Maintaining a work life balance as a full-time working mum is no easy feat.
Being a mum on its own is already a full-time position, throw in a career and you’re likely to feel rather shattered most days.
As much as you want to sew Olivia’s school play outfit, attend Harry’s football match, make supper, do the groceries, clean the house and prepare for that work presentation on Friday — maybe it’s time to recognise that it doesn’t all have to get done by you and that you can also have your own life.
In this article we’re going to explore what work life balance means, why this is so important, my top tips for making life truly smashing and the kind of work that’s made this easier for me.
With that said, let’s jump right in.
So, What’s Work Life Balance Really?
You are probably having a laugh and thinking “work life balance doesn’t even exist in my vocab,” and that’s okay, I felt this too for a very long time as a single mum.
There’s this idea that us working mums are real-life superwomen with the ability to multi-task with our eyes closed, and well, as much as that is true at times, we are not impervious to burnout — we are only human (as we often forget ourselves).
So, what’s work life balance?
It’s just that, a balance of work and life that is not only manageable, but also enjoyable.
It’s about balancing the scales between your personal and professional life without allowing one to overpower the other.
Both are essential and neither should be neglected.
Ultimately, you want to find that sweet spot between the two.
That doesn’t mean life is always going to be perfect, it just means that you’ll be in a better place to manage everything and not feel utterly knackered at the end of the week.
In the age of social media, there’s this pressure to be perfect because of what we’re seeing other mums do and manage, but most of the time that’s just a highlight reel of the good stuff, never mind the highs and lows of getting there.
Being perfect is not attainable, but health, joy, happiness, fulfilled relationships and balance are — you can have your cake and eat it too, you just have to be conscious about it.
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Why Work Life Balance Is Important?
Now that you know what work life balance is, it’s necessary to truly understand why it’s important for you.
Maintaining a work life balance is crucial for your personal health and relationships and for your performance within work.
If you feel like I’m talking bollocks, take a look at these top 5 reasons below.
1. Fewer Health Problems
We all know that our immune system is the first to be compromised when we are run down, tired, stressed or anxious.
Healthline explains that “constant stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being,” from the flu to more serious health concerns such as respiratory or digestive problems.
And not to mention your mental health…It’s very easy to slip into the slumps of depression when life becomes overwhelming and unmanageable.
According to Help Guide, “burnouts occur when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”
Burnouts can be caused by extreme and prolonged stress that results in a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion — often to the point of hospitalisation.
This is just how serious it can get if you are taking on way too much without any room to breathe.
Stress is not always something we can get away from, but it’s definitely something we can manage.
The fact that it can have such a direct impact on your health and wellbeing is important to realise and this is why maintaining a balanced work life is vital.
Taking the time to look after yourself by exercising, eating well, relaxing and doing things for yourself can contribute to increased happiness, limited health issues, more efficiency in your work and inspiration to show up as the best mum.
2. To Ensure Physical Health and Wellbeing
This ties into the above point, but it’s so important that we’ll also give it it’s own line.
It’s imperative that you make time to look after your physical health and wellbeing. Your body is a temple and how you treat it matters!
So take a look at whether you are eating enough or eating too much and how you are fuelling your body throughout the day — be mindful of what you are putting inside.
Are you exercising regularly or is this something you push to the back burner because there’s just not enough time or you’re way too knackered.
Eating well and exercising will greatly affect your energy levels throughout the day and it will influence your mental state.
We store a lot of stagnant energy within our body and by just moving in any way at all we can shift this energy and shift how we feel.
3. Increase Productivity
It’s all about quality over quantity. If you are burning the candle at both ends, your quality of work or how you show up for your kids will speak volumes.
By having a work life balance you’ll be able to increase your productivity because you would have been able to give yourself a chance to rest or do something for yourself so now you can dutifully focus on the task at hand.
4. More Mindfulness, Gratitude and Appreciation In Your Every Day
By maintaining a work life balance you automatically invite more mindfulness, gratitude and appreciation into your every day.
Fancy a cuppa? Go and have that chin wag with your mate. It will likely mean you will be more present and attentive to your family if you feel like you’ve had that downtime.
When you have a balance of doing things you enjoy with the responsibilities of everyday life you will find that appreciation and gratitude are easier to come by and these are emotions that make us feel good, thus attending to our mental well-being.
5. YOLO (You Only Live Once)
Yes, I said it, “YOLO”! This may be a cringe-y Millenial term, but it couldn’t be more true!
We only have one life, will you choose to spend it being stressed out until you’re barmy or will you choose a life where you wake up every day feeling grateful and happy? The latter sounds better to me!
My Work Life Balance Tips
1. Burn That Perfectionism Hat This Very Minute!
If you feel that everything you do has to perfect all the time, stop this now.
Doing something “perfectly” is completely subjective, who does it need to be perfect for, yourself or someone else?
This is an unrealistic expectation to have on yourself and it will only result in unnecessary pressure that will make you feel miserable.
And if I have to choose I’d rather toss being miserable to the side.
2. Unplug And Disconnect
Whether you’re employed or have your own business it’s extremely important to know when to unplug and disconnect from technology.
We live in a world where it’s become increasingly difficult to ‘switch off’ because of how easy technology has made it for us to constantly be communicating and working.
So when it’s family time or when you’re with a partner or mate, make sure to honour that time together and not get caught up in answering emails that can most often than not, wait!
3. Work The Body And Mind
Getting regular exercise, eating well and meditating will look after your physical and mental health, and if this area of your life is not well taken care of it can lead to less than favourable circumstances.
It will also manage your stress and anxiety levels and make you feel energetic, inspired and motivated!
Need I say more.
4. Limit Distractions And Timewasters
It’s so easy to procrastinate or find yourself checking your phone or social media every 10 minutes, that’s why you have to be disciplined with how you spend your time.
Set time limits for checking and responding to emails or making phone calls, and honour it.
Make sure you focus on one thing at a time so as to not get caught up in the next task without finishing what you had first started.
Take scheduled breaks and use that time for catching up on personal messages or checking social media.
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5. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Manage your time for the long term by creating a timeline of your activities. Look up the best apps or computer programs can help with this, or customise your own Excel spreadsheet if need be!
Include family and personal commitments – such as holidays, birthday parties, self-care spa days etc. – so you don’t forget that you are unavailable for work on those days.
Use technology to make your life easier, if it’s not 100% necessary to have that meeting in person then do it over Zoom or any other conference call program.
Make the mornings easier by preparing everything the night before, whether this is lunch for the kids, outfit for the next day etc.
Do any grocery shopping online if you can, technology is here to help make our lives easier, ensure you make the most of it.
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6. Learn To Say NO
This was a game-changer for me — learning that I don’t have to please everyone has been so liberating.
Saying “no” does not mean you’re being selfish, on the contrary — it means you respect your own time and the commitments you’ve already made.
7. Leave Work At Work
When you leave work for the day make sure you don’t bring work home with you. This may be more tricky if you work for yourself (or if you work from home), but it’s all about boundaries and it’s essential to have some in place.
Sometimes you’ve just got to say “sod it” and allocate your tasks to the next day.
If you’re continuously struggling to complete tasks when required then it may mean your time management is off — for this you can refer to tip 5 above to assist you.
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8. Ask For Help And Support
Family, friends, neighbours, colleagues — don’t be a martyr and do everything yourself because you don’t want to inconvenience others.
Use your network for help and support when needed.
People love to help people, it’s part of our human connection and if someone doesn’t want to help, that’s ok too.
You can feel miffed and then move on.
9. Surround Yourself With People Who Are Uplifting
No one enjoys a Debbie downer, so be mindful of who you are spending time with and notice how your energy levels feel after being around someone.
This is not to say that people shouldn’t complain or have negative tendencies, it’s about how much.
It’s okay to have a bad day and vent, but if it becomes a habit then that’s a red flag.
Same goes for you, you want to feel uplifted.
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10. Schedule Play Dates
Scheduling playdates for your kiddies (if you have young ones) can be a great way to get out and connect with other parents or friends — 2 birds, one stone — it will benefit both you and your little one/s.
11. Moderation Is Key
Like anything in life, too much of something can only cause chaos.
So to avoid making a muck up of things, don’t overload your schedule because you feel you ‘have’ to.
This is sound advice this is.
12. Schedule ‘Me’ Time
This is probably one of the most vital tips here.
If you don’t take time to full up your own cup there is no way you will be able to be on your top performance day to day.
Schedule that mani or massage, take yourself shopping or go for that walk in nature — you’ll thank both me and yourself for this later.
13. Focus On The Big Picture
Think about the bigger picture, what do you want from life, for yourself firstly and for your family?
Feeling stressed out and totally buggered every day is not a way to live, so make the choices you have to make in order to create the life you want to live.
I know it sounds a lot simpler said than done, but ultimately if you want something to change enough you’ll do what it takes — that means prioritising a work life balance.
14. Create Special Family Activities
Making time for your family is vital, both during the week and on the weekends, to nurture your family dynamic and allow everyone to bond.
Spending quality time with your family is the ultimate work life balance. Take time to plan ahead and put these dates in your calendar so no one will forget — now is the best time to plan for your dreams as a family!
Go to the beach, picnic in the forest, go away for the weekend or maybe even schedule that family holiday you’ve been putting off – remember that time with your family is precious so make the most of it!
If you’re pressed for time, have a family breakfast/dinner or watch a movie. When it’s family time, avoid talking about work or checking your phone.
Instead, give 100% of your focus on your kids’ interests.
With older kids, ask them to be involved in choosing an activity to do together so you can also meet their needs. At the end of the day, it’s not about what you do, but rather that you’re doing it together.
15. Be Present
This goes for whatever you’re doing in your day, be it work, a school function, cooking, chores etc. — make the most of the moment, and be there consciously doing what you’re doing.
This takes practise, but you will find yourself feeling a whole lot happier when you’re present with every task.
16. Find Quality Childcare
When you feel like you’re juggling a ton, one of the best things you can do to make your load a little lighter is by finding quality childcare.
This doesn’t mean they need to replace you and your responsibilities as a parent, but rather make your life easier by being there to keep the kiddies entertained in the afternoon or babysit in the evening so you can actually have a night off.
17. Communicate With Your Employer
If you’re looking for more flexible time or to be able to work from home a few days a week (assuming things go back to normal soon enough), I suggest talking to your boss or HR representative and asking them if they would be open to new arrangements.
You’ll never know what they’ll say until you just take the plunge and ask, but make sure you go in prepared — have an outline of exactly what you want and be prepared to present alternative solutions, such as a trial period of your projected work schedule so you can show how the arrangement won’t restrict productivity.
18. Spend Time With Your Partner Or Friends
Carve out time to spend with your partner and if you don’t have a partner make time to date or see friends.
It can be so easy to get caught up in life and let one of the most important people in your life fall to the wayside, but this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Take time to nurture this relationship — start with monthly date nights to get closer, feel renewed, and enjoy each other’s company.
By fostering this relationship you will bring excitement to the partnership and it’s perfect for helping you “check-in” with each other.
19. Find a Job that Makes Work Life Balance Easier
Something that completely turned my life around after being made redundant twice was this business opportunity that my mum had been telling me about for years.
Finally, I listened to her and explored what this work-from-home opportunity was all about.
Fast forward 14 years and I now have a massive global business within the health and wellness industry through Forever Living, a well established global company.
Choosing this path gave me so much security while being a single mum for the first ten years of my business. I had the means, flexibility and time to show up for my kids in every way they needed.
This business made the idea of work life balance a possibility for me for the first time in my life.
I could not encourage you enough to find something similar that can do the same for you. If you’re interested in the opportunity I’m involved in, I would love to tell you more about it — you can get in touch with me here.
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Start Taking Back Control Today!
Being a mum is not for the faint of heart, we are your every day warrior women, so it’s important to make time to take off our armour and just chill the hell out.
Leave your comments below and feel free to ask me anything about work life balance.
I truly hope that you found this guide helpful and that it’s inspired you to prioritise a work life balance.
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