oday I breathed another sigh of relief as I walked into a peaceful office… It had been a testing morning with my two-year-old and just getting her into her car seat had been a back-breaking challenge… So when people ask if I am looking forward to my imminent maternity leave, my answer has recently changed to ‘I think so’…
Don’t get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to meeting baby number two and to being able to spend more quality time with my daughter – who despite currently living up to the ‘terrible twos’ stereotype can still have her very fun and loving moments… sunshine and showers as my dad so rightly described her yesterday! Being able to go to work, to use my brain for something other than child or chore related activities and to have some adult conversation, however, definitely has its pluses. And let’s not forget about hearing the latest office ‘gossip’… For the latter I think I’ll definitely have to pay regular visits to get my fix!
So being a ‘working mum’ is something I’ve welcomed, though that doesn’t mean that juggling the roles has been easy… Knowing that I will return to work again after this round of mat leave, I have been asking myself – is it possible to make the balancing act of work and family life easier/more fulfilling/less stressful? Can I feel like work life is always productive and home time is quality family time and not always juggled with household chores? After some thought and a good old Google search, I have come up with a handful of tips for the working parent…
To do lists – for work and home
This is something I already practice, but it seems I could do it better… Making the list the night before makes you feel ready from the outset the next morning! Making two lists is also a good idea – a ‘must do/achievable’ one and a ‘good, but not a big deal if I don’t’ one.
Like your Brownie Guide / Scout Leader always said… be prepared!
Pack bags, lay out clothes and set out the bits needed for brekkie each evening – it will make the mornings much less stressful.
Get up earlier!
I’m not particularly a morning person, but I know that if I can get myself up and ready before my daughter wakes up, then my morning will be much easier and I can probably even fit in a quick play with her – rather than always guiltily having to say ‘mummy needs to get ready’.
Plan and pick childcare carefully
I’ve been lucky in this department so far, with great and willing parents/in-laws, mixed with a fab local nursery. Knowing that your child looks forward to their day and is happily dropped off allows you to properly focus on the work day ahead.
Use lunch breaks wisely
Be it for a food shop, trip to the post office, purchasing a birthday present or doing some online banking – freeing up more quality home time.
Plan ahead for meal times
It sounds obvious, yet I still don’t practice it! Doing one big (organised) shop, rather than lots of little ones gives you more time and saves money. Even better, if you can prep some meals ahead of time – whether to freeze or to slow cook, life during the working week will feel less hectic. (And every now and then enjoy a well deserved takeaway J)
Don’t let the household chores/jobs pile up.
Little and often during the week will make them seem less of a chore – leaving the weekends free for family fun! Better still – hire a cleaner. I’m definitely tempted by the latter!
Put down the smartphone!
Technology at our finger tips definitely has its uses, but it can also be a big timewaster… especially when it comes to surfing social media or whatsapping with your friends! It can also mean you’re not wholly present when you’re with your children and that’s sad (and obviously it’s a no no at work too… the boss won’t be impressed!).
Be realistic and don’t get your knickers in a twist!
Finally, try and be more realistic and relaxed about what you can achieve. Nobody is Superman/Mary Poppins… recognise that you can only achieve so much and decide where you’re energy is most effectively and happily spent. Stressing out is simply not productive.
Now I just need to remind myself of this in ten months time!…