Working mothers have it anything but easy— dropping a kid off at daycare, taking another for soccer practice, handling house chores and running errands, planning dinner or that upcoming meeting; the list really is endless! Some single parents are supermoms with two jobs trying to keep it all together because they’re saving for college tuition or retirement. Sometimes, all of it can be excruciatingly difficult which is why we’re here to save you with some survival tips!
THE ANSWER LIES IN ORGANIZING
All your problems… okay most of them, will solve themselves if you learn to organize. Buy yourself a planner. Make to-do lists, one for home and one for work. This will give you a heads up on the amount of things that need your attention; you will manage your time more efficiently and accomplish your goals much faster. Making a daily planner online and sharing it with your family will keep everyone’s tasks in check.
Meal-prep for the upcoming week, or always cook the night before. All you’ll have to do post work is pre-heat the meal. No more— wasting-time-deciding-what-to- cook-only-to-order-takeout!
Make sure everything is available and ready to go for the next morning– Clothes ironed, backpacks set by the door, cereal on the counter. Trust me when I say that this will save you a ton of hassling.
DELEGATION IS IMPORTANT
It’s essential to manage but micro-managing every little task will put you on the losing side of things. At work, learn to delegate tasks that don’t necessarily require your assistance and can be potentially carried out by someone else. When a colleague asks for your help but you already have a lot on your plate, be assertive and say no. Don’t feel guilty for not always being able to assist your team. Practice delegation at home too; sit down with your husband and divide chores equitably. Although this may not be a problem in most households, if you’re dealing with a hesitant husband you must learn to put your foot down.
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO BE RESPONSIBLE
Grab them young! 2-3 year olds can pick their toys and books up, or set tablemates for dinner. 3-5 year olds can set the table; help pile up clean clothes to fold, help with grocery shopping or putting things away. 6-8 year olds can water the garden/plants, feed and fill the water bowl for the pet, wipe down benches, or take out the trash. Assign your kids do-able tasks as and when they grow up. This will teach them the importance of cleanliness, organization and make them glad about helping you out.
If you don’t own a pet, consider having one. Growing up with a pet naturally teaches children compassion, commitment and responsibility. Bonus is that they will get their fair share of play and exercise even when you aren’t around.
BUILD A COMMUNITY
Observe other moms at your workplace; they can be a great source for information on the daily struggle of parenthood. Having a community with other working moms will give you a network of support to rely on because they can relate to your situation. Live near your parents so they can help you out, especially if you’re a single parent. If you have a nanny, appreciate her and pay her well for giving in the extra time or putting in tremendous effort.
Make sure you have at least 3 contacts to rely on in case of emergencies. These can be your friends, family, neighbor, or someone from your mom network that you trust. Basically, they must be people who will drop anything at a moment’s notice to have your back.
LAY GROUND RULES AT WORK
Know your options at work. Have a conversation with your boss about your priorities and commitment to your family, and work out a compromise. The sooner you do this the more flexible you will be. Let your boss know that you absolutely cannot miss out on school events, and need to leave work at a reasonable hour because you’ve got responsibilities. Find out if you can cash in on the opportunity of working from home on certain days. However, ensure that you don’t undermine your boss’ expectations of you. Perform better, ace that presentation, show up on a Saturday now and then surprising your co-workers.
Being a working mom, effective time managing skills may most likely come naturally to you. You are bound to decide on a choice that saves time and provides convenience. But this may get in the way of you wanting to be available to your kids in a fulfilling way. Taking your kids to the mall may be convenient but it will barely give you an opportunity to bond with them. Choose activities where you’re able to spend quality time with your kids. Get to know them better over a boat ride, or feed the ducks in the park after a little picnic. Your child will not remember another day at the mall but will likely look back at the memory of a special picnic. As Barbara Johnson rightly said—“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today”.
KEEP A JOURNAL
Keep a gratitude journal. While most people keep a journal to process anger, grief or just rave, reading your own entries from a gratitude journal may provide all the inspiration that you need to keep going when times get tough. This way you will also bond with yourself while strengthening your spirit from within. For this, however, you need to feel gratitude as much as write about it, and to do that, you must take care of yourself. Don’t neglect your needs because of busy schedules and perpetual demands. Indulge in self-care— wake up before everyone else and enjoy a good read with a hot beverage, add some essential oils to your bath and relax a little longer, or indulge in activities you love like pottery or even knitting. These little breaks will replenish you and keep the positivity flowing.
The best way to balance being a mother, worker and yourself is to trust your intuition and let it lay the path. Acknowledge that your multiple roles don’t make you different beings and that you’re the expert when it comes to your kids as you’re constantly trying to keep up with them. Know that it won’t last forever; they’re bound to evolve into beautiful beings faster than you know it. Your job is to be there, guide them, and love them. Happy Parenting!