12 Truths about Being a Working Mom (with Survival Tips!)

By Jennifer Lea Posted June 17, 2015, The Energized Mom Blog on www.workingmother.com

Let’s face it, being a working mom can be extremely challenging. It takes a lot of planning and support to manage a household. Remember the days when you could enjoy a nice cup of coffee while catching up on the daily news before getting yourself ready for work? Do you remember when you used to go into the office early to show your incredible work ethic? Remember when you used to stay late then go out for drinks and appetizers with your colleagues? For many of us, those days are few and far between. However, as working moms, we do have some common experiences that bind us, from the amusing to the frustrating to the exhilarating. How many of the following 12 Truths about Being a Working Mom can you relate to?

12. “Yes, that is spit-up on my shirt.” We’ve all been there. Whether it’s spit-up, milk, peanut butter handprints, or other bodily secretions, we’ve all shown up at the office with it on our outfit. It always happens when you’re in a rush, when you don’t have any extra clothes, and when you spent precious minutes planning and ironing a showstopper of an outfit. We are our own worst critic—after all, our co-worker probably has dog slobber on his pants, or spilled coffee on her blouse, but we are too focused on our spit-up to notice! Carry some stain remover to-go in your purse or a trendy scarf and roll with it.

11. “I’m running a few minutes late.” The morning routine hits a speed bump because the waffles are too cold and the black pants that your toddler wants to wear are not clean. A process that should take 5 minutes now has lasted 20 because your four-year-old would prefer to wear his rain boots with dirty black pants than whatever you laid out for him to wear. Chalk this up to his “eclectic style” and just keep moving.

10. Nothing goes as planned – Ever. Give yourself an extra 45 minutes on the days when you have something big ahead of you because the uncertainty of the morning routine (see Number 9 above) may leave you feeling flustered and frustrated all before 6 a.m. Murphy’s Law is always in effect for working moms--best to leave time in your plan for unanticipated problems.

9. First person in the office. We don’t get to the office at 7:30 a.m. because we want to , but because we have to leave by 4 p.m. to pick up the kids from school and take them to dance practice, then do homework, eat dinner, read a book, take a bath, clean the house, do laundry, and go to bed. Use that early time to be productive—you’re already there, make the most of it!

8. Self-care is the first to go. It’s much easier for a mom to sacrifice her own care than her care for others. Makes sense, right? We’re moms. But how good are we to others if we’re not good to ourselves? In the long term, sacrificing self-care is not sustainable. Schedule some time for yourself; it may be the most important thing you do all week.

7. It’s never a convenient time. We have to leave immediately to go pick up a sick kid from school. Immediately usually means in the middle of a really important meeting or getting back on the airplane that just transported you to the city where that annual meeting is being held.

6. We use sick leave to take care of sick children. Three days often turns into six because after taking care of sick children, there is a high likelihood that mom will get sick as well. Once our kids recover, we spend our precious weekends and vacation in bed with whatever virus or bacterial infection that the kids brought home from school

5. We worry – about everything. We worry what people will think of us in the office when we have to take so much time off work to make it to baseball games, doctor’s appointments, and school plays. When we’re late, we worry what people will think even though there’s nothing that we can do to control the stomach virus that hit the household the night before. We worry that our children are still crying for mommy from the morning drop-off. We worry if we’ll make it in time to pick the kids up from school. We worry about what our family will think of us when we miss too many bedtimes. We worry that we’re not living up to the standards that we set for ourselves as career women and mothers. All this worry is wasted energy. We need to redirect this energy in a positive way. For instance, instead of worrying about what others in the office think of you, trust that your commitment to your family will pay off far greater than those after hour happy hours with co-workers.

4. Setting boundaries isn’t a luxury; it is a priority for working mothers. Without boundaries and guardrails for how and with whom we invest our energy, it becomes very difficult to create any sort of harmony between work and home. Boundaries are a must for working moms.

3. We feel guilty about the boundaries we set. We question whether or not these boundaries will prevent us from excelling in our career. We question whether they are the best boundaries to support our mission as mothers. We make exceptions to these boundaries all too often. The boundaries that we once set are no longer in our reach because we haven’t really followed our own rules of engagement. When you feel yourself sliding, take a moment to think about who and what matter most and reset those boundaries.

2. “Mommy guilt” is a real thing. It far surpasses the guilt that we feel about work. Mommy guilt is the type of feeling that creates knots in our stomach, leaves us crying in the car on the way to work, or crying in the airport when you’re flight is delayed and you’re not going to see your kids before they go to bed. Mommy guilt shows up any time of the day and night. When you look into the eyes of those kiddos or when you can’t make it to the basketball game – mommy guilt creeps in. We all experience it. The most important thing is to acknowledge it and ask yourself, “Am I okay with the decision I’m making?” The mommy guilt will not necessarily go away but you may find that you could do things a little different to better manage this feeling. Remember, it’s not the time that you spend with someone, it’s the energy you bring to the time that you have.

1. Number One Truth: We can do it. It’s not easy, and sometimes it’s not pretty, but if we believe in ourselves we are unstoppable. Always. Can you identify with these Truths? If so, how can you support the working moms around you knowing that these truths exist? Can you help others overcome the challenges of working motherhood so we can all show up as our best both on the job as well as when we’re home with our families?

One hug, a thank you or “let me help you” can be the greatest gift you can give to another working mother. Let’s give these gifts and support one another on this blissfully chaotic journey.