The struggle is REAL.
This morning, my alarm went off at 6:00 am.
Those lovely chimes on my phone didn’t exactly get me springing out of bed as I kept hitting snooze. Not only was I was up late the night before but my four-year-old woke me up at 3 in the morning asking me to help find his flip flops.
Herein starts the challenges of a typical day of the working mom. Here are the 3 challenges of motherhood and having a career that you need to be aware of if you’re a working mom:
1. You are deprived of sleep.
The quality of sleep that moms get is typically a wild card. Some rare nights you may get uninterrupted sleep where no one wakes up with a nightmare, no one needs water, or has wet the bed.
But many nights (if not already woken up by a child), you are up tossing and turning with worries and to-do lists, your husband’s snoring keeps you awake or you work late and get up early to cram it all in.
What to know: As hard as it is, make sleep a priority. Start the routine of going to sleep and waking up at nearly the same time each day. Sleep affects your physical health and weight.
Moms are among the top five groups of “workers” that suffer from sleep deprivation, which can lead to obesity, heart disease, impaired memory, and irritability, just to name a few issues.
By making sleep a non-negotiable in your desire for greater work-life balance know that you will be more creative, more patient, more energetic and therefore more productive at work and more connected at home with your kids.
2. You are always running late.
So, as luck would have it, in the mornings where you really need to get in early to the office and your kids have a meltdown, it seems impossible to remain calm and collected because the stress of making it to a meeting on time takes over and then the yelling and screaming starts.
Before you know it, you and your children are both power struggling over what to wear, a lost shoe, or finishing breakfast.
Once you do finally speed off cursing at every red light and feeling frazzled, you are left with a pit in your stomach. Once you make it — whether on time or not — the guilt sets in on how things went in the morning and then you have to wait all day long to reconnect with your kids.
Once the end of your work day is near, you are probably late getting home or picking them up with just a minute to spare. You feel like your new normal is running around and barely making it anywhere on time, never mind fully prepared.
What to know: First, you need to know that you are not alone. Running late, yelling, and feeling flustered with a side of guilt is the norm for the working mom.
Being a step ahead of the game is usually a good start. Make lunches and set out backpacks and shoes the night before. Once your children are in school, get them in a routine as young as possible. Teach them to make simple yet healthy (enough) breakfast for themselves. You will be amazed at what they can do if just simply shown how to.
Being a working mom means that you are used to doing it all but that can only sustain for so long before you begin to burn out. So, ask for help, accept the help, and do your best to stay a step ahead of the kids.
3. You have no time for yourself.
Your schedule is booked all day and evening long. You can’t even imagine how you would squeeze in a workout or a long overdue phone call with your best friend across the country.
It’s easy to see how you start to lose touch with friends, fashion trends, or your own health. And when you do get a down moment, you are probably reaching for your phone to check e-mails or social media.
However, scrolling Facebook or zoning out to the TV late at night is not self-care. In fact, it can actually raise your stress hormones when you are online which may cause you to eat late at night and grab a glass of wine all in the name of “unwinding” from the day.
What to know: Health and wellness research have consistently found that taking care of yourself on a consistent basis has enormous benefits. In order to take time for yourself, you have to practice setting boundaries all around you. You have to schedule in time to read, walk, or connect with friends.
Mothers typically put their own needs last, which sets up a dynamic of becoming a martyr or setting the expectation that everything else is more important than yourself. So, I encourage you to schedule in three days a week for just yourself.
Take a one-hour time frame that is devoted to for you only on three different days and notice how you feel. It may be challenging at first, sort of like meditating, but after a while, I am sure you will notice the benefits and so will your family.
Your ability to take care of yourself will also serve as a great model for your kids, walking the talk is particularly powerful for your children to see and will certainly influence how they will manage their own stress as it comes.
Sheryl Ziegler, Psy.D. is a Doctor of Psychology who specializes in children and families. She is the author of the upcoming book, Mommy Burnout, How Addressing Yours Will Make You A Better Mother And Create A Better Life For Your Children. Dr. Ziegler is the mother of three children in Denver, Colorado. You can follow her parenting advice in her newsletter by signing up today.