6 Tips for Overwhelmed Working Mothers

If you’re like most working moms, you’ve probably wished for a wife, or a magical nanny who would cheerfully and efficiently tidy up the house, fold the laundry, settle the disputes among the kids, organize the play dates, do the grocery shopping, get the household bills in order and put dinner on the table. Ahh-hhh…imagine the sheer joy and relief of knowing that you wouldn’t have to do it all! You could actually plant yourself in a comfy chair for the evening and read a book, watch TV, or flip through your favorite magazine without jumping up a million times to change laundry from washer to dryer, empty the dishwasher, and fix tomorrow’s lunches.

But the truth of the matter is, women have been juggling since the beginning of time, and working women often juggle even faster. We all know that a mother’s day never ends. But when moms add an additional job beyond tending to kids and home, the pace really picks up.

Look. No matter what helpful numbers your Rolodex does or doesn’t hold, here’s the reality for women: We live, breathe, and sleep our multiple roles.  Some of us with help, some of us without it.

The bottom line difference between working mothers who are challenged yet happy, and those who are continually frustrated and down in the dumps, is to first recognize and embrace this one fact: Being a working mother is hard. Period.  Don’t pretend that it’s not or that you should be able to make it easy.

You may feel like you live on a roller coaster or that your life is one giant game of tug o’ war—with your job tugging you on one end and your husband and kids tugging you on the other. But collapsing into a pile of exhaustion and guilt isn’t the answer. Instead, grab a giant dose of “Hey, this is my life, and I’m going to make it work for me.”

Here are six things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and sorry for yourself.

1. Put YOU at the top of your priority list—even when you’re sure you don’t have an extra minute for yourself. Successful working moms have learned that when they don’t take time for themselves, they aren’t as efficient and they’re not as happy. Both your kids and your husband would prefer a happy mom and a messy house to a perfect house and a grouchy mom!

2. Give yourself a hug, ask for a hug from your kids and your spouse, and think about how lucky you are to be a mom. Even on a bad day, remember what deep joy your children bring to your life.

3. Remind yourself of the benefits you gain from your paid employment. Studies show that women work for many of the same reasons men do. It’s not only financial gain or economic necessity that drives women to the office, but also personal fulfillment, self-actualization, a sense of power, independence, social status and social contact. When women find meaning, challenge and potential for career growth and development, it brings them personal gratification.

4. Step back and take a moment to celebrate yourself. Most career moms feel increased self-esteem that mitigates other stressful aspects of life and results in an overall positive effect. Just don’t forget to take time to allow that feeling to flow through you so you can really absorb it.

5. Learn to cope for success. Of all the coping mechanisms working moms use to balance their lives, giving up perfectionism is at the top of the list. Superwomen went out decades ago, so get ready to lower your household standards. No one cares except you. Find a healthy source for quick meals, order out or go out and spend the time you save with your family. And enlist your husband to become a home and child care partner—or hire help.

6. Find a friend who can listen and give you support. No matter how organized you are, there are most likely times when you get frazzled—days when you just want to bitch and whine. So get it out of your system and move on.

If you work full time, you spend eighty percent of your waking hours at your job, so you’d better be having fun doing it. Some working women even think of their workplace as a “health spa” in comparison to the frenzy at home. But if you don’t love what you do, begin looking for new employment because job dissatisfaction most certainly contributes to your stress, frustration and fatigue.

Sadly, it seems that our culture doesn’t value parenting—even though we believe the future of our world depends on our kids. Society even expects us to believe that parenting comes naturally rather than to believe it’s a job that requires great awareness, intention, knowledge and skill. Until our society opens its eyes—or until Mary Poppins magically appears at our front door—it’s up to us to recognize our own value and to feel confident in ourselves as we juggle our multiple roles.

Related:
Life is Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets
Why Are Mom Perfectionists?
Working Moms: An Interview

32 comments

Susan Weihofen
Susan Weihofen5 years ago

whish I'd seen this earlier in my life

jane richmond
jane richmond5 years ago

Thanks for the tips

Mark S.
Mark S.5 years ago

Good article, thanks for posting. For working moms who are married, I also suggest this: ensure your partner does his/her fair share of the work as well. So often I hear of working moms who do most of the work at home as well, which is completely unfair and unrealistic. At the end of the day, both parents should spent the same amount of time working (and relaxing).

Darienne D.

great tips, thank you

Rose N.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you for posting.

Deborah Latter
Deborah Latter5 years ago

Rolodex? You mean Blackberry, right? lol

Eva Orta
Eva O.5 years ago

I am not a working mother, but my mother definitely is one (she worked part-time when my sister and I where still young, but now she works full-time - whilst still having my sister and youngest brother living at home). I do not always knows how she manages, but I do know that I love and admire her for what she is doing. So here's to you, mum - and to all the working mothers: and make sure to take your you-time sometimes! You are worth it :)

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

Thanx good information.

ana p.
ana p.5 years ago

THANKS.

Tori W.
Past Member 5 years ago

Good article. It would be nice if working mothers could depend upon their partners for help, when they have a partner, but many partners will not help. They worked all day and when they get home, they want to relax. Mother must deal with all the full time chores and work of being a mother, as well as being the full time housekeeper, family counselor, maid, economist and, well you get the idea. Yes, working mothers must take care of themselves. If we don't take care of ourselves first, we won't be any good for anyone else. Even when the kids become adults, their problems change, and so does your relationship with them, but many times they still need "Mom". It goes with the territory.