Self-Management Tips for Full Time Working Moms
First, I do NOT believe in Time Management. hahahah
I have read several books and participated in seminars and conferences to be able to find tools that would satisfy my need to do it all. I have concluded that you can’t manage time. Time is not ours to manage. It is a gift and as such, the way you behave towards it makes the difference. So, managing myself makes my time better spent.
It sounds very simple, but it demands a lot of discipline. So, here are my tips!
1. There is no such thing as balance
The Chinese Plate Spinning is a show we all must see. It is successful because a highly trained professional spins plates placed on poles. The more the merrier. It’s amazing! Many hours are invested in getting ready to present this show to all. Many plates are broken, some disappointment but also many successes.
What I learned observing this show is that the plates are never on the same speed. That’s why the acrobat needs to run from one place to the other to keep them from falling.
In real life, running up and down to keep our plates spinning is not fun. At all. The secret lays on defining how many plates you want to have in the air. There is an optimum number of plates that you and I can spin. Be careful whenever choosing the plates you want. Work, family, church, community service, hobbies, yourself… make a list and mindfully eliminate the ones that are too big and too messy to keep. Instead of aiming for balance, strive for harmony.
Over time, be sure the plates you decided to keep remain in the air.
A dear leader, David A. Bednar, said:
“When you are at home, be at home, not at work, not at church. When you are at home, be at home. When you are at church, be at church, not at work, not at home. When you are at church, be at church. When you are at work, be at work, not at home, not at church. When you are at work, be at work.”
It is the ultimate challenge to achieve this kind of mindfulness and presence, but it is working for me. Some days are better than others, but the effort makes me stronger. In this process, I blocked some hours for some activities, decided to turn my phone off, and stopped watching so many episodes of my favorite shows. I set alarms on my work computer, so I make sure to be on time for every appointment. I make notes and prepare myself to every meeting. This shows respect to all involved but mostly for me. I show respect for myself when I don’t stretch myself thin trying to multitask.
2. Don’t try to do it all alone
Know your limits. Find your support network. Surround yourself with others that are like-minded. It is invaluable to have other women that know what you are going through, can cheer you on, give tips and tricks, and to just be an ear to listen to complaints and tears. Without that support, it would be very difficult to do all that we need to do as working women and as moms.
Find tools that help you. Crockpots are amazing! It is ok to order pizza, as it is ok to hire someone to clean your house. Being vulnerable and saying out and loud – I am struggling here! – is such a relief! Some people are just waiting for the chance to get closer and help. Allow them to do it!
3. Learn to say no, as much as you say yes
Tell the truth to the ones you love and the ones you are committed to. I have said no to a few social activities and after hour meetings because my family needs me. In the beginning I felt so much guilt and I was not able to disconnect. I was constantly checking my email and would have a heart attack if my boss would ask me for something after the hours. I was bitter, anxious and my family was the recipient of this monster I was becoming. I needed to make clear to my peers, not apologizing, but explaining to them what matters most at that moment. I work for an amazing company that allows me to have lunch with my husband occasionally, leave for a few hours to see my daughter’s play at school. I turn the work phone off on the weekends and leave it in the office.
When I come back on Monday, my work will be done, my deadlines will be met, because I was able to recharge. No more headaches. No more resentment over deadlines or pressing matters. There is satisfaction in being there for everyone who needs. And in this case, I am the one who needs the most.
In a similar fashion, I made a commitment to speak in a church activity, so I needed to leave early on a Saturday. I sat and explained to my little one that this activity does not happen all the time and it was very important for mommy to go. And I left with no guilt in my heart. There were tears, but they fell for only 30 seconds – on both sides. Saying good bye is HARD! She was so happy when I came back, and we spent some time playing cards and watching her favorite show. She felt loved and appreciated and mommy got some time for herself.
4. Share with people what matters most, what matters most
We long for connection. We are wired to belong. Create your own tribe, by sharing with people you admire that you would love to spend time with them. Tell them they matter. Write a thank you note. Send a text to someone you are thinking about. Stop by and chat for a few minutes. Share pictures of things that are happening, celebrate and mourn with the ones around you. Follow the promptings you receive to look around. There will be always a chance to smile and connect.
A friend of mine pointed out that I always say “it was so good to see you” when I say goodbye to her. And how she feels warm and fuzzy inside. She feels special. I made a note to remember to tell her “it IS ALWAYS good to see you!”
5. Don’t worry too much
If you put too much thought into something that is not going according to the plan, you will go nuts. Work will be fine, if you take a clarity break. Your littles will be fine after you drop them at daycare. Listen carefully to your body. Write a small to do list and rest assured what is important will be done first. At work, I shared with my team what I want our 2020 motto to be:
Happy New Year!
See you next time!