Let me give you a picture of my September… You know what it’s like when you come back from holiday and you’d managed to do the bare minimum in order to get away and ensure you didn’t come back to chaos? Then you come back to a zillion emails and actions and projects and meetings anyway?
The first couple of weeks back at work after a holiday are hectic for all of us. This year, for me, it’s been more so than usual, as Freddie has started at school with a month long settling in period. This meant one month of varying length days, with the majority allowing me a mere 2 working hours after drop off and before pick up at 12pm. And
I count myself lucky as I have the flexibility of being self-employed!
I managed with varying degrees of success and failure: Juggling, getting things done “just in time”, forever apologising, sometimes feeling like superwoman, other times, so exhausted my ears popped.
Here are five of my coping mechanisms as a working mum trying to cope with not having enough time. They’re not miraculous, but they do help!
1. Make use of “mini pockets” of time: As a working mother, you’re never going to get that longed for, uninterrupted stretch of time when you can get everything done. Make it a habit to seek out “dead time” when you might be waiting around. Use 5/10 minute chunks of time to catch up on phone calls with friends for example.
2. Multi tasking has its place as a working mum, let’s face it! Embrace your natural ability to multi-task as a woman. For me, this means that the washing machine gets loaded whilst my morning cuppa is brewing, for example. The washing machine gets emptied 8 hours later whilst dinner is simmering on the stove top!
3. Lower your impossibly high standards: The tendency towards perfectionism is a HUGE energy drainer for so many working mums. Learn to let go of some of the “stuff” and recite a non-perfectionist mantra: “It’s good enough/It’ll do/It will suffice” Remember that there will ALWAYS be something to do – that’s just life. Shrug those shoulders, girls!
4. Use a task reminder system: My mind is constantly remembering things I need to do, such as return a phone call, sort out an insurance claim, and pay for swimming lessons. I’ve just started using an app on my iPhone called “Due”. This is working quite well for me at present as it’s quick, simple and time-based, so it enables me to reminders for things as they pop into my head. There are many different reminder systems for smart phones, but if you don’t have time to research them, try my recommendation and give “Due” a go!
5. No matter how little time you have, prioritise time for self-care; whether it’s meditation, reading a book in peace, running, going for a walk or whatever helps you to stay sane and happy as a working mum. If you don’t schedule “me time” in your diary, it just won’t happen because there’s always something else that is more urgent. Whilst we know that it’s important, self-care rarely fits into the “urgent” category of time management…. until one’s health suffers. Keep half an eye on your future and ask yourself, “If I continue NOT taking this time for my own well-being, then what?”
And as a post note, don’t forget to keep smiling and keep your sense of perspective!
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