How to achieve happiness for working mothers

I had initially thought of writing an article on Happiness at Work. However, after doing some research, I found that a large number of people who are unhappy in the workplace tend to be working mothers.

This is because of the stress they put on themselves to be a “Supermom” while juggling numerous amounts of other balls and giving it their all in the workplace. Despite the availability and number of various “self-help” books, articles and programmes whereby companies attempt to help their workforce manage their time and deal with stress better, research indicates that a large number of unhappy employees in the workplace are working mothers who often experience a sense of guilt and even end up falling into a state of depression.

The work-leisure dichotomy came about in the mid 1800’s, however, it was only in the late 1980’s that “work-life-balance” became a buzz-word that companies acted upon. The focus of the concept was based mostly on the balance between individuals’ work and personal life but not concentrated on a certain target population or, for example, areas specifically relating to the working mother.

With literally thousands of blogs and articles posted on social media platforms continuously, especially on “how to be a better mom”, it is no wonder that a lot of working moms suffer from low self-esteem. In reality, there is no such thing as a “Supermom” (in the superhero sense of the word; a mom capable of super natural powers), but there are a lot of super moms out there! Super can be replaced with synonyms like wonderful, fantastic, marvellous, fabulous … the list is endless. And if you’re reading this article then you’re most probably one or you know one.

What makes a super mom super?

Two important elements that all children need in order to become well-established adults is love and security. This is according to reliable sources (scientific research and psychological theories), as well as, many non-scientific informers. The latter will add that love is spelt as “TIME”. It is also said that it is not the quantity of time spent, that is important but rather the quality of time spent, that counts.

According to research the number one work-life-balance mind-set that all working mothers need to adopt is to let go of guilt. It is easier said than done, but focus on the benefits of being a working mom, like being a role-model for the children.

In the light of being happy and especially happy at work (since happy people are proven to be more productive), here are a few tips to all working mothers out there:

1. Stop comparing yourself to non-working mothers

You’ve chosen to have a career set out for whatever reason/s. Embrace your circumstances and don’t be envious. More important: Be yourself. You can still be a super mom even if you’re a working mom.

2. Choose happiness

True happiness does not come from external sources such as money or other people. Find happiness within yourself. Find pleasure in the simple things and change your self-talk from negative to positive. For one week, listen to what you say about yourself. Is it perhaps “I am tired”, “I am a bad mother”, “I am not winning”, “I am so clumsy”? Try changing it to “I am blessed”, “I am talented”, “I am in control”, “I am strong” and from there experience the difference in your life.

3. Stop worrying

Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice. Famous businessman and author, Steven Covey, says that nine out of the 10 things we worry about, never happen to us anyway. Worry about things when it is there. Take action when it is there.

4. Realise that you can’t please everyone

When you’re at work, focus on work. When you’re at home, focus on your family. There are only 24 hours in a day. Be the best that you can be at each current moment in time. If you dropped a ball, pick it up and move on.

5. Get organised

Remember the 5 P’s of Stephen Keague: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Plan ahead. There are numerous things a working mother can do to lighten the load. For example: Put a family calendar in a central place of your home if you must, so that everyone in the family can be aware of what’s going on at all times; Pack lunch-boxes the night before; Make sure there is enough resources/supplies in a drawer at home for those mid-week projects that the kids need to work on for school, to save time having to go-out and buy stuff at night.

6. Practice ARK

Be kind to all, especially to your loved-ones. ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) is a concept that was coined from the movie “Bruise Almighty”. The more you make a difference in someone else’s life, the happier you will be.

7. Be grateful

Gratitude forms the foundation of happiness. Start counting your blessings especially the small things that we so often take for granted. Start by finding one thing to be grateful for each and every day.

8. Don’t forget “Me”-time

This might sound like an impossible task especially when, as a working mother, you already feel overwhelmed with the number of things to do in the limited space of time available. Yet, it is so important to make time for yourself not only to recharge your batteries, but to reflect and appreciate life. Only 30 minutes a day is required.

Try it.

Marelize Nell is the Practice Leader: Research & Development at Maccauvlei Learning Academy.

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