Nearly 2.2 million women left the workforce between February and October in 2020— which has me thinking, can you survive as a working mom in the time of coronavirus? The last 12 months have felt impossible, to say the least. As moms, we tend to take on more. The pandemic took it to an entirely new level for many of us struggling with childcare. It forced many of us to make a choice: take care of our family or pursue our careers.
Parents, more than ever, are stretched thin. For those of us with support systems in place to help with childcare, we’re fortunate. Though, of course, it’s not without lots of juggling, scheduling, and endless exhaustion. However, I do think there’s a silver lining—our children will grow up with the benefit of seeing how we integrate work into our lives.
So, can you survive as a working mom in the time of corona? It’s not easy, but I hope these five tips can help.
1. Organize for routine
We all crave routine, which has been hard during the pandemic. Create a routine for your family to follow. At the height of the pandemic, my husband and I started using a parenting work-from-home schedule to divide responsibilities as evenly as possible. If you’re going to survive as a working mom, create a schedule to keep everyone organized and minimize chaos. Keyword—minimize. We all learned in 2020 that things can flip on a dime and we have to roll with the punches as best as possible.
Compartmentalizing your to-dos or batching your work helps. For example, I find meal planning with a template saves me hours. I share the meal plan with my family weekly so everyone knows what to expect. Having a sense of routine provides comfort during an unsettling time.
2. Run your households like a business and delegate
Who runs the world? Moms. Why not run your household as a (polite and caring, yet firm) CEO? We (generally speaking) tend to take on too much. While some of it is, unfortunately, norms ingrained into our culture, some of it is us, too.
As women, we have the unique ability to empower and nurture others. When we let go of control, we empower others to take off. For example, I’ve encouraged my daughter to pick up her toys every night before bed. We sing a song to make it fun. Then, I’m not grumpy doing it by myself after she’s fallen asleep and I’m half asleep from rocking her. It teaches our children responsibility and it shows our partners that we value their help.
3. Outsource as much as you can
Now is the time to Kon Mari your life! If a task is not bringing you joy and you can afford to outsource it, do it! For me, it’s cooking every night. We made the choice to move from daycare to a nanny when the world shut down, which meant I was creating lesson plans and planning my daughter’s lunches every day. It became such a chore and I no longer enjoyed cooking. Now, we use a meal delivery service for her lunches, and I get our family dinner once a week. While I still plan the meals, it feels like a treat having them cooked already. I notice my family is happier, too, because I’m not nearly as stressed.
What tasks do you loathe? Can your partner do them or can you outsource it? If the answer is no, try to prioritize tasks to one day, so it doesn’t feel like it’s always hanging over your head.
4. Schedule 30 minutes for you
Whether it’s a workout, mindless scrolling on your phone, or just lying down, take 30 minutes for you per day. Say you have a conference call and hide in the closet if you have to!
I recently joined the 5 a.m. club, and it’s been a game-changer. While I don’t get up every day at 5 a.m., on the days I do, I have about 90 minutes to myself and it feels so luxurious. The house is quiet and I feel like I can think. If you’re not a morning person, try it out or schedule time on your calendar at night to have some me-time, and be upfront with your partner about it.
5. Know your non-negotiables
This may be the most important tip. What do you need to be at your best, and what happens when you don’t have it? One of the hardest lessons as a mom is learning how to put ourselves before others. If you don’t take time for yourself, you won’t have the capacity to take care of your family. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health—especially now. Be mindful of your non-negotiables so you can feel good and survive as a working mom in the time of COVID. For me, that’s getting workouts in for mental clarity and physically feeling good.
Life may be trickier now. Everything takes more effort, from getting your groceries to seeing friends. For so long, I tried to compartmentalize my work-life and my home-life. One blessing I’ve found in the pandemic is that work-life is blended with home-life. While it’s important to set boundaries, it’s also a beautiful thing for my clients to see a sneak peek into me as a whole person.