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I recently began working in an office environment again.
It’s a new reality for me and one that requires a lot more self-care than I anticipated.
I’m getting a taste of what working moms all over the globe have had to manage for years.
How to Manage Being an Overwhelmed, Working Mom
It is natural to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed when you are trying to be all things to all people.
Give yourself a break. Remind your family that you cannot do everything yourself. If needed, consult a professional who can help with these feelings of being overwhelmed.
A Mom’s Role
What is a mom’s role? The traditional role of the 1950s housewife is often what comes to mind.
The perfectly coiffed mom who always has a pristine house, a meatloaf in the oven and a warm smile sets the tone for what has never been achievable.
Even in the mid-20th century, one in three women held jobs. That’s a small number compared to today but does put some things in perspective.
It’s easy to site June Cleaver as the epitome of motherhood.
It’s less commonplace to remember that the real June Cleaver was an actress, a working mom with a full-time job and two kids of her own.
I ask the question again: What is a mom’s role? It is whatever you want it to be. No two people, moms or families, are the same.
Your role as a mom may not be the same as your next-door neighbor’s. That is not just okay: It should be expected.
The only commonality you must have with all other moms is that your role is to raise your children to the best of your ability. Whatever that looks like is up to you.
Being a Mom in the Workforce
A lot falls on women. We are expected to be the perfect moms, wives, daughters, sisters, friends and employees.
To quote the Barbie movie, “It is literally impossible.” It shouldn’t be surprising that you feel overworked and overwhelmed. You are.
The working mom spends all day at her job and then spends the evening ensuring kids are doing well.
You need to make sure they have healthy meals, get their homework completed, have adequate exercise, are given your full attention, and get to sleep on time.
Once they are finally in bed, you might have 10 minutes of me-time before you fall asleep so you can start the entire process over again.
It’s not just difficult to be a working mom while you are at home. Your work can sometimes suffer.
I have known many working moms over the years who have lamented that they run out of personal days by February because they have to stay home with the kids.
Snow days, teacher work days, and days the kids are sick are often the responsibility of the mom.
No one but no one thinks this is fair, but it is sadly often the reality.
You may be passed up for promotions or get lower merit raises because you sacrifice your job to be a good mom.
Balancing Work and Motherhood
It is possible to balance work and motherhood, but it isn’t easy.
If you co-parent with a partner, you should be able to find a way to keep a career going strong while also raising happy, healthy children.
For instance, you can trade personal days. It should not fall on the working mom alone to stay home with sick kids or to compensate for the school district’s choice to have mid-week teacher workshop days.
The same is true with responsibilities at home. You and your partner should take turns making dinner, doing the shopping, helping kids with homework and driving the carpool.
Household chores should be evenly split. This is regardless of who makes the most money or has the more prestigious career.
Both of your careers are time-consuming and important.
This task is not nearly as simple if you are a single mom. The single, working mom truly does have to be all things to all people.
Being a single mom means that you need to find your village. Reach out to friends and family to help.
If your budget permits, hire a housekeeper or a nanny. Having many hands lightens the load.
Those hands can come from employees, relatives and friends. Never be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help.
Managing Depression as a Working Mom
Anxiety, stress and feeling overburdened are all issues that, if left unchecked, can lead to depression.
Being depressed is much more than feeling sad. Depression is a sinkhole that swallows you and everything around you.
It can make you feel tired, irritable, and unable to motivate yourself to accomplish much at all.
Even small tasks become too much until you are stuck and feel unable to break free.
You cannot overcome depression on your own. You can’t just will yourself out of it. You can’t paste on a smile and hope everything will turn out okay.
If you find yourself suffering from depression, you need to seek help. Talk to a licensed professional who will give you the tools you need to face your depression and overcome it.
If you don’t know where to start, contact your primary care provider. You will be steered in the right direction.
It is possible that you feel that you are on the verge of being depressed but maybe you haven’t reached the point where you feel you need professional help.
There are some things you can do to help yourself before the depression takes over.
1. Stop Trying to Be Supermom
There is no mom in this world who is capable of doing and being everything.
Don’t try to be the first.
Understand that there are some things you have to let go of. Let your house get a little dirty. Settle for the occasional drive-through meal. Buy store-bought cakes instead of homemade ones.
No one will judge you.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
You might see other moms who are perfectly fit, have excellent jobs, travel the world, throw amazing parties, have darling spouses and children who adore them.
What you don’t see is what is happening on the inside. You only see what other moms allow you to see.
Chances are, they are comparing themselves to you and feeling bad as well. Stop holding yourself to their standard, which doesn’t truly exist in the first place.
3. Be Willing to Say No
This applies to work as well as home. Is your boss asking you to work overtime? Unless you desperately need the money, say no.
Are you being given additional tasks to your already hectic workload? Say no.
Does your child’s PTA need another volunteer? No. Don’t put more duties onto your already over-full plate.
4. Find Your Happy Place
You deserve a calm, happy place that you can visit at least once a day. This isn’t necessarily a physical location so much as it is a mental place. Do what gives you joy.
For some, sitting in a quiet room and staring into space is enough. Others might like to knit, tinker with machines, garden or bake.
Allow yourself that time to relax and unwind. You are not being selfish.
You are helping your children by showing them that it’s okay to practice self-care.
5. Seek a Good Listener
It can be very freeing just to talk. If you don’t want to visit a therapist each week, look for a good friend.
Spend time with people who care about you. In addition, cut ties with people who are toxic.
You don’t need more stress from people who are supposed to care for you.
Being a working mom isn’t easy. It’s only natural to feel overwhelmed. However, you should strive to overcome burdens so you can relish these years.
Do you have any additional tips to share? Tell us in the comments!