Motherhood by Julie McNulty for Hike it Baby

The mom life is hard. Like, really hard. I recently read an article that compared the hours moms “work” to that of 2.5 full-time jobs. Another great article floating around the Interwebs acknowledges the mental load most moms shoulder alone.

All moms, whether working full-time, self-employed/work-from-home or stay-at-home, carry the mighty weight of motherhood.

Finding Balance

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, we’d like to acknowledge all that mothers do daily and offer insight into how some “super moms” find that work/life/hike balance.

Motherhood Balance: Finding the Mom/Work/Hike balance by Julie McNulty for Hike it Baby

Photo courtesy of Julie McNulty

In my five years of momming, I’ve actually held all three positions mentioned.

For my first four years, I was a full-time working mom. Both my husband and I worked well over 40 hours a week outside the home. On a typical week, the only time we had together as a family was Friday night. The load of working full-time, mothering full-time and being the person in charge of all schedules, appointments, meals, etc., (for four people) was crushing. At one point, I remember telling my husband that I felt like I was drowning.

My husband works a lot and works very hard. His hard work paid off and he was offered a promotion. With this promotion came a relocation. The salary increase combined with the cost of living decrease and the fact that we would no longer have free child care (shout out to my mama) meant that I would be staying home with the kids. I spent a year as a stay-at-home mom. I was able to explore some of my hobbies, like writing and hiking, keep my house clean, get laundry done, grocery shop on weekday mornings (heaven) and bond in a real way with my kids.

Just within the past few months, I’ve begun working from home as a private contractor for an ESL company. Not because we are in need; just simply to afford us the opportunity to go on more cool adventures together.

I’ve found immense joy and crushing stress while wearing each of these hats; and balance, for sure, is not my middle name. So that got me thinking about my experience compared to other moms’ experiences, and I wanted to see how they manage their load. I enlisted the help of three mamas to share their experiences and tips for how they found a motherhood balance. One is a work-from-home/self-employed mom, one is a stay-at-home mom and one is a full-time working mom.

Motherhood Balance: Finding the Mom/Work/Hike balance by Julie McNulty for Hike it Baby.

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Wong

Alexandra Wong from Sandy, Utah

Mom of 2 boys: ages 8 and 4

Salt Lake City Branch Ambassador & Graphic Designer

Work-from-home/self-employed freelance graphic designer

For Alexandra, balance is not feeling overwhelmed no matter what is going on. She said, “It’s not just a balance of housework, design work and mom work; it’s also a balance of communication with my husband, so we’re on the same page when it comes to all of the work required to keep everyone fed, clean and happy. That includes my husband and me.”

Alexandra runs her own freelance graphic design business from home. She says, “My weeks revolve around school, taekwondo and whether my husband is traveling for work.”

One thing that helps Alexandra to find balance is hiking. “Hiking is one of the ways I am willing and able to exercise, and it’s also free therapy. When life gets overwhelming and a little hectic, being away from civilization helps me find a little peace, and it helps settle my emotions. As I head into my 40s, hormones are making it harder to keep emotions in check, so getting outside and into nature is helping to take the edge off a little bit.” However, finding time to hike has only gotten harder since her kids have started school. While she loves the time she had to work and to take care of personal stuff while the kids weren’t at home, she misses the freedom they had to go hiking whenever and wherever when they were smaller.

Alexandra thinks it is important for moms to remember to go easy on themselves. She says, “Be kind to yourself. Don’t let housework stress you out. Remember to take care of yourself.” Alexandra finds joy in watching her children learn and grow. She says the most rewarding thing about motherhood is seeing her kids grow into awesome little people and “learn to love the outdoors and take care of it; especially living in a place where we have such abundant outdoor space.”

Motherhood Balance: Finding the Mom/Work/Hike balance by Julie McNulty for Hike it Baby

Photo courtesy of Christina Rogel

Christina Rogel from La Crosse, Wisconsin

Mom of 3: ages 6, 3 and 3 weeks

La Crosse Branch Ambassador

Stay-at-home mom

Christina finds her motherhood balance by figuring out the top priorities for herself and her family and coming up with a plan to make it happen. As a busy stay-at-home mom with three children (one a newborn), Christina sometimes finds trouble balancing her own needs with the needs of her kids. “I’m at a stage of motherhood, with my children being little, where they depend on me for a lot of things, so I have to be intentional about balancing their needs and my own, and it’s not always easy.”

Hiking is something Christina has always enjoyed and it has remained important to her and her family. “Hiking gets me away from the business of life and helps with my anxiety and to clear my mind. It’s one of our favorite things to do together as a family. Hiking helps me appreciate the land and environment and do my part to take care of it. It’s important to teach these values to my children.”

Christina wasn’t able to get out and hike as much as she would have liked when her two older children were younger, but that is something she hopes to change with her newborn. She is hoping this will help her combat any postpartum sadness. “When my newborn is a little older, getting out for hikes/walks will be a big priority. I want to be intentional about getting outdoors and back to the things I love, like hiking during this postpartum period. Being intentional and making it a priority will help me find time for it.”

Christina loves seeing her children find their interests and place in the world and seeing the relationship between them grow. She wants other moms to remember that “you can’t be the best version of yourself from an empty cup.” She thinks it’s important for moms to make time for themselves and the things that make them happy.

Motherhood Balance: Finding the Mom/Work/Hike balance by Julie McNulty for Hike it Baby

Photo courtesy of Gaila Rearick

Gaila Rearick from Nevada, Iowa

Mom of 2: ages 3 and 6 months

Ames Branch Ambassador

Full-time material handler

Gaila defines balance as having enough time to do hobbies that keep you relaxed and sane without neglecting housework or other commitments in the process. Gaila is a full-time working mom who often works overtime. She says that work is the most difficult part of finding balance. “It isn’t really an option for me to stop working, but, man, it puts a dent in the available hours during the week!”

Though super busy, finding time to hike is still a priority. Gaila enjoys getting out in nature. As for her kids, Gaila says, “They need the outside time just as much as I do.” She jokes that she can only find time to hike by taking a shoehorn and brute force to her calendar. She hosts a standing Wednesday afternoon park hike/play and tries to get out for a “hikier” hike most weekends. “Hopefully as the weather warms up and it takes less gear to manage a hike, we will be able to stop for random walks on the way home during the week as well.”

Gaila is enjoying watching her kids grow from “drool-machines, to toddlers, to actual human beings.” For her, it is a joy to watch. She hopes other moms will figure out what they absolutely have to have and make a way to schedule it in. She encourages others to “block it off on the calendar if you have to so you don’t space it off or double-book yourself.”

Whether a stay-at-home mom, work-from-home/self-employed mom or full-time working mom, it is easy to see that all of us moms are shouldering quite the load. It is beyond important for us to go easy on ourselves and on each other. Take time for yourself and take time to hike and get outdoors – whether you go alone or with friends. It could make a world of difference.

Enjoy your Mother’s Day, mamas. You deserve it!

Featured photo by Deanna Curry.

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How do you find the motherhood balance in your busy life? How does hiking help you maintain balance? Comment below!

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