Ah the life of a working mom. Unless you’ve been there, no one can really understand the amount of flaming balls of chaos we keep midair on the average day. We’re like maternal magicians in boot heels. If forced to describe the life of a working mom with school-aged kids or even younger it’d probably go something like this: never enough time. Always feeling ‘stretched.’ Always feeling guilty about not attributing enough energy towards certain areas of our life, and always feeling frustrated over that one plate that keeps on falling. Especially when that ‘plate’ is one of our kids waiting 30 minutes after practice because there was traffic on 91. It never really becomes “easy,” but here are some solids tricks ‘o the trade that make the life of a working mom a little less hectic.
Hack #1: Make Dinners Ahead of Time
My husband works 12 hours a day, barely emerging from his Zoom hole to come up for air. So if you find yourself in the similarly unpleasant boat of speeding home from work every night, transforming into an instant sui chef, consider setting aside one night a week to prep dinner, or even make full dinners ahead of time. This works well for kids that’ll eat meals like chicken pot pie, lasagna, croc pot dinners, etc. but even for things like taco night, cooking the meat and chopping the veggies days in advance makes weeknight dinners much less stressful. Read here for 49 make ahead meal ideas.
Hack #2: Input Life Reminders Into Your Work Calendar
For example, I check my kids’ Powerschool portal once a week on Fridays at 2 p.m. Just like that in the middle of an email the Outlook reminder pops up, and no matter what, I’ll login. Otherwise I’d NEVER remember. Same thing goes for reading school emails ( I mean they’re like novellas at this point, right? “Covid update number 2,321…”) and other administrative things that otherwise have as good a chance as us tending to them as we to treating ourselves to weekly bubble baths.
Hack #3: Plan A Week’s Worth Of Outfits Ahead Of Time
This goes for yourself, the kids, and really everyone but the dog. How many times have we had a near aneurysm searching for matching socks or navigating your daughter’s outfit meltdown while trying not to miss the bus? Took a lot of years of wardrobe Hell for me to finally bite the bullet and legit plan outfits for all three kids ahead of time. Most of us might have to up our weekend laundry game in order to set aside 5 days of clean, non-wrinkled outfits before Monday, but I’m telling ya this is a life changer. If you have a “fashionista” in the making, a.k.a. a six-year-old girl demanding three outfit changes before 8 a.m., nix the habit now… administer bribery if needed.
Hack #4: Make Use Of Your Lunch Hour
Lots of us are working remote these days, but for the in-office moms with an hour lunch break, consider getting creative with that time. Join a nearby gym and cram your workouts into 40 minutes and/or make a Target/grocery store lists and get errands done. Lots of times I’ll use conference rooms to call for doctors appointments, plan birthday parties, make dinner reservations… heck I have a friend that Zooms therapy from her car on lunch once a month. Working moms have to think out of the box more than anyone else I know, which leads to our next hack…
Hack #5: Maximize Your Parking Lot Time
We’ve all been there. Staring at our kid’s sports practice schedule, occurring at the most inconvenient time possible wondering if it’s worth driving home before pick up or just sticking it out in the car. I’ve learned to always charge my laptop and designate work tasks that don’t involve phone calls or high levels of thinking and use that time to bang it out. For moms needing more workout time, Google Earth the area and see if there’s any trails or neighborhoods you can plan jogging in.
Hack #6 Create A Chore List
And really implement it. We had four chore lists in our house before actually buckling down and enforcing our kids’ chores. Sometimes it feels like even more work disciplining/training/enforcing rules in the house but in the end, giving the kids responsibility for true domestic chores benefits everyone, whether they believe it or not. Consider keeping a large white board somewhere visible like the kitchen, enabling kids to continually check off their tasks as they’re done. Assign each child with a weekly chore, like doing the dinner dishes, taking out the trash in all rooms, making lunches themselves, etc. depending on age, so there’s less to think about. Avoid being the ‘martyr mom” doing everything herself and really try to designate as much as possible. Kids actually appreciate feeling valued and “part of the team” despite the inevitable whining. Same goes for your spouse. Obviously assigning chores isn’t Kosher but consider communicating to your husband the areas you need a helping hand in. Maybe making the school lunches, or signing homework…as we all know…the men in our lives aren’t always 100 percent intuitive, and need a little guidance/direction in the area of domesticity.
Hack #7 Plan “You” Time
If one of our over arching goals is to become less burned out and feel more on top of our game, we seriously can’t ignore this one. We all need “us” time. Even if it’s a one-hour Netflix show or a weekly jacuzzi bath, or a five-mile run, don’t let the craziness of life squelch out the things that revive and restore you. It’s SO tempting not to jump on work email and bang out a project or clean the kitchen instead of curling up with that book for an hour, or snuggling with the hubs to a show. We need time alone and many moms yearn to be straight up alone sometimes. Don’t feel bad about it! We’re better moms, spouses and co-workers (and cab drivers) when we feel restored and centered.
For more encouragement on handling mom stress, read “3 Things to Remember if You’re an ‘Imperfect’ Mom.”
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Please leave comments below if you have other time & energy-saving hacks!