Last fall the walls were about to cave in. Really. In many ways, my world was coming apart.
If you’re a mother, you know exactly what I mean:
- Exhaustion: Check
- Countless meals out: Check
- Irritability: Check
- An inability to do ANYTHING well: Check
Truly, you can only hold on like this for so long. When last semester ended, I did what any sane teacher mom would do. I disconnected.
No social media pressure. No play date merry-go-round. No books about parenting. And no cheap, meaningless conversation.
In short, I returned to all the little things that I had forgotten along the busy motherhood way. And, in this, I focused on a work-life reset.
So what is the “secret” that helped me pull through?
Here are five keys to my work-life balance:
- A boss who tries to understand the Working Mom struggle. I discovered long ago that I need someone who respects that motherhood comes first in my life – someone who won’t make me feel guilty about it in the future. They need not be a woman, and they need not be a mother. Luckily, this essential support had already been secured. I’m eternally grateful for my empathetic boss.
- A willingness to ask for help. I lean on my husband, our daughter’s caregiver, and our children’s preschool teachers more than I ever knew I could. Moms, take off the heavy cape and experience the joy in other people loving your babies.
- A reasonable bedtime…even when I don’t finish all of my tasks. I used to embrace long, late hours in front of the computer planning, grading, and aging my life away. But an empty cup serves no one. I have to work hard and believe that what I do is enough and that people will respect my limits.
- A re-prioritization of life. We’ve all been given unique skills and talents. I no longer listen to that nagging inner voice that says, “You’ve got to have everything – right now!” This changed perspective means that I can be present at work, at home, and in my writing. Your priorities don’t have to compete.
- An honest look at myself. If I’m neglecting my health, I can see it in my reflection. If I’m spending too much time on the computer, I retreat. If I need human contact (outside of my children and students), I seek it out. Only a balanced mother can freely give.
A working parent’s life requires regular adjustments and flexibility for the inevitable changes ahead. I hope I’m better preparing myself. And I hope, in some small way, my peace reaches you.
And the 5,000 things I failed to do yesterday?
No one even noticed.
One Year Ago: Bad Cop