The Key to Work-Life Balance for Moms? A Regular Performance Review
A mindful mama equals a happy family.
I love getting into thoughtful conversations or even heated arguments with other mothers about whether it's better to work or stay at home with your children. In fact, a few years back I selected for our book club choice "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" by Judith Warner with the intent purpose of sparking heated debate.
I'll tell you, only with partial remorse, the evening ended in tears.
Why do I enjoy one of the most controversial topics that even the closest of girlfriends avoid like the plague? Because I've done it all. And it's this truth that offers me complete immunity and freedom to express my honest opinion. Here's the lowdown:
When I had my first, I worked full-time at a newspaper. My son started at a full-time day care center nearby when he was 10 weeks old.
When he was 18 months old, I quit my full-time job to freelance from home. He remained in daycare part-time.
When my older son was three, I quit working to be a stay at home mom full-time; a gig I kept for the next 2 ½ years, during which I got pregnant and gave birth to my second son.
When I got my pregnant with my third, I put the second in part-time daycare, but this time in someone's home. I had just started my own business and needed time to work on it. After giving birth to my daughter and a short maternity leave, we brought an au pair into our home, which constituted two things I swore I'd never do—leave my kids with a nanny and host said nanny in my home.
And now, I'm a stay at home mom again, with no childcare at all: Trying to find time to complete my work projects during the few hours my littlest (now 2) is in preschool.
So, there you have it: I've been both a full-time and part-time working mom. I've been a stay-at-home mom. I've had my kids in a daycare center, in a home daycare, and with a nanny.
And which scenario served my family best? To this day, it's hard to say. The one in daycare is certainly more independent and social than the one who stayed home with me. But so is the one who was with a nanny for two years. And as far as my mental health goes, I wasn't really happy working full-time when it was for someone else, but now that I am my own boss and I've found work I love, I'm finding it hard to stay at home.
They say that a happy mama = a happy baby. But I think a more accurate equation is a mindful mama = a happy family.
The secret to happiness is to know when it's working and know when it's not.
Just like at any office job, the key to my high performance and work-life balance is regular review and evaluation. What I've excelled at in particular during my career as a mom is knowing when I'm not happy.
And then taking the appropriate action to course correct.
Jen Maidenberg is the founder of Mindful Living NJ and the mindful mom to three kids. She also wakes people up to wellness at http://www.thewellnessbitch.com.