15 Moms Get *Real* On How to Balance Work and Life

Mompreneurs share how they manage to maintain the right balance between their work and home life while maintaining their sanity to boot.

“If you want something said, as a man; if you want something done, ask a woman,” are the famous words spoken by the UK’s former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. And any mother will tell you without a shadow of a doubt, this statement is beyond true. 

No one can multitask—physically, emotionally and mentally—the way a mother can. It’s almost like once you become a mom, you reach peak levels of productivity. Partly out of choice—but mostly out of necessity.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, working full- or part-time, or embarking on becoming an entrepreneur and starting a company of your own, you’ve probably discovered your ability to handle whatever is thrown your way.. 

While we might not complete every single task on our to-do list each day and we might feel guilty for having to check our work email while our little one(s) are home sick for what feels like the 50th time this year—we are resilient. We stay focused and committed to our goals, both professionally and personally, and do the very best we can to be the mother, partner, friend and employee or boss possible. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, we interviewed 15 moms about how they handle the juggle between work and family life. Their answers are honest, genuine, candid and invaluable. Let yourself be inspired by their words—after all, there’s no advice like that from one mother to another:

“Multitasking is really the problem—it’s not taking a short break from work.” 

“In this new age of telecommuting, working from home, no 9-5 boundaries and constant access to employees via Slack, text, email, WhatsApp and more—being a working mom is harder than ever. The difficulty increases if a kid is at home sick or there is a snow day or school holiday when moms still have to work. 

The temptation is to park everyone in front of a screen so I can do all my Zoom calls in peace—and sometimes I do that, especially if I have a lot of deadlines. Other times, I use these moments to connect, even if it’s just for a few minutes. 

I block some time in my calendar to play a game with them or at least ask them about what they are doing on their iPads (even though I already know from the parental controls dashboard). I’ll eat lunch with them and try to put down my phone because it turns out that multitasking is really the problem—not taking a short break from work. 

—Agya Garg, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Aura

“Investing in childcare is investing in your family and career.”

“When your children are young, investing in child care—whether it be daycare, preschool, a nanny or sitter or hiring someone to help around the house—is an investment in your family and in your career. It’s essential to shift the perspective from considering these as luxuries or optional, to recognizing them as necessities. 

It’s so much easier said than done, especially in a remote work culture and high-paced environment. Yet, when I manage to focus and allocate my time on one versus trying to do both at same time, I’m a much more productive CEO, and a much more in-tune and present mother. Similar to many parents, I want to be present for everything with my kids, but working full-time doesn’t allow for that. 

I was mentored early in motherhood to really evaluate where my time, skills and heart are most valuable, fulfilled or important—both at work and at home. Regularly making a list of non-negotiables and then delegating or letting go of the areas where it doesn’t have to be me has proven to be incredibly beneficial. Michelle Obama does a wonderful job discussing this practice in her book, Becoming.” 

—Carrie Jones, CEO and co-founder of Mari + Gold

“I set my automatic response messages to school pickup or mom mode.”

“I don’t think there is such a thing as a balance between work and life. Instead of looking for balance, I recognize that it’s a juggle. There are times when I’m more focused on work and the life side of things takes a backseat; and there are times when my sole focus is my kids and work takes the backseat. At the end of the day, I believe things balance out. 

One thing I’ve started doing is using my automatic response messages on my email to share how I’m trying to juggle it all. If I’m in mom mode, I’ll put an automatic response on my emails sharing that it’s time for school pick up, kids are home sick, I’m in mom-mode, etc.—and that I’ll need at least 24 hours to respond. This transparency has taken away some of the pressure I feel when trying to juggle work and life. It’s also been an amazing way to connect with others who will see the message and respond back saying they are in the same boat.”

—Aliza Friedlander, publicist, founder of Freed Up Communications  

“I’m honest about my needs—both to my family and my company.”

“As a small business owner, my company will always be my first ‘baby.’ Having said that, my team and clients know that my three kids come first. The best way I’ve found to balance my work life with the rest of my life as a wife, mom, caregiver to several other family members, community volunteer, friend, etc. is to recognize that, regardless of where I am physically, I cannot ignore or cut off the other critical parts of my identity. 

I communicate openly with my family about my professional responsibilities and needs, including when work will take me away from the coveted bedtime routine. Likewise, because I speak openly about my role as a working mother with my colleagues and clients, no one is surprised when I leave work early to take a sick kid to the doctor. I know that, because I am my own boss, I have far more flexibility than most, but I’d encourage other moms to state their needs on an ongoing basis…and don’t apologize for them.”

—Jenny Selber Gustafson, CEO at Like Minds Communications

“I track my self-care in my planner on top of my work obligations.”

“Sometimes I wonder if I would give up working to be a stay-at-home mom if my family could afford living without my income. But I also know deep down that my passion for my work is too deep to just step away. 

But, oh, those days when my son is highly emotional and needs me more, a deadline is looming, new client inquiries pile in—sometimes I just need to laugh about how much is on my plate. I’ve been exploring a new method of tracking my self-care in my planner on top of my work obligations, making sure I am meditating, drinking my water, listening to subliminals, taking my supplements, getting movement and sunlight in and getting to bed before 10 p.m.. 

I don’t always get all the boxes checked off, but allowing myself to prioritize them and involving my son in helping to make sure I check them off as I do them has been a great way to remind myself that I deserve to take up space as well, and that my family and work function better when I do.”

—Chelsea Fournier, marketing agency owner at Intuitive Business By Design 

“Don’t get wrapped up in the vision of how you think motherhood will go.”

“Before I became a mother, I had a picture in my mind of what working motherhood would be like. Finding affordable, fantastic childcare would be a breeze because we live in a major metropolitan area. I would quickly ‘figure it out,’ and there was no way motherhood would change my lifestyle or my career trajectory. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was absolutely shocked when pregnant with my oldest child that the cost of daycare for just him would be more than my mortgage payment. 

After we had two children, it was more than double. I very quickly realized that balancing work and life for most working moms isn’t sustainable. Even with best laid plans, when my kids inevitably got sick, as the primary parent it would mean I also would have to take off work, as they only wanted me. As a woman who truly loved building a career I could be proud of, I constantly felt like a horrible employee because I couldn’t give my job the focus and time I was able to before becoming a mom. 

I also felt like a terrible mom, because there were many days where I also couldn’t give my kids the focus and time they deserved. It’s literally impossible. I am so grateful for my children, but I never imagined the reality of trying to juggle it all, not to mention my social life, volunteer obligations and other focuses.”

—Siobhán Alvarez-Borland, founder of mimosasandmotherhood.com

“Strive to be present in every moment, whether it’s work or parenting.”

“Work life balance feels loaded. As a working single mom there has rarely been any sort of balance. It has mostly been survival. Now that I am older and my daughter is a teenager I can see how I could have done things different. I would suggest being present in every moment that you are experiencing. 

Whether that be work related or playing Barbie’s with your child. Be in the moment, because the moment passes. Prioritize what is truly most important. My daughter deserves my attention first, and everything else comes after. There really is no balance, it’s an unrealistic concept. Just know you are doing the best you can, and that is enough.”

—Rachel Snow, The Denver Divorce Doula and founder of Luminary Divorce Coaching 

“From a nervous system perspective, balance doesn’t exist.” 

“A healthy nervous system is one that moves in between all of the states as needed. There is no superior state—it’s about having the appropriate response to a situation. If you are trying to finish one last email, cooking dinner and hearing your kids fight in the next room, the appropriate response (especially as dinner starts to burn) is to become dysregulated. 

What do you do from there? You recognize that you aren’t being chased by a bear in the woods, you recognize that your nervous system is speaking to you and then return to a regulated state (or make a plan to do so later when you can). It’s the return, the bounce back, that gives that feeling of ‘balance.’”

—Jessica Addeo, Occupational Therapist and Nervous System Clinician

“I prioritize my health so I can be here as long as possible.”

“As a working millennial mom of young kids in her forties, living a long, thriving life so I can enjoy my children well into adulthood is my number one priority. Making choices that support my vitality and longevity are key.  

Balancing work and life isn’t 50/50 for me—work is not 50 percent of my life as family and health alway take priority—otherwise what’s the point? I prioritize sleep, cooking, nutrition, exercise, and time with friends and family; and then I schedule my work time around those areas of my life. The added benefit of prioritizing health is I’m more focused and productive when I am working and can accomplish more in less time.”

—Whitney Cardosi, owner of Wellness with Whit 

“I’ve learned to be okay with “good” rather than fixating on perfection”

“When it comes to balancing work and life, I’ve grown to focus on managing expectations upfront, fostering open communication even through disappointment, and being okay with “good” rather than fixating on perfection. I’ve lost count of how many times I stressed about my vision of a perfect outcome. 

Playing the countdown game as deadlines approached left me with limited time to achieve a fraction of my envisioned outcome. Ultimately, I’d crank out 10 percent of what I imagined and beat myself up for the 90 percent of ‘brilliance’ I wished for. Ironically, I’d receive the highest praise for what I provided and be tasked with doing it all again. This resulted in a shattered sense of self-confidence, leaving me wondering if I was capable or just reliable.”

—Tramelle D. Jones, Strategic Success and Workplace Wellness Coach with TDJ Consulting 

“Instead of looking at the whole staircase, look at one step at a time.”

“Let’s get real being a mother of two, running two businesses of my own, plus life balance is a joke. Honestly, we mothers put so much pressure on ourselves and it needs to stop. Life isn’t perfect and neither are we and that’s okay as long as we continue to try our best, grow and better ourselves. 

Life is about learning what works for ourselves as individuals. What works for me may not work for you and that’s okay. Instead of looking at the whole staircase, look at one step at a time. Try to be okay with things not being balanced all the time. Know that every day is a new day and you can try again. I find that it’s helpful at night to make a realistic plan for the next day. I set out my intentions, feel ready for the day to come, even excited to get up and take on the day.” 

—Francesca Panebianco, Certified Professional Accountability Coach

“I ask myself: Does this bring me closer to my goals and vision for my ideal life?”

“As working moms, we try to do it all and tend to focus on the things that we did not accomplish instead of giving ourselves the kindness we would give others and acknowledging our accomplishments. Prioritization is key—if everything is a priority, nothing can truly be a priority. My work life balance changed when I really thought about what my goals are and what I want my life to look like. 

Now that I have a clear idea of what I want my life to look like (both professional and personal), prioritization is easier. Before taking on a new project or deciding how to balance my time, I ask myself ‘does this bring me closer to my goals and my vision for my ideal life?’ I understand life is nuanced and there are a lot of potentials for ‘maybe,’ but forcing myself to choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ has truly been a game changer for me!” 

Farah Sutton, real estate agent and entrepreneur

“Set a schedule and boundaries and put yourself first.”

“The reality of balancing work and life is never what we expect. There are days when everything seems calm and progressing, and there are days filled with just complete chaos and overwhelming junctures that we have to move through. Especially in motherhood, the value of time well spent is as precious as ever. And in these moments of motherhood, if we were to choose two ways to curb this obstacle, these would be to set a schedule and boundaries and put yourself first. 

I make sure I get my stretches and morning workout in, stick to my morning and evening skincare routine, and eat balanced meals throughout the day. If I don’t, everything becomes an unrecognizable mess. Once I set a schedule, which is usually divided into intervals throughout the day as I work from home, I put my children first in the sense that, when they come home, I give ample time specifically to them. 

I am also keen on not letting them see me working from my phone, so I make sure that work is complete while they are at school. It is a balance of acknowledging and understanding your own needs followed by your children’s needs, followed by work responsibilities that everything will smooth itself out.” 

—Vanessa Gordon, CEO and Publisher of East End Taste

“Carving out time for weekly date nights with my husband is a non-negotiable anchor.”

“Leading innovation at ECOS, I’m at the forefront of pioneering green chemistry, but my home life is equally dynamic with a 7-year-old daughter in competitive dance and 4-year-old twin boys whose boundless energy and love for baseball and taekwondo keep me on my toes. In the midst of this whirlwind, I’m also completing my MBA, a challenge that’s reshaping my notions of perfectionism into a more forgiving and adaptable mindset. 

Free time is a rarity in my schedule, but my heart is as full as my calendar, especially with the playful chaos of my twin boys. Carving out time for weekly date nights with my husband is a non-negotiable anchor, ensuring we stay connected amidst our bustling family life. As I navigate this beautifully hectic journey, I’m learning to embrace each moment, finding joy and fulfillment in the unpredictable dance of work, family, and personal growth.”

—Jenna Arkin, ECOS‘ Chief Innovation Officer 

“Define what being a ‘career mom’ means to you and then embrace it!” 

“I don’t love the term ‘working mom’ because work is not solely defined by the paycheck that lands in your bank account every other Friday. Being a career mom has chapters, seasons and nuances to it that only you can define. To me, being a ‘career mom’ is about making the workplace better for those (namely my children) who come after me. It’s also about showing my children what it means to pursue goals and dreams and to work hard. 

Being a career mom means I am working to build a solid financial foundation for my family to grow upon. And as a career mom who also happens to be a workplace communication consultant, my goal is to teach businesses how to create workplace cultures that put the people behind the bottom line first. It’s important to remember that, just like everything in life, this is just a season of motherhood. 

No matter the season you are in, it will pass. If you are in a season of hard or a season of demanding work or a season of meltdowns, tantrums, morning sickness, and tears, this season does not define you and the perspective you gain from it will only make you a more resilient mama.”

—Jenna Rogers, Founder of Career Civility 

Are you a mom entrepreneur or leader? You could be featured in our Substack series on identity, work and parenting. Email us to be considered: hello@milaandjomedia.com.


  • Jenn Sinrich

    Jenn Sinrich is the co-founder of Mila & Jo Media, an award-winning journalist and mom to Mila and Leo. She's also on-track to become a bereavement and postpartum doula to help women, like her, who've experienced pregnancy loss. She's a Peloton-tread addict who loves to cook and spend time with her friends and family. A Boston-native, she has always loved the Big Apple, which she called her home for close to a decade. Follow Jenn on Instagram. and visit her website.

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