10 tips to help a working mom relieve her stress
A psychologist, and working mom, helps mothers with their busy lives
Stay at home moms report feeling guilty because they are not contributing to the family’s income, while working moms feel guilty because they are not at home with their children.
Both can be a self-destructive losing battle.
Guilt is a negative emotion and often unhealthy – it can make anyone unhappy, dissatisfied and unproductive. For parents, guilt comes in all forms and I can especially relate to working moms. After all, I’m one myself. According to AmericanProgress.org women make up half of the workforce in the U.S.
Care.com found that 80 percent of working moms feel stressed about balancing child care, work, home and relationships.
It's important to understand there are a multitude of reasons why a mom is in the workplace. Some women may be the sole or primary breadwinner, others work because they can't afford child care and some work because they know that working will help them be a better parent.
It's critical for us as women and mothers not to pass judgement, but rather be supportive of all working women regardless of whether they are an employed mom or a stay at home mom. All mothers are working mothers!
But for the purposes of this article, I will focus on helping employed moms feel better about their decision to work. Often that requires us to look at the definition of what being a good mother is - a good mother is not determined by the number of hours we spend with our children. It's more about ensuring our children that they are wanted, valued and loved.
Working moms, by their example alone, can teach their children the value of hard work, ambition, independence and self-reliance.
The struggle that many working moms ask of themselves, me included, is there a way to balance work and being a mom? While it's a challenge, there are some things that working moms can do to help.
- First and foremost is to realize we can’t do it all! We absolutely have to let go of some things, especially the unrealistic expectations. It's important to identify every household member’s needs and obligations and to realistically prioritize them. By changing our expectations, we can change other’s expectations of us.
- We are bombarded with “expert” advice on what we “should” do to be a “good parent.” The bar that has been set for defining what a good parent should do is often ridiculously high and unrealistic. It is critical to remember we do not have to have gourmet meals on the table every night to qualify that we meet the good parent standard. What is most important, as noted previously is to make sure our children know they are very much wanted, loved and valued.
- We have to enlist everyone’s cooperation and assign responsibilities, even to our children provided they are developmentally appropriate. When our kids were of school age, my husband and I shared the carpool responsibilities, as well as household duties.
- When we are with our children it's very important to be present and intentional with them. Remove or minimize distractions, be engaged and interested in them. Set aside special time with each child, even if it's a few minutes a day. My son who is a grown man still talks about our hot chocolate/coffee stops as I would take him to elementary school.
- Create special family activities that nurture each other, but create activities that fit into your schedule and budget. This might be a family board game night, baking cookies or reading a book together. Children also deeply value traditions – creating your own traditions with each child and as a family are very important.
- Working moms often feel guilty about working and want to make their children happy. Our goal as parents is to raise our children to be responsible adults, which means we set realistic expectations, we assign responsibilities and chores, we follow through with consequences and we teach life lessons.
- Learn how to set boundaries and how to express those boundaries in a kind way. It’s Ok if you can’t attend every PTA or school function during the day. Communicate that you would love to help and then provide for them the manner in which you can help and in that communication, include your time constraints.
- Forgive yourself if something does not get accomplished or completed in the manner you had desired. By accepting responsibility and being flexible you are setting an example for your child that we all make mistakes, but we need to be accountable and responsible for them.
- Create time for yourself and take care of yourself. You will not be good for anyone if you do not take care of yourself.
- Utilize resources and supports. One of your best resources and support systems are other mothers. Find a local support group on the web or create one with your friends and/or co-workers who can share tips with and/or ask for help and ideas. Find daycares/providers that will assist with homework. Share carpooling responsibilities with other parents. Hire trusted and competent high school or college students to help with facilitating transportation to other activities.
Consider all of these options to help relieve the stress and provide more quality time with your children.
Remember what is most critical is to ensure our children that they are wanted, valued and loved, while raising them to be responsible adults.
Lisa Elliott is a licensed psychologist and clinic manager of Cook Children’s Behavioral Health in Denton, located at 3201 Teasley Lane, Ste. 202, Denton, Texas, 76210. To make an appointment, call 940-484-4311. Cook Children’s Psychology provides care focused on children’s behavior, from ages 3 years through 17.