The emergence of the #mumboss hashtag has created somewhat of a split amongst mamas. Some are all about celebrating women raising kids and building empires between naps and nappies. Some are wary of it, suggesting that it creates an unrealistic expectation of women implying that it isn’t enough to ‘just be a mum’. Essentially, it’s all rubbish. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working or not; the important thing that we all have in common is that we are mamas and frankly, that is worth shouting about. Whatever your day looks like, we’re keeping small humans alive and that’s pretty damn cool.
Having said all that, I made the choice to be a mama and work. I say ‘choice’…financially it was a necessity but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I really wanted to work. Of course, as I sit here now with a two-week old baby, a toddler and an inbox full of over 450 unread emails, I wonder what on earth I was thinking. If you’re like me - self-employed, working from home amongst the chaos of housework and kids then it can get tricky to manage. However, there are some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me balance life as a mum, wife and business owner.
1. Get a sling
It doesn’t matter whether you need two free hands to clean the house or clear your inbox, a good sling is the key to freeing up your limbs and bestowing the gift of multi-tasking upon your life. Slings have the added bonus of coercing even the widest-awake of babies into a deep, deep sleep meaning that you really are free to get your shizzle done.
2. Let Stuff Go
Decide what your focus is each day and commit to it. If you need to focus on work then accept that you probably won’t get dressed and/or have a clean house. Any down time you get will be about work and you have to let the rest go. Tomorrow can be about the house but for today, stay focused.
3. Work Free Weekends
However busy and stressed you think you may be, you don’t need to work weekends. You may have 99 problems but they can all wait until Monday. No one else wants to work weekends so close the laptop, shut down the phone and focus on family. Not only will it help avoid a marriage breakdown (trust me, they get cross when you’re working ALL THE TIME) it’ll make you feel so much better for the break. You’ll hit Monday running rather than run-ragged.
4. Date Your Partner
This doesn’t have to be a full on date production starring a designer dress, a Michelin star restaurant and a night of passion (although that’s always nice). Just make an effort to set aside time to focus on your relationship. I’ve written openly about how I prioritise my relationship over my kids previously and firmly believe that you need to nurture your relationship even if that means carting the kids off to Granny’s for a couple of nights. But, date nights can also be at home and cost nothing. We’re Scrabble addicts (geeky but true) so occasionally we turn all the screens off, put our phones away, open a bottle of wine and play Scrabble. It might not be dinner and a movie but it’s pretty cool to hang out with no distractions.
5. Don’t Mix Kids and Work
When you’re with your kids, be with your kids. It’s so tempting to check your emails while they’re on the swings, or take a work call while you watch them bounce around soft play but you know what? It’s not necessary. People without kids sometimes take a week to reply to an email or let phone calls go to voicemail. If you’re worried then make sure your answering machine message makes it clear exactly when you are and aren’t working so people are aware of your schedule. I say all this, I’m still guilty of this occasionally but I’m trying…really trying.
Cat Sims is the mama behind popular parenting blog and founder of brand consultancy agency Hustle + Fox. Mama to two children, Billie (2) and Bo (0), Cat has championed an honest and non-judgmental approach to parenting.