How Does She Do It? Tips on How to Get it All Done as a Working Mother
A couple of weeks before returning to work after maternity leave, I searched the internet for articles that would guide me on how to balance it all. I needed the secret behind how to be a full time hands on mommy with a 40 hour work week. I found some good tips but t I realized that there was a collective struggle to find that elusive balance. Now almost three years from the time I searched for those tips in preparation to return, I share what I have learned as well as my struggles. Maybe I will help a new mom during those late night feeding hours searching for tips on how to handle it all.
Top Lessons Learned:
- There is no balance. Throw that idea out with the dirty diapers right now. Lifestyle coaches are even shunning the idea these days. If you constantly search for work life balance, you will be consistently disappointed as you will never truly find it.
- Instead of balance, aim for flow. Everything in life has a give and take. Even before children, I am sure you had moments where some items in your life received more focus than others. Now, my child takes top priority over anything but I still have to do some give and take in my life as well.
- I am a different employee now. I work faster. I have always heard parents are some of the best employees. It is true…I have motivation to get it done so my focus is on my family when I am not at work. I am more efficient. I don’t stay late and I don’t arrive a moment before I have to be at work. My commitment has not faltered but it looks different. I work differently and dare I say, get just as much done.
Use Your Time Wisely!
- Power Lunch Hours. I will often eat at my desk while working so I can make a fast trip to the grocery store or pay a bill. I have even used my lunch hour to run home for a quick cleaning session while no one is in the house. These hours add up to give me more quality time in the evening.
- Exercise is so important. Gone are the days (at least for me) reserved for long evening work outs. I sneak in a few minutes of a walk break in the mornings and afternoons at work. Some days, I will do a yoga class at lunch. However, the way I get most of my exercise these days is playing hard with my child after work. He is my little three foot tall fitness coach and his favorite activity is to “run fast.”
- Date days. Dates are rare but so important. While you can’t always get a babysitter, you can find times to have moments to connect. Buckner is a night owl so late night wine and chat sessions are limited because we usually pass out with him. Our go-to dates these days include leaving early for a breakfast date or a special lunch during the week. You have to get creative!
- Sometimes you just need a day. Obviously I stretch my lunch hours during the week as far as they will go but you still can only do so much in 60 or 70 minutes. When I am feeling my most overwhelmed, I take a day off to organize and clean while Buckner is at daycare. The result is a very clean home and a happy mama for a couple of weeks. Very worth the use of vacation time!
- Early wake up calls. I wake up at 5:00 am. Before everyone wakes up, I unload the dishwasher. I know that if I walk into a messy kitchen at the end of the day I will instantly be in a bad mood. I sleepily unload it. To make the task more bearable I try to remember to thank God for the reason we have so many dishes….a little one to feed and tons of food to eat! Next, I do my make up and hair before the rest of the house wakes up. By 6:30 I am ready to snuggle with my little man while he drinks milk and watches cartoons. Mornings have always been precious to us since he was born. I am savoring every moment of that precious time.
- Rarely ever iron. I have more clothes than I wear but they need to be ironed…that is a nice idea.
- No work e-mail and limited technology at night. Family time is too precious to be distracted. Savor every moment of it.
- Evening and weekend time is special and protected. It is not the season in my life to say yes to a lot of extra activities. Right now, my focus is on my family.
You have to make adjustments through the many different phases of the early years of your child’s life. This is what works for me now. What are some of your suggestions?