• Erin Kahlenberg

10 Tips to Reduce Stress During Covid for Working Moms + Have Work-Life Balance

Being a working mom means you have 2 jobs. In this pandemic, moms are now juggling video team meetings, intermittent requests of "Mom, can I...?", constantly changing work requirements, and all while being a personal assistant and IT support to your kids who are now doing virtual learning... WHEW!!! And the list goes on… Those physical boundaries we took for granted are gone and it’s really taking its toll on our collective work-life balance and sanity. So how can you reduce stress and have work-life balance working from home these days?

10 Tips for Reducing Stress & Increasing Work-Life Balance

“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls — family, health, friends, integrity— are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” - Gary Keller

You can always pick up the rubber ball later. It will still be there tomorrow and it won’t be the end of the world. Here are some more tips to help you reduce daily stress:

1. Plan. Planning before an activity or event helps you reduce stress, anxiety, and pressure.

Make a list of your regular tasks, plan, and schedule each one. You can plan what to wear the next day and your kids, your menu for the week including snacks, your bonding time for yourself, your spouse, and kids.

2. Set specific everyday me-time. Rather than being selfish, think of this as preventative medicine. This should also include the time you begin to prepare for bed, so you can wake up feeling refreshed tomorrow.

Include breaks within your daily schedule, both in work and family. Several break time activities include meditation, journal writing, listening to relaxing music, yoga, and simple stretches or exercises. You’ll feel recharged and inspired mentally, physically, and emotionally.

3. Write down your 3 top priorities. Deciding on what your priorities are will give you clarity, direction and focus on your decisions every day. Before planning anything, remind yourself about your top priorities and it will be easier to choose activities that align with you everyday.

4. Moderate your expectations. Do not always compare yourself with the moms you see on social media. Remember that they are posting the best version of themselves, but behind that photo, they also juggle the tasks of a regular mother like you.

Remind yourself you cannot do it all. Making “the best and healthiest lunches”, planning “the best game night”, and so on does not always require you to go all out. Having a “good enough” mentality sometimes helps in order to unload pressure and expectations for yourself and your family.

5. Saying No is More. Realize you are human and can not do everything. A lot of women have a fear of disappointing someone else – our kids, our partner, our own parents, our boss or coworkers. But by saying “yes” to everything, we deplete ourselves which also hinders our focus. Do you think you put your best foot forward doing things when you are stretched too thin?

You actually can do more, and with more quality and fulfillment if you say no to some things that will drain you. If you are upfront in the beginning that you don’t have time, you also won’t disappoint others. You can simply say “That sounds great! And I would love to help you with that, but I would be stretched too thin and not have enough time to focus on it as I would like.”

6. Be flexible with unforeseen events. Mothers are versatile and creative people when it comes to solving problems. When a problem appears, you easily think of practical ways to solve them. When you have a certain repetitive task, you make a shortcut.

If a meeting suddenly gets canceled, you can use your time to sneak in some necessary shopping for your family’s needs. If your kid is constantly walking in to ask a question while you're on a video call with work, you can get a color-changing light bulb for a lamp outside where you are working. If the bulb is red, that means 'stop - Mom is on a call.' What repetitive issues can you come up with a creative solution for?

7. Learn when to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean you're weak or a “bad mom.” You know you have your partner, friends, and relatives to count on when you need to unload some of your tasks. “It takes a village.”

When a client suddenly reschedules your meeting at the same time you need to make snacks for your kids, you can ask your spouse to do it for you. Don’t take everything on your shoulders.

8. Delegate family team tasks. As your child grows, so do their capabilities. As a leader of the family, it’s time to give them responsibilities, teaching them to learn and have that feeling of fulfillment when they’re successful or giving them wisdom when they get it wrong.

If you have a toddler, you could teach them to pick up their toys, while if you have preschoolers they can learn where to place their toys after playing.

And ladies... it's 2020. Your partner better be sharing the load. If they aren't, have you asked them to? If you haven't said what you need, are you expecting them to figure it out from the 'hints' you're dropping? Don’t play those games! Tell them what you need help with and make a plan together. Don't expect them to be a mind reader.

9. Actively communicate with your boss. Talk to your boss when you have an appointment with your child (e.g. seeing the doctor, parent-teacher meeting) ahead of time. They will understand your family’s needs and make necessary adjustments for your team and overall work.

If you are having trouble with your heavy workload, be open with your boss so that they can help you unload your tasks, delegate to other team members, and streamline the team’s overall workflow.

10. Don’t expect “balance.” Work-Life balance is a common term and hope for a lot of people. But “balance” is actually code for “control.” And during this pandemic we have all been hit hard with the realization that we do not have control over a lot of things.

Know that everyone is different, every family is different – so a good balance between work, school and family time can look very different for everyone. But don’t let the lack of control right now trick you into believing you aren’t experiencing “life” right now. Life is what happens even while working and doing virtual learning.

All of these tips will be hard at first because you and each member of your family will need to work together to make adjustments. This pandemic is a game-changer and a challenge for all families around the world. It requires cooperation and discipline for you and your family to get through the day where everyone has something going on. But most of all, communication is key.

Reducing stress and having something that resembles work-life balance for you does not have to be a dream. It can be a reality for you if you choose it, and put the work in to make it happen.