How to Balance Work and Family if You’re a Mom

By Richard Asa and Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
October 24, 2023
How to Balance Work and Family if You’re a Mom

Finding balance can be difficult for moms. Try to exercise, eat well, sleep, and take time for yourself to reduce your stress. Here’s what you can do.

Working mothers have it rough. Many are the primary caretakers of their kids and home, and they may have demanding jobs as well.

A 24/7 economy doesn’t help. With the rise of video calls, office messaging, and email — along with colleagues working in many time zones — more jobs ask for your attention at odd hours, including weekends.

Try to forget about the “supermom” image, which can lead to self-blame and depression. It’s easy to get sick and tired, which isn’t good for you or your family. Instead, set reasonable expectations. You’ll do better if you create time for yourself.  


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Americans don’t get enough exercise for a variety of reasons. Moms may be especially sleep- and time-deprived. But you can turn things around with some attention.  

For starters, try to get up from your desk at work every half hour. Prolonged sitting is a serious health risk. You might stand or pace for some calls or switch to the standing feature on a sit-stand desk after lunch. (Standing all day, every day, isn’t good for you, either). 

Be creative about finding your exercise time, and try to stick to it. For structure, you might benefit from a yoga or dance class that gets you outside on weekends.

On workdays, consider scheduling regular 15-minute workouts that will give you energy and relieve stress. You don’t need a gym. You can do squats at home during the morning or after work and lift small weights or use resistance bands. 

If your schedule changes, take time on Sundays to plot your exercise schedule for the coming week. Be realistic and set achievable goals. It always feels great to keep your promises to yourself.

Eat well

  • If you pack school lunches for your kids, make one for yourself for work. 
  • Make sure you drink enough water.
  • Be aware that people tend to eat more when they join a group of friends. If you’re concerned about your weight, limit social lunches at the office, and try to take stretching breaks together instead. 
  • As with exercise, plan ahead for the week, if you can.

“Taking a few minutes on the weekend (with my husband) to think what meals we might like during the work week helps make those meals happen,” says mom Brooke Anderson. “I’m honestly too tired at the end of a work day to want to think about planning meals. A weekend grocery run is helpful, and prepping food for the week to come goes a long way to quicken and simplify meals.” 


Plan on adequate sleep, kids or no kids. Your kids need regular bedtimes and wakeup times, and so do you.

No matter how much you think you need to do, there’s only so much time in one day. If your bedtime has arrived, you’ve reached that day’s limit.  

Lower your stress level

Accept help. Let’s say a parent offers to watch your child once a week or a few days of the month. Maybe it’s a more limited offer. If you wish they would offer something else, it might be worth saying so. But don’t let disappointment or guilt keep you from accepting what’s offered.

You may need to learn some stress-lowering techniques. They can be simple but effective if you make them a habit. When Anderson feels her blood pressure rising at work, she stops and practices deep breathing, she says. 

De-stressing includes rethinking your attitudes towards parenting. Are you constantly guilty and anxious about time away from your kids? Guilt won’t help.

Science suggests that you’re right to value keeping tabs on your children’s education and generally spending time with them. It’s also true that work can cut into parenting time, especially weekend work, as you might expect. But having some flexibility with your work schedule can be very helpful.

The quality of your time with your children may be more important than the hours you spend with them. If you need to finish some tasks before you can be cheerful for playtime after dinner, go for it.

“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” said Kei Nomaguchi, PhD, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University  

Try to lighten up. Your perception of failure could be making things worse. Think of yourself as the best mom in the world to the most wonderful children and see how your little ones respond.

Don’t forget to have time socializing, if only with other parents of children your age. You might be surprised at how much better you feel after a video call with an old friend or a conversation at a playground.

Making a priority of taking care of yourself — paying attention to exercise, diet, sleep, and your stress — will go a long way toward maintaining your health and happiness.


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October 24, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN