I may be a working mom balancing between family and work, but I’m certainly no super mom. In Singapore, where the population is not reproducing fast enough, our government has gone to great lengths to encourage couples to get married and start a family. And after the ladies have given birth, they are encouraged to return to the work force, as human capital is pretty much our only “resource” in the nation. So like a huge majority of women, I took on a role as a full-time working mom and promptly returned to work after my maternity leave ended after four months.
Unlike most parents who leave their child in the care of their parents or in-laws, my daughter, Sophie, went to infant care at merely four months old. This was after weighing our options very carefully then, as we didn’t live with or near our parents, and we didn’t want to have a live-in helper or nanny. It wasn’t easy initially, and I can’t even remember how many sleepless nights I had when I questioned if I made the right decision to return to work, especially when Sophie fell ill or when I saw her cry when I dropped her off at the childcare center. But today, when I see how Sophie has blossomed to an independent, sociable and sensible pre-schooler, it makes me feel happy that she’s turned out better than what we prayed for and expected.
Being a working mom certainly has its challenges and the one that tops the list for me is not having enough time in a day. So here are some tips on how I manage it without losing my joy.
Be fully present
Once I am back from work, I’m 100% devoted to being a mom. I’m thankful that I have supportive bosses and colleagues who understand this, so they never make demands that I have to put in extra hours unless it’s crunch time in the office.
You know what they say about quality time being more important than quantity time? And for working moms it’s so true because, otherwise, we’ll always be beating ourselves up about the lack of time spent with our kids. Screen time is kept to a minimum, so that we spend good quality time together.
And maybe because Sophie is a girl, we enjoy spending time before bedtime sharing how our day went, reading books or even playing games when we feel up to it. But I’ll be totally honest and also say that we do use the TV and iPad as a nanny at times, especially when we have chores to do or when we ourselves just want a mental break on exhausting days.
Train your kids to be independent
With no help at home, Sophie is naturally trained to pick up after herself. When she was younger, we’ll give her little rewards like stickers as an incentive when she keeps her toys, folds the laundry and takes her dishes to the kitchen.
As she gets older, she’s learned that she has a responsibility to help around the house. Of course, I’ll still reward her with praises and appreciation, and she’s come to learn that she needs to do so without expecting anything in return. And these days, she’s on auto pilot-mode and will chip in around the house.
Manage your expectations
I used to strive to do everything perfectly as a mom and had a problem letting go. But when you only have that many hours in a day, I’ve learnt that I need to let go if I want to keep my sanity and my joy. So that means, closing an eye to the unfolded laundry, the times when I can’t cook dinner for the family, the mess at home, and yes, even the dirt at home.
I could get hung up about all these things and stay up late into the night to finish the chores and start the whole routine again the next day, but I know I’ll also feel very miserable and start to loathe it all. So my mantra is simply to do what’s necessary and be happy. After all, as moms, we can do anything but not everything.
Besides, when I get stressed over all the chores, my husband hears no end of complaining and which husband appreciates that? So for him, his mantra is, a happy wife, a happy life.
I know it’s crazy to even think that working moms even have any me-time. But it is absolutely crucial to find time for myself to recharge. My me-time can be anything from going for a jog, to having a nice haircut, or even a catch up session with my girlfriends. This year, I’ve started a new hobby, Project Life, and it’s so therapeutic to look back at my life in photos and pen down the memories behind them. Plus, it’s a way of recording life so that nothing slips by and a reminder for me to cherish every moment.
So there you have it – some of my sanity tips for working moms on how to keep your joy. It’s not easy being a working mom, and I know that the person who makes it possible is my dearest hubby who is ever supportive of my decision. He’s every bit the modern husband and daddy in the 21st century who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves to do his part in parenting but also to chip in around the house. And while, he shakes his head when I tell him I still have hopes to be a domestic goddess, I know he’s glad that I’m working to bring in the dough for the family so that we can enjoy our family holidays and have my own shopping money and savings.
Are you a working mom too? If so, what are your top tips to keeping your joy as a working mom?
This is an original post by Susan Koh for World Moms Blog. She’s loves to travel and blogs passionately about parenting, marriage and relationship and leading a healthy life at www.ajugglingmom.com.
Photo credit to the author.