3 Work-Life Balance Tips From a Busy Working Mom

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  • As a full-time working mom, I'm no stranger to being busy.
  • I've employed some tricks to keep my schedule manageable.
  • Making a schedule and learning to say no are just two of the ways I balance my work life and personal life.

Here's how to pull off that juggling act.

"Don't burn out." That's the advice a friend and colleague gave me years ago when I explained I'd be returning to work on a full-time basis after having twins plus a toddler in tow.

Juggling my career and my children hasn't been easy. There are weeks when I feel like I barely have time to eat a meal, let alone take time out to enjoy a family hike or spend time with friends. In fact, between work-related responsibilities and kid-related duties, there's often little time left over to just kick back and relax.

But I've gotten better about achieving a better work-life balance through the years. And to be fair, it's gotten easier as my kids have gotten older. But if you're struggling in that regard right now, here are three tips that might help.

1. Set a schedule in advance

Some people work a 9-to-5 job. I don't. As a freelance writer, I work when I have time. Sometimes, that means writing content at 7 a.m. Other times, it means plugging away on a Sunday afternoon while my kids are busy with friends.

Because I don't have a preset schedule, it can sometimes be tricky to figure out when to work. And so one thing that helps is to set a schedule in advance. That schedule might change from one week to the next, but that way, I know when I'm supposed to be focused in and when I'm supposed to be spending time with family instead.

2. Turn downtime into productive time

Like many parents, I spend a good chunk of my week shuttling kids to and from activities. But I make a point to put that time to good use rather than spend it fooling around on my phone while I wait.

What I'll often do is bring my laptop along to my kids' activities and work a little while I'm out of the house. Sometimes, that means typing up lists of ideas in the absence of having an internet connection. But that way, I'm at least getting something done.

3. Learn to say no

Most weeks, I reach a point when I need a little time to myself. And to get that, I have to say no -- to both my work and my kids.

That may mean turning down an assignment and forgoing the added income it might otherwise give me. Or, it could mean telling my son I can't engage in a board game session because I have deadlines. But either way, saying no is something all working parents need to learn to do -- difficult as it may be.

I'm extremely grateful to be able to hold down a job and manage my responsibilities as a parent at the same time. Working full-time makes it possible for my family to meet different financial goals, and I can say with certainty that our savings account would probably be in a pretty sorry spot if I didn't work as much as I do.

But if you're going to work and parent full-time, it's important to stay organized and set boundaries. Doing so allows me to maintain a more manageable schedule amidst the perpetual chaos that is my life.

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