The US Labor Department recently released its annual American Time Use Survey results, which found something that I’m not too surprised to hear: women are working more and sleeping less than ever before.

According to the report, employed women worked approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes in an average workday in 2018 — the most time since the survey began in 2003. This by itself isn’t a bad thing – that’s the approximate length of my workday – but this doesn’t include the non-work day.

The survey also found that women are spending more time per day on household chores and caring for their families – and more than their male counterparts.

While great strides have been made with gender equality in the last 30 years, there are still many pockets of life where women are still trying to overcome challenges – and this is definitely one of those areas. Women are not only spending more time on housework, but they are shouldered with the burden of “the mental load” – which is comprised of all the planning, organizing, and reminding related to various things. This comic perfectly sums up the difficulties of dealing with the mental load every day.

The Challenges of Being a Working Mom

I recently became a brand-new mother. As one would imagine, my life has been turned sideways, upside-down, and spun around a bit for good measure. It’s now mostly dictated by a tiny human with the face of an angel and a cry that will break your heart while simultaneously melting your eardrums.

Of course, I absolutely love it. My husband and I knew what we were signing up for; however, speaking as a first-time mom, you simply don’t know what you don’t know – so, to say that there have been some surprises is a bit of an understatement.

In My Life BB (Before Baby), this was my morning routine:

5:15 am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze a few times.

5:30 am: Wake up and shower

6:00 am: Prepare and eat breakfast, read emails, catch up on social media

6:45 am: Finish getting ready for work

7:15 am: Feed dog, pack lunch

7:30 am: Head to work (30 to 40-minute commute)

Since going back to work after maternity leave, this has been my new morning schedule:

4:00 am: Wake up and shower

5:00 am: Eat breakfast, read emails, catch up on social media UNLESS my daughter is awake, then change and feed her first

5:45 am: Light household chores, including washing and prepping bottles for the day

6:00 am: Finish getting ready for work OR feed/comfort my daughter and then finish getting ready for work (remember what I said about that cry of hers?)

6:30 am: Feed dog, pack my lunch and milk-pumping accessories (have to pump at work)

7:00 am: Head to work, dropping off my daughter at daycare on the way (30 to 40-minute commute + time at daycare)

I’ve added another 45 minutes on to my morning schedule to ensure my family is looked after and my house has some semblance of order to it (as much as I can eke out operating on roughly 6 hours of sleep).

There are times when I run late, even though I’m getting up earlier – which is frustrating because the whole point of getting up earlier was to make sure I left on time. It turns out, however, that my nice, ordered morning schedule has turned into disorder with the introduction of a new baby – something this Type A, planner personality has had to come to terms with over the last several months.

Lessons Learned in Time Management

What have I learned in the first 6 months of motherhood about managing my time?

  • Embrace the chaos. Children and order do not go together. I can organize and plan all I want, but something will always up-end those plans – and I can either fight it and be stressed out and miserable or just go with the flow and adapt as I go along. As the months have progressed, my morning schedule in all its ordered chaos has changed and adapted to meet changing needs (and so have I).
  • It won’t get any easier. As my daughter grows, more new challenges will rear their ugly heads. I’ll have even more things to do and problems that need solutions. No one ever said parenthood (or life in general) was easy, and it’s not supposed to be – it’s in dealing with difficult situations that we grow as humans.
  • Time is precious. Women are working more at their jobs and at home, and we’re struggling to make time for all the various things that matter to us: our families, our health, and our spirits. It’s important to take stock of all these things and make time for what truly matters. As a new mother, I want to make sure I’m making the most of the time I have with my daughter, especially in these crucial developmental years. But, always remember…
  • Do the best you can, every day. It’s all we can do – whether with our families, in our careers, or just in life. These are my personal core values that I try to live by every day:
    • Be kind
    • Be honest (but also see #1)
    • Be mindful of others and their own feelings and situations
    • Be accountable for my actions and the results of those actions

Am I perfect? No, and no one is. Do I exemplify these core values every single minute of every single day? No, but I always make an honest effort to do the best I can.