Parents who work outside of the home perform daily juggling acts. They split energy between job and family – which means that personal wellness (both mental and physical) often takes a back seat. With so many priorities demanding a busy parent’s attention, how do you carve out time to strike a better balance between family and work?
Jennifer Lea, a Johnson & Johnson mom of two and winner of Working Mother‘s Working Mother of the Year award, is in the business of helping busy executives strive for physical and mental wellness while balancing heavy workloads at the office. As a child, Jennifer saw her own dad’s health decline as a result of a demanding job and hectic schedule. This experience inspired her to make wellness a priority – even in the face of other demands life places on us all.
Jennifer uses five tried-and-true tricks that help her stay well and be present in every situation, regardless of whether it’s at work or at home.
- Keep moving. Physical activity of any kind can bring clarity and encourage creativity. Find something you love to do – walking, swimming, dancing – and make sure you do it regularly. Jennifer has found tremendous enjoyment from her leadership with Moms in Motion, a community of local moms who can come together, exercise and be with women who are all facing similar challenges. Bonus: Read Jennifer’s tips for making family exercise a healthy habit.
- Express yourself. It’s not always easy to share the joys, worries and frustrations of your day with others. Writing these thoughts down in a journal allows you to engage your private voice and gain perspective or clarity. Jennifer’s personal mantra is “peace,” and she uses the time spent with her journal to focus and center herself on this simple tenet.
- Self-evaluate. When you’re feeling particularly tired, negative or scattered, take a step back to assess your feelings. Are they related to the current moment, or are they left over from something that happened earlier in the day? If a work issue is occupying your mind while you’re with your kids, spend 30 seconds thinking about what you’re grateful for. This can really help you re-focus your energy.
- Know your limits and ask for help. Parents often hold themselves to an incredibly high standard, and it’s easy to equate asking for help with failure. Jennifer stresses that in order to be your best self at work and at home, you must take care of yourself. So know your own limits and don’t be afraid to lean on others and ask for support.
- Abandon guilt. Jennifer admits that motherhood can sometimes feel lonely because it can feel like you pale in comparison to other parents around you. She handles the weight of this guilt by reminding herself that no two families are alike and that she is always striving to be the best mom she can be. Ultimately, you are the only one who knows what is best for your family, so give yourself a pat on the back for surviving the wild journey that is parenthood.
Jennifer has found that these tricks help keep her life as a mom who works outside the home from becoming overwhelming. Achieving work-life balance means that you’ll always have to make decisions about how you’re spending your time. Prioritizing your own wellness will help you make those decisions with the right frame of mind.