Working Mom Tips

Advice for working moms looking for work and life balance.

Managing the Morning Rush

Working Mom Time Management Tip For Getting Me And The Kids Out the Door In 5 Minutes or Less

Sometimes there are glitches, :-).

School mornings can be busy, but I have found a great way to get out the door in 5 minutes or less. I have named each person in our house “Ruler of My Morning.”

As “Ruler of My Morning” each person understands that it is their responsibility to make sure they are prepared for the day.

This means each child is responsible for making sure they wear the right shoes on PE day and that they have their homework.

The way I see it, it is much better for each person to have to worry about one person (themselves) versus me trying to remember everything for everybody.

Sure, sometimes they forget things. But, this is part of their life lessons. By being accountable they are learning that not being prepared and expecting others to do what they can do for themselves is a set-up for a not-so-good day.

Here are the responsibilities according to age:

3-Year-Old

  • Use bathroom before we leave (no time for potty breaks on way to school)
  • Put on shoes (preferably ones that match)
  • Carry homework folder and jacket (when needed) to car

5-Year-Old

  • Same as 3-year-old plus…
  • Carry any blankets, “show and share” or special project items to car

7-year-old

  • Same as 5-year-old plus…
  • Put lunchbox in backpack
  • Make sure all papers that need a parent signature are signed

 

I’d love to know, how do you manage “out the door” time?

One of My Laundry Timesavers

Shout Color Catcher Review_LaundryTipThese Shout Color Catcher sheets?!!! They are SO. AWESOME! I can’t even tell you how much I love these.

Before I would worry about color separating me and Hubby clothes and then separating the girls’ clothes (due to the amount of laundry I separate adults from kids). Now I wash all of the girls’ clothes without separating. A TIME SAVER!

I empty the entire hamper in the washer, toss in one of these sheets along with my usual laundry detergent and fabric softener. That’s it. No two – three loads for the kids. And this is true when I wash new clothes, costumes, whatever. I also use these for my delicates.

The time savings is by far my favorite part of using these, but it’s also great because I am no longer doing half loads. Every laundry load can be a full load, meaning less energy is being used.

Have you used these? What did you think?

Best Fashion Advice Ever

I’m an avid bargain shopper. Red tags make my heart skip a beat. This can be a good thing. It can also be a gateway to questionable clothes showing up in my closet.

Then on a day that I’m running late… or have a quick errand… or just not thinking clearly, these questionable pieces get to see the light of day.

One day I was in a daze (that whole not thinking clearly thing) and when I came to I had on some VERY unflattering jeans.

I will not call them mom jeans because I refuse to admit that I ever bought some, so yeah, they were just not flattering AT ALL.

I was talking with my best friend about this fashion catastrophe and she gave me the best piece of fashion advice ever,

“If You Don’t Buy It You Can’t Wear It.”

Until that point I used price to justify purchases. You know, “it’s only $5!” or “For $10 I can wear it around the house.”

Well, my mom unflattering jeans were proof that my rationalizing was not effective.

Now my purchases have to pass the “I bought it and yes, I can wear it without questioning my sanity” test.

What about you? Any purchases have you scratching your head?

When Mommy Travels…

Working Moms Business Travel Tips

 When I travel for business (or pleasure) my girls have three expectations:

They need to know where I’m going and how long. We talk about this ahead of time and they count down the days with me. They also remind me of my return day once I’m on the road… you know, in case I forget, :-).

They need to understand what’s going to happen while I’m away. Logistics are very important; it helps them to feel secure. We cover things like, “Will Daddy be picking me up and dropping me off? What fun things are we going to do? Can we have pizza for dinner one night?”.

I will bring them a treat. This can be a souvenir, something I picked up at the airport or any type of candy. As long as it comes out of the suitcase they are happy. The So In Style Barbie above was a hit!

Along with meeting their expectations, here are a few other tips and tools I use to make travel easier:

  • I only call/Skype once a day and I do it before bedtime. When I am home I ask about their day and before bed we each tell one of our favorite parts of the day. I ask these same questions on the phone. It’s a simple way to reinforce part of their regular routine.
  • Smartphones and Skype are a working mom’s best friend. Through video conversations, home video footage, texting and talking, it’s a great way for me to stay connected.
  • If possible, I leave something special. I try to cook one meal before I leave that they really like, but there are no limits here. It can be a favorite dish, but it can also be a handwritten note or a little treat.
  • I make sure Hubby has a copy of my itinerary. Some people leave a copy on the fridge or in a common area.
  • I play up the things that will be different. When my kids stay with Grandma and Auntie they do all types of fun things. And when Hubby fixes school lunch… let’s just say his lunches are better received than mine, :-). These differences make my travel a treat for them, too.
  • I can’t wait to try the Karoo app by care.com. I read about this on justicefergie.com and as soon as it is available for Android I am getting this! It’s a private, safe network that allows you and whomever you choose to see the cool things your kids are doing.

 

Are there things you’ve done to make your travel easier for you and your family?

I Mother My Way

After reading too many Working Mom vs. Stay-At-Home Mom debates, I want to start a movement.

Let’s call it “I Mother My Way.”

In this movement, there is no judgment of each other. We don’t feel the need to criticize each other in order to make ourselves feel better and we offer LOVE, not insults.

We accept that work and life balance does not look the same for everyone.

We respect each other. We embrace our individuality and diverse parenting styles.

We understand that families are different, people are different, and we make different decisions. This includes whether we work outside the home or not.

We take the advice we give our kids, “You are special just the way you are!” and “There is only one you!,” and we live it every day.

If not for ourselves, we owe this to our children. They deserve to see us play nice. They deserve to see our authentic selves, not a modified version.

I look at it this way. If I modify who I am to be another person’s image of motherhood, I’m suppressing things that are truly me. If God wanted my girls to have a different kind of mother, he would have given them that. Being anyone other than my best self is a disservice to all of us.

My girls see firsthand how to cope when things don’t go as planned, how to be sad or upset and then figure out a solution. They see what I am doing right and what I am working to improve.

More importantly they see me ENJOY life, the benefits of being authentic, and how being true will inspire others to do the same. These are life skills they’ll need.

No matter your choices in life, make them from a place of authenticity and embrace them. Make the best of what YOU have and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

Mother your way, because as my mom says, “There are enough ways in this world for everybody to have their own.”

I Don’t Juggle, I Dance

Electric Slidin’ at My Family’s ’70s Party_worklifebalance

When I picture myself juggling I see a disaster. There are balls all over the floor. Then I’m on the floor because I slipped on a couple trying to pick the others up.

There are kids crying in the background because I messed up the show and when I finally pull it together I’m sore. And exhausted. And the kids are still waiting for a show, :-/.

So, NO, I don’t think my life as a working mother is a juggle. Juggling is not fun to me.

Aside from the horrific picture above, I have an issue because most jugglers work alone. I do not.  A circle of support is necessary to my life.

There is no way I would be able to do what I enjoy without my family, friends, childcare providers and an entire village of supporters giving me advice and help on a daily basis.

More importantly, I need room to relax and make mistakes. With juggling there is always too much in the air and if a task is not handled at just the right time in just the right way, everything comes crashing down. This means there is no room for me to be too tired to cook, no room for me to say no because I prefer to sleep on Sunday, no room for me to be… me.

That’s a whole lot of pressure to do everything perfectly… if perfectly even exists.

I have this life because of my choices. I understand this and I enjoy it. It’s how this working mom has achieved work and life balance.

I love being Towanda – wife, mother, family, girlfriend and professional. Referring to my life as a juggle doesn’t say I appreciate it, it says I am struggling to manage it.

And while it’s not always easy, I am very blessed. So I call my life a DANCE! Dancing is fun; it makes me smile. Dancing is a much better picture of a good life, and that’s the life I want to show my children and the life that I want to experience with my family, friends and colleagues.

So, who’s in the mood for a little two-stepping? 🙂

Priorities & Processes

worklifebalancetodolistWork Life Balance Tips For Working Mother

People often ask how I juggle being a working mother with doing fun things.While I don’t consider my life a balancing or juggling act, I do explain how I manage my life.

I use the Two P’s – priorities and processes.

My priorities are a baseline for deciding whether or not I will do something. Then my processes help me manage my to-do list.

For instance, spending time with God is a priority for me so I do this first thing in the morning.

This means I don’t work out then, because I found myself rushing through my devotion time to fit in the workout before leaving for the office. Whew, I got tired just writing that, lol.

Processes ensure that I work smart and effectively. I have learned that being busy does not equate to being productive and I strive to get the most out of each day. Some of my processes are typical, like I pack lunches and choose outfits at night.

Others are a reflection of my lifestyle. I catch up with friends and family while driving to and from work, via Bluetooth of course, :-).

Do you have priorities and processes? I’d love to hear your tips.

Two Rules for Balancing Work and Life

working mom work life balance tipsWith so much going on, it is easy to get caught up in the quest for life and work balance. After all, if balance is found, life will be much smoother, right?

Well, here are two of my rules for keeping it together:

Sometimes things will not get done and that is just fine. I have embraced the idea that schedules and routines are a good base, but I must remain flexible in order to enjoy life… and stay sane.

For instance, it’s been over a week since I updated this blog, but I had to readjust some things. I could beat myself up because I didn’t keep my schedule, but let’s keep it in perspective. The world didn’t stop because I got off schedule.

I define my balance. There are plenty of articles on achieving work/life balance, and many include good tips. But they are just that—tips.

I think we will always fall short if we compare our lives to others. For some balance may be having dinner with their family every night and tucking their children in to bed. For others balance can be making it through the day and at the end having a few minutes of “me” time.

My balance changes daily, but generally I am most at peace when I have spent time with God, played with my girls, talked to Hubby, checked off some items on my work to-do list and I have time to relax and pamper myself for a few minutes.

So, here’s my take on balance. Life is as smooth as we make it. We can choose to be frazzled and overextended, or we can choose to prioritize and live life passionately. And a life that has spontaneity and flexibility is more exciting than a routine-driven one anyway, :-).