Motherhood is hard enough before you throw in work. Once you're juggling a job, parenting, daycare, self-care and adult relationships, you start praying for guidance about how to handle working motherhood.
Until Moses returns with a couple of stone tablets addressing motherhood, here's my take on the 10 commandments for working motherhood.
Thou shalt trust thy gut
You know your family best and you also know your employer.
Trust your instincts when you feel your kids are acting out because they need your attention. Give them the extra time and nurturing, even if it means you miss a few minutes of work. Motherhood is your most important job, and not one to be taken lightly.
Similarly, you know in your gut when you're not fulfilling your work responsibilities. Be sure to do your best on the most important projects. If you do need to take time with a sick child or leave early for a school event, tell your supervisor and colleagues when you'll make up the work.
When you know your personal and professional values and priorities it makes believing in your instincts easier.
Thou shalt not worship money or career success
Motherhood fulfills many parts of our souls. But having a job that you're really good at can give you quite a rush too. It's important to keep that feeling in perspective, and only pursue the career that you truly want.
Don't thoughtlessly put in for the big promotion or raise. Think through what it would mean for your work-life balance and your children. Would the new duties stretch your skills in a direction you want to go? Or would it merely be a step up the career ladder without any additional satisfaction or challenge?
Make sure you are the one defining what success means to you. It's okay if that's simply enjoyable work with flexible hours and no fancy title.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's schedule
If your friend or neighbor has flexible hours or a family-friendly schedule, it's easy to get bitter and jealous. Remember that most flexible work arrangements have a trade off, whether it's telecommuting or setting up a job share.
Rather than assuming your neighbor is lucky, ask her questions about how she established the arrangement and what she likes or dislikes about it. If it still looks good, propose a similar schedule to your supervisor!
Thou shalt take rests
Motherhood teaches us when to say yes or no to our children and set limits. Make sure you use these skills in the office too.
Set clear boundaries around work and limit your face time. Better yet, refuse to be pressured into serving face time and leave when your day's work is completed both physically and mentally.
Thou shalt not feel guilty
Once you take ownership of your choice to work, refuse to feel guilty about working. There are plenty of people who want to undermine you as a working mom -- please ignore those comments that trigger working moms guilt.
Guilt is an emotion that you feel when you've done something wrong. There's nothing wrong with contributing to the financial support, the stability of your family, and the college fund.
This page continues the 10 commandments for combining motherhood and work. Don't miss the first 5 commandments for successful working motherhood!
Thou shalt not judge others
Human beings are often looking over at the next person judging their actions and results. Resist this impulse, please. Or if you must judge, keep it to yourself.
Life is long, and you never know when you'll be forced to eat your words.
Whenever you start to say, "I could never ... " bite your tongue. Many a diehard working mom has surprised herself by quitting her job once the kids hit grade school or the teen years.
Thou shalt enjoy family time
When you do have time with your family, enjoy it! You can have fun doing daily chores with your children if you have a playful attitude. Or it can be as simple as a quick game of cards after dinner and before homework.
Don't simply rush your children from waking to breakfast to school and home again to dinner, bath and bed. Cherish the time together, even in everyday activities.
Thou shalt nurture adult relationships
If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. So make sure to spend time on your marriage, close family members and friends. Those adult relationships will sustain you when you're stressed or in crisis.
Don't forget the most important relationship -- with yourself. Take time each week (or each day) on activities that nourish your soul.
Thou shalt enjoy thy work
We all work for different reasons. Whether it's for the money, helping others or job satisfaction, identify the reasons that you work and own that choice.
Then, take pleasure in the parts of your job that you enjoy, to reinforce the positive aspect of being a working mom. Even if it's simply the paycheck hitting your bank account each week!
Thou shalt prioritize ruthlessly
When you became a new working mom, suddenly you have little time for the lingering water-cooler chats with co-workers. Each morning, write down the top three things you must accomplish that day. Tackle them first, because you never know when a call to pick up a sick child might quash the rest of the day's work.
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.