When you go back to work after maternity leave you get an overwhelming sense of everything you need to do. You worry about how you will get it all done! This is a defining moment!
What IS your definition of all? When you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed about your dual workload this is an opportune time to define “doing it all” according to you.
Step 1: Perform a brain dump
Start by writing down everything you feel you need to do in a mind map format (see picture).
This is a nice change from lists, isn't it?
Let’s say you’re going to write down everything you need to do to manage your home. In the middle of a page of paper write down the challenge, the problem, or the big thing you need to do. In this example, we’ll write “Home Management”, then circle it. Then, as quickly as you can, write down anything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t pertain to the problem or challenge, just write.
In our example, write about all of the things you need to do to manage your home such as doing the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, etc. Circle each thought and draw a line, or a chute, connecting it to the center circle. When your thoughts begin to slow down you are done with this brain dump and hopefully you feel a bit lighter. Everything is now down on paper.
Step 2: Examine what needs to be done
On the chutes, make smaller chutes and write down what you would need to do to fulfill each chore.
In the example I got specific about changing the bed sheets, like you’d have strip the bed, wash the sheets, put them away, and put the new sheets on.
Your map may start getting a bit crowded at this point, and this is good. The more thoughts you dump on paper the lighter you’ll feel.
Are there things you need to do that may need their own mind map?
Is there a chore that has too many chutes? Bring out another piece a paper and start the process again for this chore or work assignment (remember you can do a mind map for work-related challenges as well).
Create a few mind maps about everything you need to do at work, at home, for your kids, and most importantly what you need to do for yourself (aka your self-care regime).
Step 3: Prioritize and delegate
This is the part where you look at everything you do or want to do and think, “How am I going to get all this done?” I invite you to ask a different question, “How are we going to get all this done?” It’s time to bring in your support team and let them know what you need help with.
To do this spread out your maps and start prioritizing according to needs and wants. What categories or subcategories must you do. These things have to be done by you and absolutely no one else. Next what categories or subcategories would you like to do. Next, write down the things you are putting up with or tolerating. Last write down the items that you hate doing and wish someone would take the chore/project off your plate.
You are now loaded with information to bring to your support team. This is a team of people that are willing to do whatever they can do within their power and their means to help you out.
You have a list of specific things that you need help with. People will know what is expected from them because you’ll tell them why the items are on your list and when and where you’ll need help completing them.
This type of exercise isn’t something that can be done overnight. Take time and enjoy this growth process. Being a Working Mom is a lot of, well, work! But you can do it all, you just need to know what your “all” is and ask your support team for support.