Being a working mom is challenging. I always laugh when people question how I have it all together or how I do it all. The truth is, I don’t. And neither will you. But, that is 100% okay.
We are never going to be perfect. We are never going to have every piece of the puzzle all the time. But here is a secret, we wouldn't have it perfect or every piece of the puzzle all the time if we were stay at home moms either. The key is simplify wherever and whenever possible. Cut out things you don't want or need.
The truth is parenting is hard. It comes with loads of challenges. We all make mistakes. We all forget things. I have some great stories about when I have messed up. Just ask my 5-year-old about Dr. Seuss week when I got the days mixed up last year. I didn’t read the fine print and she was the only kid “Wacky” for Wednesday. Not my finest moment.
But I apologized and picked myself up and tried again. There are life hacks that can help us get better at managing our time. At the end of the day the most important thing is that our child is loved and safe. Everything else is just a bonus.
But to be a successful working mom, calendars and planners are your friend. Period. Check out my Managing a Busy Family Schedule blog. It will get you organized and on track in no time.
When you are ready for the next steps, you can attack life in three separate ways. Looking at the big, overarching organizational items, weekly items and then there is the day-to-day life stuff.
The Big Stuff
Some of those big organizational items include being up to date for events at daycare and school. Often there are some events that happen every year. Ask early so you can plan and this will allow you to do your best to be present.
Do you plan to volunteer? You need to find out what your school or daycare requires for clearances. What is the process? Time frame? Etc. It is better to find this out when you have time to take care of it and not at the last minute.
Will your child be doing any afterschool, evening, or weekend activities? Which ones? What fits best into your life? Is earlier in the afternoon or the evening better? Don’t just sign them up for something without really planning how it will change your schedule. It is okay to say no if it is going to disrupt the family dynamic too much.
Then you have your weekly plans such as meals, clothes, etc. Meal prepping and planning can make a big difference in your week. Meal planning for a week to two weeks at a time will also improve your grocery budget and provide you more free time. I would love to say that we are always eating healthy, home cooked meals. But honestly, I throw in a few easy meal ideas each week on those busier evenings for my sanity.
Grocery pickup is a must. I honestly do not have time to wander around a store with 3 kids looking for where they moved the ketchup this week. This not only saves me time but allows me more time at home with my kids.
I sit down with my meal planner and make my grocery list. I often do this on my lunch at work or early in the morning over coffee. I plug everything into my grocery apps (I use 3 different grocery stores based on what I need) and then schedule them for Thursdays on my way to gymnastics. I can pick up at daycare and school, hit at least two grocery stores and still drop my oldest off at gymnastics on time. I always plan store stops and errands in the time I have in between kid activities. It is a great use of time and affords me more downtime later at home.
Meal prepping is another way to add more time to your weeknights. I take a few hours on Sunday and prepare meals for the first few days of the week. I am also extremely lucky that my husband likes to cook. Not only does he like it, but he may be better at it than me. So, he helps cook during the week as well.
During the week I try to do a load a day to stay up on it. On weekends I make sure what is left is all done by the end of the weekend. My week starts off best if the laundry is done and clothes are picked out for the week. I usually have about 7 outfits selected for the week for myself. Partly because I sometimes change my mind, the weather isn’t cooperating, or because I had a baby with reflux. I also have the kids’ clothes picked out as well.
Then there is the day-to-day stuff to help be prepared for life’s unexpected moments. I always have extra items in my car. Baby wipes, sunscreen, first aid kit, extra clothes, etc. I even had extra work clothes for me in case someone spit up on my way to work.
Anything you can do the night before, do. Don’t put items off until the morning. You can’t predict how you or your children will sleep, the weather, etc. But you can be prepared the night before. Clothes out for you and your kids. Lunches packed. Bottles ready to go. Work bag packed. Shoes by the door. Your Alex & Thea Diaper bag packed for the next day. One great thing about your Alex & Thea Diaper bag is that you actually need less items in your car since it can transform into a high chair and a baby changing area. Add in all your accessories (wipe warmer, sound machine, and breast pump) and you are so much more prepared for life’s chaos.
I always sleep better when I know that I am ready for the next day.
Try to balance your cleaning routine. Now that my kids are getting older, I try to involve them in household chores and cleaning. So, we are together and they are learning how to take care of their home.
Clutter makes me absolutely crazy. Occasionally, chores have to be left undone. I need to embrace that sometimes my house is just kind of a disaster. We are busy and some nights the playroom doesn't get cleaned up and the laundry stays in the basket. My grandma often tells me, one day your house will be perfectly clean, but it will be quiet. She is right. Embrace the time with your kids now. Ten more minutes of snuggles or one more story is so much more important.
Communication with your significant other is another key ingredient to success. My husband and I can tell how our house is running based on how much we are communicating. Our back-and-forth balance of who is doing what makes a difference in how our home runs. We both have careers, and we are both parents. There needs to be a healthy balance for us both. It is a team effort to keep this ship afloat.
If you are finding that your partner isn’t as helpful or too much is falling on you, it might be time to have some hard conversations and ask for the support you need. Too often our significant others don’t realize that we need help or even how to help until we are clear and ask.
Whenever possible, leave work at work and be focused at home. This is not always possible. I know this. But giving your kids focused time after work will be good for both of you. They are only little once and that time with them is precious.
Teri Sinnott is a busy wife, mother of 3 girls, teacher, blogger, and certified Life Coach. She utilizes her professional experience and passionate heart to encourage others. Teri provides parenting and life hacks to simplify life and allow parents to focus on what really matters. No stranger to using her voice to create positive change, Teri hosts social media platforms that are centered on inspiration and providing a community of fellowship for women. Visit her at www.christianmomonfire.com