It's time for part 2 of our 3 part series of tips for working moms. If you missed part one, you can find it here. Last time we discussed tips relating to mindset. We lost the guilt, found jobs that fit our priorities, and minimized distractions. Our next three tips involve things you can do to maximize your enjoyment of your time with your family. These are not new ideas, but you may not have previously considered how these habits will help improve family time.
1. Prep for your family's day the night before
This can be a hard habit to get into. At the end of a long day of work and family time, you just want to relax. However, a little prep in the evening can make for a far more enjoyable morning.
If you are not a morning person, getting yourself ready in the morning can be a struggle. Add kids and it only gets more hectic and chaotic. You are on a time table and a lot of things need to happen before you head out the door. Many of these things can be done or at least prepped the night before.
For school aged kids, have them pack their backpack the night before immediately upon finishing their homework. There is no reason it needs to stay out and this means they can just grab and go in the morning. Have them also set out their clothes for the next day. This makes for less of a struggle the next morning when they have to get dressed. If you pack lunch for them, try to pack it the night before so again, it is something you can grab and go.
For kids in daycare, you can make sure their bag is packed and their clothes are laid out the night before. Also have your own bag packed and clothes laid out the night before. This makes mornings run far more smoothly. You can't completely avoid hiccups, but you can minimize them.
How does this maximize family time? It makes you less stressed in the morning. Your kids get to see you happier and relaxed when you start your day together. When you are away from the house for most of the day, you don't want the time you do spend together to be rushed and stressed. This includes the morning. With all this prep work done the night before, you may even have time to sit and have breakfast together. What a great way to motivate you through your day after having already had some quality family time in the morning!
2. Create a Family Calendar
I won't go over the practical steps to actually create such a calendar as I already have a whole post about it here. Instead, I will talk about why it's so important for working moms and dads.
Having everyone on the same page is essential for busy families. Calendars should be updated immediately upon notification of new events. This helps prevent conflicts and over scheduling. Prioritize family activities, make sure your kids know that their activities are important to you.
For our family, I work days and my husband works nights and weekends. Therefore, on any evening my husband happens to be off, we try to maximize our time together. Sometimes this has to be time to get things done around the house, but we try to make sure we have family time as well. For his weekend days off, we try to ensure we do some family activity like a trip to the park or the zoo.
Try not to double book, if possible. If your kids have an event make a point of not scheduling something for yourself. One of the most important parts of being a working mom is making sure your kids know that they come first. Emergencies happen, but if you generally make it to their events, it's easier to accept the one or two times when that's not possible.
3. Stay Connected During the Day
It's hard to focus when we are preoccupied with other things. If we are at work and thinking about what we are missing at home, we will be less efficient and less happy. Missing the kids can be a major distraction.
Some days I can easily get through my work day and then I'm ready for family time when I get home. Other days I miss my peanut during the day and wish I could just be home seeing what he is up to. If I dwell on that all day, I'll never get my work done. I am a big proponent of recharging your battery. One way to do it is a quick chat with the kids.
On the days where I miss the little guy, a quick FaceTime call can really turn the day around. A few minutes chat with T and hearing about his day can really fill my cup. It also helps him feel like he has seen me more during the day. If your kids are in school, get a quick update on how the school day was in the afternoon. These few minutes of break time can allow you to focus better and actually get more done during your day.
I hope you find these tips helpful. These are concrete things you can do to help ensure that family time is enjoyable. They are little practical tips that can reduce your stress when you are around your family. In the last part of the series, we will discuss ways to maintain good relationships with your family and yourself. You can look forward to seeing that post on Tuesday.
In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!!
P.S. You can find Part 3 of this series here.