Tips for thriving as an active duty military mom

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Amy Momber
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Staff Judge Advocate
You've had a good day. Before most people even got out of bed, you packed three healthy lunches (or, at least, mostly healthy lunches), one for you and two for your kids, found two hats for the school's "funny hat" school spirit day, signed up for parent volunteer activities you could do at home; and got your kids to school and yourself to work on time.

At work, you passed your fitness assessment, got your boss' final approval on that seemingly never-ending task you've been working on, and received positive recognition from your supervisor for an innovative tool you developed to make your section more efficient and customer friendly.

How did you strike this "sweet spot" of balance between motherhood and military service? Or, perhaps an even better question is, how do you continue to do it successfully, day after day, for 20 years or more?

Here are some strategies I have seen work. Hopefully, you will find at least one new tip or, if not, an affirmation of strategies you are already employing to be a success.

1. Have a plan.
However, expect the unexpected and be ready to go to Plan B, Plan C, etc. What will you do if your child gets sick? How will you handle the need to work extended hours, especially when the need arises unexpectedly?

2. Communicate clearly and accept your limitations.
Ensure you set reasonable expectations with your family and explain work commitments to try to minimize disappointments. It is likely that you will not be able to participate in every single activity your child is involved in, but always try to come up with creative solutions. You can often make arrangements to participate in those events that matter the most, especially if you provide your leadership and colleagues ample notice.

3. Know and use your resources.
Don't be afraid to ask for or arrange help when you need it. Other moms, friends, family and the Child Development Center, among others, are there to help.

4. Cut yourself some slack.
Don't compare yourself to other moms. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to motherhood. When things don't go as expected, utilize the resiliency tools discussed during Wingman Day this past Friday (e.g., slow down) to bounce back. Even if things do go as planned, make time for yourself. Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever!

5. Try to become a "time management blackbelt" and "be all that you can be."
Set priorities based on importance and urgency. You are undoubtedly pulled in many different directions at once. However, once you have chosen the direction you are going to take at that point in time, fully engage and immerse yourself in that moment. Your boss and your family will know if you are "all in" so don't waste the opportunity to give it all you've got, no matter what it is.

The active duty military moms I have admired most in my career seem to have mastered most, if not all, of these strategies. While these strategies may not solve every challenge that confronts you, I offer them to you as a great starting point. Thank you for all you do and happy (belated) Mother's Day!