IS WORK-FAMILY BALANCE A FOREIGN CONCEPT FOR FULL-TIME WORKING MUMS?


Sher-li Torrey, Mummailto:Mums@Work (Singapore)

We have often talked about how finding a flexi-work arrangement can better help mothers to achieve work-family balance. However, for some mothers, due to financial, social or even personal-motivational reasons, working full-time is still the better option for the moment.

If you did have a full-time job, does it mean that you bid work-family balance adieu? Or are there still some simple strategies to help a working mother achieve some sanity in the fine act of balancing a career with a growing family?

#1: YOU HAVE A CHOICE

Many full-time working mums complain that they are short of time, have too much to do or have too many responsibilities. Think again! Is it really no choice or do you have an option? Remember – sometimes you have a choice to say “no” to certain requests. Can you choose to take on a part-time role? Can you choose not to have a clean house all the time? Tell yourself “I choose to……”, instead of “I have to….” – this gives you a sense of empowerment over your own time/ schedule.

#2: MARK YOUR BOUNDARIES

Women are naturally multi-taskers, so there might be times when we take on more at work than we realize. At work, don’t set yourself up for burn-out. Say “No” to impossible deadlines. Set aside specific dates that are important to your role as a parent (Parent-Teachers’ Day, Examination periods for your little one, First day of school) – Communicate these dates and request for time off as soon as you know when they will be.  When requesting for the day off, it’s also important to come across as being assertive, rather than aggressive.

#3: DON’T BE TOO CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT YOUR COLLEAGUES THINK

Some mothers are apologetic that they cannot join in for social events at work, but if skipping a department dinner means 4 hours of fun with your 4-year old, it may be worth it. In trying to find the balance between work and family, something may have to give – in this case, weigh your priorities. Make a decision and then ignore what your colleagues think.

#4: WHAT’S YOUR ROLE & ASK FOR HELP!

Find some time to write down all the roles you take on: Mother, Wife, Daughter, Daughter-in-Law, Sister, Employer, Employee. Look at each role, is there some area that you can outsource? Is there some area where you can ‘do a little less’ this week? Instead of complaining about how much there is to do, ask for help if you need it. Take Short Cuts – don’t strive for perfection all the time.

#5: BREATHE EASY

Be kind to yourself. Sometimes when the pressure gets too much and you feel like you are being pulled in all directions, talk about it. Write it down in a journal. Remind yourself that “This, too, shall pass.”. In the end, it’s important to cut yourself some slack.

#6: ENJOY THE SMALL THINGS

Take pride in the small things. Enjoy the little moments you spend with your kid – on the drive to school, tucking him/ her into bed. Sometimes having little bouts of quality time with loved ones is enough to recharge your energy. Lavish in them, even if they are short moments.

#7: HAVE BACK-UP PLANS

Every mum knows how worrying it can be when you are about to head out to work and suddenly you discover your 6-year old is running a high fever. You want to take her into the doctor’s office, but you also have a huge meeting at 10am (planned 3 months before, and involving a huge business transaction for the company). The panic attacks you get are probably real. It’s therefore, good to have a list of “backup” for emergencies. Rope in grandparents, in-laws, siblings and even neighbours to help out. Maybe someone can take your little one to the doctor first and you can join in later?

#8: GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK

At the end of each day, reward yourself. Sit back and have a chocolate (or a glass of wine, or anything that makes your happy). Completing a day is an achievement – and you did it!

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