When I am at work, my conscience whispers in my ear (with a lot of judgment) that I sold out. “Instead of taking care of my family, I am a slave to money.”
While I am at home, the same judgmental conscience scorns me and says “Hey, what are you doing at home? You should be working! After spewing out 5 kids, you got to work to pay for their future!”
We moms can never win. Well, in our minds.
Under appreciated, under pressure
Being a mother is tough work -- physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes it also feels like the most unappreciated or unvalued job in the world. If you’re simultaneously holding a job or running a business, the pressure is doubled.
Some people feel it’s easier for entrepreneurs since we can call the shots on our “Time In/Time Out.” But the problem is that for entrepreneurs, there is never any Time Out. We are on call every time. My husband and I run 5 businesses together, along with raising our 5 kids. (I count that as 6 kids, including the husband.) Believe me, it’s hard. We all just try our best to work with the reality we have.
Working Mom Guilt
The biggest guilt we carry is not being able to spend enough time with our kids. We spend our day working, being stuck in traffic, and attending meetings. But we also need to remember that working also is part of taking care of our children. The trick is to find a balance that will enable us to fulfill both roles in the best way possible. Here are some tips that we practice in our family so we can achieve a sense of balance both at home and at work.
Give yourself a set time to decompress
My mantra has always been “You can’t give what you don’t have.” So instead of wallowing in guilt, give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to do something that can wash away the stress from work. Then, you can give your kids a positive vibe.
Try to be home for dinner
My husband and I have agreed on the maximum times per week that we won’t be dining with our kids. We also give our kids a heads-up on those days, so that they know what to expect.
Have micro catch-up sessions
Spend 5 to 10 minutes per kid, per day. For younger kids, join them in an activity they like. For older kids, even a simple chat means a lot.
We were having problems with our adolescent acting withdrawn, both in school and with family. We started talking to her even for just five minutes a day, until it slowly became a habit. That one-on-one time gives the kids a sense of belonging and assurance.
Set a fun family activity every week – and make that time sacred
Whether it’s a 30-minute “Just Dance” competition or a special staycation, the critical part is that you consistently spend time together. It becomes a habit, and they learn that being part of the family is fun.
Go on dates
There are times when us parents are busy with a big event or traveling extensively. Sometimes, it’s the other way around, and our kids are busy with school. Schedule a date that everyone can look forward to, and make everyone feel special because you’re making time for each other.
Put the electronics down during your family time
I realized that when I’m busy on the phone, I end up having a short fuse when my kids are scrambling for attention. If you allot time for your kids, put down everything that can distract you. Your work will still be there when you’re done.
Cut your “things to do” or goals in half
One of the best books I read last year was written by Jon Acuff called Finish. His key message is: sometimes we put so much on our plate that we get overwhelmed and don’t get to the finish line. Cut it into bite-size, easier-to-accomplish pieces.
I swear by Viber and WhatsApp for coordination, Zoom or Goto for meetings I can do online instead of wasting 2 to 3 hours in traffic, and Google Drive and everything on Google Suite to simplify my work. Look for digital tools that can help you.
Focus on what your kids really need from you
No one is perfect or efficient all the time, but that’s not actually what your kids want. On busy mornings, relax and be a loving presence rather than a drill sergeant who can’t wait to get them out of the door. When you’re exhausted by the weekend, spend a quiet day together at home instead of an elaborate outing. Don’t worry about what other moms do, or what they think about you. In the age of social media, sometimes we feel pressured to do grand gestures or go to snazzy places because it’s more “Instagrammable”. You’d be surprised to know that a five-minute tickle session means more to your kids than 100 likes from people whose opinion does not really count.
As we try our best to balance our many roles, let’s remember that we are only human – it’s inevitable that we will stumble sometimes. The most important tip is to forgive ourselves, pick ourselves up, and get back on track.
About The Writer
Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason’s “Why” is to help people become better versions of themselves. Married for 20 years to multi-awarded Race car driver JP Tuason and mother to five children, Arthur (19), Alysha (14), Andreas (8), and identical twin girls Arya and Andi (5). She is a confessed learning junkie (know it all), avid reader, sometimes life coach (gives unsolicited advice), triathlete (when not allergic to working out), and cook. She is also the author of the Chicdriven Column in Philippine Daily Inquirer (Wednesday, motoring section) and serves as the contributing editor for Lifestyle Asia Magazine. She is the founder of the Chicdriven Women Empowerment Expo, advocacy that brings together passionate individuals to share, inspire, and empower women in all the roles they play.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.