Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Keeping Sane as a Working Mother

alarm clock, bought from IKEAImage via Wikipedia

With the buzzing of the alarm clock, another stressful day begins. The girls must be fed, dressed and ready for grandma's, and I need to look presentable before walking out the door, too. Heaven forbid anything needs ironing and sack lunches might have been prepared the day before.

Many times, I am worn out from activity before I even make it to the office. I don't even really get a cup of much needed coffee before requests begin flooding my inbox and I am off again. By the time I come up for air, it’s time to face traffic jams on the way to pick up the girls, and then it’s on to the house where the mess from the morning waits.

Getting dinner on the stove, the family fed, the dishes cleared and everyone bathed takes the rest of the evening, and by the time the girls are in bed, the day is gone and preparations for the next day must still be made. As stressful as it may seem, this is simply a routine day. It's exhausting.

Here's some ideas on how to keep sane.

Assess the Situation
Some women are equipped to handle more stress than others. They may have a terrific support system or have older children that require less “hands on” care in the mornings and evenings. Other working moms are on the verge of cracking every second it seems and can’t seem to find a moment to sit still and relax. The first step in knowing what to do next is knowing what that particular mother needs.

Take a Break
If a mother just needs a short break every day to make sure she manages her stress levels and clears her head, moving things around can help. Instead of rushing through lunch at her desk, perhaps this mother can head to the gym during lunch or take a power walk with her iPod. If she’s already working through lunch, she can simply eat it earlier or later and leave her desk for an hour to get some exercise or run errands without the toddler set tagging along. She may find she is even more productive after taking a short break.

Take a Vacation
If a mother needs more time to decompress or is really at the breaking point, a full vacation may be in order. Sometimes traveling can be more stressful than it’s worth, especially with young children. But simply scheduling a vacation from work and staying at home with family can soothe a working mom’s system and help bring a family closer together.

If a working mother needs a break from everything for her own sanity, as many do, she should find an opportunity to leave her family in good hands (such as Dad’s or Grandma’s) and take a long weekend away. Children alone are stressful, and parenting combined with a career is practically overwhelming. Working mothers should do what they need to do to stay in top shape. After all, they are usually the main support in the family household.

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