Posted by Duff

workingmom.jpg working mom picture by duffoliver

We’re all working moms, of course.  A great big high five to all of us for doing our best at the most important job we’ll ever take on.

But today I’m talking about the challenges faced by moms who work outside the home and/or away from their kid(s). Specifically, how to make it outside your home and/or away from your kid(s) so you can report to your other boss on time. And how, with some practice, you can find a little time for your family. And oh, yeah. Yourself. Eventually.

 The tips below may make your morning routine easier. Especially if you have a kid who likes to play independently. But if you don’t have that kid, and I don’t, you do what you have to do to make it work. Kids can survive whining long enough for you to apply deoderant (even if your ears bleed while doing so). Your co-workers will appreciate it.

Disclaimer: I’m glad none of you witness me putting the following tips into practice, because then you’d know what a frazzled imposter I really am.

So:

Prep as much as you can the night before. Wash, fill and refrigerate bottles, pack up leftovers from dinner or whatever your child is currently willing to eat, more diapers, etc. Multi-task and catch up on your music, tv shows, and phone calls. And before you go to bed, pick out clothes for yourself and your child so you’re not victim to a frenetic morning fashion show.

While doing the above, throw in a load of laundry. Doing this during the week means you get some of your weekend back.

Shower at night. I know not everyone will take me up on this. And it takes some getting used to. I’m just saying that sometimes, your little one will wake before the birds, and then you’re SOL shower-wise.

*It probably seems like you won’t have time to manage the three above suggestions and have any time leftover for yourself. I am suprised to report it’s possible.

A trip to the bathroom is an opportunity. Need to pee or brush your teeth? You can wipe down the sink or clean the toilet in under a minute. And since you’re already eked out the time, stay put and read a few pages of your book. I won’t tell anyone.

Get up 30 minutes before your Dervish. Obviously this only works if yours keeps a steady schedule. I know sleep is priceless, but better to get a jump on things than awaken via the fire alarm method. (Get up, I am!). You might even get a quiet cup of coffee and look presentable when leaving the house.

If your child self-feeds in a high chair, make the most of this time.  Load or unload the dishwasher, fold the re-spun laundry from the night before or eat something yourself before leaving the house (other drivers will thank you for this one).

Go easy on yourself. You probably aren’t cooking too much from scratch these days. If you don’t have a cleaning service, you may not know the last time your house was dusted or the windows were cleaned. Guess what? Your kid forgives you. Now forgive yourself. People (most importantly, your child) will be more likely to notice if you appear sane than if your house passes the white glove test. I can pretty much guarantee that in your final days, you won’t wish your house had been cleaner in the past.

Your lunch break belongs to you. Use it. Read. Talk a walk. Taste your food. Whatever. Use it or lose it. Why not bask in the glow of your alone time?

You can (and will) get a handle on it. It just takes a little time to adjust to a new schedule. I recommend finding a place for everything you need quick access to vs. things that you rarely use and can be stored to eliminate clutter (read: stress), set Outlook reminders for billpaying and non-work appointments if your brain is swiss cheese like mine (yet I still remember the words to most sitcoms from my childhood. Go figure.).

Enlist your spouse. It’s not all up to you to get everything done, and he’ll be reminded of why he loves you more often if you are less stressed and shrill. Don’t expect that he knows when and where to step in, especially if it seems like you run the house like a well-oiled machine. Ask. for. help. Don’t make me say it again. The assumptive approach can eliminate what is often perceived by male ears as nagging (i.e. “Hon, do you want to do the dishes or give the Dervish a bath? Husband’s choice, and we’ll meet up later for a glass of wine.”)

Say Thank You. To anyone who helps you, your husband, your child’s caregivers, your child when s/he is big enough to start trying to help. The thanked remember being appreciated and take on their roles with more enthusiasm. And the more your kid hears you say thank you, the more likely s/he is to say it one day, too. You’ll be influencing manners even when you’re not around.

Have sacred family time. Meaning time together that everyone can count on – nothing special, just time together to reconnect.

I’m sure there is a ton of great advice out there. Weigh in, ladies!

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