The ‘working mom’ has many challenges. The first is to balance family with finance. The two ends don’t always meet, as one is often sacrificed for the other. To add gas to fire, working mom’s often have an additional role to fill, and that’s wife. Our Guest Mother Sunjia juggles all three roles quite furiously, but she’s also manages to find time for one more person in her life—her own, sweet self.
“Self” is the thorn in the side of working moms everywhere: how to find time for self and not feel guilty for it. Mom’s often forgo self-fulfillment because it is easier to ignore; you can ignore inner complaints of neglect, but it is much more difficult to ignore whining kids, griping husbands and demanding bosses. Sunjia shows us how she manages an active family that includes 3 young boys, a husband, a career, and still finds time for herself.
Most of Sunjia’s life is dedicated to the betterment of others. She works in the health field- 40 hours per week, mothers three very-active kids, and is a dutiful wife. With so many priorities, she admits “I sometimes feel like I neglect myself and my husband due to (my) busy lifestyle.” In addition to working 40 hours a week, Sunjia dedicates an additional 15-20 hours each week to her son’s activities. “I have very active boys that love sports. They have participated in sports since they were 3 years old. They play football, basketball, baseball and this year we tried something new, track, and field which they both enjoy.”
Finding time for self, starts early every day for Sunjia. By 5:30 am, Sunjia starts her daily workout. Many moms neglect their own health, using their busy schedules as an excuse but Sunjia insists that, “eating healthy food and exercising keeps me energized.” Another working mom, the First Lady Michelle Obama, also agrees that getting her morning workout is key to having the energy to complete all of her daily tasks. These daily task don’t have too just be about everyone else, fitness provides you with the energy to take care of your self.
Many working moms are knock-down, drag-out tired by the time they return home every evening. Too tired for kids, but certainly too tired to focus on exercise. One easy way to introduce activity into your calendar, for those that can’t fathom a workout at 5 am, is to utilize your lunch breaks. A brisk walk can reduce stress and increase exercise.
To help breed some balance knocking out day-to-day activities, Sunjia utilizes her hubby. By 7:30 am, Sunjia is showered and dressed, and she is off to drop her youngest son at daycare before heading to work. She leaves the responsibility for getting her school-aged children up and ready to her husband. By splitting up duties, mom is less-stressed and focused.
But exercise and chore-wrangling can’t be the only remedy for self-preservation. So Sunjia is careful to include time for pampering like spa treatments, manis and pedis. This is often looked upon as mere, sweet indulgences that most working moms can’t or won’t afford themselves. But Sunjia feels no guilt about spoiling herself. “I dedicate my life to my family, but I matter too. So it is very important for me to take time for myself. It does not happen very often but when it does, I enjoy it to the fullest! I know I deserve it.”
For moms that never spend a dime on themselves, create a line item in your budget. Call it simply, the “Me Fund” and allocate so much money per paycheck to your own wants.
Splurge your resources (whether that be time and/or money) on at least one major extravagance per year. Sunjia recently took a girl’s trip to Las Vegas. Maybe you want to spoil yourself with a weekend spa getaway, a solo trip to Paris, or take part in a writer’s seminar in another state this summer. Whatever your heart desires, don’t allow motherhood to take it from you. Sunjia’s next goal is to learn the flute and finish her BS degree.
For those moms that can’t find the time for self, she suggests they work harder to find it. Sunjia uses her early morning hours, and late nights to relax and work on herself. “There is 24 hours in each and every day. It may be challenging at first but soon it will become routine.” To help make it routine, schedule it in. Find at 1-2 hours per day to do something for yourself. Meditate, go to a movie, get your nails done, whatever it is, enter it into calendar and make it part of your day.
Saving time on mundane chores is one way that you can allocate more time to self. Use Sundays to prepare 4-5 dinners for your family to eat during the week. Don’t forget to prepare breakfast, unless of course your a family of cereal-eaters, for the entire week, and five healthy lunches for you and the kids. While you’re preparing to wind down Sunday evening, pick out, hang, and iron everyone’s outfits for the week. And make your kids and hubby help out with all this preparation. Getting these chores out of the way can be great time savers.
Here is an example Daily Calendar for Busy Moms looking to pencil in time for self:
5:00 AM – Me Time: Wake up before the kids, meditate, catch up on a TV show, stretch, etc.
5:30 AM – Fitness Time: Work out for at least 30 minutes.
6:15 AM – Shower and Get Dressed.
7:00 AM – Get the Kids Up.
7:30 AM – Head Out of the Door.
8:30 AM – Arrive at Work
10:15 AM – Take your first me break. Spend this time alone, chatting with co-workers or taking a walk.
12:00 PM – Take a brisk walk or head to the company gym for 40 minutes (which includes a shower afterwards).
12:40 PM – Eat lunch.
6:30 PM – Back home. Eat the dinner your prepared dinner.
9:00 – 11:00 PM – Get at least 30 more minutes of “me” time before you head to bed. This time can be spent doing anything that relaxes you.