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Being a working mum

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 13 June 2008

It can be difficult to get the work-life balance right when you're a working mum. Here are some tips to help you cope.

- At home
Time can be your best friend as well as your worst enemy. As a working mum, you need to organise your time well. For example, use a bit of spare time in the evenings to get clothes and schoolbags ready, take care of bills and chores. Internet shopping can save loads of time: 15 minutes of your lunch break can be all you need! To stop things getting on top of you, make lists: either at the beginning of the week, list everything you need to do (shopping, appointments, meetings) or if you get anxious, write a list every day. You can also make meals up at the weekend and freeze them, so when you get home from work shattered all you have to do is to warm them up. This saves precious time you can spend looking after your little ones before bed.

- At work
Being a mum doesn't mean that you perform any worse than employees without children. Concentration and a good dose of energy are winning strengths. Let your boss know that you are efficient. If you arrive early and have a quick lunch break let them know subtly, by sending them an email when everyone has left. If you need to leave early one night, nobody can prevent you from doing so because of family commitments. And let your co-workers know you have to keep to certain hours in the evening, so it’s useless to plan a meeting 30 minutes before you have to leave.

- Time for eveything
To get the balance right, it’s fundamental that at home, you forget about work and vice versa. It’s the only way to be effective and to fully benefit from your time. If there are things you need to take care of urgently, you can always make calls in your lunch break. If your children get into the habit of stopping by the office for non-emergencies, then tell them to stop! Calls should be reseved for emergencies. The same goes for your boss: calls and emails are for the office, not for home, so turn off your phone and let him leave you a message if it's urgent.

- Relax
Your life shouldn't just consist of your family and your job. They both need you, but you also need to learn to set time aside for yourself. Get some exercise: jogging or a session at the gym will help you let off steam, yoga will help you relax, and exercising your credit card shopping with friends will help you get away and treat yourself! Plus it's essential to spend some time alone to recharge your batteries.

- Get help
You and your partner made the decision to be working parents, so he should get involved with the daily tasks as well as you. You could also ask your children to help wash up, prepare meals, hoover, do the shopping, bath little ones, etc etc. Sharing tasks is essential if you want to keep on top of things. And if you have the means, you could also employ a cleaner or babysitter to look after your children. If your parents don't live too far away they could also offer to take the grandkids out at the weekend so that you can spend some quality time with your other half.

- Don’t feel guilty
No woman can manage everything without losing it from time to time, so learn to let go and don’t feel guilty if you don't finish everything you had planned or you don't have the energy to cook a homemade dinner for your kids in the evening. They won’t hold it against you if you defrost a pizza from time to time for tea - quite the opposite! Enjoy your breaks and time off and don't feel guilty about making time for yourself.

- Keep hold of your femininity
Being a mum, wife and working woman doesn't make you a slave. The keyword for total fulfillment is femininity! Too many women tend to devote everything to their loved ones at the expense of their own wellbeing. So, from time to time, treat yourself: get a haircut, go to the beauty salon, buy yourself a sexy new outfit and remind yourself you're a gorgeous woman as well as Supermum!

by Sarah Horrocks

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