How to Create Work Life Balance As a Mom According to a Full-Time City Councilor
There is one struggle that seems to cross the boundaries of all forms of motherhood. Whether mothering a baby or a teen, and whether staying at home or working outside the home full time, the consistent challenge for all moms is time. There never seems to be enough of it.
Fortunately, there are moms out there finding a way to balance their time and proving to us all that work life balance doesn’t have to be a myth. At-Large City Councilor, Annissa Essaibi-George is one of four members of the Boston City Council that represents the entire City. She also happens to own a small business. Plus Annissa has four teenagers: Douglas, age 15, and triplets Kayden, Samir, and Charlie, age 13.
Annissa Essaibi-George is a woman on a mission, and she takes time management very seriously. As the Chair of the Committee on Education, she represents the voices of families, students, and teachers within the Boston Public Schools system. Annissa is also Chair of the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health, and Recovery.
While her office is located at City Hall, Councilor Essaibi-George spends a large portion of her time out in the district to meet with constituents and/or partner organizations in her work. In order to serve her community to the best of her ability and handle the demands of having four boys, Annissa knows the importance of time management and scheduling. These things are absolutely essential to balancing her many responsibilities as a City Councilor and her personal life as a mom and small business owner.
Her trick to managing it all? Calendars.
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So how does she do it all, and what specific time-management tools does she use?
Setting priorities in both her personal and professional life, and having everything logged in an online calendar is essential for this busy mom. Annissa’s schedule is maintained using Google Calendar with five separate calendars.
TIP: For all of the moms out there working with only a single static calendar, try utilizing multiple online calendars that can be merged and accessed by the most important people in your life.
Not only do Annissa and her team maintain multiple online calendars, they also have a system of prioritizing the calendars. The list below represents the order of priority for Councilor Essaibi-George’s calendars:
- an official calendar which serves as her primary schedule,
- a calendar titled “George Kids” for all of her children’s activities, school meetings, and sports meetings,
- a calendar with regular civic and community meetings,
- an FYI/and special events calendar,
- a public calendar to provide her constituents with a record of her day.
TIP: Prioritize both the areas of your personal and professional life and the events that occur within them. Without setting an order of priorities, your schedule can overwhelm you.
Here is a quick glimpse into what Annissa's calendar looks like on a weekly basis. Whoa!
What is unique about motherhood and balancing it with a demanding professional life?
Motherhood can enhance our ability to understand the importance of making sure everyone has a voice and is heard. Annissa was inspired to run for office because she represents many communities across the City, and she believed their voices needed to be included in municipal office. Her experience as a mother of four boys in Boston Public Schools, a teacher, a small business owner, a former civic association president, and a former Main Street manager informs every decision she makes as City Councilor.
As mothers, we are used to wearing many hats and to meeting the needs of many. This is a key aspect of living a life of public service and for focusing on time management and balance.
Councilor Essaibi-George believes maintaining active engagement with the communities she represents and their voices is critical to her ability to be an effective leader and to accurately represent their concerns in City Hall. Throughout the Council, Annissa is distinguished by her ability to be everywhere and that skill is intimately linked with raising four teenage boys.
TIP: Use the skills you’ve acquired through motherhood of wearing many hats while also prioritizing the needs of your children to do your job efficiently and to set clear goals with your time management efforts.
To truly find balance with personal and professional life, moms need to not only set clear priorities, but also to make sure they are known and respected by those around them. With a high pressure and public facing career, Annissa sets clear priorities and articulates them to the people around her.
For example, every morning she drives her children to school, a practice she started her first year in office. In addition, she automatically schedules her vacation time to align with the school calendar to ensure quality time with her family.
Setting these standards well in advance allows her staff and her colleagues to have accurate expectations about her long-term calendar. She blocks off regular and repeating meetings every week with her staff and advisors to ensure consistency and to keep up with her work.
Tip: Make your priorities and time-related goals known to those around you.
How do you allow room for flexibility in your schedule?
Flexibility is key in finding balance. As a mother and a former public school teacher, Annissa developed the ability to efficiently prioritize her day while also remaining flexible to unexpected changes and developments. Living life with teenage boys, she knows that anything can happen throughout the day and has learned how to adjust accordingly. At home, Annissa is supported by her husband, her two sisters, and her mother. Her strong support system has taught the value of building a strong team and the importance of delegating tasks. In City Council, she has a staff of four women and uses those values to establish strong lines of communication.
Tip: Always remain flexible, and have a support team in place to help you.
Is work life balance simply a myth?
With the consistent practice of planning ahead and relying on a visible and accessible calendar, work life balance doesn’t have to be a myth. Annissa does not believe that work life balance is a myth because they naturally intersect, especially in her line of work.
As a City Councilor, Annissa spends her day focused on improving the quality of life for the residents of Boston, herself and her family included. More importantly, her experience as a mom informs her work and makes her a better City Councilor. Her fight to make sure every Boston Public School had a full time nurse was driven in part by being a mother to four students in the district. For Annissa, work life balance is all about being passionate about both her job and her family.
Time management and self care are an important part of motherhood and developing a healthy work life balance. Here are the Best Self Care Practices for Busy Moms.
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