by Ali Brown
For many working moms, the biggest challenge is achieving work/life balance. We feel pressure from unseen forces to be at the top of our field professionally and to make ourselves worthy of Mother of the Year. Why are we constantly chasing unrealistic expectations, both at home and at work?
Maybe it's because so many movies and television shows portray women who have it all: the high-powered career, the spotless house, the successful husband, and two point five adorable, doting children. In reality, most women struggle to balance just a few of these things, all the while tripping over stray toys or dirty laundry. Here's how to lose the guilt and cherish what you have.
*Let go of perfection. Most men do not feel guilty because they work and have children, and this is often because they don't expect perfection. They don't stress about an unmade bed or a child with jelly stains on their shirt, and neither should you. The key is to focus on what is important to you. Setting priorities and letting go of extraneous items on your to do list will help you achieve balance. If, for example, you choose to focus on three things, you'll be able to do those things really well and the other items won't bother you as much.
*Do what works for you. Stop comparing yourself to other women! Your neighbor may have time to bake brownies from scratch, sew costumes for the school pageant, and host elaborate potluck dinners, but that doesn't mean that you need to do any of these things. Balance is all about what works for you, not what other people are doing or asking you to do. Make your own decisions about priorities and have confidence in your own choices. Learn to say no when someone asks you to do something that doesn't fit with your priorities. You might feel a momentary discomfort, but you'll be relieved later when you have more time for what's important to you.
*Make time for yourself. Whether you enjoy reading, exercising, or some other activity, making time for yourself should be a priority. Many women who are nurturers by nature spend so much time on other people that they never have time for themselves.
But if you are too busy to take care of yourself, then your coworkers and your family will probably notice that you seem stressed and perhaps resentful. Even young children can sense when mom isn't at her best. Showing children the importance of self-care from an early age is a valuable lesson that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Be a positive role model and carve out time for yourself.
Balancing work and life is not a choice, but a necessity for working women. Remember that you are important and that no one else is going to make your self-care a responsibility. Once you banish guilt from your life, then you will be much better equipped to handle everything - and to enjoy it, too.
© 2009 Ali International, LLC
Self-made multimillionaire entrepreneur Ali Brown is devoted to creating financial freedom for women globally through the power of entrepreneurship. To learn how to create wealth and live an extraordinary life now, register for her free weekly articles at www.AliBrown.com