3 work-life balance tips from a busy mom

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Here’s how to pull off this juggling act.


Key points

  • As a full-time working mom, I’m no stranger to being busy.
  • I used a few tricks to keep my schedule manageable.
  • Establishing a schedule and learning to say no are just two of the ways I balance my professional and personal life.

“Don’t run out.” That’s the advice a friend and colleague gave me years ago when I explained that I would be returning to work full time after having twins and a toddler.

Juggling my career and my children has not been easy. There are weeks when I feel like I barely have time to eat a meal, let alone make time to hike with family or hang out with friends. In fact, between work-related responsibilities and child-related duties, there is often little time left to relax and unwind.

But I’ve gotten better at achieving a better work-life balance over the years. And to be honest, it got easier as my kids got older. But if you’re struggling with that right now, here are three tips that might help.

1. Set a schedule in advance

Some people work a 9 to 5 job. I don’t know. As a freelance writer, I work when I have time. Sometimes that means writing content at 7 a.m. Other times it means hooking up on a Sunday afternoon while my kids are busy with friends.

Because I don’t have a set schedule, it can sometimes be difficult to know when to work. And so one thing that helps is to set a schedule in advance. This schedule can change from week to week, but this way I know when I’m supposed to be focused and when I’m supposed to spend time with my family instead.

2. Turn downtime into productive time

Like many parents, I spend a good part of my week transporting children to and from activities. But I want to put that time to good use rather than spending it messing around on my phone while I wait.

What I often do is bring my laptop to my kids’ activities and do some work while I’m away from home. Sometimes that means typing lists of ideas when there’s no internet connection. But like this, I get at least Something Finished.

3. Learn to say no

Most weeks I come to a point where I need some time for myself. And for that, I have to say no, both to my job and to my children.

This may mean refusing an assignment and giving up the extra income it might otherwise earn me. Or, it could mean telling my son that I can’t join a board game session because I have deadlines. But either way, saying no is something all working parents need to learn to do — as hard as it may be.

I am extremely grateful to be able to hold a job and manage my responsibilities as a parent at the same time. Working full time allows my family to achieve different financial goals, and I can say with certainty that our savings account would probably be in pretty dire shape if I didn’t work as hard as I do.

But if you’re going to work and be a full-time parent, it’s important to stay organized and set boundaries. It allows me to maintain a more manageable schedule in the midst of the perpetual chaos that is my life.

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