A challenging career, beautiful but demanding children, a messy house, distant friends, a neglected husband: Sometimes the realities of "having it all" aren't quite what you imagined them to be. After a long, tiring week of trying to balance various duties and responsibilities, some of us would love nothing more than to crack open a bottle of red, hop in a warm bath and just chill out.
Well, why shouldn't you? In the rush to please everyone else, sometimes we forget about one particular person: you. A happy mother, wife, friend, daughter and employee makes for a happy family, husband, friends, parents and company. Follow these tips to take the pressure down a notch and achieve a better life balance. The time is now, ladies!
Don't lose sight of the bigger picture
Remember that cheerful, youthful, beautiful woman in your wedding photos? The one who was dreaming of starting a family, having kids, advancing in her career and maintaining a happy, loving relationship? If you've started to lose sight of the important things in life and are instead getting bogged down in the details like fingerprints on the fridge and a few unanswered emails, it might be time to take a step back and think about where you are today, all of the incredible things you've achieved and the amazing people you're sharing your life with. Be grateful for what you wanted and remember to choose happiness!
The first step to taking the pressure off is setting aside some you time. Whether you like to de-stress by taking a brisk stroll around the block, sitting down with a good book, joining a yoga or meditation class or simply popping into a cafe for a quiet coffee, it's important you schedule some solo relaxation time into your week -- and stick to it.
Nurture your friendships
If you've started feeling distant and out of touch with your friends, a quick text, call or email will remind them that you're thinking of them. Even a cute card in the post that lets them know how much they mean to you will help you to stay connected. Make time to catch up for a coffee or a walk every few weeks, or if you're really feeling pressured for time, see if you can time your catch-ups with achieving something productive, like going grocery shopping together or meeting up at the park while the kids have fun in the playground.
Ditch the guilt
Often the pressure we feel as mothers and career women may in fact be something we can control. By trying to go above and beyond for everyone, we get caught up in stressing about things we should have done, instead of acknowledging the things we have done. Be proud of your achievements and remember that you can only try your best. If you need to remind your hubby and boss of that too, then do it! Guilt won't get you anywhere.
Share the responsibility
Don't feel too proud to ask for help. If you're feeling overwhelmed, encourage your husband, parents and in-laws to help out with babysitting duties or around the house. As your children grow older, you can also get them more involved in helping with housework tasks and cooking. For example, older school-aged children will love the responsibility of having to pack their own lunches and this will save you a lot of time in the morning. (Just be sure to check their lunchboxes before they rush off with cake-and-biscuit sandwiches!)
Your work needs to know when it's designated family time, and vice-versa. You need to work to earn a living and pay for all of those new toys and clothes your kids want, so they also need to understand when you're required at the office. If you work from home, you might like to establish a system that shows when you can't be disturbed, such as a sign on the door. Similarly, you need to stand your ground at work and not allow employers to make unfair demands after-hours or on the weekends. Sure, this is easier said than done, but by starting small and respectfully refusing unreasonable demands, you'll send a signal that you're not a pushover.
- Set up children swap days with friends: You can look after all the children one day, and she can look after them another time. (Ah, the bliss of free time!)
- Sign your kids up for homework assistance: A professional tutor, university student or grandparent may be willing to help out with homework duties a few afternoons a week. This will mean you have the opportunity to stay at work later, get started on dinner/housework, or even have the chance to enjoy a little you time.
- Sign up for an exercise class and pay upfront. This means you'll feel impelled to turn up each week and you'll add it to your diary as a commitment you have to make. Once you've established the ritual, everyone will realise they simply need to work around it.
- Don't forget your partner! Book in fortnightly or monthly nights with a babysitter and head off on a romantic dinner for two. It's important you stay connected to your husband, particularly during times of stress.