As working mothers, there is so much of ourselves we are sacrificing for the good of our family and the company we work for. We have limited hours in our day and way too many things fighting for our attention. We all have our own set of priorities—like keeping the kids alive and ourselves from getting fired—and make decisions accordingly on a day-to-day basis.
However, there are a few not-so-squeaky wheels working moms should consider prioritizing for the sake of a more fulfilling life.
Top 5 overlooked priorities
Here are five often overlooked priorities we working moms should pay more attention to, plus suggestions on how to work them into our daily lives:
1. Personal development
Personal development leads to a fulfilling life because it makes us more proactive rather than reactive to what life throws at us. It evolves us intellectually, making us more effective individuals, better decision-makers, creative solution-crafters, and simply more interesting people to be around.
Career-wise, personal development helps us stay competitive in the job market. It helps us focus on what’s important and live a more intentional life rather than habitual. Personal development broadens our perspective and leads to conversations on a deeper level, not to mention helping us be good role models for our children.
Personal development can include anything from learning new topics, acquiring new skills, to deepening understanding on certain topics. Topics can be specific to our current position or general business, emotional intelligence, building relationships, health, parenting, etc.
Follow your curiosity. Google subjects you like reading about and subscribe to blogs. We live in an age of abundant, redundant, and most importantly, free information. Follow experts or accounts on your preferred social media channel. Watch webinars, read opinions, listen to podcasts, etc. There are many “experts” who say the same information in their own style. Find people you enjoy listening to.
2. Dating and sex
Dating feeds the fire we initially felt with our spouse, brings us closer, satisfies our need for emotional connection, improves our communication, puts us on the same page, and makes us realize more and more that we are in this together.
Once our family begins to grow, our focus shifts heavily on the kids, not realizing the fact that after ourselves, our spouse is the person we are with long-term. Kids grow up, make their own lives, and shift their priorities to things and people other than us. We, again, end up with the man/woman we started with in the beginning. But by that time, often, many couples no longer know each other.
Sex is important for a healthy marriage. Since everything else is taking up so much of us, perhaps it’s time we have an affair with our significant other to make sex matter again. Elizabeth Gilbert couldn’t have said it better:
“You know how people who are having extramarital affairs always seem to manage to find time to see each other in order to have wild, transgressive sex? It doesn’t seem to matter if those people have full-time jobs and families at home to support; they still somehow always manage to find the time to sneak off and see their lover—no matter what the difficulties, the risks, or the costs. Even if they get only 15 minutes together in a stairwell, they will take that time and they will make out with each other like crazy. (If anything, the fact that they have only fifteen minutes together somehow makes it all even hotter.) When people are having an affair, they don’t mind losing sleep, or missing meals. They will make whatever sacrifices they have to make, and they will blast through any obstacles, in order to be alone with the object of their devotion and obsession—because it matters to them.”
Plan a regular date night with your significant other. Take turns planning. Be open to his plans and go along with it. To get in the mood for sex: make a playlist with all the songs that get you going, shower (it washes away the stress of the day), and read romance books like Fifty Shades of Grey and the Crossfire Series. Follow Marriage 365 for more suggestions.
Reading the news on a regular basis (doesn’t have to be daily) increases our intelligence, brings awareness of current trends, and provides us with the material we need to understand the events and form our own opinions. Reading the news gives us things to talk about with people we know and don’t know, it connects us with people and reminds us of our social responsibility. The information provided in the news makes us better decision-makers at home, at work, and everywhere else. It protects us from gullibility, misjudgments, and the darkness of not knowing.
When you find a few free minutes, instead of jumping to social media, just skim through the headings at least for the sake of awareness. Read a few full articles every other day. Know that you can get the idea with reading the first couple sentences of each paragraph.
I have the Audible app on my phone, which offers free audio readings—about 45 minute worth—of articles either from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. You pick. It’s free! You do need an Amazon account, but you do not need an Audible subscription.
4. Cultivate contacts
Networking is hard to do as a working mom. However, as Fortune put it, “In today’s market, networking has become the lifeblood of a fruitful professional life.” After all, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”—right? So what do we do? We take advantage of the people we already know and meet outside of the networking events. By “cultivating contacts,” I mean maintaining current and long-lost friendships, acquaintances, and colleagues. The goal is to informally check on them, make them feel valued and thought about, and simply staying on their radar.
I use a contact manager app called Luper to manage my list of friends, acquaintances, family, and past colleagues. I schedule reminders to get in touch with each person on a frequency of my choosing (monthly and quarterly) and Luper puts their name on my calendar based on that frequency. That way, I know I get through the whole list. I send them a short message or give them a quick call.
Exercise enhances mood, increases energy and libido, gives the mind some rest, and promotes overall health. It’s not necessary to follow an intense six-day-per-week exercise program or do any certain type of exercises. But it is crucial for working moms to make health a priority: burnout, stress, anxiety, depression are all diseases working moms face if we don’t. Calming the mind and increasing the heart rate for 30 minutes a few times a week are recommended.
Some gyms provide childcare. Take advantage of that and take one hour in the evening a couple of times a week to go to the gym with your significant other. If your work has a gym, work out during lunch a couple times a week. A good audio book, podcast, or music playlist takes you a long way. You can also watch a show on your phone while on an exercise machine: it’s me-time while exercising! A YouTube channel BeFit has full-length videos. Remember, consistency is key.
Which of these overlooked priorities do you fit into your busy schedule? If none, will any of the above make it onto your priorities list?