When I returned to work after having my son, I knew it would be a challenge to do both. But I didn’t expect some of the difficult choices I would need to make on a daily basis.
In the years since, there have been times when I’ve dropped the ball no matter how hard I tried to keep everything afloat. Like all the times I was late to pick up my kids from school, or the time I forgot it was early release day (thankfully another mom helped me out). Or when I open my fridge and realize I have to be extra creative with dinner because I didn’t have time to go to the supermarket. Finding balance is not a goal anymore for me because on any given day, there’s probably more madness than I know what to do with. Thankfully, I’ve learned to let go of working mom guilt somewhere along the way.
I was working when I became a mother and have continued pursuing my career while making a living and taking care of my family. It hasn’t been easy, but I manage and make the most out of it — as long as I manage my expectations and resign myself to some big compromises:
There is no such thing as perfect work-life balance.
Every day I know I’m more likely to live in chaos than tranquility. We’re always going-going-going from morning ’til night between school, work, and activities. I have to focus on the bigger picture if I want to remain sane on any given day.
We can never get to everything.
Each day has its priorities, but I often overestimate what I can do. When I can’t meet my goals though, I shorten my to-do list. I find that if I have too many incomplete tasks, I end up frustrated with myself.
We know we cannot please everybody.
Even though I wish I had superpowers, I can’t be everywhere for everybody at all times. Time is limited and there’s only one of me. Someone is going to have to wait.
Something’s always got to give.
If one of my kids is sick or struggling with school, I know that I will need to focus more time and attention on them. But once they re back on track, that’s when I know I need to put in extra time at the office or find ways to compensate for being away.
We’ve learned to set limits.
Boundaries are important not only for children, but also at the workplace. Most importantly, we need to set limits for ourselves so we don’t neglect or ignore those we care about the most. It helps me to establish a schedule in which I reply to work emails.
We’ve given up on the idea of “perfection.”
Unrealistic expectations lead to frustration and drain your energy, so I don’t bother. I try my best, ask for help when needed, and allow for mistakes.
We make it work (no matter how tired we are).
Even if I am getting better about making time for self-care, the truth is that I never seem to do everything I would like to do for myself. I’ve learned to be happy with even a few minutes a day in which I read or watch TV.
Sometimes our best is not good enough.
I may have the best of intentions, but still miss a school play or book fair. I may have everything planned to a “T” and then something unexpected happens and throws me off completely. It’s hard in the moment, but I try not to dwell on it.
Our homes might not be the tidiest, our cupcakes might not be Pinterest-worthy and we might be a bit frazzled, but as long as our kids are happy, what does it matter?More On