Dear Working Mother,

My son started school this September and so begins the era of the ‘school run’ and ‘after-school activities’ in our house. The added dimension of the school run in addition to the crèche run each morning, leaves me feeling frazzled, before I even get to work.

That’s why career coach Gillian McGrath’s advice this month encouraging us to SOAR, is something that I think I’ll be coming back to, again and again.


Elaine Lawless

The Working Mother

Find the Joy and try to S.O.A.R.!!

It’s not easy being a working parent… actually it’s not easy being a parent full stop, but working outside the home adds another dimension of chaos!

While I  did enjoy the summer, I was looking forward to settling back into the school routine thinking ‘oh the children need it’, but I must admit – I was looking forward to getting back into a routine, too.

However, we are only a month in and already it feels like six months and my life is held hostage to activities such as (do these sound familiar to you?):

  • The school and crèche drop
  • Racing to work
  • Managing the demands of work
  • Racing home
  • School collection
  • Dinner
  • Making lunches
  • Clean Up/ Prepare for the next day

Of course, this does not include laundry, grocery shopping after-school activities, or homework. Neither does it include quality time with my children, my hubby, friends or myself. So how can you do it all when there are just not enough hours in the day?

My advice – try to SOAR.

We all know that life is a whirlwind and goes by in a blink. In the midst of all the coming and going that comes with being a working parent, it’s important to know that life is how you see it… and you get to choose the view.

A good life doesn’t come from resisting the activities on this list above or creating another list to manage it. Rather, it helps if you:

  • STOP – when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, purposely take five, have a cuppa, sit still and take a moment to yourself. When you’re truly still, you leave yourself open to thinking with a clear head, allowing you to reframe or think differently (and sometimes this is all you need to feel at ease).
  • Own your choices – at some point, this path was our ‘game-plan’. We hoped for a family and all the joy that children bring. Some of us also made a decision to work in parallel with raising our children. This is the path we’re on and we can choose for it to be ‘stressful’ or ‘joyful’. Actually, it’s more than a choice, it’s a way of life and sometimes, we do need to work at taking the joy from our day to day… and most of us thankfully, don’t have to look too far.
  • Accept – yes, it’s a busy time… it can be difficult and sometimes draining but this is what we signed up for. If your schedule is too hectic, make changes or ask for help, practice saying no. At very least, try to find a way to make peace with your ‘here and now’. Resisting or stressing will not change a thing – it will only make life harder.
  • Reaffirm and Reassure – choose to take the joy from every day. It isn’t always easy but know that you choose how you experience your life – YOU have the power!

So, next time that you’re running from the school gate to work or, in work rushing from a meeting to the canteen, think “SOAR”. At the very least, STOP. Breathe. Reframe.

Enjoy your little ones, enjoy being a working mom or dad and take joy in the activities that ‘need doing’! Choose to embrace the path you’re on and by making this mental shift, the real joy will come!

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. For more information, contact her directly at