This list was compiled by my friend, S.G. in response to a parent who was struggling with how to make the morning and evenings run smoother with her young kids since having recently returned to the workforce. After I read it, I realized that this list will work for ANY parent or EVERY parent who has 1 child or 5 children and is trying to juggle family, work, & life. Of course I HAD to add my own 2 cent worth in red. Enjoy.
1) DROP THE GUILT
Do NOT feel guilty if you have decided to go back to work (or you are volunteering or doing anything else that takes you out of the home for any extended period of time). Its useless and it just takes enjoyment away from the good times and adds stress to the bad ones. You’d have the good and bad times even if you didn’t work.
Guilt is an indulgence. Either Quit or LOVE YOUR LIFE. That’s it. Regret is a waste – in so many ways and it teaches the children to live with regret – and you don’t want that to be your legacy.
2) DOWNSIZE IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
Give up some of the things you are trying to do during those 2 hours in the morning or two hours in the evening. Some things you do just because you’ve always done them, not because they are vital to you or your family (gifts don’t need beautifully tied ribbon, dessert doesn’t have to be homemade, car doesn’t need to be waxed, dinner can be healthy even if it consists of only one item) and you can lower your standards if you feel comfortable doing so (beds don’t HAVE to be made, pants don’t HAVE to be ironed, it’s ok if the garbage actually threatens to overflow before you take it out).
Oh you work that downsize girl. Remember what is important in your life, and that your kids only care about a few thing – food, sleep and being with mom and dad. So focus on that. As my friend Cindy Pierce says, lower the bar and your life will become infinitely more satisfying, easy and fun.
3) INTEGRATION OF WORK AND PLAY
Let your work and home time intermingle. This won’t work for all jobs/Moms. But sometimes I do ‘personal’ things at work and sometimes I do work things after kids go to bed.
4) BALANCE BY DESIGN
As much as you can, (yea I know you’re laughing at me as you think of your 1 year old) let your time with the kids be the exact same time that you’re trying to get stuff done (ie involve them as much as possible). It’ll slow down the work, but it’ll be ‘connect’ and ‘capable’ and ‘count’ time with the kids.
I couldn’t agree more. And if you start now, this will become the way you connect with your kids for the rest of their lives. You are creating a LIFESTYLE. Not just learning to raise kids and juggle a career. This is your LIFE. Design It.
5) TAP INTO YOUR ASSETS
Remember it takes a village to raise a child. If you have family that can help, let them, carpool with another family, or hire a mother’s helper once or twice a week until you feel like you can handle more on your own (or keep them just cause). The benefit is that your kids will get other people in their lives that love them and you get a bit of sanity.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Believe it or not, I BORROW little kids to play with, shop with, bake with now that my kids are grown and gone. I loved my own kids so much when they were home, that I am recreating this experience and I would think there must be folks in your life that would love to steal your kids for a few hours. You are not imposing, I promise you. So ask.
6) HAPPY MOMMIES
Do make a small bit of time for yourself – alone or with friends – so you don’t melt down during the morning/evening stress.
Always a must. A big must. Even if it is only 30 minutes, it will renew your spirit for hours.
7) CREATE A HEALTHY TRIBE
Talk to other working moms – often. They’re your best support group.
Creating a healthy tribe of women and men of all ages with kids at all stages is imperative. Your healthy tribe will help you keep the drama at a minimum, will renew your spirit when you need it, and will act as a sounding board so you stay…..on track.
8) COOK IN BULK
Make huge batches of food on the weekend (buy a stand up freezer) that you can nuke/reheat during the week.
This is one of my all time favorites and one I used for nearly 10 years with my own kids (5). And here are multiple benefits to this one easy strategy. I cooked every Sunday in front of football (or some other sporting event, but you can do anything while you cook. I happen to LOVE sports). Before long, the kids were in the kitchen cooking with me, or they were watching football with their dad and bonding with him, or they were doing homework. We were all together, the kids learned to cook and to work with me in the kitchen AND we were making food for the week that would simplify our lives. . Now, clearly with very young kids, they will be off playing, but you see how this can become part of your parenting lifestyle. Because you have the food ready in advance, you can also have an after work snack ready to dive into as soon as you walk in the door. This will keep everyone happier and give you time to slow down, connect and then start dinner – which will be much easier as you aren’t trying to come up with it on the go.
9) USE YOUR VACATION CREATIVELY
If your family is “ok” with it and your boss is ok with it, use some of your vacation days to do errands, visit your kids’ schools, or just go home early. Bonus if your work is ok with you taking vacation in 1/4 or 1/2 day increments, go for it, especially when the kids are young.
There you have it. If you are still struggling with morning and after school/work routines, if you are back in the workforce, if your kids are requiring more time and energy from you right now, then let our Top 9 list help guide you towards success.