Photo by Flickr user tombothetominator
Working moms, we salute you.
You juggle your kids’ schedules. Your spouse’s schedule. Your work schedule. And that tiny, sometimes-depressing thing you still refer to affectionately as your social calendar (even though it’s mostly filled with play dates . . . the ones with moms you like).
As a mom today, managing time is a full-time job. That you have on top of your actual job. And on top of being a mother, a.k.a. full-time job number one. Today, women’s roles are larger than ever before.
For women in full-time jobs, it is impossible to be around for our children around the clock. So, we strike a balance. While it is important to make time to be with our children as much as possible, and we find ways to maximize that time, we also ensure that our children are in safe hands and well looked after when we’re not around.
But how do we manage it? How do working moms juggle motherhood and career and strike a healthy balance between the two?
1. Create a Fool-Proof Schedule
Photo by Flickr user Joe Lanman
Sure, there are days when you cannot get your child to ballet no matter how much kicking and screaming is involved. But having a schedule of activities for your children after school (and a schedule with your spouse, family, or babysitter to get them there) can give you the space you need not only to get your work done, but get some chores done at home and get dinner ready before the evening chaos begins.
It can be a headache to work out the perfect schedule yourself, but ActivityHero has recently added a calendar feature that makes things much simpler. When you’re shopping for activities, save them and compare everything you’re considering side by side to see how your son’s baseball lines up with your daughter’s self-defense. That way you can choose providers that fit time wise and geographically without a lot of complicated charts.
2. Get a Well-Trained Baby Sitter
Photo by Flickr user FamilyTravelCK
Baby sitters are lifesavers to parents with full time jobs. An experienced sitter will not only fill in for you when you are away but ensure that your baby gets proper care and necessary attention. And in some ways, a well-trained sitter is better suited to take care of your child because s/he has been trained in the art of childcare.
But a baby sitter doesn’t need to be a personal sitter; it’s really anyone who watches your baby for you, including day care and summer camp staff. For many parents these options are not only more cost-effective, but also socialize your child so you have to worry less about scheduling play dates.
Either way, with experienced hands taking over the reins from you when you take off for work, you can be better relaxed and be more productive at work.
3. Avoid Doing Overtime by Bringing Work Home
Photo by Flickr user k.streudel
Overtime makes you stay longer than necessary at work and reduces the time available for you to enjoy with your kids. If possible, take the extra work home.
This is ideal for parents who can work from home. Bringing work home makes it easier for you to leave early from work to spend more time with your children. You can take care of work after your child has retired to bed and you get your alone time. If you kids are old enough, you can have “homework” time together.
4. Cut Down on Your Lunch Hour
Photo by Flickr user stevendepolo
The less time you waste over lunch and idle talk, the more time you have on your hands. With the extra time, you can cover more work and finish early. Spending the extra time on work gives you more time to spend on your children.
While this is not to say that as a working mom you have to give up on your own entire social life to spend time with your children, save lunch breaks or extended chats with co-workers for special occasions instead of everyday. They will feel more special and meaningful that way, and you really will find more time to get your work finished early during the day.
Photo by Flickr user jim.greenhill
Sometimes, you might have to delay what you want to make space for something else. If working late will qualify you for a promotion but cause you to reach home when your children are already asleep, you will have to choose between giving up the promotion until your child is older and better adjusted or working out a schedule with your spouse or a baby sitter that allows you to get your work done while your child is cared for.
Whenever possible, work out an arrangement with your boss. In some cases, it might mean taking a personal day when your child needs to go for vaccinations or taking ‘sick’ days when your child is not feeling well at the expense of sick days for when you are actually sick. All in all, it requires understanding and bargaining from all parties involved.
It is ultimately up to you to prioritize which comes first or which is more important, though it can often feel like you receive one type of pressure at work and another one from other mothers, or women in general. Remember, that with promotions come bigger responsibilities and less time with your children and loved ones.
Whatever time you have to spend with your kids, spend it wisely.
Guest blogger Virginia Cunningham is a writer based in Los Angeles, California, who has found ways to work full-time at home with her children. She currently blogs about vitamins and other supplements for the Canadian pharmacy NorthWest Pharmacy.