Life as a working parent can be challenging. Balancing the roles you have as parent and professional can sometimes feel overwhelming. Even when you’re fully at ease in your life as a working parent, there are still times you may struggle with motivation.
It is easy to get overwhelmed at the sheer multitude of responsibility you face each day–to your employer or employees, to your clients, to your children, to your partner.
Getting lost in the micro details is enough to weigh you down. But thinking of the bigger picture can feel even more overwhelming. This is true especially when your children are young, and you realize you have another eighteen to twenty years of trying to keep your career on track while also helping your young people navigate the world.
My advice is not to think of the long haul. Plan for it, of course, but don’t let the gravity of the next two decades weigh you down. Take your life one breath, one minute, one hour, and one day at a time.
And try some of the following tips.
1. Find your village.
Connect with other working parents. It helps to find those who are at a similar life stage as you, but it’s also great to connect with those who have more experience as well. They will be the ones to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and the beauty of the journey.
Your more experienced friends will be living proof that there is life beyond the trenches, and they’ll likely also share helpful advice on how to navigate the challenges of being a young parent and professional.
On the other hand, your same-stage peers will know exactly what you’re going through while you’re experiencing it, and they’ll be there to commiserate and lend a hand when it’s needed most.
If you don’t already belong to one, consider joining or starting a Working Parents Group.
I’ve co-chaired a Working Parents Committee through the local chapter of my state women’s bar association for the past two years, and it has been a great experience to connect with other working parents and advocate for the rights of working parents and their families.
Commiserating with close friends is theraputic, but joining a formal group of people united under the banner of working parenthood can be incredibly motivating and remind you of the important work you do as a working parent.
2. Support others.
You’re probably thinking “I’m a mom. All I do is support other people” and I understand. But, what I’m suggesting here is that you use your knowledge and experience to make another working parent’s life easier.
This piggybacks a bit off of the previous point. While you should definitely lean on others for help, be sure that you are also a pillar of support in someone else’s life too.
For example, if you know a new mom recently had a baby or returned to work from maternity leave, try to remember how you felt at that stage and be there to support them, even in the smallest of ways.
There is an article by Sharon Holbrook for The Washington Post from 2015 that I love. The piece shares what it’s like to be a new mother and it gives practical ways to help a brand new mom like “bring food” but also “support maternal leave and postpartum care in the United States.”
As a mother, you have insights into a world that few are so privileged to know. You have the ability to support others in a way you know will be meaningful. Supporting other working moms (and dads) is a way to give back and show that working parenthood is a sisterhood in the truest sense of the word.
3. Carve out time for yourself.
Another way to stay motivated as a working parent is to carve out time for yourself.
Self-care is incredibly important for maintaining your health physically, socially, and emotionally.
As a busy working parent, it can be difficult to find time for yourself, but you should still plan for it, even if it’s only occasional. Moreover, you should be sure to savor the small moments as well.
Those minutes you have to yourself in the car before work, during your child’s naptime, or before bed are all important.
Find time to exercise–even if it means having a tiny companion join you for jumping jacks. Let your partner know when you need a break. Even if you both have busy schedules, plan and coordinate together to ensure you get the time you need.
4. Make a reverse bucket list.
Another way to stay motivated: create a reverse bucket list.
Instead of writing all of the things you still want to do, make a list of what you’ve already accomplished.
When you barely have time to remember to check the mail, it can be easy to forget all of the meaningful experiences and achievements you’ve already had. Seeing them on paper can remind you that what you do matters, and that you are still the amibitious, motivated person who set out to achieve your dreams all those years ago.
5. Remember: This too shall pass.
Finally, when you’re struggling to stay motivated as a working parent, remind yourself that this too shall pass.
Eventually, the bags you carry will no longer be the kind under your eyes or the ones stuffed with diapers. They will once again be stylish and free of Goldfish crumbs.
You won’t always wake up in two-hour intervals and show up to work wearing two different pairs of shoes.
You will not always be at the same life stage, and once you do emerge, you will be a better, stronger, more experienced version of yourself ready to pass on your wisdom to the next generation of sleep-deprived mamas.
What are your tips for staying motivated as a working parent? Comment below or on social media!