Graphic of a mom holding a baby at a desk

So, I had the best intentions of writing a top 10 list of tips for being a working mom. Ten seemed like a doable number. After all, I could probably come up with a thousand things I’ve learned since becoming a mom, and, more recently, taking on more responsibilities in my role at Two Rivers Marketing.

But, like it so often does, duty called and between family, work, and life I had to adjust my expectations for this blog so I could meet my deadline. Thus, you’re getting my top five tips for being a working mom. (But they’re the five best ones, I promise!)

Tip #1: Adjust Your Expectations

This is the most important advice I have for working moms: Adjust your expectations for yourself. I’m not saying you can’t be a perfectionist (maybe …); however, your definition of perfection probably needs to change.

We all know the old saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I’d heard it hundreds of times throughout my life. It wasn’t until I had a family that I realized I had been ignoring this tip. In the past, I always sweated the small stuff! All those details, all those little touches that no one but me paid attention to — I cared a lot about them. And there was nothing wrong with that. When you have time to focus on the details, knock yourself out and do it.

"Don’t sweat the small stuff."

However, motherhood and working a full-time job finally forced me to put that advice into practice. I realized that I needed to focus more on what needed to be done and adjust my expectations of what perfect looks like. Like this blog post, for instance!

Tip #2: Schedule Time for Yourself

Honestly, this one could be a tie with No. 1. Regularly schedule time for yourself. It sounds so simple, but it is absolutely critical in order to manage the daily to-do list and give your family all the support they want and need.

Moms have a tendency to put everyone and everything else before our own needs. It leaves us with very little time and energy to take care of ourselves. But we have to fill our own cups in order to de-stress and rejuvenate ourselves. For me, it often means adding some much-needed friend time back into my life. Do whatever it takes to make time for yourself — put it on the calendar, set an alarm on your phone, ask a friend to schedule it. Just try to make it happen regularly. You will be so glad you did. Women who schedule “me time” have more bandwidth to be moms, partners, and colleagues.

Tip #3: Equally Distribute the Workload

It is so important that you and your partner both pull your weight in terms of household and family responsibilities. I cannot stress this enough. The heavy mental load of being a mom is REAL. When you have a partner, they should be contributing just as much as you are. If you’re a single mom, don’t be shy about asking for help from your support network of other family and friends.

“Be where your feet are.”

Set up a shared calendar and work out who is handling which responsibilities. Be clear about your expectations for each task and what a completed task looks like. Maybe some tasks are no longer a priority and do not get completed. This system doesn’t work if one of you only completes 75% of a task and leaves the rest to be finished by the other partner. When you have more balance at home, you can focus your time at work on work or, as I recently heard it phrased, “Be where your feet are.”

While we’re on this subject, please ignore all those articles and videos that say you can do it all or have it all as a working mom. In my opinion, you don’t want to do it all or have it all. It’s unrealistic to expect of yourself and it will likely lead to burnout at home and at the office.

Tip #4: Manage Your Time

This one requires some planning, but it’s so worth it. Manage your time by mapping out a clear to-do list each day. This allows you to prioritize the most important tasks and be as productive as possible during your work day. When 5 o’clock (or your regular quitting time) comes, you can shut your laptop and turn your day job off.

Commit to turning off work as much as possible so you can focus on your family. Make time for having dinner together, sitting at a sporting event, going for a walk, playing in the park, etc. It can be tough to separate yourself from work, especially when it’s been your main focus up until motherhood, but by doing so, you give yourself a break and time to enjoy family. Plus, it sets a great example for your kids!

Tip #5: Throw Out Your Mom Guilt

As a working mother, how many times have you experienced guilt about being away from your family? How many times have you experienced guilt about not working the way you did before motherhood? Congratulations, you are a working mom. We all feel guilt and it really stinks!

Fortunately, I’ve realized that I cannot physically be there for every single moment of my kids’ lives, but I am there for most of them. We chose a great daycare and my children love their time with their friends and caregivers. Working moms can be judged harshly for our decision to work. Please, I beg of you, ignore the haters!

"Enjoy every minute of it!"

Do your thing. Follow your career passions. Climb (or don’t) the corporate ladder. Be the mom you want to be. And most importantly, enjoy every minute of it! Being a working mom with a full-time job is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and also the coolest. As long as you communicate with your partner, manager, and colleagues about everything you’re juggling, you can do this! We can all do this!

Salute to Working Moms

Two Rivers has an army of amazing working moms at our agency. Meet a few of them and hear about their families and careers: Meredith Pierick, Jennifer Cunningham, and Katie McClure.