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Ask Dr. Zoe – I Love Being a Working Mom, But I Need More Balance!

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‘Balancing Busy Mama’ Asked:

I’m a single mom who works nearly full-time. I love my son, and I love my work, but sometimes it feels impossible to do it all. I find it hard to admit this to friends who don’t work because they often want to answer it by saying I should stop working. Well, that’s not an option, and honestly, I wouldn’t want to (say I were to remarry one day). What are some real ways to balance it and succeed in both career and motherhood?

Dr. Zoe Answered:

Balancing Busy Mama,

Guess what? You’re right! It is impossible to do it all perfectly and beautifully—so let’s just get that out in the open right now! Sometimes it will be messy and chaotic, and that is okay! I don’t think you need any life-hack tips. I think what you really need is to change your focus, change how you talk to yourself, and learn to kick other’s judgment to the curb.

In your mom role, your biggest goal is to raise an amazing kid with all those wonderful qualities you value, right? There are some pretty great men out there who have moms who worked full time, so I know this is not just a possibility, but a reality. There are also some pretty awesome men out there who have moms who stayed home. If both types of moms can produce amazing men, then we’ve got to stop judging.

I love stay-at-home moms, and I love working moms. I have been both. But sometimes we don’t love each other and we can get ridiculously judgy about our choices as mothers, and that just hurts everyone! And when we turn what we perceive to be external judgment onto ourselves, then we’re only hurting ourselves, too.

Having been both for different seasons in my life, I know that there is a fantasy that each has about the other. Working moms fantasize that they could be better moms, that their life would be easier, and they could get everything done if they stayed at home. Stay-at-home moms fantasize about having a life space that is all their own and how getting away from family life daily could be so liberating. They are both just fantasies because the reality of each situation comes with its pitfalls.

We all have different talents, abilities, tolerance levels, and purposes. It’s okay if your only purpose isn’t to be a stay-at-home mom. You are snuffing out your candle if you try to “should” yourself into that box. And the world needs your candle to shine!

The same goes for a stay-at-home mom who feels she “should” be doing something additional.

One of your life purposes is to be a mom, though, and that is why you have a son. It is an honorable purpose and enough in its own right, but so are all of your other purposes.

Until you really believe the value in your other life purposes, you will continue to judge yourself—and not show up as your best self.

Embrace the juggling game. Recognize that some balls are going to have to be dropped sometimes. The trick to this game is to learn which ones need to be dropped when. You master this trick by mastering your priorities. Like I said, this season of motherhood can be a bit messy.

When your priorities are crystal clear, the whole thing gets easier. For example, I have a super busy schedule, but I block out 6 pm every day on my calendar for family dinner because this is not a ball I’m willing to drop. There are other places where I am a little more flexible and am willing to drop those balls for another task, event, etc.

Make a list of your top 5 priorities in your parenting/family life. Post them on your mirror, wall, or somewhere you look daily. When you have a decision to make, always compare it against your priorities and then make your decision. If you stay as true to these priorities as you can, you will be as happy as you can be with most of your mom decisions. It will never be perfect because life isn’t perfect, but you can be content knowing you are getting it right most of the time. And the truth is, a good enough mother is good enough to raise an amazing kid!

You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace!

Dr. Zoe


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Dr. Zoe is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert who recently jumped out of a perfectly good plane just for the experience.

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