Working mom guilt is something MANY of us are familiar with, but very few of us talk about. Some of us have to go back to work to help pay the bills even though we’d give anything to be a stay-at-home mom, whereas others choose to go back to work because they love their career and/or have learned that staying home taking care of tiny humans simply isn’t something they are good at. Whatever the reason is behind your current employment situation, embrace it and stop apologizing for it! Whether you’re working for a pay check or self-fulfillment (or both), I’m excited to share my favorite working moms tips to help you feel more in control so you can be a #bossbabe by day and a #momboss by night!
6 Time Management Tips for Working Moms
1) Plan ahead and always have a back-up plan
There are so many helpful working mom tips to help women like you and me stay organized and on top of things, and after 5+ years as a work-at-home mom, I’d say the most helpful thing you can for yourself and your family is to ensure you start each day with a plan of action so you can be more intentional with time. Also? Make sure you have a back-up plan! Life has a way of throwing us curve balls at the most inconvenient times. Work schedules and commitments change, and babysitters get sick, leaving even the most organized parent scrambling at the last minute. If this sounds familiar, my advice is to ensure you always have a back-up plan you can fall back on to prevent those last-minute moments of panic.
As moms, we have a tendency to try and do everything ourselves. It’s just in our nature to do this, and as much as we love having control over every facet of our lives – and the lives of our children – learning how to let go and allow others to take care of the little things is essential to our well-being, especially when we’re struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance. If you constantly feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, assign age-appropriate chores to your kids (we’re written an entire post on this topic, which you can read HERE), and outsource the things you don’t have time for.
3) Learn to say no
As much as we want to be everything to everyone, the truth is that we are only human. There are only so many hours in the day and we need to be better about setting boundaries with our time so we can prioritize more important things like sleep and self-care! If you’re looking for working mom tips to help you create a better balance in your life, learning how to say no to the things that don’t merry up to your goals will be life-changing for you. If it isn’t personally important to you and doesn’t contribute to your work goals, say NO.
4) Manage your energy properly
While most of us are good at managing our TIME effectively, I was recently introduced to the idea of managing our ENERGY effectively, and it’s made a huge difference. Once you pinpoint when you are at your most productive – for me, it’s first thing in the morning after I drop my daughter off at school – you must organize your schedule such that you can take advantage of that time to tackle your most important tasks. When done correctly, you will be amazed at how much extra time you will have at the end of the day to engage in the other things that would otherwise get pushed off, like spending time with your kids or going on a spontaneous date night with your S.O.
5) Work in batches
‘Batching’ involves grouping relevant tasks together and tackling them in one go, rather than splitting them up over the course of a few days, and it’s another one of my favorite working mom tips! Many people work in batches in their working life, but what few people realize is how effective it can be in our personal lives as well. Set aside an evening each week to take care of mindless tasks – cleaning, laundry, organizing doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping – so you aren’t constantly borrowing time needed for more important tasks several times throughout the week.
6) Take time for yourself
The last of my working mom tips for those who are specifically looking for ways to improve their time management skills is to take a break. I know this sounds counter-productive, but sometimes the best thing you can do when you’re finding it hard to keep your head above water is to unplug. The time away will help you put things into perspective and help you feel more in control.
6 Morning Routine Ideas and Habits for Working Moms
1) Prepare the night before
If you’re looking for working mom tips to help you streamline your morning routine, you’ve probably already read about the benefits of preparing the night before. One of the best things you can do to reduce feelings of overwhelm, stay organized, and get out the door without someone having a meltdown in the morning is to plan ahead. Block off 30 minutes every evening to pack bags, select outfits, pack lunches, lay out breakfast essentials, unload the dishwasher, and complete anything else you can think of to help streamline your morning routine.
2) Do one thing you love when you wake up
If mornings are an emotionally-charged time of day in your household and you often feel guilty for being impatient and short-tempered with your kids as you’re trying to herd them out the door, this tip might be just what you need. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and do something you love when you wake up. This could be writing in a gratitude journal, Face-timing with your BFF, practicing yoga, or snuggling in bed with your little ones. The point is to find something you’re passionate about, to schedule it into your morning routine, and to protect that time like a newborn child so you are motivated to get out of bed and start your day feeling positive and happy.
3) Simplify your biggest challenge
As moms, we all have ONE THING we struggle with most in the mornings. Whether it’s lack of time, tired children, or a dog that needs to be walked, there are almost things we can do to make these issues easier. The challenge is finding the motivation to change! Take the time to write out all the things that cause you stress in the morning, be honest with yourself about how you can streamline these processes, and commit to change!
4) Create a morning chore chart
If your kids have a tendency to dawdle before school (ahem…), another one of my favorite working mom tips is to create a visual reminder of what has to be done from the time they wake up until it’s time to put their shoes each morning. You can simply write a list of action items on a chalkboard, or get fancy with a customized magnetic morning checklist, but the point remains the same: kids need to know what’s expected of them, and if you have it all laid out before their eyes, they will be much more likely to pitch in and help out, which makes for a much smoother morning for everyone.
5) Prioritize quality time with your kids
I know. I know. Finding ways to spend quality time with your kids is hard enough, and trying to do it BEFORE school sounds downright impossible. But in order to feel happy and secure, your kids need to feel a connection with you, and after 10+ hours away from you while they were sleeping, the idea of being packed up and shipped off to school can feel overwhelming.
Spending quality time with your children before school doesn’t need to be an Olympic event. You don’t need to pull out all of your board games, put a 1,500-piece puzzle together, or play dress-up. You just need to carve out 5 to 10 minutes of time to connect with your children and remind them they matter to you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how much this small change to your morning routine will have not only on your child’s behavior, but also on your mood for the rest of the day!
The last of my working mom tips for those who are specifically looking for ways to create an effective morning routine is to breathe and remind yourself to stay calm. With the exception of injuries and tragic news, most things can wait. Your house will not fall apart if you run out of time to make the beds or stack your morning dishes in the dishwasher, and your life will not end if your kids are a few minutes late to school or you miss the first part of a business meeting. I’m serious! Sometimes we need to take a deep breath, put things into perspective, and remember what’s really important.
6 Meal Planning Tips for Working Moms
1) Make it part of your weekly schedule
If you’re looking for working mom tips that help save time and take the stress out of meals while also helping you create and stick to a health eating plan, my best piece of advice is to simply make it a habit. Pick a day/time each week to sit down and plan your meals for the following 7 days and physically schedule it into your calendar so that you don’t forget. It will eventually become a habit, and you will be amazed at how much time 20 minutes of upfront planning can save you over the course of a week!
2) Create a family calendar
If you struggle to stay on top of the activities, appointments, and social commitments for everyone in your family, create ONE master family calendar so you know who will be home for each meal and can plan accordingly. There are so many different ways you can do this – you can go old school and buy a wall calendar to hang in your kitchen, or you can download a fancy app that allows multiple users to make updates and changes. Whichever option you choose, make sure there is only ONE place where everything is recorded to help with your meal planning.
3) Compile a collection of easy recipes for busy times
Another one of my favorite working mom tips is to curate a mixture of recipes with varying levels of difficulty, and schedule them based on how busy your week is. In our house, we do more basic meals during the week, like baked salmon with roasted sheet pan veggies or a chicken Cobb salad, and on weekends we do more complex meals, like roast beef and honey-glazed carrots or spaghetti squash pad Thai.
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4) Use an app
When I first started learning how to meal plan, I used an Excel spreadsheet to create my weekly schedule, and while it certainly did the trick, it was tedious in that it required me to be in front of my computer. But then someone introduced me to the Paprika app, and it totally changed my life! Simply load your favorite recipes into the app and then you can create meal plans AND shopping lists which you can share with others via text or email. Learn more about the Paprika app HERE.
5) Prep ingredients and meals ahead of time
We often hear people use the terms ‘meal plan’ and ‘meal prep’ interchangeably, but they aren’t really one and the same. Meal planning is all about putting together a list of recipes for a given period of time so you can create grocery lists to ensure you always have the ingredients on hand, whereas meal prepping involves preparing meals ahead of time. Many people like to block off a couple of hours on Sundays to prep and freeze meals for the coming week (more on that below), but if that isn’t something you’re interested in committing to, chopping fruits and vegetables ahead of time can be a huge time-saver on days you know you’ll be strapped for time. Make sure to have a set of meal prep containers available so you can store and label everything. I recently invested in this set of glass storage containers and love that it comes in a variety of sizes, and that I can see exactly what’s in each container.
6) Make freezer-friendly meals
The last of my working mom tips for those who are specifically looking for tips and ideas to help save time and take the stress out of meals while also helping them create and stick to a health eating plan is to set aside time each week to create freezer meals. All it takes is one trip to the grocery store and a few hours in the kitchen, and you can have a week’s worth of freezer meals at your fingertips for a fraction of what you probably pay to feed you and your family. And it’ll save you HEAPS of time on busy weeknights! Of course, there’s a science behind this method – you need to know what to buy, what to make, and how to prepare it FAST. Thankfully, Erin Chase offers a fabulous course called MyFreezEasy which will teach you how to make 10 meals in an hour. I’m not kidding! Sign-up for MyFreezEasy here.
Whether you’re looking for time management tricks, tips for creating a smooth morning routine, or meal planning hacks, I hope these working mom tips help you as much as they’ve helped me over the years!
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