I’ve been at this working mom gig for over four years now. At times I’ve hated it and other times I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to have a mental challenge but whatever the feeling at the moment, there are things I do in order to keep my life on track in both the role of Mother and Accountant. When I started this journey of being a working mom I had no idea at the time what that would mean. I didn’t realize how pulled I would feel in opposite directions at times and I didn’t realize how much effort I would have to give to make it all work.
Make Goals and Decisions that Work for Your Family
I remember sitting in a recliner holding Henley when she was nine weeks old, I had a panic. I would be leaving her in three short weeks. How would I manage? At that moment I decided that professionally some things would need to change, I determined that from here on my family would come first.
I setup a meeting with my boss at the time and we negotiated more flexible hours to allow me to adapt to the transition. For about six months I came in early and left early, still working a full day but with the benefit of spending more time at night with Henley. Once we were in a groove and she was staying up later at night, I switch back to normal working hours. This was a small change but it made a world of difference in the transition to working mother.
Throughout my career, I have been very transparent with management on my priorities and goals both professionally and as a mother. I am typically one of the first people out of the office in order to maximize the time I get with the girls in the evening. I’ve never been afraid to speak up if I need to leave early for swim lessons and I’ve never hesitated if I need to work from home for a day due to a sick baby. With that said though, my work has never suffered due to this. If I need to work late for something, my husband and I figure a way to make it work. If I am not able to work late, I power up and work after everyone is asleep.
Being clear with management is key. My boss knows I love to be challenged but don’t want to be working nights and weekends. I love learning and developing a team but I have no interesting in being the next CFO. Being clear with your goals will allow management to know what to expect from you. Not everyone is cut out to be a CEO and not every mom wants to be home at 5pm cooking dinner. Both situations are ok, you just need to make sure you know what your goals are.
Sunday night are key!
Sunday nights for me are the most important night of the week. Prepping on Sundays ensures that not only my Monday morning will be smooth but also my week. We do laundry on Sundays so I fold and put away all of the clothes. If I skip this step on Sunday I won’t get around to folding again until the next weekend and therefore we are all digging in baskets to find our clothes each morning. Annoying!
I also pack the girls bags with their nap blankets, extra clothes, and water bottles. When they were younger this is when I would get the bottles and food ready, diapers, wipes, and anything else they needed. I also pack my gym back and mentally decide what I am going to wear the following day. Most mornings I still end up wasting five minutes in front of my closet but Mondays are usually pretty decent. I try to pack my lunch on Sundays too but that is my biggest area of struggle so while I am not a pro at that part, I recommend it. Do as I say, not as I do right?!
Prioritize your week
Most of you all know I am a planner, I’ve talked on here before about my love for my Erin Condren planner. On Sunday nights, after everything is packed and ready to go, I sit down with my planner, my work schedule of meetings, and any miscellaneous paperwork I’ve accumulated throughout the prior week. The first thing I do is review the week before. I have started using my planner as a pseudo-scrapbook as well so I look through my phone and print off any pictures from the prior week using my Polaroid Zip and add them in.
I move to the current week and populate my planner with all of my work meetings. I then add the times for swim lessons, gymnastics, and any other events for the week that we are planning to attend, such as birthday parties. After that I am able to see visually what the week ahead looks like and schedule times for the gym or I just accept that I will not have time for a workout on certain days. I add my to-do list on the side which is typically 50% new and 50% leftover items from the week before that I never got to.
This has become my favorite thing to do on Sunday nights. Planning the week ahead makes me feel more at peace, I feel I am better able to tackle the week seeing on paper that it’s doable. It’s at this time I also move stuff around if I don’t think it will work instead of stressing about making it work. For example, moving a 4pm meeting on Monday when I have to be at swim lessons 20 minutes away at 5pm.
Schedule Down Time
My husband and I try to be aware of each other’s personal time and work with each other to allow time for the other to get away. Just as an example my husband was away yesterday at a shooting match he was competing in and I had the girls. Right now he is in the pool with them and I am sitting in a quiet house reading some things I’ve been wanting to catch up on and writing this post. When most of the day is spent working or “momming” I make sure to note times where I can sit and decompress or accomplish a goal I’ve been working on.
Make the Most of Lunch Breaks
Lunch breaks are a hidden gem for working moms to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. This is a great time to do a few quick things like catching up on blogs or articles you’ve been wanting to read but this time can also be used to run errands or get your workout in. The timing of workouts has been my biggest struggle as a working mom. Mornings are tough for me, not only relating to getting the kids dressed and out the door but getting out of bed myself---I am not a morning person. With this said it’s nearly impossible for me to workout in the morning. After work isn’t really feasible either unless I wait until after dinner and bedtime but by then I’m dead and just want to relax. This leaves lunch. I am fortunate to have a gym onsite at my job but I would still try to make this happen if I didn’t. I try to block my calendar from 11:30-12:30 to allow for me to get there before the “rush” but still be done in time to eat lunch at my desk before any 1pm meetings I have.
During the holidays I also used my lunch break for shopping or last minute errands that I couldn’t do with the kids around. Going to the bank, getting the car washed, getting a few groceries can all be done during that sacred one hour stretch of time.
I hope you said that in Uncle Jesse’s voice (Full House anyone?!)
We are human. We cannot do it all. Do not beat yourself up, you are doing the best you can. There are millions of working mothers all here with you. We’ve all been there. We’ve forgotten show & tell or that it is pajama day or their bottles are still sitting in the fridge! We’ve had to miss a morning meeting because of a diaper explosion or just because the kids were difficult getting out of the house. We’ve ached through a long presentation anxiously awaiting a break to sneak away and pump. We know it’s tough but it’s doable!
I’ve said this before and I wholeheartedly stand by this---make whatever decisions you need to make for your family. If you need to come into work at 9 instead of 8 in order to feel more composed and put together, work with your boss to make it happen. If you, like me, are typically the first one out of the office at 5:01, smile and wave on your way out. Ignore the looks or snide comments, their goals are just different from yours.
I hope this helps even just one new mom (or a seasoned working mom) to make life a little easier. My Sunday is complete and I am going to relax and read before the start of another week. Have a great week everyone!