept the stress off of
all of us. Enjoy every minute they’re not always as in this case be playing on the kitchen floor!
“you are amazing.”
Someone said that to me once when I was trying to keep it cool with my screaming infant, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I would offer to help that momma for a few seconds. Can I carry this for you? Or just say you’re doing great, keep it up.
I honestly was just thinking about this topic while on a run yesterday. It’s never an easy balance, things will get pushed off to the side. You have to be okay with that and decide what your priorities are for that day. While I may plan for the week on Sundays, that doesn’t mean I have to stick to it. Flexibility is key.
Accept help when it is offered. I was recently at the airport and observing a mom with an infant, toddler, and a lot of stuff. Just as we were called for boarding, dad came up with a bag of food and hot coffees. Mom said, we can’t do this. I walked over and said, I’m a grandmom, I’ll handle the food and coffee and you handle the kids and stuff. Later in the flight the toddler came to my seat, thanked me and even set with me awhile. I’m glad they trusted me to give help. Always offer!
Well, I would NOT tell her to enjoy every second because it flies by so fast. People told us that all the time and we thought they were nuts! We were so sleep deprived there was no way to cherish that feeling. We never felt that was helpful at all! It does fly by but the reality is there is no possible way to enjoy every second of that stage. Just mho.
I would tell her, though, to hang in there because it will get easier and this is your life now, but it won’t always be this way.
(Btw, we have 3 kids in college now. At the same time.)
Perfect! I agree that sleep deprivation is THE hardest part about parenting. Our second child never really slept through the night. I should ask him now if he does. He’s 30.
I would tell this mommy that she is doing great, just hang in there everything will work out. If she has twins I definitely would not tell her that having twins is just like having one baby.
I love every single tidbit of advice!! #9 is definitely my favorite! (Mom of three boys & a girl)
That first one is tough. At that time you always had plenty of time for yourself. When the first is born…you learn to eat faster, shower faster, brush your teeth with baby in arms. The next babies aren’t so hard because you have already switched your habits.
I have seen mom’s out in public with kids who look totally stressed and frazzled. Many times I just tell them they’re doing a good/important job. I’ll compliment them and their kids on something. I’ll tell them something that I feel might lift them up that day. As a mom with three grown men I especially support boy moms. They are busy, they are rambunctious, they often physically fight. I do jokingly tell them that we all survived their childhoods and I still love them all. All in fun and encouraging I hope.
Find that 1 thing that you can say I need help with and hire someone to do it for you – whether it’s a job thing or a household thing. For me it was getting someone to clean my house so I could focus on my kids and my outside job. That way if the house looked bad I always knew someone else would come to clean it up and I didn’t get upset or stressed about it. Removing that one stressor made all the difference to me. (Luckily I live in a small town and was always able to find someone to do it without costing me a fortune)
I would have to say to that mom: “Hey, been there done that, so can I give you a quick hand? I’m happy to carry your diaper bag (or whatever) to wherever it is you’re headed.” Also, and say this with a smile: “You’re doing great!”
My MIL took care of my two girls while I taught school. I missed watching them grow up, but now I have my granddaughter to take care of three days a week. The older they get, the easier it will be as they won’t be dependent on you as much. So enjoy those tired, exhausting days, treasure them. It’s s mixed bag.
This made me feel so good! Especially the Bath one! It’s so True.
I’m legally blind. At a hospital appointment I needed to use the little girls room where a mum was changing baby and trying to keep two toddlers corralled after doing what I needed and washing my hands I offered to watch baby and toddlers while she did what she needed. I also reassured her as someone who had parented three young ones (before I lost most of my sight) she was doing great. My children are all grown up now and my daughter is doing a brilliant job as a mum who also works outside of the home.
“Fifty years from now, no one will remember what kind of car you drove, house you lived in or clothes that you wore, but they will remember the kids that you raised”. Forget the material things and embrace each moment. This advice was given to me as a first time mom in …..1980!
I’d just give her a knowing smile and tell her “hardest job you’ll ever love”.
I would tell her that her children are beautiful and remind her that some days are harder than others. The rewarding things in life are never the easy things!
I would try to help her on the spot, and also tell her, enjoy them while you can because they grow up so fast. I remember when I had my son, first child, and a friend of the family who had 8 or 9 children wrote that message in a greeting card and I thought “oh, that’s not so”, well, it is. My kids are in their 40’s with families of their own, and boy did it go fast!!
Thank you! This list brought tears to my eyes. I’m on the other end of the spectrum with my kids, youngest is 17. But I forgot some of those things and even at this stage, it was a great reminder!
Congratulations! Enjoy Desi while he is young. They grow up so fast. I was a working mom with all 3 of mine. My oldest was 16 when I had girl/boy twins. All mine are grown and I have grands. I have 2 great grands the same age of one of my grands.
The internet and social media really can be a beautiful place of encouragement from perfect strangers. I needed to hear all of this! (Through tearful eyes) Thank you for sharing!! ❤️ I think you’re doing awesome super mom!
Have another one quickly! Sounds crazy, and it is at first, but the older one won’t remember a time without the younger (and won’t have had enough time to think he’s the center of the universe and resent the new baby), and in a year or two, you’ll have a built-in playmate for Desi, and they’ll entertain each other… Which will make YOUR life INFINITELY easier!!!!!!
Have another one?? Mama, that DOES sound crazy! lol!
I think someone could have told me earlier that they don’t remember a freakin thing… maybe a car trip or a visit from their great grandmother that lost her marbles and couldn’t remember their names, some random event you can hardly recall but all the stuff you think you needed to get right, beat yourself up over ….years later as teenagers they stare blankly at you and have no clue what you are talking about… and you lost 756 nights of sleep worrying about for no reason! If I had known that i would have sewn more, left all the mundane stuff and fed them noodles every night and slept like a baby!