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Carreer Junction by Michele Majul-IbarraMom’s back-to-school balancing act

by Michele Majul-Ibarra

Working women have come a long way from being perceived as responsible “housewives” and “housekeepers.” The turning point in women’s employment history began in the First World War when they began to enter the workforce to cover for the enlisted men in military. While the society’s expectation was for the working women to return to their domestic duties at the end of the Second World War, many women declined to stay home after the war in the first half of the 20th century and that decision to remain in the workforce triggered significant social and cultural change, which paved the way for the women of today.

In today’s generation, however, the workforce represented by women has different challenges, particularly for those who have to juggle their family and career demands. Women now represent nearly half of the Canadian workforce. Statistics Canada released a report in 2017 indicating that the percentage of mothers who participated in the workforce increased from 36 per cent in 1986 to 47 per cent in 2017. The report also indicated that working mothers still take on the bulk of household chores and child-care responsibilities.

In reality, working mothers do not get a day off as their normal work day extends throughout the rest of their day at home, taking care of family needs, whether it is related to preparing meals, driving their children to sports or activities, or helping their children with homework. The days are long and for a mom with a full-time job. Feelings of guilt and stress can set in because there is constant divided attention between work and family. While it is a huge struggle for a lot of moms, the key is good planning and getting organized in order to find a suitable balance between work and family. Here are few tips:

Prep the night before for the morning

Getting organized the night before saves a lot of time in the morning. Some of the things that can be done include packing the kids’ lunches and getting their clothes ready. A personal favourite routine of mine is having my kids shower the night before so they are fresh and ready to go the next morning. The night before school would also be a good time to go over the schedule for the following days that week to ensure that whatever is planned for the next few days are taken care of.

Be guilt-free

For a mom it is tough not to feel guilty about how your limited attention and time are impacting your family. However, there is an advantage that comes from being able to work a full-time job as it can be benefitting in terms of being able to afford other educational opportunities and extra-curricular activities and money saved for college. Finding the best of both worlds can be an effective way to let go of guilt.

Create a calendar

Keeping track of school and after-school activities can definitely be a struggle especially when there are multiple children in your household. One thing I have started that I find very helpful is maintaining a schedule in Google Calendar to help keep track of all the activities that our family has. Another helpful idea is to create a “family command centre” where a magnetic or cork board can be set up for posting any important reminders and important documents from school.

Make time for me-time

Because as a mom, your time is divided between your home and your job, it is important to manage your energy well. This is why it is so important to fit in valuable “me-time” in order to recharge from the stress and multiple demands on your time. It would be very hard to manage the home and spend time with your family if you are a grumpy and tired mom.

Lastly, it is very important to acknowledge that it is physically impossible to be everywhere, however, if you do not prioritize and organize your time, there could be risk spending a lot of time on things that are of little value. As family must come first, focusing on planning how you want to spend your time must be given some attention.

This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.


Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP is an Advanced Certified HR Professional with the International Personnel Management Association. She graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a Certificate in Human Resource Management. She also holds the C.I.M. professional designation (Certified in Management). E-mail her at

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