By Natasha Stewart
It’s rare to find a working mother who doesn’t feel weighed down by the competing responsibilities of motherhood and career—that inevitable side dish of guilt that gets served up in the quest for ‘work-life balance.’
There’s always a feeling that you could be doing it all…well, BETTER, and wishing you could stretch time to fit it all in—the kids’ soccer games, the work emails, that self-regenerating pile of laundry that resembles the leaning tower of Pisa.
A recent study by sociologist Dr Rose—”Never enough hours in the day: Employed mothers’ perceptions of time pressure”—has confirmed this near-universal phenomenon of mother guilt, with surveys consistently finding that employed mothers were the most time-pressured group in society.
This pressure can even lead to a distorted perception of time, with some mothers reporting feelings of “time poverty” — a lack of time — or a sense of time going “in reverse, neutral or hyper-drive.”
So how do we overcome our feelings of guilt and live more harmoniously? Natasha Stewart, mother of two and founder of Business Jump, an online business that provides a platform for other mothers to jumpstart their dreams of running a profitable online business from home, shares four ways to shed the mama-guilt shackles and start reclaiming your time.
Replace the quest for ‘work-life balance’ with ‘work-life harmony’
Sometimes, trying to dedicate equal time to family and career can just create more stress.
Natasha suggests “striving for work-life harmony over work-life balance as balance is just another (often impossible) yardstick we are measuring ourselves against”.
Why give yourself another reason to feel guilty? For Natasha, it’s about “making sure my kids are happy and knowing that if I need to stop, I will. My passion for what I do gives me the drive to not only be a better businesswoman, but helps me be a better mum, too”.
Work smarter not harder
The single most important factor for staving off mother guilt and the chaos of time constraints in the running of a business is to work smarter, not harder.
Natasha’s advice is to “automate everything you can, and streamline all those admin-heavy tasks that weigh you down. This frees you up for the big picture tasks, and gives you the space to allocate quality time with the kids”.
Keep sight of the things that drive you
The relentless pressure of running a business from home along with caring for two young children resulted in a severe bout of postnatal depression for Natasha—an experience that she says gave her the wake-up call to live life differently and totally revamp her patterns of working.
Now Natasha says she’s “focused on providing a roadmap for other mums to enjoy the same flexibility and business success as I do”.
Having this overarching framework gives her passion and motivation to stay the course, and knowing what happened when she overstretched gives her a reminder of the importance of looking after herself.
Find the things that make you tick, and make them an integral part of your business,” says Natasha.
Take time out for you
Time is a vital resource in maintaining your mental and physical health, and for time-poor working mothers, self-care is the first thing to go.
For Natasha Stewart is a mother guilt kicks in strong when she does something for herself with her free time instead of the kids, but Natasha believes if you can’t look after you, then nothing else is going to be cared for when you eventually snap.
The in-flight emergency rundown tells you to fit the oxygen mask to yourself first for a reason, so make time for that walk on the beach, massage or yoga session—your kids will reap the rewards of a healthier, happier you.
Natasha Stewart, mother of two and founder of Business Jump, an online business that provides a platform for other mothers to jumpstart their dreams of running a profitable online business from home.