If there is one word to describe how most women feel when they are working and their kids are at home during the summer months it would be GUILT (unfortunately)! Just last week I was at a networking event with a group of highly successful female executives who all talked about the angst and guilt of being at work when the kids were out of school. And then of course this immediately launched into a conversation about the flip side of the equation – feeling guilty about being at home when we thought we should be at work (or working from home). Either way – working moms are constantly being torn between professional and personal responsibilities.
Below are 4 tips to alleviate what seems to be this never-ending cycle of guilt for working moms during the summer.
- The realistic goal is to achieve a healthy integration of your work and personal responsibilities. The concept of work-life balance as discussed in literature and the media implies a situation where you split your time evenly between your career and your family responsibilities. This concept is total nonsense and it is at the heart of much guilt experienced by working women. Therefore, remember that work-life balance is a misnomer and stop trying to attain this unrealistic goal. Do your best to integrate your work and family responsibilities into your life in a realistic manner and stop trying to focus on creating an unrealistic balance of these two roles – especially during the summertime when the kids might be home more than during the school year.
- Try to schedule your work projects in a way that allows for as much flexibility as is realistically possible during the summer months. In other words, when creating project deadlines and due dates – try to remember that you might have a little less flexibility during the summer months and/or desire to work late since the kids are around; so try to push as many work deadlines out into the fall as you can. Again, not all careers and/or businesses allow for this but if you can find a way to create some flexibility for some projects, by all means do so. If not, communicate your pressing deadlines to your spouse and other support systems and engage their help with the kids – to take some pressure off of you. Remember, it is really great for both parents to parent. If you are a single mom, try to enlist the help of family or friends to spend some time with your kids while you are working late. In other words, create a fun environment for your child while you are working and they will not be missing you as much as you think.
- Create clear consistent boundaries for your work and personal life. Do not allow yourself to work when you are home with your family. When you are at work – work; don’t be tempted by modern technology to check up on your friends by scanning Facebook and sending out personal tweets, etc. I call these activities “time vampires” – they suck the time out of your workday, forcing you to have to stay late at work or work from home at night. Therefore, discipline yourself to stay focused and be efficient.
- Conversely, when you are with your family, be totally present. Do not “sneak” a peek at your work emails and respond to them on your iPhone. This will distract you from being emotionally present – even though you are physically present. You would be much better off staying at work to finish your work than trying to complete it when you are suppose to be parenting or enjoying time with your spouse. Allow technology to enhance your life – not control it.
Follow these 4 tips and you should be able to engage the summer months with your family while feeling confident about getting your work done professionally and efficiently.
For more information on work-life balance strategies, check out my best-selling book: “Not Tonight Dear, I’ve Got a Business to Run!” at http://911marriagehelp.com/products/book-not-tonight-dear/.
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