As a working mother, I fall into that rat trap of feeling like I don’t have “time” to take off work to be with my kids for holidays or spring break, etc.
Even just recently, I only took off one day during Spring Break to take my daughter to the zoo.
Why on earth did I do that to myself and my daughter?
The short answer is I have trouble relinquishing control. I’m big enough to admit it, which is half the battle, I guess. Sometimes, I manage to convince myself to take time off, and sometimes let my fear of losing control make up my mind.
How to Prioritize and Succeed as a Working Mother
As a working mother, taking time off for holidays with your children can be challenging. Of course, you want to be present and enjoy time with your family, but you also have professional responsibilities that require your attention.
As women, we tend to proceed cautiously out of fear of losing our job or being looked at as less than our male counterparts. I don’t have all of the answers, but there are some things that I do, that you can do, to hopefully help you and I both to become better at balancing the precious time we have with our loved one and still manage to be the kick-ass, women leaders we know we are.
Leverage Your Support System for Work-Life Balance
One way we can manage this situation is to set clear boundaries with our colleagues and clients about our availability during your holiday time. This can help us avoid the stress of being constantly connected to work and allow us to focus on our family and well-being.
I have a fantastic team around me, and every day they teach me how to be a better leader and want to support me.
Your employees will respect your desire to take time off. Here are three tips for setting boundaries and managing expectations during your holiday so that you and your employees can work time appropriately.
Communicate Clearly with Your Colleagues and Clients
Communicating clearly with your colleagues and clients about your holiday plans and availability is crucial. Let them know in advance when you are taking time off, how long you’ll be away, and what your availability will be during that time.
Be honest about your ability to respond to emails or phone calls promptly and provide alternative contacts or emergency procedures in case of urgent matters.
If you will be entirely away from a laptop or cell service, make sure you tell your team that so that they aren’t wasting their time by trying to reach you.
I will always let my team know if I prefer them to contact me via email, phone, or text. I also make sure to tell them if I can assist them.
For example, when I go on a family vacation, I tell my team that I will check emails in the morning and then again before bed. Still, I make sure they know to call my cell phone if there is an emergency during the day because I will not be checking emails while I am out with my family.
Be Realistic About What You Can Accomplish
When taking time off for a holiday with your children, you must be realistic about what you can accomplish professionally during your absence. Make a list of urgent and essential assignments and prioritize them before you leave.
Delegate non-critical tasks to other team members and set realistic expectations about what you can deliver during your absence. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and enjoy your holiday time with your family.
I always like to appoint someone who will field all requests for me. This way, I may only have one person contact me for an emergency instead of the entire company. For example, delegate someone to be your proxy. Usually, it is your second in command.
If someone needs something from “YOU,” they will go to the proxy while you are away, and if they feel that only you can handle the situation, they will decide the best course of action based on the instruction you left.
Take Time to Recharge
Finally, it’s essential to take time to recharge during your holiday time with your family. Set aside designated periods when you’ll disconnect from work and focus on your family and well-being.
This could be a few hours a day, a day or two during the week, or the entire duration of your holiday. Whatever you choose, communicate your availability clearly to your colleagues and clients and stick to your boundaries.
This is critical because although you handle a few work phone calls or spending a few hours on the laptop by the pool might not be an issue for you, but to your family, especially young kids, this sends that message that you are focused on work and not on them. They may not tell you immediately, but they feel your absence in those moments.
Prioritizing Your Well-Being as a Working Mother
Taking time off for holidays with your children can be challenging as a working mother. However, by setting clear boundaries with your colleagues and clients, being realistic about what you can accomplish, and taking time to recharge, you can manage expectations and prioritize your family and well-being.
Remember, taking time off is essential for your overall health and happiness, so don’t hesitate to set boundaries and stick to them.
If you fail in this regard, as I did over Spring Break, make a mental note to do better next time and start planning or thinking of providing extra family or one-on-one time for your children’s desires and needs.
We are only human but can always push ourselves to improve when we fall short.
Perfection may not be attainable, but balance is.
Last modified: April 12, 2023