When I left my full-time job to become a stay-at-home working mom, I envisioned that my son and I would have some leisurely days at the zoo or pool, spent with other mom friends and their kids. Now I know the reality of a stay-at-home working moms' schedule -- and the limitations it presents. Gathering with mom friends who work full time in an office is tough: the mom who works from home is more than ready to get out of the house in the evening, while moms who work out of the home all week might prefer to relax at home with family when the rare opportunity for some down time comes. Scheduling outings with other stay-at-home moms during the day can be equally difficult when trying to work around workloads, errands and conflicting nap schedules.
But frustrating as it may be, keeping up ties when you're a stay-at-home working mom is important. While time with your kids is rewarding, working at home can be isolating. Where you once had co-workers to vent your frustrations to, time with other moms can do wonders for your stress levels, and overall satisfaction with your professional and personal life. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project notes a study indicating that having five or more friends to discuss an important matter with leads to a person self-describing as "very happy." Other studies have also shown that strong social connections can actually help lengthen your life. Here's how to find time for work, play and family.
Your odds of pulling off regular girls nights increases when you've got a large social circle. When you go to a kids' event, there are all kinds of parents that are in your very same position, who could become great shoulders to lean on. Rubin suggests setting a clear goal -- just as you would in your career. Tell yourself that you'll leave the event with at least one or two new friends each time -- and make it happen.
Who doesn't want a girls weekend at the spa? Trouble is, who's got time for it? When you're a working mom, you've got to make some concessions to squeeze in girl time. If you're going for a walk or to an exercise class, call a girlfriend to join you and catch up over coffee or a glass of wine afterward. If none of your girlfriends can meet for dinner, try scheduling an early weekend breakfast instead.
You put events on your calendar for professional events and deadlines, and should approach your girls nights with the same resolve. Make a "no date-breaking" rule with your girlfriends. Set a standing time to gather and vow to always stick to the plan, even if they have to be shortened or amended because of life's little surprises.
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