Recently, our MOAA team traveled to North Carolina to host our 10th Military Spouse Symposium at Camp Lejeune. For MOAA, it is my distinct honor to orchestrate the location, lineup of experts, panelists and professional development seminars for each symposium (based on a lot of research, meetings and support from our military family expert in Government Relations). We make sure we tailor each program for every community we visit.
During the “Real Spouses, Real Stories” panel, a spouse raised her hand and posed the question, “How do you balance it all: Military Life, being a mom, and maintaining a career?”… That is the million dollar question that many of us continuously struggle with.
As I stood in the back of the room, I had to ask myself, “what do I need to make it all work?”
Here’s my situation: My husband is Active Duty Army, I have a 5 ½ month old son, I work full-time for MOAA and I am an adjunct professor for Troy University’s Communications Department (online). I am exhausted just writing that sentence.
Yes, that is a lot of balls to juggle. But I have found 5 ways to balance military, motherhood, and a career (and a half). Here they are:
1) Find excellent and reliable childcare. This is key to getting through the work week. When you are at work, you are focused and not stressed out about your child.
2) Do not feel guilty (easier said than done, I know). This feeling is difficult to deal with as I worry that I am going to miss out on something and chances are… you will miss some of your baby’s “firsts”. But rest assured, the first time your baby does something new around you, it will be the “first” time.
3) When possible, make time for yourself outside of work and home…. Ask your spouse, your trusted neighbor or friend, or sign up for hourly care so you are able to have time to focus on yourself (go get a mani/pedi, massage, read a book without pictures, walk around the block or even workout). You need to be fresh to be the best parent and wife/husband possible.
4) Build your circle of support: spouse, parents, siblings, neighbors, colleagues. Lean on them to keep you moving forward. You are stronger than you think you are and can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Sometimes you need a push in the right direction.
5) Encourage each other! We need to be each other’s best advocate! Share stories and swap advice with other military spouses who are in a similar situation or have “walked the walk”. You know, that person who can understand and remember sleepless nights, starting solid foods, teething, selecting schools for your children, wearing the same work clothes twice in the same week, etc. If you don’t know any other military spouse who can empathize with you – call or email me. We can encourage each other!
Of course, all of these might change in a month. For now, they are working for me.
Do you have any tips on balancing the military lifestyle, children and employment? Please share your tips by posting below or through our Spouse Facebook page.