A Working Mom’s Guide to Being Your Best Self

Disclaimer: I usually try not to write blogs that are solely for working moms, because I believe whole heartedly that working moms and stay-at-home moms are more alike than different. That said, I only have experience actually being a working mom (minus my 12 weeks of maternity leave), so that’s where my perspective comes from.

Some moms want to work and some moms have to work. And some, like me, lie somewhere in the middle. I love working and my career is hugely important to me. But sometimes I get really overwhelmed trying to do good work and be a good parent and think, “Maybe this would be easier if I just stayed home.” … And then I quickly remember that I literally got so bored on my maternity leave that I decided to sell our house, buy a new one and move into it all before returning from leave. Yikes.

Regardless, the sentiment is still there — I wanted to be great at my job and at being a mom… I just didn’t know how. Eventually I realized I needed to make some changes. Instead of wanting to give up every few weeks days when life with a toddler inevitably got hard, I needed to shift my focus and try a new approach. Read below for my tips, and let me know what you’d add to this list!

STEP #1: LET GO OF THE GUILT

You’re a working mom. Even if you wish you weren’t, you still are. Having guilt about that fact isn’t going to change it — it’s just going to make you feel worse. You have a lot on your plate, but guilt doesn’t need a space there. In fact, being a working mom can have a positive influence on your kids!

In 2015, preliminary results of a groundbreaking study found that the daughters of employed mothers often perform better in their eventual careers than the daughters of stay-at-home moms.

Now the full study has been released, and it brings even more good news for the children of working moms: They wind up just as happy in adulthood as the children of moms who stayed home.

Kids of Working Moms Grow into Happy Adults by Dina Gerdeman

The findings showed that adult sons’ careers are not influenced by whether or not a mom works outside the home. That said, there’s still good news for boys, too:

In non-work ways, however, sons may be influenced by their working mothers, the study suggests. They spend an extra 50 minutes each week caring for family members. 

Sons are influenced in other ways when their moms work. The sons of employed mothers hold significantly more egalitarian gender attitudes—even more so than the daughters of stay-at-home moms.

Kids of Working Moms Grow into Happy Adults by Dina Gerdeman

STEP #2: MAKE SURE YOU GET ENOUGH “ME TIME”

I know it’s hard to fathom spending even more time away from your kids, but it’s NECESSARY. And luckily, there are some ways to get in some “me time” without losing more time with your kids. The most important thing to remember is that you have to stop putting yourself last. You’re working your butt off at the office by day, and then at home by night. You. Are. Exhausted. Here are a few of my favorite ways to sneak in some alone time.

  • Make sure your partner is doing their fair share of the work. If both parents are working outside the home, then both parents need to be working inside the home, too. Check out this blog for tips about sharing the mental load of parenting.
  • Take a bubble bath after the kids go to bed. If this is when you usually do the dishes or finish laundry, ask your partner to take care of it. If they aren’t home or you’re a single mama, then just say “screw it” one or two nights a week. It’ll still be there tomorrow.
  • Make one of the kids’ weekend naps just for you. On Saturdays, I use nap time to get shit done that is very hard to do with a toddler. While it’s tempting to do that same thing on Sundays, I try my best not to. Instead, I read a book in the sunshine, go get a pedicure (assuming Chandler is home to stay with Brecken) — or hell, take a nap, too. (This would be a good time for a workout, too, if you’re into that sort of thing, ha).

STEP #3: FORGIVE YOURSELF WHEN YOU FAIL

Just this morning, my child was losing his damn mind as I was trying to get him ready for daycare. I’m talking a full-blown tantrum, complete with kicking and screaming. I kept my cool for as long as I could, but I eventually lost it right along with him. I yelled, forced him into his clothes in a not-so-gentle fashion and stormed off. I’m not proud of it. But I’m human, and I’m doing my best.

I used to stew over moments like this, but it doesn’t do any good. Just like I easily forgive my child for being a nightmare half the time, I have to forgive myself too. I’ve never done this before, and it’s hard.

The three steps have really changed my outlook on being a working mom, and it feels more manageable more days than not. That said, I’d love to hear your tips for being your best self, too! Drop a comment below if you’d like to share.


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