I don’t know how my mom managed. You do the math: She had five kids in seven years. In case you’re wondering, yes, we’re Catholic. My oldest sister was born in March, followed by my second oldest sister the following April, my brother the following July and so on. And although working and mother were not in the same sentence back in the 60s, she had plenty of work to do. She did all the cooking, cleaning and child rearing, while my dad worked full time and weekends to make ends meet. Our family had one car, so she was pretty much “stuck” at home with all of us 24-7. It’s no wonder she’s a bit loony now!
Times have changed. Mothers are still faced with cooking, cleaning and child rearing, but there’s also pressure to have the perfect career, the cleanest house and the healthiest meals. Not to mention, a fit body, a wrinkleless face and a flawless pedicure! Needless to say, being a working mom can be quite stressful. There’s always a nose to wipe, a bedtime story to read and a corporate project to finish. So, how do busy mothers maintain their sanity in this era of “do everything for everyone”? Here are a few tips:
- Prioritize. Just like a crazy day at the office requires prioritization, being a busy mother does, too. Make a short list of “must dos” each day and shelf the rest for another time. Keeping up with your kids’ doctor’s appointments is important, cleaning out your closets may not be. The key is not to major in the minors.
- Learn to say ”no.” Be choosy with your time. It’s ok to say “no” to people or events that don’t fulfill your life – like volunteering for an animal shelter when you fear dogs or making play dates with obnoxious, competitive mothers! Don’t let others guilt you into doing something you don’t really want to.
- Seek support. Is the stress of having kids and a job getting to you? Find supportive friends or neighbors to share your feelings. Online support groups are also available on Web sites, such as www.babycenter.com and www.parenting.com. Don’t forget your spouse! If he’s worth his weight in salt, he’ll shoulder his half of the work load.
- Give yourself a time out. We all need time for ourselves, and not just to hit the grocery store alone. Make time for healthy habits, such as exercise, meditation or just a phone call to gossip with your closest friend. Having time away from your busy schedule helps recharge your batteries. This is vital to maintaining your sanity.
- Seek professional help. Brooke Shields brought post-partum depression to light. It’s common to have the blues after a baby is born. About 10 percent of new moms experience a more severe form of depression. Seek help immediately if you suffer constant fatigue, severe mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends or an emotional detachment from your child. This type of depression can also occur in adoptive moms.
What’s my personal remedy for keeping my cool with two kids and two jobs? I make time for a few long walks a week, keep some dark chocolate on hand and laugh often with my spouse and friends.