Jessica N. Turner, blogger and author, lays out a comprehensive plan for working mom success in her new book Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive.
How to Create Working Mom Success
Jessica Turner is a full-time marketing professional working mom of three young kids. Stretched Too Thin is her second book, Fringe Hours being the first. She is the founder of the blog The Mom Creative. She’s also a speaker and spends time on her hobbies. Go right ahead and think she is the ultimate boss mom. She is.
But in this book, she is letting us in on her secrets to working mom success. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Our lives do not have to be one giant traffic jam of urgent task after urgent task, working our way down the never-ending check list of home, parenting and career tasks. Neither does it have to be drudgery as we haul kids to sports practice, doctors appointments and family gatherings, counting the minutes until we are again in bed with a few hours until it starts all over again.
Right at the beginning, I’m going to revel the biggest secret in her book. It’s not enough to have a plan. It has to be executed. It’s not enough to account for every minute of our time. We have to have margin for fun, relaxation and organic relationships. We have to be as good at saying “no” as we are at fitting everything into our jam-packed calendar. This ideal low-stress life we crave will not happen without some extra planning and dedication on our part. It takes some decisions (sometimes difficult ones) and some dedication to staying focused on what matters and knowing that we can’t please everyone. We can only choose the best for our family. We can’t choose it all.
Start at the Beginning
This book is infinitely practical. Turner doesn’t point out all of the issues and wish for something better. She digs deep and offers real, practical and effective solutions to our problem of feeling stretched too thin. And the first crucial step is to start right where we are. Evaluate our lives in the present. Not what we hope for or what it will be like when the last baby goes to school or when soccer season is over. What is it like to be in our lives RIGHT NOW?
At the end of each chapter, Turner provides a Reflections page where we can be very concrete about taking the steps she discusses in the previous pages. I have read the entire book, but I’ve gone back to the beginning to implement each of her proven strategies. It takes time, but the pay-off is more than a manageable schedule. It’s actually enjoying our lives.
To that end, we have to evaluate first. Just like buying a new house and figuring out what fits and what doesn’t, chances are if we are feeling overwhelmed, there are some activities and habits that will need to disappear from our lives. Maybe it’s an after school activity that is far away and requires extended time in the car or a person who just sucks us dry, we have to be realistic about our present to make the future better.
Goal Setting for Working Mom Success
Identifying our values will help us to set goals that will make us feel successful. But they need to be specific and measurable (remember SMART goals? Use that tool to help!). Being a better mom is not a goal. Being home for bedtime or reading with a child every day is a specific goal. It’s clear and easy to access. Try a bullet journal habit tracker to monitor progress.
Evaluating how we spend our time is going to help us in goal setting as well. Do I spend too much time on social media? Is it more effective to do one big clean of the house each week or a smaller task each day? What am I doing that I really don’t enjoy and is there a way to say no or outsource it? The difference between how we actually spend our time and the way we want to spend it is what creates that stretched too thin feeling.
Self-Care is Essential for Working Mom Success
Like most moms, if anyone in my house is going to get the short end of the stick, it’s almost always me. I haven’t had my hair cut in six months because I’m not sure when to fit it in. If there is something I have to eliminate from my day, all too often it’s working out or down time. And adequate sleep is always on the chopping block.
Really, all the rest of the tips in the book can fall under self-care. Having a space at home that I enjoy and can be free of thinking about chores and instead focus on my kids? Great for the kids but also necessary for my mama heart. Knowing I have the ability to tackle all of my work tasks in the time allotted? Productive and stress-relieving.
We need to pay attention to our bodies and emotions as well as we do our children. We can know what we need if we just listen. Often, it’s not a weeks vacation or spa day. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or involve travel. It can be taking the time to fix healthy meals or investing in our professional and personal development by taking an online class.
Successful Working Moms Can Have Successful Relationships
Investing in our marriage, children and friendships are essential for a satisfying life. All of these things can be difficult when we feel stretched too thin. When we are struggling to keep our heads above water by doing the very basics to keep everyone moving in the right direction, putting extra effort into relationships may seem impossible.
It’s so hard for me to find time to have real conversations with my husband. By the time the kids go to bed, I’m exhausted as well. When we actually have time for just the two of us, I don’t want to ruin it by talking about all the things that are driving me crazy. But, as Turner points out, it’s important that we are working toward the same goals. At one time we were on the same page. It’s why we got married. We though we were doing life together. But as our kids get older and more involved in activities, I find myself wondering if we have anything in common at all. Do we even have the same values and goals anymore? I don’t know because we don’t talk about it.
Nurturing friendships are just as hard. I have to be intentional to make time for friendships. It involves being realistic about my schedule and devoting a few hours of time with a friend or group of friends. Having the support system of friends is essential. They are the people who know what we need when. They are the people who our kids know and trust. They are the people who cry with us and push us to do better. There are a million reasons we need authentic friendships and the only reason not to is because we fail to plan for it.
Life Your Working Mom Success
I think I always knew that parenting wasn’t easy. But I’m not sure I understood how much there was to balance. And with constantly changing needs and schedules, as soon as we think we’ve found a balance, everything changes again. We readjust and re-plan. But are we ever comfortable? Do we feel like we are being successful at home and at work? And is that possible?
With some extra effort, it is. And that is the encouragement of this book. Satisfaction and a life we love is possible, Even in a culture of “never enough.” This success is possible because WE define it for ourselves. For some, success looks like a high income, a big house and private school tuition. For others, it’s not missing a baseball game. Some moms love having one child to focus their energy toward. I have four. That doesn’t mean I made a better choice, just a different one.
Creating Your Own Working Mom Success
Taking the time to discover what will make you happy with your life and what kind of balance works best for your own family will create a feeling of fulfillment. We’ll never feel accomplished if we don’t have a target. We can’t share our targets with other moms, but we can encourage each other to find and work toward what we really want.
Using Jessica’s suggestions as well as her worksheet provided in the book will help create working mom success on your own term and ensure that you and your family thrive, even in the long hard days of childhood.
Buy your own copy of Jessica’s books (affiliate links)