A New Normal

Working mothers can find a healthy balance of peace and purpose by practicing minimalism

Written by Alexandra Keegan

Like many people, I spend a good deal of my time doing things I think I “should” do, whether or not they are important to me. I should wear makeup every day; I should do the dishes before I go to bed. The list goes on. In thinking this way, I take on too much or make things harder on myself than I need to. As I adjust to being a working mom and realize that now more than ever, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, it seemed fitting to write about letting go of the “shoulds” — especially once I stumbled across an article at WorkingMother.com titled “8 Ways Minimalist Moms Have This Whole Working Mother Thing Figured Out.”

Minimalism is having a cultural moment. It appeals to me for the same reason it appeals to so many others: When we have less and do less, our lives become simpler and less stressful. We are more present because we aren’t weighed down by our things or our commitments. When you apply the concept of minimalism to life as a working mom, a season that is commonly portrayed as a maelstrom of permission slips, soccer cleats and rushing from one place to the next suddenly becomes purposeful and focused.

“The minimalist working mother doesn’t do it all: She does the things that are important to her and to her family,” writes author Rachel Jonat. “How she spends her time and her money directly aligns with what she values. She knows that time is her most valuable resource, and she spends it wisely at home and at work.”

Jonat’s article got me thinking: What can I let go of that doesn’t serve me? What are the things I do or stress about just because I think that’s the way things are supposed to be done? How do I actually want to spend my time?

For me, the biggest thing to let go of is house perfectionism. My house is never going to be “just so”; that’s not me, and that’s okay. I want my house to be pretty, and I want to enjoy the process of making it so, but it’s always going to look lived in, and there’s always going to be something to fix. I’d much rather spend my Saturday morning going for a run than touching up the paint in the kitchen for the 15th time, and that’s okay.

Another thing new parents are often told they should do is go out on regular, kid-free dates. I’m fairly certain the person who came up with that advice never lived in a beach town during the summer, or through COVID-19, or lived 90 minutes away from most of their family. Something my husband, Dave, and I really enjoy is just hanging out in our family room, catching up and having good conversation over a beer or two after our daughter has been put down for the night.

Like most things, practicing minimalism in our daily lives is easier said than done, but I encourage you to give it a try. Also, think about letting go of those “shoulds” in favor of saying no and making decisions based on how you value spending your time.

Editor’s note: Alexandra Keegan is the former internal communications coordinator at Beebe Healthcare. She is a wife and mom to a spunky 2-year-old. She works part-time as a communications professional, writing articles and blogs for Beebe.