This post is coming from my personal reality as a full time working mom. I’ve just had baby #3, and am going back to work on Monday after a maternity leave that sped by waaaay too quickly. In addition to working full time, I also have a growing family to be with, a home to take care of, and a bunch of side projects going on – house hunting, freelancing and blogging to name a few. I can’t drop any of these right now for one reason or another, so I have to make it all work.
I’m not complaining. I actually consider myself very lucky. I love my husband and kids. I also love my job, which makes it easier to be a full time working mom. I love the fact that my husband is home with the kids, so I know they’re in the best hands while I’m gone.
But, I am being realistic. My life is crazy right now. I know there are many other moms out there in similar situations – maybe even busier ones. My heart reaches out to all of you – hang in there, mamas! So, I thought I’d share a few strategies that have helped me stay sane and make things work. Hopefully they can make your lives easier too.
2. Set aside specific times to be with your kids. Don’t let ANYTHING get in the way of these times. My kids know that when I get home from work, I’m going to put my things down, talk to my husband for a few minutes, and then BE WITH THEM until it’s their bedtime. They count on having this 2-3 hours of undivided attention each day. They get to choose what we do during that time; they look forward to it. I’ve noticed that whenever they have that time with me, it doesn’t faze them in the least that I’m gone the rest of the day. But when something prevents me from being with them during that time, they feel my absence much more. So being with them for that time after I come home from work really is a top priority for me, even if it means that a lot of other stuff gets put on the back burner.
3. Shop online whenever possible. Getting stuff delivered to your door instead of running around to find it saves a lot of time. Precious time that you can use to play an extra game with your kids, have a good conversation with your husband, get in a little relaxation, or attend to that mess that really can’t wait any longer.
4. Lower your expectations. No matter how awesome we are, we’re not superwoman. Since it’s impossible to do everything, the best thing to do is carefully choose what’s going to get left undone. This means lowering our own expectations and accepting the fact that our home might not always look as pristine as we want it to, our meals might not always look like they came out of a five star restaurant, and we might never have time to make all that great stuff we see on Pinterest for our kids. That’s OK. After meeting the responsibilities we have to meet, spending time together and making sure we’re a real presence in our families is most important. At some point, we’ll enter another season in life and be able to focus more on the house. It can wait. Our families can’t.
5. Communicate with your spouse. I think this one is key. Since getting everything done is going to be impossible, communicating with your spouse about what you can and can’t do, and prioritizing together is essential. It not only enables you to maximize your capacity as a team, but can also help you stay on the same page. Of course they’ll be give and take on both sides, but talking about what’s most important to each of you can help you develop systems and priorities that the meet both your needs.
6. Take time for God. Don’t let that one fall through the cracks. It might only be a few minutes, but find the time to stay connected in.
7. Get a wardrobe that takes care of itself. Seriously – avoid white shirts or things that stain easily, and get stuff that doesn’t have to be ironed, at least not too frequently. It might not seem like that big a deal, but it really does save time.
8. Accept help when it’s offered, and ask for help when you really need it. You’re trying to do a lot. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t always get it all done and accepting help to make your day, or your family’s day a little easier.
9. Set aside a little time to relax. This can be tough (at least I know it is for me!), because there’s so much else that seems urgent and important. But finding time to relax really is important too. It’s physically and emotionally refreshing and can help us stay optimistic, keep our sense of humor and avoid getting too rundown.
10. Stock up on groceries once a month. Instead of running out whenever you need something, plan your meals in advance and make a monthly shopping list. Head out, purchase things in bulk so you don’t run out too soon. Maybe you’ll have to make quick runs for fresh produce, but you’ll save a lot of time by cutting down on the number of shopping trips you have to make each month.
ENJOY this time of life. Sure it has its challenges, but it’s full of goodness too. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop to count your blessings. Think of WHY you’re doing all the things you’re doing. Take time to breath and find the beauty in life and the world around you. And remember that, for many people, YOU are part of the beauty in the world around them.