How can working moms find more balance and thrive in all parts of their lives? Here I am, a single working mom, and this question had me stumped. I’ve been doing the working mom juggling act a long time. And in many ways, the last couple of years have been easier. It sounds horrible to say, considering my husband died in June 2017 after a three-year battle with cancer. The last two years of his life were challenging, as you may well imagine. On top of that, my father also became ill and passed four months before my husband. Plus my cat died. Really. 2017 was a suck year in many ways. So the question is, how did I keep it all together, write a book, launch a new business, and continue to thrive and celebrate life?
Find Your Inner Strength
Full disclosure: I’m older and so is my daughter. She is a senior in college, and she’s my one and only child. This circumstance could make it more difficult for some, but has been a huge asset for me. We each harnessed our inner mojo to cope, overcome, find joy, and move forward. It helped a great deal to have close friends and family to support us, and it allowed us to tap into our own power. Each of us has resilience, and it’s a secret weapon to forge ahead when times are tough. For all the single working moms out there, and everyone else, it’s imperative to mobilize your resources to encourage and sustain your tenacity.
It Takes a Village
To foster and reinforce your inner strength, you need resources outside of yourself. Make a list of people you can count on when things go sideways, because stuff happens – all the time. Just knowing who you can call provides peace of mind and allows you to keep your cool when things hit the fan. Meet the other parents in your neighborhood, your child’s class, activity teams, and within your social circles. Invest your time to get to know them. Trust me, you will click with several and be able to lay the foundation for your support network. Find ways to assist your new friends – perhaps by trading off after-school pursuits or expanding routines. And don’t forget to recruit your personal friends and families in your network. Remember to give back as much as you take to keep your relationships healthy and vibrant.
Time for You
Do you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? I know it well. And it will squish you like a bug if you don’t make time for you. It’s not selfish; it’s survival. What revives and reenergizes you? I’m not talking a day at the spa. Rather, I’m talking about things that are an immediate boost, put a smile on your face, and reframe your attitude. For me, it’s a bulletin board of collected photos and quotes in my office, my “soar” music playlist, the Neko kitty app, and the magical photo album on my iPhone. Each of these lifts my spirits with just a glance or upon hearing the first note. Along with this emergency resuscitation kit, I have a number of activities that increase my endorphins every day and every week. Maybe for you that is a spa day, a hike in the national forest, or singing in a choir. You cannot have balance in your life without nourishing your own soul.
My Best Immediate Life-Changing Advice
There are super simple ideas you can put into action today that will help you avoid the crash and burn of the daily grind. Here’s mine: Talk about it – whatever “it” is. Get it out in the open and have a conversation. If something drives you crazy, do not let it fester and boil until you explode. It doesn’t matter if your children are toddlers; they will understand you when you speak calmly, rationally, and from the heart about something that bothers you, when you explain why it’s important to you, and when you show them how they can help. Creating a healthy environment in which you can talk about everything – and especially things that concern them – is vital when your children are still young. It will change your life and make tough discussions easier.
Final Special Sauce
My last tip is so basic, but it enriched both my life and my daughter’s, and it continues to pay dividends. From the time she was born until well into grade school, I read at least one story to my daughter at bedtime every night. At some point we switched to listening to books on tape in the car and talking about the story before bed. That time reading to my daughter was just as important to me as it was to her. It allowed me to relax at the end of the day, it created a special time for us to share, and it was a powerful entry to discuss a related topic during dinner or a family meeting. Trust me, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or on the edge, there is nothing like a good bedtime story to bring life back into perspective.
Making it Work
It may not seem like any of this is concrete. Are you thinking, what the heck? How does this help me get up, organize my children for the day, make it through work, battle the commute, find something for dinner, clean up – dishes, clothes, kids – and then maybe grab 5 minutes to relax before calling it a day? Well, I’m here to tell you, if you want a handle on all this, you must channel your inner strength, establish a reciprocal resource network, and earnestly rejoice in treasured moments. It’s a core mindset of work-life integration, and it’s seen me through my darkest hours. When you have these things in place, you can choose which shortcuts, planning, charting, organizing, and tips you want to tackle. Your foundation is rock solid and it makes everything else work.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.