Being a mom means you’re always ticking things off your to-do list and making mental notes between meetings and drop-offs. You may find you’re pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion on your quest for perfection. Johannesburg-based life coach Thembi Hama suggests taking a step back and adopting a more realistic approach to juggling your responsibilities. “Establish practical and workable boundaries that suit your unique circumstances,” she says.
Thembi shares the following tips:
Ask for help
As much as we would like to take care of everything, the truth is, we can’t do it all. When we overexert ourselves, and try to be superwoman, we not only exhaust but demotivate ourselves in the process. Get help with housekeeping, laundry, babysitting or even meal preparation. Ask a friend, relative, your partner or older children to help out and ease the burden of running a home. You could also find reputable agencies to help source a reliable domestic worker for you on a full-time or part-time basis – whichever suits your needs.
Striving for an even work/family balance is unrealistic and will only make you feel guilty, frustrated and inadequate. Instead, be mindful and flexible about both your career and family life. Respect both as important yet uneven facets of your life and be flexible; some days you will work long hours and find your children in bed, some days you will stay home or knock off early and spend time with your children. There is no known formula to strike an even work/family balance. Get up each morning, show up and do your best.
Find joy in the precious moments with family
Cherish every moment and take nothing for granted. Take plenty of pictures, create memories, plan holidays, laugh more and establish family traditions that encourage bonding and inclusion such as having dinners, fun and games over the weekend. It’s easy to become so engrossed in your work that you forget to talk to your children or spouse. Maintain clear communication with your family to stay abreast of what’s going right or wrong – even if it’s a 10 minute meeting each day. Looking after only one aspect of our lives, and letting the other run on autopilot, comes with the risk of unpleasant surprises that might sabotage everything else.
Work on your time management skills
Use your time wisely and be present for both your job and your family as much as possible. Always have your daily planner and checklists handy in case you have to run an errand or jot down something on the go. Focus on your work and get as much done as possible, that way you don’t have to carry work home. Get enough sleep and resist the temptation to stay up late at night as this will only make you grumpy and unproductive the next day. Prepare for the next day in advance, do batch cooking and freezing, and have the next day’s lunches ready before bed to make your mornings easier. Cut out any unproductive habits that take up precious time.
Schedule some “me time”
When you can, have that massage or hair treatment, watch a movie or spend time in silent meditation. We all need a break from the hustle and bustle of life to regroup and take stock of what is happening in and around us. If we recharge our batteries, we can go out there and accomplish even more!
Thobeka Phanyeko is mom to Oratile, 4. She is a journalist with a BA in Media studies from the University of Cape Town and has extensive experience as a journalist and content producer which she gained from Reuters, eNCA and Caxton Magazines. She is also a life coach and NLP Practitioner and is passionate about motherhood and women empowerment.