Tips to balance family and career (or at least try!)
As a working mom, one of my favorite questions I ask other moms is how they manage it all. Turns out there are no secrets and everyone is different. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, a single mom or something in between, it’s universally a challenge to maintain a perfect balance between career and family. As a busy real estate broker in New York City with a schedule that changes daily and often very quickly, I do my best to keep it simple and real. My job is demanding and my family is important. While I don’t claim to be perfect, I have a few tips to share that help keep me, and my family, sane!
Wake up early
I wake up at least 90 minutes before my daughter Julianna (2.5 years old) does, every day of the week. It’s not fool proof, but the time to myself allows me to start my day productively. I make coffee, I clean up email, touch base with clients and customers, and check my schedule for the day. I squeeze in a workout if there’s time, shower and put on my makeup before she even wakes up.
I’ve learned to not get fully dressed until she’s eaten breakfast and is dressed! This jump-start to the day keeps the morning organized and stress-free, which sets the tone for her day as well.
This is a big one that needs to be applied to life at home and at work. At home, maybe the laundry can wait, but getting lunch ready for school is a must. I try making it the night before, or while they eat breakfast. At work, I tackle items with the soonest deadline first or the most pressing. Personal time should be prioritized as well – if you can push an appointment so you can make dinner or attend a school event you should.
If your partner (or caretaker) is able to do pick-up so you can work late one night, make it happen. Knowing what’s most important in each instance is a constant learning experience that will help achieve the best balance that’s right for you.
Similar to prioritizing, the key to a successful schedule is being flexible. My schedule changes daily, but I maintain structure. I do not have a caretaker, so my husband and I balance pick-up. We discuss it the night before or in the beginning of the week, and understand last minute changes may arise.
We have dinner as a family [almost] every night, which is important to us. It’s not always the same time or place, but pretty close to it. I often go back to work on appointments after dinner, or work from home after bedtime. Either way, I do my best to take care of both needs and wants.
Get rid of the guilt
Nobody is perfect! Guilt can be found everywhere, but it’s not productive. I don’t compare myself to a younger, single coworker because that’s not me – I’m married with a child and I love everything about it. I take ownership of where I am in my career and my life. Besides, guilt only causes stress, which lowers productivity and it’s not possible to do everything or be in two places at once. The driving force to the allusive work / life balance is flexibility and focus. Being super organized and able to tackle each task at hand keeps me feeling sane. I remember to ask for help when I need it, and I am OK with saying “No” to professional and personal invitations. Right now, this all seems to be working but I’m sure next week will throw me another curve-ball!