a working mom's guide to surviving the week.
Ever since I started back to work after Adeline was born life has been one big variety show. With nearly 10 hours of my day devoted to work (working, lunch hour, and commute times) and an hour beforehand prepping for it (getting showered & dressed, packing lunch, getting the kids dressed, pumping & prepping Adeline’s bottles) there isn’t much time to spend with my kids, let alone attend to the drudgery of keeping a home. Whatever your reason might be for working, financial or career satisfaction (in my case I want to keep my company's health insurance) the bottom line is: being a working mom is HARD. There’s just no way around it, and a large part of me wishes I could just stay home. But like many moms out there, working mom life is what my life if right now. I thought I would share some tips on how I squeeze it all in (on the days I am incredibly productive; I slip many days, I am human after all!).
In order to make it all work, there are a few things I try to accomplish or keep in mind throughout the week:
-Figure out the priorities: The priorities are simple: make sure everyone is clothed, make sure everyone is fed, make sure the bills are paid, make sure we get to work on time. But what else? Quite frankly, staying on top of the laundry, keeping the kitchen clean, keeping the household clutter at bay, getting the kids bathed, and potty training are our other daily priorities that must be attended to in order to streamline our scheduled. With that I try to squeeze in some laundry and empty the dishes every day, even if I am so drag-down tired. Letting it go for just one day makes it all infinitely harder the next. Let's not also forget: spend time with our children. They are the reason we make this busy lifestyle work, after all.
-Set an additional goal or two: What else would I life to get done? Shower, exercise, make the bed? Make a list of a few simple things that aren't absolute priorities but things you would truly like to accomplish, and set them into your daily routine. While I might not have time to shower every day, shaving my legs daily and starting off fresh really do make a big impact: I'm more likely to accomplish everything else.
-Routine, routine, routine: I don't know about your kids, but in the hours after arriving home for the day my kids turn into banshees. They are tired and hungry, whining to their witching-hour heart's content; my husband and I are physically worn down & brain-dead, counting the minutes until bedtime. Once bedtime hits, I begin missing my kids and wishing I hadn’t yelled at them so much! The biggest key to surviving a work week is to have a routine & stick to it; your kids know what to expect (they thrive on routine, after all), and you’re more likely to keep your daily to-dos in check.
-Meal planning and prep: The concept isn’t new but for a working mom, it is imperative! There are countless blogs out there devoted to meal planning and the whys, hows, and whens. Devoting a Sunday afternoon to prepacking lunches and prepping your dinners as much as possible eliminates the stress in the morning and the guess work in the evenings. I try to post my dinner plans out on the fridge so my husband knows what we are having, that way he is less likely to ask if we can hit the drive-thru on the way home. It’s a cost-saving mechanism as well; saving money on eating out during the week ensure you will eat healthier, and also means you can feel free to have a nicer eat-out meal on the weekends (date night, anyone?).
-Utilize coffee breaks or lunch hours for personal business: On my breaks, I really just want to scroll through Instagram and space out while I am hooked up to the pump, but coffee breaks are perfect for handling phone calls and personal business. I usually tuck any mail I need to look at into my purse for the next day and address it at 10 am after I hit the coffee machine. My husband pays a few bills electronically on his lunch breaks and balances our budget; I make appointments and call the insurance company with questions (yes, I do make phone calls while I am pumping!). We divide the work and take care of these types of things during the day, so our attention is on other things at night.
-Use the small moments: If there is one tip out there that is the most helpful, it’s this one. Do small tasks often, whenever you can fill them in. Empty the bathroom trash while you’re getting ready for the day and put it in the outside trash while the kids are climbing in the car. Empty the top drawer of the dish washer while the kids are eating breakfast. Wipe the kitchen counter up while you’re prepping dinner. Put all the dirty clothes from the day in the hamper while the kids are in the bathtub. The best way to avoid spending an hour cleaning up after the kids go to bed is to clean up while you’re attending to other tasks; in the end you have more time for something else and your kids see you being proactive, too. It’s a good lesson for them.
-Save big projects for the weekend: I have a tendency to pull out projects during the week just hoping to make a little progress in the nine-o-clock hour, but really, that’s the worst time to work on a big project. For instance, I am working on painting some pine boards and hanging them up in my bathroom as shelving, and I have been painting them in the evening. It’s not the best use of time, because inevitably, I end up spending more time than I mean to in the evening, and either end up skipping another task that is more important (like folding laundry) or going to bed too late and messing up the flow of the next day because I am more sleep deprived than I should be (because every mom out there, working or not, is sleep deprived. There is no reason to add fuel to that fire!). Work on these projects when you have time to breathe, and get your kids involved! As much as I prefer to paint or hang a shelf while my kids are asleep, it can be some good quality time with my kids. They can hold the screw driver for me and watch me care for our home and serve our family. Another good lesson! It’s all about finding teachable moments, my friends.
-Practice a little self-care: I know, I know. It’s said often, and is the most unrealistic. I think any mom, working or not, has a hard time making time for herself, and at times it feels downright impossible. I think the best thing I have done for myself is to make sure I take a shower every day. I hear many stay at home moms say they have a hard time fitting this little thing in but in truth, it is just as hard for a working mom to find time too. Inevitably taking a shower means waking up SUPER early, and usually I end up waking one kid (or all) in the process. As I stated above though, taking a quick fifteen minutes to shower really does allow me more energy to tackle the day, and there is plenty to tackle, am I right?
What are your tips for surviving a work week?