After asking a group of metro Detroit working moms what some of their biggest challenges have been while trying to balance work and family, one of the most frequently cited was a sense that they weren't always able to give enough attention to both their jobs and their children.
Sandra*, a public school reading specialist from Birmingham and mother of two teens, occasionally felt she was doing a poor job at both, especially when her children were young. "There have been times when it has felt like there simply is not enough time in the day to devote to both a job and a family."
Ann*, a religious education director from Rochester with three children, considered "trying to be a good mother and a good employee" one of her top priorities. But she admitted, "It seems that at any given time, one or the other suffers."
Transitioning from her role as a full-time writer to a hands-on mother of two daughters at the end of the day was a source of frustration for Bonnie*, a young mom from Berkley. "I'm always thinking about the kids, their schedules, and their issues at the same time I'm working. Conversely, I'm constantly thinking of work, deadlines and trying to fit in all of those responsibilities when I'm with my kids - and when I should be devoting my time to them."
Acknowledging the difficulty in sorting out the tug between job responsibilities at work and those at home - homework, soccer schedules, housework, laundry, meals - Paula*, an operations director from Plymouth and mother of three, worked out a system with her family. "We put most of our home priorities on the weekend including cooking on Sunday for Monday and Tuesday. Also, there's nothing wrong with a pizza night."
While all the moms admitted they struggled with competing work and home interests, they also cited many benefits such as role modeling the ability to juggle multiple tasks, and the self-esteem that comes from feeling valued at work. These benefits will be discussed in my next column.
Do you find yourself in a tug of war between job and family? Does one or the other suffer at times? What solutions have you come up with that helped you maintain a healthy balance between both?
Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with other working moms in the comment section below, or shoot me an e-mail at the address listed in my bio. If I get enough responses, I will consolidate the ideas and solutions and share them in another column.
*Not their real names