Arya Ohikhuare frequently makes appearances at her mother's meetings and has even helped her close business deals.
It's Friday morning and I'm standing in my kitchen looking out the window. It's Good Friday so a lot of my neighbors are playing in their yards, but we didn't get the day off. I'm slowly sipping my tea, putting off the short commute upstairs and trying to figure out how in the world she does it.
The mommy next door is perfect.
She effortlessly balances work (she’s a partner at a law firm), she’s always posting her Pinterest-worthy dinner spreads, her holiday cards come out on time, she works out and even heads up a neighborhood book club! Who has the time?
Not me! I’m a conductor on the Hot Mess Express. Do you know how hard it is to run a business, put out client fires, clean your house, run payroll, cook lunch and dinner, potty train a toddler, convince your mother that social distancing can save her life and show up for Zoom happy hours? I won’t even discuss my mom-uniform of yoga pants, over sized shirt and a top knot. Meanwhile Mrs. Mommy USA next door looks like she just stepped out of a Lilly Pulitzer catalog.
My husband and I never believed in “traditional” roles, so we jump in and tackle all house chores, but there’s nothing like a mother’s touch.
It’s tough balancing work and being a wife and mama. Adding the fact that our world is in a global health crisis is enough to make even the strongest mother reach for a second (or fourth) glass of her favorite vino – no judgement! I guarantee you that the mommy next door who looks like she has it together is on the Hot Mess Express too!
Here are 7 ways I (try) to stay sane as a working mother. Try a new tactic each day next week and see how it helps you.
1. Schedule “Me” time.
Put it on your calendar! Just like “Run Payroll,” “Order Groceries,” “Date Night,” are all on my calendar, so is “Me Time.” Scheduling time for yourself is equally as important as showing up on time for your video conference meeting. It gives you a chance to relax and recharge so that you can get back in the ring as Wonder Woman.
2. Ask for help.
I admit, this is one that I struggle with. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy – it’s the opposite. As women, we often put unnecessary pressures on ourselves to deliver in every way. It’s ok to rely on co-workers a little more than usual when home life is upside down and it’s completely acceptable and necessary to rely on your village to step in when work is more demanding.
3. Delegate and outsource.
Part of being a good leader is learning to delegate. It’s easy to understand this from a work perspective but use that same mindset in your personal life. I can’t always clean my home like I want, so I outsource it to a professional who can. When my work week is incredibly hectic, I’ll have a chef friend meal prep, so lunch and dinner are taken care of for me. Delegating and outsourcing are key to staying sane at work and at home.
4. Say NO!
Don’t feel guilty about saying, “no.” Juggling career and family is hectic and sometimes you can’t take on anything else.
5. Manage expectations.
Laying your cards out on the table can bring a huge sense of relief. Don’t add extra pressure on yourself to keep a toddler quiet during your Zoom meeting. Be upfront with meeting attendees about your situation and I guarantee you won’t be the only one. Stress magically disappears and you’ve found another way to bond with your colleagues.
6. Take a time-out.
Sometimes you need to put yourself in time-out! Give yourself some time to breathe, re-group and come back to challenging situations. Counting to 10 doesn’t always cut it. Take 10 minutes to gather yourself and get back in the game.
7. Treat yourself how you would treat others
No type-o there. Treat yourself how you would treat others. How many second chances have you given friends? How many times have you told your fellow mommypreneurs to take a break or let you come over to watch the kiddos so they could get a quick manicure? How much better off would you be if you set the Super Woman cape down for just a second and extended that same humanity to yourself?
I didn’t want to hit pause on my career when I became a mother. It’s a piece of me that I can have full control over and gives me a sense of accomplishment not rooted in anyone but myself. What I didn’t realize was how challenging it would be to simultaneously balance my career, husband and little one.
Stop comparing yourself to the mommy next door. We all struggle in some way to cope and balance. We’re all doing our very best for those dearest to us while often overlooking our own self-care. That stops today. Mama, you’re doing great!
***Crystal Ohikhuare travels nationally taking audiences on a funny Hot Mess Express Adventure sharing how she copes balancing life as a working mama. She proves to audience members that no mother has it all together, that the emotions you’re feeling are valid and the importance of remembering yourself amidst kiddo chaos.