You fulfill many roles in your life. As a working mother you are the hard working collegue, the crafty mom, the assertive chef household, attentive daughter in law and so on. Many women experience all these roles quite exhausting. After all, you can never shine in all of them. When you are a mother that does not want to put their children into daycare five days a week, you are not taking your career ambitions seriously and when you work fulltime you are a negligent mother. It seems that you can never do it right. Do you crash on the sofa at night or you do not want to go to a birthday party, you are not social. It is difficult to fill all these shoes. How do you maintain balance between all these roles?
We are often so occupied in the daily ratrace, that it is difficult to really take some time out and think about how we are living all the different roles that we have to fill. Nonetheless, it is very important to take some time to reflect once in a while. Which roles earn your energy and which roles costs most of your time right now? Are you happy with that? Which roles do you find (most) important and which ones should get more attention? Your 'energy-factor' in this reflection is a useful compass. Would you like to spend more time with your kids? Or do you wish you had more time for your partner, or your work? Let reflection be the first step you take in a proper personal analysis.
The knife always cuts somewhere
It is also important to realise that you cannot do everything perfect as a hard working mom. Many women have a sense of perfectionism and have unrealistic expectations. What worked when you didn't have kids, does not work anymore. Simply because a day only has 24 hours and many of those hours are filled with childcare. This perfectionism can result in dissatisfaction, because you always fall short somewhere. You cannot shine in all roles, because they are continuously in conflict. When you want to do justice to your mother role and you leave office at 16.45h because you have to go get your kids, a colleague will ask why you leave so early. And when you have to work late and arrive home when your family is eating dessert, you feel guilty towards your partner and kids. So don't be too hard on yourself. Loosen the idea of needing to do things perfect will help you to keep balance.
Make choices! What gets your priority today? It is easier said than done... I know. Many roles are difficult to scale down and it is also not easy to ditch a role (for instance that of caring friend). Still, it is good to set priorities and think about what is really important to YOU. Every role that you fulfill costs energy. So think about which roles give you energy and how you can illuminate these. Realise that there will always be more roles that cost you energy. As long as you have enough other roles in your life that fill that gap and boost your energy bar. You cannot give more than you have in your battery. If you do that on a structural basis, your energy bar will be left empty. So make sure you prioritise the roles enough that recharge you.
Dealing with perfectionism
Do not set your standards too high. We often tend to do so because we have an integrated image in our mind how we should fill a certain role. With this thought, we put pressure on ourselves. What does not help to cope with this idea are the picture perfect images on social media. All those happy moms with perfectly styled kids who get in the car with a coffee in their hands, it is just not realistic. As women we win a medal for keeping up appearances and use a filter on our lives. Realise that real working mom life does not have, or need a filter. All working moms struggle at some point with keeping all the balls up in the air. So do not set your standards too high and loosen the idea of needing to do everything perfect. More often then you think, good is good enough.
You are your number 1
Finally, don't forget the most import role: you! Make sure that you now and then have some time for yourself. Some alone time. All day you are dealing with your professional and private to do lists. You are running from one task to another. Me time often gets overseen. We do not ever think about it. We find other roles more important, because it is easier to disappoint ourselves then someone else. Especially as a mom with a baby or toddler who needs constant care, you will recognize the missing out of time alone. At night you are tired and the only thing you want to do is to make your couch your new permanent address. However, what we do instead of relaxing, is ironing baby clothes and making mash vegetables. Time for yourself seems to be the easiest thing to give up. Also because we are used to always 'being on'. So make sure you plan time for yourself. Write in on your calendar and really do something that makes you happy and relaxed. You deserve to be your own number 1.