One of the biggest challenges with working full-time while parenting is simply figuring out how to do it all. Who has that kind of time?? I asked a few of my mommy friends for their best tips on taming the insanity and here's what we came up with. Note: these tips work for anyone whether you work or stay at home because let's be honest, if you're a mom, you're already dealing with the chaos. ;)
1. Have A Routine. This one is key. With no routine, you end up running around like a chicken with your head cut off for most of the day. Trust me, I've had practice. Try to prepare as much as possible the night before. For me that means, showering for me and packing daycare bags at night. On the days I don't do this, I always, always, ALWAYS regret it!
2. Have Some Lone Wolf Time. Also known as "me time", but "lone wolf time" sounds more exotic, yes? While being "mommy" may be your primary role in life now, it's certainly not your only one. Be sure to carve out time regularly, no matter how little, to devote to yourself. Maybe that's a pedicure, heading to the gym or meeting some girlfriends for lunch.
3. Don't Forget About Us Time. This is an area where I admittedly struggle. By the time John and I have a moment's peace to spend together, we're both so exhausted that we end up collapsing on the couch watching mindless tv or playing on the internet for a bit before bed. This is hardly quality time. A few friends schedule monthly date nights with their husbands, which is an awesome way to stay connected. Gives you a chance to get out and hang out with grown-ups and eat dinner with people who don't think that ketchup is a major food group or that the salt and pepper shakers are for table art.
But who will watch the kiddos, you ask? Grandparents are an obvious choice if you've got them ready and willing nearby. One friend's daycare offers a "Parents Night Out" once a month, which is an awesome idea and frankly, one I'm jealous of. Ask friends if they can recommend a babysitter. Better yet, start a babysitting swap with some friends. You watch their kids for a few hours one weekend, they watch yours the next.
4. Make Sure Your Spouse Is An Equal Partner. Listen carefully here, folks. It took two to tango to get these children here and it should take least that many to raise them. That includes an equal distribution of work around the house. I find it appalling how many families are still stuck in the mentality that the woman should be doing the lion's share of the cooking, cleaning and child care. I'm lucky that I have a husband that does 80-90% of the cleaning in our house. Admittedly, I'm a slob, so that's probably
The equal partner stuff is also important when it comes to parenting. Just because you're the mom, doesn't mean that all the daycare/school choices are left up to you or that you always have to be the one to call in to work because your child can't go to daycare that day. It's ok to insist that your husband be the one to leave work early to pick up little Bobby because you have to finish a project at work. This doesn't mean that you're a bad mom!
Have a husband that claims he "doesn't know how to cook"? Teach him 2-3 simple meals, like spaghetti or tacos and have him be in charge a few nights a week. This leads me to the next tip.
5. Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan. Nothing is more defeating than coming home from a long day at work with two hungry boys and wondering what the heck you're going to do for dinner. If you take a bit of time over the weekend to plan and shop accordingly, you never have to worry about this. A friend of mine recently did a post about meal planning on her blog and she explains it a zillion times better than I ever could.
On this topic, your Crock Pot and Pyrex dishes are your new best friends. What? You say you don't have either? Go to Target immediately and buy both. No joke, they are a lifesaver. A slow cooker is essential in any home, especially in a home where you don't get there until almost dinner time. You literally dump a bunch of stuff in the slow cooker, turn it on and a meal is at least 90% done when you get home. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Now what are these Pyrex dishes I referred to earlier? They are basically glass casserole dishes, usually 9x9 or 9x13 with a lid. You can throw together casserole type meals together over the weekend or the night before, cover and put in fridge and then pop it in the oven when you get home. Viola, dinner is ready! Throw the lid back on, stuff the Pyrex back in the fridge and now clean-up is done too!