4 Steps to Find Time for Things That Matter

unnamedWhile being a working mother is far from an easy job, women can implement several ideas to make life much less stressful in a situation that requires a balancing act. By delegating some of their household chores, sticking to a planned schedule and making the most of any free time on their hands, working mothers and wives can, to a large extent, control the unpredictable elements of life and achieve some sense of work-life balance.

1.       Delegate House-keeping and Day-care to Someone Trustworthy This is an important factor for your peace-of-mind if you are a working wife or mother. Knowing that there is someone trustworthy at home to handle things provides a sense of great relief, especially when there are children or seniors at home that need care-taking.You may feel better asking a relative to help out if you have very young children or ill elders at home. In case you have a child at home, it is advisable to bring in a nanny or babysitter only when the child is a little older. Remember that the nanny must be personable, qualified to handle children and must have had some experience handling them. It is preferable to bring on-board someone with good references and a proven track-record of reacting well to crises. Most women hire day-care professionals through agencies that examine the candidate’s history. Having help from family, let’s say your husband or (grown) kids in household chores, can buffer some of your strain when you get home. Rotate tasks at home to prevent monotony. You will find that returning to a home where the dishes aren’t waiting to be washed and your children are not bawling away because they were alone/had nothing to do at home, can do wonders to your own morale and motivation towards work.

2. Plan and Prioritise Several articles describe jobs that can be done part time or have flexi-hours, but let’s get real – it isn’t easy to come by such opportunities or such employers. Despite this, in several cases, employers do make exceptions with respect to allowing working mothers a tad more leeway about staying late at work. It is of course possible to strike a bargain with your employer to leave at 4.30 pm instead of 6 pm, at the condition of working from home, or taking work-related calls all evening. Some companies support a certain number of work-from-home days per month. Several MNCs and reputable Indian companies have supportive HR policies for working mothers, enabling such flexibilities in a case-to-case basis. Several women take to consulting or freelance roles when work timings become problematic. Still others opt for semi- or fully-entrepreneurial home business opportunities. Opportunities like these have vast scope in India. The trick to balance work hours with hours doing household chores is prioritising between tasks. Your office work load may exceed household work on some days, and vice versa. Roll with the punches – schedule accordingly.

Be ready with a to-do-list first thing every morning and the day will pass much more easily. Keeping order at home will ensure that you have a smooth day at work; delegate to ensure this. Make sure that your children follow a careful schedule too. Arrange for them to spend time at venues they enjoy after school, whether extra classes or time with relatives. Their comfort with a routine will prompt them to be happy and secure there as well.

3.       Make Good Use of Your Free Time When you do take time off, make your children the centre of your world. The idea is to convey that they really are the priority. Children will be much more accommodating of your crazy work life if they know that when you do take time off, they have something to look forward to. This does not only apply simply to family trips out of town, to the zoo, and the like; but also to day-to-day chores where you have an opportunity to spend time with them. If you need to buy vegetables and your daughter needs a new dress, combine the activities and spend an evening at the mall. Find eat-outs that are child appropriate and stop for a snack. An ice cream wouldn’t hurt.

Play memory games in the car or ask your children to calculate bill amounts at check-out. Take lots of pictures of these outings and put them up in the children’s room or in any other visible space at home. The message that you enjoy spending time with them should come across loud and clear. Schedule your time out with the family once every weekend, and try to squeeze in a quality hour with them every day. For yourself, relax by taking a stroll, reading or painting, if even for half an hour before going to bed every night.  This will eliminate any resentment stemming up from the feeling that you had no time for yourself all day.

4.       Get Rid of the Guilt A constant feeling of guilt and worry over not being able to justly balance work and life will make it even harder to achieve. While it is important that you do your best, no one is really has the right to question a working mother’s coping mechanisms. Perhaps you are in a financial position where you have no choice but to work, such as if you are a single mother. Think of it this way: if you don’t spend your time at work, it will be impossible for you to give your children the education or comforts they need.

You need to change your mind-set to change your feel about achieving the elusive balance. Never view household work or managing the children as a chore. Remove as many mental blocks and inflexibilities as you can. Take heavy workloads as a given, and welcome breaks when they come along. Maintain a journal and vent your feelings as often as possible. Don’t underestimate the therapeutic benefits of penning your insecurities, pains and frustrations, and setting them aside. If you happen to have people in your life who judge or criticise you lifestyle without constructively helping you cope with it, stop associating with them. Last and most importantly, don’t bribe your children. On growing up, they will recognise why you worked, and they will respect you for it. Remember this: several studies have shown that children of working mothers are more independent, more sociable and assertive, and believe in gender equality. This is because they have witnessed both their parents shoulder responsibilities and bring home the bacon.

Summing Up Quite recently, research conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania has reinforced the age-old belief that women are biologically better at multi-tasking. Yet, even cynics must agree that the work-life balance is simply work in progress. Don’t stress yourself out or beat yourself up about how the situation is getting the better of you. Life is unpredictable and some days may be worse than others, but this is one area where practice and persistence really does pay.