How do you juggle it all?
Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 5:
Kara (Supergirl): “I don’t understand how you juggle it all”. Her boss responds with this:
Cat (her boss): “Oh, Keira. You have just stumbled upon the most annoying question of the century, and you are so young that you do not even realize it. How do you juggle it all? You learn, that's how. You start with two balls before adding another. I figured out how to be brilliant in business and then I added being a brilliant mother. Far too many women burn out trying to do too much before they're ready.”
Kara: “So you can have it all?”
Cat: “Of course. Just not all at once, and not right away. And not with that hair. Use conditioner, for God's sake.”
I’m currently on maternity leave and while my eldest was at daycare I decided to binge watch some Supergirl on 9now while my new baby was napping. I could have done housework, worked on some more blog articles, planned some interviews for the Mumgineer Podcast, or even better… napped myself, but instead I decided to binge watch a TV show. It’s what I needed to do. I needed to take a mental break. Even while not working, the mental load of running a household can sometimes just be a bit too much!
While watching Supergirl, the above scene occurred and it got me thinking. On one hand, I agree with Cat; it is much easier juggling my family and my career having already advanced my career to a point where I can afford some flexibility. I could also imagine it would be much easier to juggle life if your family was at a point where you could take a step back to start or advance your career. So it makes sense when she says you can have it all “just not all at once and not right away”. It’s all about being patient. But what if, like me, you’ve advanced your career to a point you’re currently happy and you have a young family and you’re still asking “How can I possibly fit everything into the day?” Have I failed, did I not do something right?
Housework, kids sports, dinner, homework, quality family time AND a career. It all seems so overwhelming and impossible.
Well here are some tips to help a mum out:
- Remember you’re not alone!
First and foremost, it is so important to remember that there are other parents in the same situation you are in and thinking the exact same thing you are. Sharing the load can help everyone improve their juggling act.
Tee it up with other parents to share the trips to sports. Perhaps if you’re working, one mum can drop your child off to soccer and then you can pick her child up and bring them home. Not only does carpooling help share the load, it also allows you a great opportunity to get to know your kids friends and their parents!
- Build rituals into your life
A couple of examples:
- Make dinner family time. Every single night.
- Make a weekly family movie night or game night. Every single week.
If it becomes a ritual, it will become second nature to do it and it won’t feel impossible to fit it in.
- Let your children into your work life
Children are more likely to be respectful of your work time if they understand what you do and why. Talk to them about your job and why it’s important to you, even take them to visit your workplace so they can see first-hand what you do. By doing this, you can also make your children feel included and important.
- Set expectations
It can’t be all work all the time and your boss needs to be aware of that. More than likely, your boss, coworkers and clients will have families too so they will understand when you explain that you can’t stay back because you need to do school pick-up. If possible, organise remote computer access and/or other requirements so you can still work from home on days when the kids are sick rather than taking personal leave days all the time and falling behind on work.
- Share the load
Who says it has to be mum that takes the day off to look after sick children? No one! Take turns with dad so you’re not chewing through your personal leave so quickly and it will help dad better understand your juggling act.
- Know your priorities
Your family always has to be your number 1 priority. Make an effort to attend the special moments like football games, speeches or award ceremonies. If you have to take some time out of day to attend, organise with your boss ahead of time to make up the time on another day or take the time as annual leave. As long as you get your job done there shouldn’t be an issue.
- Limit your commitments
Whilst it can come with the best intentions, signing your kids up to 100 different extracurricular activities can create extra busy schedules for parents and children. Instead, limit it to a couple days a week; one afternoon training and game day on the weekend, or dance practice and swimming practice with competitions at the end of the term (not every week). Make sure your schedule is manageable so you can still fit in family time and reduce your stress.