It’s often said that a baby is a bundle of joy to the family. But at 3am when you’ve tried everything everyone in your local mummy’s forum have suggested, we can’t help but feel whoever said the aforementioned phrase should be hanged, drawn, and quartered (hint: it is often the father).
It is challenging to juggle motherhood and career at the same time.
We worry about:
- having to return to a huge load of work while worrying if your child meets each developmental milestone
- how our colleagues might view us if we are unable to complete our work with the same level of efficiency as before
- the list goes on…
All these problems accumulate over time and become overwhelming, especially when sleep deprivation is a real issue for mothers.
Taken together, they can snowball into burnout if not dealt with in time.
Is there anything we can do to juggle motherhood and career at all?
One way to do that is to adopt an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) approach by:
- acknowledging and accepting our experiences, no matter how difficult they might be
- being aware and being in the present moment
- using values to guide our actions
Mindfulness: Accept, and be present
It is normal for mothers to avoid, suppress, or escape from unwanted private experiences (e.g., thoughts, emotions, memories, etc.) associated with the pressure to juggle family and work commitments. After all, to confide in others is akin to admitting that weakness and vulnerability. That said, wouldn’t it be better to accept our experiences instead?
Mindfulness promotes the acceptance of experiences related to expectations as a working mother. One mindfulness exercise involves taking deep breaths and writing 5 things about the self and environment. Applications, such as UCLA Mindful, are also available for those who prefer guided approaches.
Valued Direction: what’s truly important?
Besides mindfulness, the ACT approach involves being aware of what matters to us. When things get tough, it can be easy for us to lose track of what we value, or what meaning we derive from doing certain things. Journaling is one good way to help us uncover these important questions:
- What kind of parent would I like to be?
- What can I do to foster the bond with my child, while nurturing their development and dreams?
Take Action: putting it all together.
After deciding on what values are important to us, we can now take steps to align our actions with them. Think about the domains in your life that you would like to address, such as career or parenting, and set relevant goals. On this note, it is helpful to set SMART goals to increase the chances of success.
Suppose you are someone who values work-life balance immensely. Your short-term goal might then look like this:
S : I will prioritise my work during weekday mornings and afternoons; evenings and weekends reserved for my family.
M : I will spend quality time with my child by focusing on my family during evenings and weekends; I will switch to “work mode” once the next work day starts.
A : I will plan my schedule each day to help me be more attentive and aware of my family’s needs, and my work responsibilities.
R : This is something I can do over the next few weeks, given that I do not work on weekends.
T : I will do this over the next four weeks and see if this works out fine.\
It’s not easy to juggle motherhood and career. Kudos (or in local parlance: add oil) to all mummies out there for being strong!
When things get overwhelming (and they often can and do!), it’s easy to lose track of what is important to us. Learning to take a breather from time to time is important so that we do not react immediately to everything that’s happening. It also helps to remind us that our values are really good guides in helping us decide what we should do when we face obstacles!
Motherhood and career are both long-term endeavours; give yourself the opportunity to learn these skills to flourish and thrive in the long run!
Article provided by Annabelle Psychology ( Source)