The Working Mother’s Guide to Running Your Household Like a Boss
Running a household is no easy feat for any parent. Find out how you can optimize your efforts with this list of tips for working mothers.
Working mothers deal with the delicate balancing act of being the best moms they can be while competing in the professional arena. With its many demands and challenges, this setup can be exhausting. There may also be times when you find yourself frustrated over having to constantly shift your focus between household tasks, parenting, and working.
However, when done efficiently, working parenthood is a fulfilling endeavor. So, to help you out, we’ve compiled some tips that you can use to run your household like a boss.
It Starts with the Mindset
The busy world of working motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Other than its physical and mental challenges, moms who choose this path may be met with stigma and criticism, which can allow working-parent guilt to rear its ugly head.
You start questioning whether you’re a good mom for leaving your kids at home while you pursue a career. You find yourself constantly asking whether you are doing enough for your family. These thoughts can plague you and stop you from becoming the successful working mom you know you can be.
Just remember that letting this guilt go is the most important step in walking the working parent tightrope. Don’t beat yourself up over being too busy and don’t compare yourself to other moms. You have to learn to accept that trade-offs will be inevitable in this arrangement and that sometimes “good enough” is good enough.
Find Quality Childcare Service
As much as you want to spend time with your kids at home, work responsibilities will most likely keep you at the office for extended periods on some days of the week. With this in mind, your first order of business as a working mom should be to find someone you can rely on to help you at times like these.
Finding vetted childcare professional can give you peace of mind that your child is taken care of while you focus on your work. The only question now is, what kind of childcare service do you need? Below, we’ve outlined a few types that you can consider.
Are you looking for someone who can work with you to support your child’s development and social growth? If that’s the case, you might want to consider hiring a nanny.
Nannies are full-time service providers with a comprehensive approach to childcare. They can drive your kids around, prepare their meals, and organize activities to keep them occupied. A nanny’s job also entails helping with your child’s homework and making sure they attend their scheduled activities. In most cases, they can also perform basic household tasks.
What makes nannies unique, however, is that they often possess a degree in early childhood education, child development, or a similar field. Parents can also expect them to have other childcare qualifications like first aid training and basic babysitter training.
Do you need someone to watch over your child while you attend important appointments? Perhaps a babysitter is a better choice for you.
Commonly, babysitters provide temporary care for kids. They come on an “as-needed” basis and get paid by the hour to take care of your child. However, their specific tasks will depend on your arrangement with them.
Some sitters are comfortable with performing the same duties as a nanny—picking kids up from school, preparing activities for them, cooking their meals, and the like. However, some babysitters might only be able to handle basic childcare. So, it helps to have a set of babysitter interview questions in mind to find out what they can and cannot do for you.
As a working mom, being a remote employee or home-based business owner may seem to give you the best of both worlds. However, working from home comes with its own set of challenges, from being unable to separate work from home life to having difficulty focusing while on the clock. This is where a mother’s helper comes in.
Mothers’ helpers provide childcare services while the kids’ parents are at home. They primarily assist with whatever needs to be done in the house to make their schedule more manageable. For instance, keeping the kids preoccupied so you can take a nap, entertaining toddlers while you are on a work call, or performing household work so you can play with your kids. All in all, their duties will vary depending on your needs at home.
Do you have toddlers or school-age kids? Perhaps a daycare is a suitable and more affordable alternative to hiring professionals by the hour.
Daycare centers are drop-off facilities that offer care and supervision for multiple children at a time. They often have hour-by-hour, half-day, or full-day services which involve basic child care, fun activities, and outings. What makes this great is that your kids can also socialize with other children.
The only downside here is that daycare hours are fixed so you will have to drop off and pick up your kids at a certain time. This means, that if your schedule is too erratic, this might not be ideal for you.
Plan a Schedule—and Stick To It
Planning ahead is one of the most important steps in running your household. As a working mom, you probably have a laundry list of tasks for work, chores, childcare, and self-care. Mapping out what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis can help you to handle your schedule more efficiently.
This is where using productivity apps and scheduling tools can be a huge help. These allow working mothers to create structure, simplify their mental load at work, and build realistic routines. Some apps that you can use, for instance, include:
Evernote is a popular productivity tool that is known for its digital note-taking functionalities. It is designed to help users conveniently capture ideas, create lists, save web pages for reference, and more. What makes it great for working mothers is that it can support task and schedule management.
Using Evernote, you can create detailed to-do lists with due dates and reminders so that no task is overlooked. It also comes with weekly and daily schedule templates which can be useful for coordinating calendars with your partner, other people in the household, or your babysitter.
Google Calendar is a free time-scheduling and calendar app. It allows users to schedule meetings and events as well as create tasks and reminders for their day-to-day activities. This app also supports multiple calendars that are shared with you, so it’s really handy for coordinating schedules with your spouse.
The best part about this is that as part of the Google Workspace, the platform is readily available to anyone with a Google Account. It also has little to no learning curve as the platform offers simple features and a clutter-free interface.
Todoist is a digital to-do list creation platform built to assist users in freeing up their mental space by keeping tabs on daily, weekly, or monthly tasks. Each item can be assigned a due date or tagged according to priority level, so it’s easy to pinpoint time-sensitive activities. Recurring due dates are also available for regularly scheduled tasks like bill payments, laundry days, and the like.
The beauty of Todoist is that it lets you organize your to-do lists into sections. As a result, you can group your tasks for household, work, and childcare. The platform also supports notes for each task, in case you have detailed information for an activity that may be too long to place on the checklist.
Cozi is a virtual family organizer that brings out the project manager in every user. It has a unified family calendar that can be color-coded and labeled, making it easy to organize the schedules of each family member. It also lets you set reminders and notifications to prevent you, your partner, or your kids from overlooking important tasks to do or appointments to attend.
Another nifty thing about Cozi is that it has a built-in shopping list that all family members can update. And considering there’s a space for storing recipes, it’s really useful for meal planning too.
Don’t Hesitate to Outsource
People think that successful working moms are those that do everything by themselves. They take on the role of a thriving career woman, a doting wife, and an excellent homemaker all at once. However, this supermom stereotype isn’t doing anyone any favors.
The modern world demands more professionals and parents alike. Thinking that busy moms should be able to achieve in all these areas just leads to unnecessary stress. You’re only human. You cannot work all day, cook, clean, run errands, care for your kids, and expect to still have enough time for rest and relaxation.
Instead, it is better to consider outsourcing tasks. Some examples include:
- House Cleaning. Keeping the house tidy is easier said than done. After all, it takes a lot of time and energy to take care of all those chores. Hiring a professional cleaner means that every nook and cranny of your home can be spotless and germ-free—without having to lift a finger.
- Laundry. Every family with kids is probably familiar with just how quickly the laundry basket can fill up within a few days. Finding reliable dry cleaning and laundry service providers can help you keep your clothes, towels, and sheets pristine, with minimal effort on your part. Most laundry service providers also offer pick-up and delivery options for your convenience.
- Errand-Running. Whether you need to mow the lawn, pick up prescriptions, buy groceries, or perform other miscellaneous house tasks, you can consider hiring people via platforms like TaskRabbit, Handy, or Thumbtack. These give you access to on-demand service at affordable rates.
- Dog Walking. Taking Fido on a walk every day is important for their health, socialization, and behavior control. However, you won’t always have time to accompany them on long strolls around the neighborhood. By hiring a dog walker, you can make sure they get their daily exercise when your schedule becomes particularly packed.
- Meal Preparation. Meal planning is perhaps the bane of many mothers, especially those with picky eaters at home. By using meal preparation services, you can get easy and nutritious recipes with your family’s preferences in mind. Some also prepare weekly grocery lists for you based on the recipes you’ve chosen.
These aside, there are plenty of other duties that you can choose to outsource depending on your lifestyle and the unique needs of your family. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help, especially if doing so will allow you to reserve your energy and headspace for your kids and your work.
Communicate with Your Employer
Parenting is a job in itself. Managing its demands alongside the responsibilities of your career will certainly require compromises. So, rather than spreading yourself thin and making your day-to-day schedule work, it’s better to communicate with your employer about your situation.
With the current call for family-friendly workplaces and office policies, it’s no longer an alien idea to talk with your boss about your concerns as a working mother. Doing so lets your employer understand how your responsibilities at home can affect your job performance, as well as what can be done to prevent this.
Need a more concrete plan of action to make this work? We’ve listed some things for you to consider asking your supervisor about below.
Negotiate Your Work Schedule
One’s work hours are often the anchor around which an entire day is planned. However, as a mom, your schedule goes well beyond the time spent at the office—you have to consider your kids’ school and extra-curricular routine as well as make time for household responsibilities. In turn, these factors can lead to tardiness or absenteeism at work. This is where negotiating your work schedule can prove useful.
In light of the changes brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak, more companies have become open to providing certain allowances for working parents. You could perhaps discuss the possibility of having a flexible work schedule, working remotely, or at least having the option to work from home every now and then. This way, you can fulfill your work responsibilities without compromising your duties as a parent.
Define Your Boundaries
Work can sometimes follow you home in the form of calls, instant messages, or emails. It could be an officemate asking a question or an urgent memo from your supervisor. Whatever the matter may be, responding to them might send a signal that being contacted while off the clock is okay with you.
To prevent this, you need to define your boundaries with your employer. Will you be able to accommodate correspondence while you’re out or do you prefer keeping communications closed when at home? Are you open to complying with work-related requests or not? The bottom line here is to inform them what you can and cannot do outside your office hours so that work doesn’t interfere with your home life.
Be Candid About Your Needs as a Working Mom
Working mothers have unique needs. For example, if you are coming out of maternity leave, you will need a place to pump breast milk or want the option to gradually return to work. There can also be unforeseen circumstances, like when your child catches a cold or you need to attend a PTA meeting.
Informing your boss about these concerns and how you intend to deal with them may make it easier for you and your employer to come up with the necessary adjustments. Granted, they might not be able to meet all of your demands, but you should certainly be able to find some middle ground.
Distractions come in many shapes and forms—these days, they are everywhere. It could be the multitude of shows available to stream online, the endless newsfeeds on social media, the various games on your phone, or online shopping. Whatever they may be, these distractions can certainly eat up a working mother’s time, attention, and energy, preventing them from efficiently managing their responsibilities.
The silver lining here is that there are many ways in which to prevent these time-wasters from stealing your attention. For instance, you could try the following tips to help fight these daily disruptions:
- Disconnect from your phone. The average person spends nearly seven hours a day on the internet. That’s a sizeable chunk of time that could otherwise be spent bonding with your kids, pursuing hobbies, or enjoying a date night with your partner. Unplugging will keep digital distractions at bay, help you be more “in the moment,” and reduce the amount of stress that you feel at work or while caring for your kids.
- Use pen and paper, not apps. Need to jot down ideas or perhaps organize a to-do list? Sometimes, relying on a good ol’ notepad is better than an app as it will allow you to focus on documenting your thoughts. Unlike smartphone apps, a blank piece of paper won’t bombard you with notifications left and right.
- Practice time blocking. As a working mom, multitasking is most likely your greatest enemy. Watching TV while doing chores, making grocery lists during work hours, and thinking about work while playing with your kids will only cause more stress for you. By time blocking—dedicating blocks of time during the day to a specific task—you can focus more on what you need to do at a given time, and do it more efficiently.
These are only a few strategies for you to try, but there are plenty of others that will put you on the path to eliminating distractions at home and at work. In this way, you can get work done faster while conserving your energy for more important matters at home.
Leverage Apps to Stay Focused and Be More Productive
Placing one’s phone under lock and key, both figuratively and literally, might be too hard for some people. We’ve become accustomed to having our smartphones within arm’s reach at all times, so it’s okay if you feel a little uneasy about keeping gadgets out of sight. In these cases, focus apps are a better alternative for you.
Focus apps assist individuals to minimize distractions on smartphones in the hopes of helping them build better work habits and boost concentration. These apps can block websites or apps over a fixed period of time so that when you try to access them, you’re redirected back to the focus app. Thanks to these sorts of apps, you’re unlikely to accidentally find yourself scrolling through social media or playing games when you should be finishing a report or spending time with your kids.
Some examples of these apps are:
- Self-Control. This is a simple Google Chrome extension that makes it easy for you to block websites that you find distracting for a pre-set length of time. It’s an excellent tool for staying focused, particularly if most of the work you need to do involves using the internet.
- Forest. Forest works just like other focus apps. However, the unique idea behind it is that each completed session sees you plant a virtual tree, and if you keep running sessions throughout the day, you can grow a forest. Meanwhile, leaving the app during a session will kill the tree. This is one of the ways the app incentivises keeping up focus. As a bonus, if you spend virtual coins that you earn within the app, you can even fund the planting of a real tree through the vendor’s partner, Trees for the Future.
- Freedom. Do you need more control over your app use and website access? Then, Freedom could be the perfect app for you. It can get rid of distractions on all your devices simultaneously, so you cannot block an app or website on one gadget only to open it up on another. It also has a lockdown mode which will prevent you from altering your blocklists during an active session.
Keep in mind that these examples are only three of the many focus apps available out there. Focus management tools can also come in the form of white noise apps and meditation apps created to help you center yourself during downtime.
Use Technology to Stay Connected to Your Kids
Among the biggest risks of being a working parent is that you become so preoccupied with your career that you become absent in your kids’ lives. It could start with missing a few school functions or forgetting to help them with their homework. But if you get busy enough, there may come a time when you’re unable to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions with them.
Instead of ending up like this, working mothers should consider leveraging modern technology to their advantage. From messaging apps to social media, there are myriad ways to socialize with other people, so why not use them to stay connected with your kids?
- Videocall them during your break. Extended work hours, business trips, and similar circumstances shouldn’t hinder you from bonding with your little ones. Video calls let you get some much-needed face time with them while you’re away. This is great for simply checking in on them and letting them feel your presence.
- Create a family chatroom. Do you have kids who are old enough to type or text? Creating a chatroom where all your family members are included is a good option to remain connected at all times. This ensures your kids can reach you wherever you may be. Just make sure to choose family-friendly chat apps to ensure that your kids don’t accidentally get in touch with strangers online.
- Connect with them on social media. If you have a teenager in the house, then there’s a good chance that they’ve already discovered social media. Make sure to connect with them there. Many parents use this to spy on their kids and make sure they’re not getting into trouble. But while there’s that aspect, you should also consider using it to gain a deeper understanding of your kids’ interests as well as their social circle.
Aside from communicating with your kids, there are other ways in which you can use technology to connect with them. For example, using streaming services to host a movie night at home or planning a virtual game night. These activities are ideal for those rare occasions when your schedule allows you to enjoy a lazy day with your family.
Practice the Art of Prioritization
Every mom is a supermom in their own right. However, this doesn’t mean you’re invincible enough to take on every single opportunity that comes your way. Time is finite and your schedule can only handle so much. At some point, something’s got to give.
Make it a habit to check your priorities and assess which appointments you can choose to say no to and which tasks you can forego. For instance, you probably won’t miss much if you opt to join team dinners once a month instead of every week. In the same sense, your family will understand if you can’t make dinner from scratch every night.
The point here is that it’s okay to be selective about what you take on, so you can streamline your schedule and make room for more important activities.
Find Time for Self-Care
If you’ve ever traveled by plane, you’ll be familiar with flight attendants instructing you to “secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.” The same concept can be applied to being a parent. Sometimes, you need to put yourself first in order to care for your family better. Allowing yourself to have some time to breathe and reset will ensure that you too function at your best.
Do Short Workouts
Research shows that exercising can improve one’s overall mood as it triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s happy hormones. However, if your schedule can’t accommodate a gym session, a quick workout will do. You could try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) which can take as little as four minutes per session. Studies have revealed that this short burst of physical activity can be just as effective as a 45-minute workout at the gym.
Get Pampered Once in a While
You work hard, so you deserve to treat yourself. Visit a spa, enjoy a massage, get your hair done, or have a mani-pedi. If these don’t suit your fancy, you may prefer eating a meal at your favorite restaurant or indulging in some retail therapy. Whatever your interests, just make sure to pick an activity that will help you unwind.
Involve Kids When Possible
Involving your kids in your self-care activities is a great way to help everyone get a bit of what they want! You could enjoy a day on the beach, go cycling in the park, or take a mini-break out of town. If you’re pressed for time, opting to stay at home and prepare a nice brunch together or watch a movie in the family den can also do the trick.
Strive for Efficiency, Not Perfection
When it comes to parenthood, perfection is overrated. You’ll often feel compelled to maintain a spotless home, prepare all the meals, and plan your kids’ activities to a tee. However, slip-ups happen—you can sleep through your alarm and drop them off at school late or forget to pack their lunch. Everyone drops the ball from time to time.
Rather than making it your mission to be perfect and satisfy the highest standards, isn’t it better to strive for more manageable goals as a mom, household manager, and employee?
Preparing for a school bake sale? Buying cupcakes instead of baking them is an absolutely fine alternative. Got guests coming over? You don’t have to deep clean your house and prepare a feast for them.
At the end of the day, as long as your family is healthy, your house isn’t a total shambles, and you can meet your deliverables at work, you are already doing a good job.
Working Mothers Make the Most Out of Motherhood
Working mothers, with all the effort they put in to make ends meet, deserve to have it all—and they can. Having a thriving career and a happy family life can be absolutely obtainable with the right mindset and strategies.
Take comfort in the fact that you and your partner do not have to handle parenting on your own. Seeking help from capable childcare service providers is a perfectly valid option, especially for busy parents. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at Call Emmy.
Call Emmy is an on-demand platform that allows users to instantly find childcare professionals nearby. We have an extensive network of carefully vetted babysitters and nannies, so you can rest assured that you’re hiring trustworthy individuals to take care of your little ones. All you need to do is fill out your details and specify any childcare requirements you may have—the app will do the rest.Get the help you deserve. Check out our app today.
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