No one in the world quite knows what it means to juggle responsibility, guilt, stress, love, time and deadlines quite like a working mum. It is more so for this reason that they deserve so much—including being good to themselves.
With the input of some local working mums, we created a list of 5 things every Zimbabwean working mum needs. What we found most interesting was, that most of these centred around time, so be sure to keep an eye out for more time management articles.
- Time for your kids
Right at the top of the list was time for your kid(s). Managing your time is never easy, but this is where we just have to put our Nikes on and “Just Do It”. There is a tonne of research on how children who have a close connection with their parents grow up more grounded and wholesome. Every mother dreams of a child who opens up and shares their feelings with them but that experience is not a right – it’s earned. A child will not open up unless he/she recognises that over the years you have tried to spend time with them and learn who they are.
More than half of kids feel their parents check their devices too often, and their biggest complaint is that their parents can’t even focus on them long enough to complete a conversation. Before you know it, your kids will grow up, have devices of their own, and will use them to tune you out.
So make it a point to purposefully put your phone down in front of your kids to show them that this is their time. Turn to them when you speak and make the most of the moment. One of our mums suggested bringing in your kids to work from time to time especially if you’re a very busy mum. She says that the time has helped immensely in allowing her son to understand why “mummy can’t always make it to everything”.
- Wake up 15-30 minutes earlier than everyone else in the house.
I’m sure you look at this headline and think “Forget it!”. But before you dismiss this idea allow us to paint you a picture. It’s 5:30 am and the house is quiet. No one wants anything and you can just ease into consciousness without deflecting a barrage of questions about the day’s impending schedule. Finally, you have time for that article you’ve been dying to read or that episode you’ve been trying to watch. It’s 06:00 am now and the first minion comes to life. They walk into the lounge to find you smiling, happy, and relaxed.
These 15 to 30 minutes could well be the difference between a good start and a bad start to your day. Not everyone can make it to the gym in the morning so this could be your own precious minutes to either breathe or get some stuff done. As a mum, it’s key to be at least 3 steps ahead of the house.
- “Me time”
A group of American sociologists discovered that 71 percent of married mothers and 57 percent of married fathers say they need more time for themselves. And yet, 85 percent of all parents still report feeling that they don’t spend enough time on the things most important to them like work and children. But where in all of that guilt and pressure is time for you to care about yourself?
There should be no guilt felt over spending some time with yourself each day – even if it’s for just an hour. As much as we love the things we do and people we care for, they don’t always act in ways that reward our sacrifices. Having “Me time” is crucial to you not presenting these things and ensuring you remain positive about where your life is.
Be fun and creative with your “Me time”. Ideally, this should be a phone free time as one can easily get sucked into caring about the world. This means also neglecting your work for some time too. Your boss may expect you to be responsive to emails after hours, but it’s worth your sanity to consider removing this expectation. It is essential to establish clear boundaries between home and work. Failure to do so will inevitably crush your ability to balance your time for other things and more so yourself.
- Wet wipes
This was the all round favourite. Regardless of how old your child(ren) are, wet wipes are essential! Especially if you have school runs it can feel like you live in your car and the wet wipes help make things less sticky. Wet wipes come in handy before that meeting across town, after that lightening round lunch, and removing that inexplicable gunk that seems to appear all the time.
- A reliable support network
Last but not least is the very important support network. This ranges from the maid to your sister who can sometimes pick up the kids. You can’t do it all by yourself so you have to have people to delegate things to and rely on.
While there are several players on this list, the mums we asked highlighted a shining star: The bestie. A good gal pal is a crucial tool to getting through life. Your bestie is your sounding board, your date when everyone else is too busy to make time, and above all your ability to step into a safe judgement-free space. Everyone has expectations for how you should be a mum—not your bestie, though. Everyone wants to remind you how your career is getting in the way of your life—not your bestie—she’s your cheerleader through and through. And when you want to have a mummy tantrum (yes that’s a thing) and throw toys, your bestie will help you clean up and put them back in your toy box.
That concludes our list. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we did putting it together. If there are things you felt we missed or a point you particularly enjoyed, please tell us in the comment section of this blog or on our Facebook page.