by Michelle Clookie
If you were hoping for a ‘how to’ guide to find work/life balance as a mom in this blog, read no further. I have no magical answers for you. If you want to talk about the myth that work and motherhood can be perfectly balanced, and how we can change our perspective on that 7 letter word (balance), pull up a chair my friend. Here’s the thing, the land of balance in motherhood and/or motherhood and working is also the land where unicorns live. It is the land where all babies sleep through the night, and where all 4 year olds eat their dinner telling you how delicious it is. I don’t live there, and I don’t think many of us do, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. We have more control than we may think, and we are probably doing a lot better of a job than we think!
“Here’s the thing, the land of balance in motherhood and/or motherhood
and working is also the land where unicorns live.”
Before we dive in, there’s a few things to note. I am not perfect at this. In fact, on any given day, I am pretty sure you could ask “How is Michelle doing at balancing her life?” to my husband, my Mom or my best friends and they would plead the fifth. So as you read this, hold space for deep breaths and the giving of self-back pats. You are already doing a great job! Leave no room for judgement of yourself and your current situation.
5 Ways to Manage Work/Life Balance as a Mom
1. You do YOU
Create routines that work for YOUR family. Recently I read a post with a quote “She found when she mothered her own way she mothered her best way” January Harshe (Check out @milestonesmommyandme for the entire post and for just all around great stuff). There is EXTREME power when we lean in to our own instincts, trust that what we can give is enough, and allow ourselves the freedom to do things our way. There is NO such thing as balancing life perfectly, so don’t judge yourself based on what others are doing, or what others think you should be doing. The bottom line is that we will balance better the things that come easy to us, and what we value most. For some that is a clean house, or working out every day, or meal planning, some value outings outside the home with family, while others like staying in with their kids. Whatever it is…you do you! Don’t scroll small squares on your phone and say ‘gosh I need to be taking my kids to do more artsy things” or “shoot, I must not be prioritizing my marriage because we don’t do date night every week”. Turn off the lies that tell you that you need to be balancing every one of those things perfectly in every season of life, and it needs to all be Instagram worthy. Turn off the lies that say our lives all need to look the same. Find what works for your home, for your sanity, and DO THAT!
2. Allow Yourself To Start Again
This has been my biggest, and most valued lesson as a Mom in the last year, we are never stuck. I don’t like changing my mind, I like making plans. I REALLY like when these plans get accomplished (and quickly please), but that’s not my life right now as a wife, a pregnant Mama with a crazy sweet determined 2 year old, and a lovely awesome 4 year old lady boss. I may come up with awesome routines/budgets/plans, and within a month realize they don’t work. That’s ok. I can change them. Even if that means I may look a little disorganized, I am NOT stuck. My family has the freedom to do what works best for us, and do what provides us the most mental space to love, and give and enjoy. You also have this freedom, so if something doesn’t work or you have a bad day/week/moment, start again. It’s ok.
Ask for help, even if that means you can’t return the favor at that moment. Find ways in your budget, even if it means cutting back in some areas, so you can have someone come help you clean your house, find a gym that provides child care and use it even if it just means you sit for an hour sometimes, and oh gosh please don’t forget about grocery delivery! There are also ways to outsource that doesn’t cost money, like doing meal exchanges with your friends, or babysitter shares or swaps so you get a chance for some alone time or time with your partner. Find ways to ease the burden, which also just may be saying no, or not right now. OR maybe it means when your friends or neighbors say “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help” that you actually say “well, actually I could use a little help with…”, because it’s not weakness or failure, it’s bravery and it’s real life.
4. Don’t Give 100%
I am pretty sure there is a leadership book, or 10, that talk about this so if you wrote it, please credit yourself. I remember being 17, and my mentor leading my college internship told me to never give 100% at what I do. At that time, it was the exact opposite of what I believed, and it still do this day is the exact opposite of how I innately want to operate. The truth is, he was right. When we have 100 things to do, how the heck can we give 100% at all of them? What happens is we give 150% at our jobs, and come home negative, completely empty. This doesn’t mean we don’t do quality work, it means we become ok with what our 80% looks like. This is the same for motherhood, for work and pretty much all we do. And you know what? I have learned that my 30% is pretty darn good, because my heart can still be in it, even when I can’t give everything I’ve got. And you know what else? I have learned other people value my 50%, and appreciate me being whole.
5. Let Mom Guilt Come and Go
I can’t talk about working mom life and not talk about mom guilt. Actually, I can’t talk about motherhood and not talk about mom guilt. This can be it’s own blog, but can I just say one thing? Your kids don’t’ want perfect, they just want you. So even if it is just 30 minutes a day, sit with them in the mess, be ok with them seeing you tired. They don’t crave balance, or perfection or all the toys and candy (I mean they may think they do), they crave you.
You’ve got this, I say it all the time, but I believe it. You are enough, balanced or not!
Michelle Clookie is a Lactation Consultant, and also works for the Postpartum Health Alliance supporting families in their parenting journey. As a Lactation Consultant, Michelle works to help families reach their unique goals for feeding their babies, and is passionate about normalizing all things motherhood. Michelle also works to provide Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMADs) awareness by providing families, and clinicians with education through the work she does with the San Diego Postpartum Health Alliance. Before shifting her work focus after her first born, Michelle spent 9 years in non-profit working as a Training and Development Director. Michelle, along with her husband Jeremy, live in San Diego with their daughter Charlotte (4 years), son Beckett (2 years), and baby number 3 due this Fall!
You can follow on Instagram or visit her website www.michelleclookie.co