7 Shortcuts to Create Working Mom Balance
Working and parenting is an epic balancing act. Whoever said we can have it all is crazy. It is nearly impossible to be a great mom and a great employee at the same time. We can be a great mom and a good employee sometimes or a great employee and good mom sometimes, but it is hard to be great at both. Every now and then a ball will drop. The best we can do is hope it wasn’t an important ball.
Between raising kids, work and maintaining a household, it’s no wonder working moms are constantly stressed. Thank goodness for helpful spouses, wine and shortcuts!
If you can’t cut back on work, how do you balance parenting with being a mom? Having a true partner, shortcuts, hacks and letting things go are my modes of survival. Here are my best time savers and hacks that I’ve used during super stressful and busy times.
I will preface all of my shortcuts by saying that I am extremely fortunate to have a spouse who truly does 50% of the work around the house and with the kids, if not more. As someone with an autoimmune condition that goes through fairly frequent flares, my family truly wouldn’t survive without my husband, my equal partner. Hopefully, you have a similar partner in your home, but even if you don’t these shortcuts should help lighten the load.
Eat as well as I can:
I’d love to say, hey, get your 5 servings of vegetables and fruits in every day, but let’s face it, when you’re a busy mom, the easiest food to eat is usually junk food or processed food. When I’m super busy, I try to make sure we’re stocked with portable healthy snacks such as granola bars, string cheese, yogurt, bananas, tangerines and apples. Aside from the yogurt and cheese, I can throw them in my bag or leave them in my car. In general, eating healthy is hard. It is even harder when you’re busy so preparation is key.
Cook in bulk:
It isn’t the most exciting way to eat, but I usually cook two or three large meals at the beginning of the week and we re-heat throughout the week. Pinterest has millions of slow-cooker and casserole options to choose from. I’ll start sharing some of my favorites in coming weeks, but my family’s preferred options are chicken and vegetable casseroles and pasta casseroles.
Sunday or Monday plan:
I once read an article about a woman who keeps her Mondays appointment free so that she could prepare herself for a successful week. Monday doesn’t work for most people who have a full-time job, but for me, Saturday or Sunday evening is a great time to plan for the week.
The key to being a working mom is truly organization. I keep a wall calendar, paper planner and electronic calendar on my phone. For planning, I look at all of them to make sure we are covered for any appointments and activities and that we have a food plan for the nights that are crazy. I also put anything that affects multiple family members on a week in view fridge decal so that my husband knows what is going on and when he needs to be home early.
For example, next week, my oldest son has karate from 6 – 7 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, my youngest has open house at his pre-school on Thursday (we have to bring a main dish) and I fly out of town on Friday, leaving my husband alone with both boys for basketball practice on Friday and a basketball game on Saturday. Next week is going to require a massive amount of pre-planning.
If you are so busy that you are barely getting through the day, making sure the little things continue to run is important, but challenging. Go ahead and put your car maintenance on your calendar ahead of time so that you don’t forget. You know you need an oil change every 3 – 6 months, so put it on your calendar with a reminder to actually schedule it the week before. The last thing you need is an expensive car repair. Are there other things you need to maintain? Think about what needs to be done to keep your life running smoothly and put it on your calendar before you forget – both for you, your home and your kids.
This goes for medical maintenance as well. Put your family’s annual physicals on the calendar with reminders. Do your all need flu shots? Put it on the calendar. Don’t rely on your brain to remember. The less your brain has to remember, the less stress you’ll have and the better you will sleep.
Maximize your work day:
If you have to be in an office for eight hours a day, use your lunch or breaks to get some tasks done. During your weekly planning time, list any appointments you need to make (with phone numbers and any background info), shop for groceries online and do any other task that you don’t need to do in person. If you have your list and all the details ready to go, you can blaze through your list.
If you don’t sit at a desk or don’t work at a computer, you can still take your lunch break to make any calls, set up appointments, etc. You can also shop on Amazon Prime Now from your cell phone.
Find off-hour service providers:
While most doctors only operate from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., there are some doctors, dentists and even medical imaging centers that are open late or on weekends. I once had an MRI at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. Our pediatrician has an after-hours clinic, which allows us to get flu shots on a Saturday, rather than taking time off work during the week. Try to find providers that operate when you have more time so that you don’t need to use all of your time off for routine care.
If there is room in your budget, this is the time to throw money at some of the problems. Hire a cleaning service, pay for grocery delivery, pay for a meal delivery service. Do whatever it takes to take some of the grunt work off your plate so that when you are with your kids, it is quality time, especially if there isn’t a high quantity.
If you can’t outsource (trust me, I get it, we can’t), then learn to lower your standards. I used to be a Type A person who hates clutter. I am still that person, but I would rather play Candyland with my kids than dust the furniture. So, the furniture is dusty and the laundry is clean, but still unfolded in the baskets. My house is so not how I want it to be, but I do what I can when I have the time and energy and choose instead to play with my kids. They probably won’t remember the messy house, but they will remember their parents watching movies with them during family movie night or coloring together during family art night.
You can’t do it all, so finding shortcuts or getting help can help take some of the stress off your plate. How can you find a few extra hours?