Boundaries for working moms

The Importance of Boundaries for Working Moms

If you’ve read one blog on work-life balance tips for working moms, you’ve read a thousand, right? We get it. The emails, Slack messages, and meetings slowly start to creep into family time, or perhaps you’re on the other end of the spectrum — when you finally have a moment to yourself and should be working, you’re scrolling Facebook or catching up on your favorite podcasts.

Let’s start with a simple truth. You are not selfish for wanting a flourishing career and valuable time with your kids, partner, and family. The fact that you’re even seeking work-life balance tips means you’re already considering the needs of others in your life.

Whether your goal is to be more productive during work hours or to set limits on your work hours, our tips for working moms are realistic. We want you to know you can create boundaries for yourself — and others — to progress in your career without missing memorable moments with your kiddos. Before we dive into action items to keep the peace in your home and your head, let’s talk about the word balance.

Balance vs. seasonality

How often do your life and career align so you can give your full self at the exact times needed? The idea of balancing your family life and work inherently calls for your mental and emotional bandwidth to be entirely dedicated to work during work hours and then for you to immediately make the shift at 5 p.m. (or your end time) to be completely dedicated to your family and personal life. Just reading that probably sounds draining.

Rather than expecting a complete balance of your time and focus, let’s shift the expectation to a seasonal approach. Working moms understand the seasons of life better than most. As your children age, they need different levels of your time, involvement, and guidance. You recognize their season of growth and adjust your approach accordingly.

However, work often gets all or nothing. There’s either a complete dedication to climb the corporate ladder or you’re considering leaving the workforce altogether, and anywhere in between feels exhausting. In fact, the recent health pandemic highlighted this very thought pattern, according to a 2020 survey from the Pew Research Centre:1

  • During the pandemic, 27% of mothers with young children (under 18), said the best work arrangement was for them to not work at all.
  • Of moms who worked from home during the pandemic, about ​​36% said they had a lot of childcare duties during this time – roughly double the share of dads who said the same.
  • Half of remote-working moms surveyed said it had been very or somewhat difficult for them to get their work done without interruptions with children at home.
  • Forty-two percent of working moms said they did not spend the right amount of time with their children (28% said they spent too little time with children, 13% said they spent too much time with children).

Data shows us that trying to balance all the things leaves moms drained — physically, mentally, and emotionally. So, how do you have it all

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Balancing work responsibilities with family life can be challenging, especially when it means missing out on your child’s special moments and big events. Raising children truly does take a village, and there is nothing wrong with asking grandparents, aunts, uncles, or close friends to be there when a work commitment pulls you away.

Ask them to document the event with pictures and videos. Once the event is over, you can look forward to a special time with your child(ren) where you sit down together to view the photos and videos. This not only allows you to share in their joy and excitement but also creates an opportunity for meaningful conversation and bonding, reinforcing your presence and involvement in their lives despite your work commitments.

Set work-life balance boundaries

No matter your season, there will be a need to set boundaries. Boundaries are the limits we place on people, events, or things to safeguard ourselves in a multitude of ways. Establishing meaningful boundaries will lay the foundation for you to feel fulfilled as a working mom.

Let go of the guilt

After you’ve intentionally decided on the season you’re in, some days will require you to consciously let go of the guilt. The guilt of utilizing daycare full-time, the guilt of asking for an extension on your work task deadline — whatever your guilt, it no longer gets to live in your mind rent-free.

Find ways to get your time back

What are simple, time-saving hacks you can implement in your home or work routine? We’re all for meal-prepping seven days in advance, but if ordering your groceries and having them delivered is more your speed — start there! Other easy (real-life) time savers:

  • Having dinner delivered one night a week
  • Delegate small tasks that don’t need your direct attention
  • Time block when you check/respond to emails
  • Rotate carpool responsibilities for the kids with a fellow working parent
  • Do the hard thing first and reduce your stress over it

Get flexible

If you work in an office, how would your life change if you could work two or three days remotely? Don’t assume because it’s never been done by your employer that it’s not an option. A recent survey shows 40% of managers would allow employees to pick their own hours and 27% say they don’t mind if an employee logs fewer than 40 hours a week.2 Have a conversation with your supervisor (or yourself) about schedule flexibility.

Schedule your disruptions

You may not be able to schedule every disruption in your day, but you can avoid losing two hours to Pinterest scrolling. Incorporate a time technique that gives you more control of your day. For example, you may want to try the Pomodoro Technique – a time management method that involves breaking tasks into 25-minute work intervals, followed by 5-minute breaks. Start by setting a 25-minute timer and dedicate yourself to a task. When the timer goes off, allow yourself a 5-minute break. After three or four 25-minute windows of work, take an extended break of 15 minutes.

Create memorable moments

Plan meaningful moments with your family ahead of time. Try a family game night, weekend road trip, or visit to your local community pool or sports arena. Deciding on an activity ahead of time gives everyone something to look forward to and avoids the endless round of “What does everyone want to do today?”.

Find your own balance

Moms often put themselves last even though they wouldn’t recommend others do the same. About 40% of mothers say although they recognize self-care is important, they don’t make time for it.3 Find a way to balance yourself in your way.

Maybe 7 a.m. Wednesday morning yoga class is your jam. Maybe rocking out to 90s pop music on your way to the office is your type of zen. Personalize your approach to get the most out of your self-care. And, as with other things on our list, plan it. Schedule your private front-seat concert, book your yoga class weeks in advance, or opt for an outdoor lunch break.

When you’re balanced, you have a greater bandwidth for the actions required in your work-life balance journey.