Ah, parenting—probably one of the only professions in the world that is equally as demanding as it is rewarding. For the biggest understatement of the year, the modern mom has her work cut out for her. While she’s busy raising the kids, she’s also actively pursuing a career or her own entrepreneurial pursuits. In fact, "breadwinner moms" are on the rise.
According to Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, mothers are the sole or primary provider in four out of 10 households with children. And while change is coming, moms are still spending twice as much time as their male counterparts on household duties such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and caregiving.
So how do moms fit it all into a 24-hour day? Is work/life balance achievable or just a myth with a lot of media hype? What’s the secret to getting the balance right? To find out, we tapped some moms #IRL and asked them the million-dollar question: What is your number one tip for achieving work/life balance? The answers were surprising and inspiring, so grab a pen, read on, and write these down. They could change your life.
Chriselle Lim is a formidable force. Since it launched in 2011, her site, The Chriselle Factor, has transformed the stylist into one of the most influential digital tastemakers, and it's easy to see why. Lim has impeccable taste and enviable style, but it's her business savvy and innovative approach that have garnered fans, both as readers and investors. She already taught us how to ditch the "mommy guilt" and what it takes to manage a thriving business with a baby. Now she shares her advice for balancing family and career.
Lim's Real-Mom Tip: "Accepting and realizing that you cannot do it all and learning how to delegate. I'm a major control freak, but if anything, motherhood has taught me how to let go. Whether it be for your work or personal life, it's crucial to find people who you trust and know can do your job as well as you, if not better. It's not easy finding those people, but they are out there! I also like to have what I call a digital detox, where I shut off my phone on the weekends and disconnect with the rest of the world, but connect with my friends and family in real life."
Even if you haven't heard of the super-polished and talented Monica Rose, you've definitely seen her work. The stylist is the creative behind so many celebrity outfits we love from Chrissy Teigen to Lily Aldridge, with fans hanging on their every accessory. And she does all this with three young children in tow.
Rose's Real-Mom Tip: "Balance is key. I always give 100% of myself to my job, and as soon as I get home, it's 100% family time. With the right support system on both ends of the spectrum, I believe that you can do it all. Just don't be afraid to ask for help."
Between styling celebrity clients for the red carpet (Jessica Alba and Sarah Silverman included), designing a wildly successful collection for PBteen and Pottery Barn Kids, and launching clothing line The Great with her creative partner Meritt Elliott, Emily Current already has her hands full. But she is also a mom to two gorgeous girls, Wallis and Lyle.
Current's Real-Mom Tip: "I try to actively schedule time for the three most important parts of my world: the kids, myself, and my husband. Every day, I try to live by the words of wisdom I received from a friend: 'Keep your heart where your feet are.' This means being in the moment no matter where I am, whether it's at work or home."
When it comes to successful mompreneurs, Marcela Valladolid tops the list. Even with a string of successful cookbooks, her own product line at Safeway, and a family-owned tequila brand, she is also the TV host of Food Network's The Kitchen and a mom of two gorgeous young boys. So what's her secret?
Valladolid's Real-Mom Tip: "Lots of wine! No, but seriously, I think standing my ground, putting my family first, and letting everything else fall into place is the key for me. Instead of focusing so much on how hard you work, focus on how you're going to recharge so you can come back inspired, energized, and, most importantly, happy.
"Cancel what you need to cancel. Pass on what you need to pass on. You only get one shot in this life, and who wants to look back to a bunch of clocked hours and nothing else? It's a balance for sure, but nothing is more important than a family dinner at home with my kids at the table, the fireplace roaring, good music, and a killer glass of wine. Make that a priority at least once a week and you'll succeed at anything.
"For me, I've also found that spending time nourishing the meaningful relationships that surround you is incredibly important. It helps to build that support system that all of us need. Find your tribe, protect it fiercely, and it will protect you."
If you trawl Instagram as much as we do, then you've come across the mind-blowing work of Joyce Bonelli. The Kardashians' makeup artist wields a brush to skin like, well, an artist. Her talent is simply extraordinary. On top of her crazy schedule, she is also a mom of three boys.
Bonelli's Real-Mom Tip: "While I'm at work, I give my all; I'm in the moment. I make sure all my clients feel their best and look their best, as well as making sure everyone is laughing their asses off.
"It's fun, and we're all a family at this point. Our kids hang out, play, or enjoy karate class together while we work, and when I get home, it's all about the family and the kisses and cuddles.
"Then I immediately jump into my son's zone. We started a screamo band two years ago. He hits the drums hard, and I play mini electric guitar. We both scream and sing into the mics on reverb. For some reason, this makes the migraine I had all day go away because it makes me so happy. My boyfriend loves it too.
"The worst part is leaving for work in the morning. It's a daily struggle that breaks my heart. There will always be guilt for what I can't or haven't done because of work, but it's what you do with them while in mommy mode that matters most. I do my best. The only thing you can do is focus, be present, and give your all to whoever you are with at every moment. And smile. And if it's a rough week, put on a matte red lip!”
As the longtime stylist of pop star Miley Cyrus, Nicole Richie, and Christina Aguilera, to name a few, Simone Harouche is, it's safe to say, an industry leader—she's now an interior designer too. The celebrity stylist is also mom to two young children, Azlan and Dash, but she knows what it takes to keep her sanity levels on an even keel.
Harouche's Real-Mom Tip: "Make sure you carve out time for everyone and everything that is important to you. It's very easy to let work take over every waking hour of your life, but I set boundaries. If I'm home from work at 5 p.m., from 5 to 7 p.m., I am with the kids and my phone is down.
"My husband and I also plan a date night with each other a couple times a month, or I make sure to spend a date with just my daughter or just my son. I also set aside some 'me' time to take care of myself, both emotionally and physically. It's very important, whether it be with your husband, your kids, your friends, or even yourself, you have to make time in your schedule for the things that matter. Otherwise, you will go crazy!"
Designer Meritt Elliott knows what it takes to juggle work and life like a carnival performer. She, along with her business partner, Emily Current, founded denim label Current/Elliott and clothing line The Great and is also the creative mind behind a hugely successful PBteen range and Pottery Barn Kids nursery collection. She has some serious interior design nous, too. Oh, and did we mention she's also a celebrity stylist and a mother to two gorgeous girls (with a baby on the way)?
Elliott's Real-Mom Tip: "I'm big on lists! My work to-do list is never-ending, so I make a habit of keeping a fun family to-do list as well. Nothing on it is of importance or urgency, but I make a point of tackling them all nonetheless. While my work list will include meetings, emails, and conference calls, my family list includes planting a garden, making cinnamon rolls, and visiting a new playground."
Want to find out how you can achieve the ultimate work/life balance? Shop our top reads on the topic below:
This story was originally published on April 25, 2016, and has since been updated.