What does balancing being a working mom and a military spouse look like?
The other day I sat perched at my desk, phone ringing off the hook, alternating between muting myself and saying as few words as required so the caller couldn’t hear my baby screaming in the background while simultaneously shoveling blueberries onto my child’s high chair tray to keep him occupied and scrambling for the TV remote, (despite my no screen time rule), to find any show that would distract him for ten minutes.
This, folks, is what balance sometimes looks like for me. Pure and utter chaos. The truth is, there is no way to have perfect balance between career and family life after baby, especially when you throw in the unpredictability that is military life on top of that.
The first step to finding balance in your military life as a working mom is accepting that sometimes, or perhaps most of the time, things will be a little (or a lot) unbalanced and that’s ok! That’s normal. Being a working mom and a military spouse can feel like trying to juggle an infinite number of balls on a moving surface single-handed. However, it doesn’t have to be pure pandemonium all the time. Here are 9 ways to make life a little more manageable when you’re a working mom and building your career as a military spouse.
1: Stop Feeling Guilty
The hardest thing about being a working mom and a military spouse is the never-ending feeling of guilt and falling short. It’s easy to get caught up in the feeling that you are never able to give 100% of yourself to any one thing in your life. This is a busy season of your life that someday will pass and the sooner you accept that and let go of your guilt the happier you will be. Instead, focus on the benefits of being a working mom and military spouse, like being able to provide a better future for your child (i.e. better schools and college savings) and that you are setting a good example of independence.
2: Live in the moment
There is only one of you and as much as you may want to be with your child and also crushing it at work at the same time, the reality is that you can’t. You can’t be everything to everyone at the same time. Instead, dedicate your entire self to the task at hand. If you are at work, trust in knowing that your child is being well cared for and focus on your work. If you are with your child, trust in knowing that your work can wait until you’re back at your desk and enjoy your time with your little ones.
3: Find Childcare You Can Trust
Find a nanny or daycare that you can trust to watch your little ones. If you know that your child is being well taken care of while you’re working, it will make it easier to be away from them when you need to be.
4: Outsource Everything
If you are working full time and your spouse is deployed, consider outsourcing as much as you can. Set every bill to autopay that has that option. Sign up for grocery and/or meal delivery services to save time on meal planning and shopping. Set up a monthly diaper and wipes delivery from Amazon. If it’s financially feasible, hire a maid to come in once or twice a month to do the deep cleaning. Take as much off your over-filled plate as possible.
5: Create a Routine
Wake yourself and your children up at the same time every morning to get ready for work. Pick out their clothes with them the night before and have an easy breakfast ready to go in the morning. The more you simplify and streamline your busy life, the easier it will be to manage.
6: Determine Your Needs
Sit down and write out a list of what you need to make being a working mom and military spouse work for you. Do you need to be off at four every day? Do you need to work from home a couple days a week? Come up with a proposal to make your needs work with your position and communicate that to your employer. It’s also helpful to come up with counter proposals if they don’t immediately go for your first proposition.
7: Carve Out Family Time
Set aside a time slot every week that is solely for family time with no work, no smartphone, and no distractions. Maybe it’s a Friday night pizza night at home or a Saturday morning park and picnic date. Make a plan with your family and stick to it so that you all have set time together every week that you can look forward to.
8: Ask For Help
Asking for help is something that many working moms struggle with, but needing help doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you human. Make friends with other working moms and military spouses so that you have a community to rely on, whether you need someone to pick up your kids from school last minute or someone to commiserate with about a rough week at work.
9: Don’t Forget That You Matter Too
It’s easy to get lost in the juggle between being a working mom and military spouse, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Dedicate some time each week to focus on yourself too, even something as simple as a bubble bath after the kids go to bed or taking a class at the gym can be restorative. You can’t take care of everyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.