Everyone wonders how to be a working mum, including working mums themselves!
There’s no one way to do it, but these suggestions might help you to find your groove.
Wondering how to be a working mum?
We wish we had all the answers.
The good news is that it’s totally possible to be amazing at your job and also be the mama you want to be.
And there are as many ways to do so as there are working mums out there.
Here’s some advice that might help you make it work for you.
In this article: 📝
- Is it hard to be a working mum?
- How do you do it all as a working mum?
- How do working mums get me time?
Is it hard to be a working mum?
Believe us ‒ we know there are days when being a working mama is tough.
That’s not to say that it’s tougher than being a stay-at-home-mum or that all mums who work find it hard all the time.
But life pulls working mamas in a lot of directions.
Different people ‒ your boss, your partner, your kids, your childcare provider ‒ want different things from you and often at exactly the same time.
As MALTESERS® discovered in their latest study for the ‘LET’S LIGHTEN THE LOAD’ campaign ‒ which encourages people to become ‘MotherLover’ and make a difference in working mums’ lives ‒ there’s a “multitude of expectations that people ‒ employers, colleagues, friends and family, society in general, and parents themselves ‒ load onto working parents”.
It’s a juggling act where it’s easy to feel like a ball is always about to drop.
And when you have to be all things to all people, it’s even harder to take the time you need to recharge.
But then there are days when being a working mama just works, and you get the best of all worlds.
While hanging out with kids is magical, it can sometimes be repetitive, isolating, and messy.
Putting on your work clothes and talking to adults can help you to feel like “the old you”.
Being a mama also lets you hone some awesome transferable skills that can give you an edge in the workplace.
Working mamas can be more patient, persistent, and organised than their colleagues. Plus, it’s fantastic for your kids to see you achieving at work.
A Harvard study showed that working mums’ daughters tend to stay in school for longer, and their sons are more likely to help out at home.
How do you do it all as a working mum?
Despite the challenges, working mums are out there running the world while also being the best mamas their kids could ask for.
But if, today, you’re asking yourself, how do working mums even survive?, these practical tips might help.
1. Find your village
Mums who work are usually part of a team ‒ with their partner, parents, nanny, nursery, or best friends.
If you surround yourself with people who help out and understand what you’re going through, you’ll have the village it takes to raise a child.
Your village might not look exactly how you expected it to.
Maybe your in-laws were excited to babysit until they realised it would mean they couldn’t travel during the school semester.
Maybe the daycare you planned to use looks great on the website but doesn’t quite live up to expectations.
But then, maybe your neighbour has kids in the same class as yours, and they’re happy to host a weekly playdate.
Or maybe your friend who doesn’t have kids is a great listener when you’ve had a bad day.
Your team is your team.
If it works, embrace it.
And if you’re looking for your village, why not find your best mum friend on Peanut?
We’ve helped millions of mums connect and find their people.
2. Make a plan
If scheduling was an Olympic sport, working mamas would take the gold.
But the difference between a good plan and a good day is making sure that everyone can see what they’re responsible for.
You can remove some of the bumps in the road by setting up a shared calendar on everyone’s phones or writing everything on a whiteboard or family planner.
Bonus tip: schedule the fun stuff too!
This could be as simple as putting eat a lot of pancakes or take the scooter to the park into the calendar for the weekend.
These are the things that you’ll all remember, even during the times you’re finding it hard.
3. Prep, prep, prep
Organising everyone’s things the previous evening can mean the difference between arriving at work on time and energised and turning up with the wrong bag, having forgotten to brush your teeth.
This might look like getting your kids to choose their clothes for school before they go to bed or making lunch boxes you can grab from the fridge in the morning.
4. Embrace “The Golden Triangle”
Get a map and mark the places where you live, work, and take your kids to school or childcare.
When you draw lines between these places, you have your Golden Triangle.
Life gets more efficient when all your chores, errands, and appointments fall within the triangle because it’s easier to combine errands.
If you can find a dentist between work and home, you can tick something off your list and get home faster.
Likewise, if you pick up groceries on the way home from school, it means you don’t have to go out again when you’ve just got comfy.
You save unnecessary journeys (and unnecessary herding of children into car seats), and it means that you can really relax when you’re home.
5. Outsource what you can
If you can afford it, even just now and again, giving some of your to-do list to a professional can be a load off your mind as a working mum.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to:
- Hire a cleaner.
- Hire a dog walker.
- Drop off your ironing.
- Subscribe to a meal delivery service.
- Arrange to have your groceries delivered or ready to pick up at the store.
- Hire a babysitter or a nanny, even if it’s just occasionally.
If it helps, think of it as buying back some of your precious free time.
6. Know your rights
There are great employers out there who understand that the traditional 9 to 5 doesn’t always make things easy for working families.
Even so, it’s worth going over your contract or speaking to your manager to find out what you’re entitled to.
You might have the right to work from home, take compassionate leave if your kid is sick, or you be able to work overtime to bank extra days off for summer break.
7. Guard your sleep
If you ever have the chance to get an early night or sleep in, you should take it.
Your mood, your health, your work, and your ability to cope with the surprises that life throws your way will be better if you’ve been able to rest.
Just as bedtime routines can be great additions for your child, they can also be something to incorporate into your evening, too.
How do working mums get me time?
It can be easy for working mamas to burnout.
Making sure you have some me-time is one of the most effective ways to avoid this.
Real, restorative time looks different for everyone.
For some people, a 20-minute run is the ticket, while for others, it’s a four-hour binge-watch when the house is finally quiet.
So how do working mums get time to themselves?
The same way as they do everything else.
They plan for it, and they stick to the plan ‒ even if that means bumping something else.
It’s as simple (and as complicated) as this:
- Find your team.
- Take time to prioritise your own well-being.
- Know that if things are hard right now, they won’t be forever.
We’re rooting for you, mama!
MALTESERS, in partnership with Comic Relief, is working towards a future where women no longer face injustice. Together, we’re working to lighten the load for working mums and help women thrive.
Find out more about this: www.maltesers.co.uk/lighten-the-load
Comic Relief is working with organisations in the UK and around the world to help women thrive. Organisations like Women’s Lives Leeds, who run the Women Friendly Leeds movement working to empower women to lead safer, healthier, equal and more fulfilled lives. https://womenfriendlyleeds.org
Mars Wrigley is donating £500,000 in 2023 to Comic Relief, operating name of Charity Projects, registered charity in England & Wales (326568) and Scotland (SC039730)