Dear Matt: I’m one of many busy working moms out there. Between work and family obligations, there is never enough time in the day. I feel overwhelmed. Can you provide some advice for working moms like me looking to find 25 hours in a 24-hour day?
Matt says: You are not alone — unfortunately. The newest Pew Study on parenthood found that 56 percent of working moms are stressed out by the demands of balancing home and work.
In her new book “The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life”, Judith Orloff, MD (drjudithorloff.com) analyzes how working moms can defend against the “vampires” sucking away your time and energy. The needy vampire is the friend who whines if you say you’re too busy get together; the parent on the soccer field who gabs nonstop; or your own spouse or kids who want your attention when you’re trying to work or enjoy some “you” time.
“Politely tell your whiny friend not to take it personally; you’re just super busy and will catch up with her later,” says Orloff. “Tell the talkaholic that you’d really like to focus on the game and don’t feel chatty at the moment, or simply excuse yourself and find a new place to sit or stand. Let your family know that you will attend to their needs after you’ve had some ‘me’ time.”
Rachel Hastings, vice president of WFC Resources (www.wfcresources.com), a Twin Cities-based company that helps companies create supportive workplaces that encourage employees to balance work/life needs, recommends exploring these options:
• Can my manager help by arranging for a more flexible schedule, such as shifting my hours or working from home one day a week?
• What family/personal resources does my employer offer, such as an employee assistance program, to support employees with their work-life balance?
• What can I do to regularly reduce my stress? Can I spend 15 minutes a day listening to a relaxation tape, or could I attend a yoga class once a week?
• Are my kids truly enjoying all their activities or is there anything that could be dropped?
• Am I making a list each night or each morning for the day so that I am more focused?
• Am I getting at least a few hours of guilt-free recreation each week to recharge and stay up to life’s challenges?
• Am I doing much more than my partner? Can we adjust our shared responsibilities to give me a little more support?
“The fact is, you will never find 25 hours in a day, nor is it healthy to take on too much and risk burning yourself out,” says Hastings. “Being a working mother is a hard act to balance, but the first person who needs to ease up on yourself is you.”
Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.