How often do you wake up in the morning, look at the clock and find yourself groaning mainly because of two reasons: you are late for work and even more late to send your kids to school? Or that every evening, while swinging in your office chair, you look at your wristwatch and let out a louder groan because you promised your children you’ll be home early. I know I did, at least some six months back until one beautiful day when I finally hit that perfect work-life-family balance. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
It’s not rocket science. Here are five ways I learned to manage kids and work without upsetting anyone in the picture:
Create an accessible family calendar
A family calendar is one of the many things you need when you are sandwiched between work and kids. It is a great way to map out everything onto a piece of paper or cardboard that hangs at a place where everyone in the house can see it. The calendar can include things like dates of events at your kids’ schools, due dates of payment of bills, birthdays of your kids, family events or dinners, essential office meetings, and so much more.
If, however, your kids are tech-savvy like mine and prefer a more organized and tech-based approach, you can use Google calendars on your smartphones and share them with your kids. Each of you can put up color-coded reminders, appointments or events so that everyone is on the same page.
I have stuck to this routine for six months, and there have been no instances of forgotten appointments, deep resentment from the kids or any crying sessions whatsoever. It’s safe to say, life couldn’t be more peaceful and balanced.
Use time efficiently
Six months earlier, I’d wake up every morning to the sound of my kids crying and whining; simply put, mornings were a disaster. By the time I would head back home from work, I would again find them sulking and grumbling about their meal times. And then you know the drill; become a madwoman in the kitchen to serve food to your babies as quickly as possible. Only if I were more prudent in using my time efficiently back in the days. Well, I eventually did learn to do that.
Because of your busy schedule, you wish to spend as much time as you can with your kids and do things with them. Your work is going to take a big chunk out of your time, regardless. However, if you spend whatever time that is left a little more wisely, you can strike a great balance between work and children. Use your weekends to cook for three to four days in advance and freeze them, so what your kids really need to do is heat the food up when hungry and eat it, in case you are running late from office.
If you can manage, hire a cleaning service once every week so that you don’t end up spending too much time on cleaning and washing. Get your kids to help you in other chores and turn it into a fun session; this way, you get work done and also spend time with them.
Communicate with your boss and request a flexible schedule
Among all other things, this has probably been the most helpful in getting me to manage my work life and family. It is imperative for you to request your employer or boss for a flexible work schedule that works both in favor of your workplace and your family. My boss has been particularly considerate and kind enough to let me tailor my work according to my needs and requirements.
Some of the changes I requested for in my work schedule were reducing my working hours, working an earlier shift on some days and compensating for that by working late on other days, telecommuting once every week, and more. I would often ask my colleagues to cover for me on certain days, and I would return the favor later when I could.
Doing this left me with so much more time and helped me greatly in dividing my time equally between children and work. On days that I work an earlier shift, I take my kids out to movies and dinner and spend quality time with them. On other days when I work from home, I also help my children with their school work and extracurricular activities, so it’s a win-win for all of us.
You need to take care of your mommy-brain
When you are juggling office meetings or paperwork and school or mom duties, you are likely to be stressed out at the end of each day. You will end up being physically, emotionally and mentally drained and your brain will have lost all its energy and power to function. And this eventually takes a significant toll on your ability to manage work, kids, home, and everything related to these things. I, myself, was on the verge of a breakdown six months ago.
Until one day, my exhaustion levels knew no bounds and, being always worried about taking a brain test, I started consuming all the brain-friendly foods I could get my hands on. Broccoli, almonds, eggs, blueberries, tomatoes, sage, fish, yogurt, you name it.
Being a working mother, you are always moving back and forth between one duty and another and sometimes, you have no energy left in you. Thus, make sure to follow a proper diet loaded with brain-boosting foods that are rich in all the essential minerals and vitamins you need. Do some activities that help your mind stay sharp, like playing a brain test game. While the benefits may not seem very apparent, with time, you will realize that you are super-efficient in your work, and when you get home, you are less tired and capable of spending quality time with your kids.
Get help from your spouse
This hasn’t been said enough; you don’t have to do everything on your own. Your husband is equally responsible for the children’s duties. Let’s be real, you are not a machine, and you cannot possibly take over every job and task at home while also working simultaneously. My husband displayed great support and understanding when I raised these concerns to him. Now, we are equally involved in our respective workplaces and also at home with the kids.
Get your partner to do stuff and divide responsibilities amongst yourselves. Make sure that one of you drops the kids to school and the other picks them up. When you are working late, get your husband to do some house chores and perhaps, take the kids out to dinner. When your husband is tied up at work, you take over and do the job. Doing this will ensure balance, and both you and your husband will be able to manage things with great ease.
Some of you might be thinking that it’s easier said than done; that’s what I used to think too. However, once I got the hang of it and mustered enough courage to make the desired changes, my life took a complete turn, and I couldn’t be happier. My boss is satisfied, and my family is at peace. Therefore, I am at peace.