I remember the day that I realized the importance of getting help. It was at a birthday party for a little boy who was friends with my son, Parker. The kids spent an hour playing on bouncy castles before settling in for cake and presents. I stood among the other parents and struck up a conversation with a very nice mother. When I mentioned my schedule for the weeks ahead, she blurted out, “I just don’t know how you do it.” How cliché. This comment is so common in working mom circles they even made a movie about it!
I have three young children all with after school commitments happening in different places often at the same time. I travel several nights a month for my job, which has its own set of responsibilities. And, I have a super-hyper puppy that destroys everything from my kids’ favorite toys to my most expensive heels. I’ll admit, from the outside, my life looks really crazy!
But, the truth is, I don’t do it all.
Instead of struggling to balance everything, I’ve learned to ask for help wherever I can. Instead of exhausting myself with the extra stress of household tasks, I utilize the services and support of people that are fully equipped to help me. I hire a handyman service to finish quick repairs at home and ask our nanny to pick up ingredients for dinner on her way to our house. I know it can sound very “diva-like” but it is actually just being resourceful. Why is it so hard for mothers to turn duties over to others? Is it that we feel guilty or inadequate? Do we feel weak if we ask for help? Are we too proud? Are we afraid of relinquishing control? Are we scared of being judged? Or maybe we think asking for help is admitting defeat.
There are many underlying reasons why working mothers struggle with asking for help, but it’s a necessary part of being a successful working mom. The unfortunate truth is that trying to do too much means that the quality of everything we do is reduced. Sooner or later, we break down and realize that all we are doing is not allowing enough time for what matters most—our family.
“I don’t have anyone to help me!” “Someone else just wouldn’t do it right.” “It’s easier to just do it myself.” “I can’t afford to outsource anything.”
Sound familiar? We’ve all felt this way and said these things, but here’s the reality: you are not new to outsourcing. Whether you realize it or not, you already delegate tasks on a regular basis. As a working mother, we effectively assign the care and education of our children to others when they go to school or spend time in child care and we balance errands and chores with our spouses.
By further maximizing my support network, I make my life a lot easier. If the business world outsources to be more efficient, working mothers can (and should) do the same!
1. Make a list of tasks you can delegate: To begin thinking about which household tasks you can delegate to others, ask yourself the following: which tasks do I find enjoyable and which are time-consuming and exhausting? We are always more productive when we focus on the things we really want to do.
When I went through this exercise, my focus was on outsourcing any task that took me away from what was important to me: career-building or family time.
I found that the biggest time commitments outside of what I valued as important were domestic responsibilities—cleaning, cooking, and regular errands like dry cleaning, groceries, and driving kids to their weekly activities (and we have a lot).
Obviously, we all need to take on some domestic responsibilities to ensure that our household runs smoothly. But by honestly asking yourself how you can be more efficient and by utilizing the support networks and services around you—you will be able to run your home without running yourself into the ground.
2. Find a good fit: It goes without saying that all tasks cannot be done well by everyone. My housecleaner would be terrible at doing our taxes and even worse at mowing our lawn. The trick is to play toward everyone’s strengths before you assign any work to others.
3. Execute: Let me now demonstrate how I execute this model in our home. Getting myself and three kids ready for work and school on time each day is a major feat that is not easily accomplished in my house (or any other for that matter). For most dual-working families, this is the single most stressful time of the morning and evening.
Something that has worked well for us is asking a local teenager or our extended family members to help with the child care drop-off or pickup. If you can find someone who just wants to earn a bit of income (as you would pay by the job or by the hour), you can financially help another person by providing work and help yourself by reducing stress.
I’m able to zip out the door on some mornings and leave my helper to get the kids off to school or child care. For a few extra dollars a day, it is worth its weight in gold!
You get where I am headed with this. Try to keep outsourcing on your mind as you go about your day. Think about what you are doing that could be done by someone else—a family member, a hired helper, or a service.
Anything that frees up your time and allows you to focus on your family or your career is a good investment. We have such precious little time, so do your best to make it count!
One of my favorite things about being a working mother is the vast number of successful and empowered women I get to meet. I learn from them, I steal ideas from them and I laugh with them.
Many are married or have significant others, while plenty of others are blissfully single and also managing working motherhood. All of them also share one secret trait:
They have on-going affairs with their work.
I know, so many of you reading this are getting ready to criticize and say things like:
Your kids should always come first,
If you focus too much on work, you will miss everything that really matters
I would like to throw out a different idea:
Is it really wrong to love working?
Just last week, one of my empowered working mothers shared the following (after a few glasses of wine and the promise to remain anonymous):
Some of my co-workers make back-handed compliments saying things like “I just don’t know how you do it.” They want to see me fail. I have finally realized that they are just jealous- they see that I have a passionate love affair with my work AND I love my kids. They wish they felt this good.
I say…more power to you PWM!
I have said it many times before…I am truly lucky to have a man in my life who understands how much I need to have an affair with work. I care deeply for my children and they are the most important thing, but I also love what I do.
The work I do is makes me a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, manager, and community member. The energy I get from working enables me to do more and be better for others. This is something really special.
So my advice to you PWM’s…
Go have an affair…with work!
PWM’s Top Pics/Resources
Working Mom Survival Guide
When Good People Have Affairs
Guilt Be Gone
I have two beautiful boys, 11 and 8 who keep me busier than I ever thought I could be. Especially this week because it is fall break (I swear we never had this much vacation when I was in school). For working parents in general, this schedule is tough. As I am home this week, getting up early and staying up late to get my work done and shuffling the kids around non-stop during the day, I contemplate the many reasons I am thankful for my children:
1. Thanks to my children, I am developing my short order cook skills. No one likes the same thing, so I have become very good at cooking three separate meals at the same time.
2. Thanks to these two boys, I have become an expert in laundry. I am so thankful that they wear approximately 3 outfits every single day and put everything on the floor. That way I can find it when I need to do laundry (which is every day).
3. I am thankful that my 11-year old knows more than I do and he isn’t even a teenager yet. This morning he walked into the kitchen and this is the first thing that came out of his mouth:
“Did you know that the tectonic plates move at the same rate our fingernails grow, 8 cm per year?”
I am serious, that is what he said. I don’t even know if that is true and had to look up the spelling of ‘tectonic’.
4. They keep me in a routine. If I didn’t have to say 10 times every morning and night “BRUSH YOUR TEETH”, I might forget myself.
5. They keep my negotiating skills sharp. While I am not currently working as a lawyer, I negotiate more with them than ANYONE else I have ever had to deal with.
- Take three more bites, ok one more bite.
- Ok, fine, you can go to bed smelly but you have to shower in the morning.
- No, you can’t have 5 Rice Crispie Treats. You may have 1 sugar snack. If you are still hungry, you have to have something healthy.
- No, may not buy a toy at Target, that is not why we are here. Fine, you can get some candy on the way out.
- No, you can’t have pizza for all of your meals today, you may have it for one meal, you pick.
- You may each occupy the video game machine for 30 minutes. I will set a timer and when it goes off, you guys have to switch.
- It is now getting cold out, you may not wear shorts and a sleeveless shirt to school. One half of you has to be covered. You pick ~ pants or a long sleeved shirt.
- Eat 5 more bites of your dinner and you can be done. 45 minutes later…fiiiinnneee, have 3 bites.
6. I am thankful that they are still getting up in the middle of the night. It keeps me sharp. While the boys normally sleep through the night, every once in a while, they like to remind me what it is like to wake up and have to act immediately without thinking or actually waking up.
7. I get to see what it is like to be a bus driver. Oh wait, I am a parent. Then why do I spend most of my time transporting them all over the county?
8. I am super thankful they begged me for months to get this dog because they take such great care of her. (that was a joke, they spend approximately 30 seconds with her each day).
9. It is awesome to see them getting bigger and become more grown up. Now, when they get into an argument, there is always a physical altercation that ends with one child injured.
10. I love how inexpensive it is to have kids in sports. At the beginning of the soccer and football season, I spent over $200 in the athletic store buying crap for sports. That is a new record.
In case you didn’t notice, I am letting off a little steam this week. Note to self: lobby to have the kids in school more often and/or plan fabulous vacation for next break.
If I am being truthful (and not trying to be funny), I love these boys more than anything in the whole world. It is truly like seeing your heart walking outside your body every single day. I would do anything for these boys and feel blessed that they are mine. I really am a thankful (and tired) Proud Working Mom!
I am a busy working mom with lots of responsibilities. On top of that, I am trying to stay fit. I used to be a runner but knee pain has kept me from running for almost six months now. I am 5 pounds heavier now than I was a year ago and it feels like a slow leak in a boat. I can’t do what I love (running) and am gaining weight. So what is a busy mom to do? I think I have found the solution:
Check out YogaDownload.com ==> Official Site
YogaDownload.com – What Is It?
Before reviewing YogaDownload.com, I joined the monthly membership site to see what it was all about. It has been about three weeks since I joined and I am really impressed with the layout and the classes. Once you join, you have unlimited access to over 500 online classes from some really great yoga instructors!
Whether you are a beginner to yoga, want to target a certain part of your body, or are an expert, there is a class for you. I found classes like Beginner Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Power Yoga, and YogaDownload.com even has Pilates and Barre classes. Also, it allows you to learn about yoga and practice it in the privacy of your own home.
YogaDownload.com – What I Like
As a working mother, the thing I like most about YogaDownload.com is that it can go virtually anywhere with me! I can fit in a yoga class after the kids go to bed, at lunchtime, or even in the morning (but I am not a morning person so that hasn’t happened yet). I don’t have to belong to a gym, or drive to a gym, or pay for a gym.
I also love that YogaDownload.com has a few classes where you can download a PDF of the class. It has the whole class on a page that can be taken anywhere. It provides this working mom with lots of opportunities to do yoga.
YogaDownload.com – What I Didn’t Like
I am really impressed with the classes and the video quality (and the music) the one thing that I would like is to have the PDF download for all of the classes. I had a hard time finding the download for some of the more popular classes.
YogaDownload.com – Overall Thoughts
After joining the membership program and doing yoga several times a week, I have to say that my body is feeling more flexible and stronger than it has in a long time. I also love the flexibility that having it all online provides. I think that YogaDownload.com is an amazing website and recommend it to my fellow PWMs!
Click here to check out YogaDownload.com!
Nothing gets me focused like a cup of coffee, a late night, and a deadline. It is how I work. When I was a practicing attorney, the pressure to perform on time was always present. That is how I have operated for most of my life. I need deadlines so I know how far I can push something off before I really get focused and get it done. I think clearer with this pressure and am more productive, as odd as that sounds.
Hi, my name is Julia and I am a recovering procrastinator.
I feel confident speaking as an expert on this topic today because I have been doing it my whole life. I remember many all-nighters in school getting final papers written and as an attorney, many late nights finishing motions or preparing for trial.
When I became a mother, the deadlines increased but my philosophy remained the same. In addition to work deadlines, the kids have deadlines every day: add money to their lunch accounts by tomorrow, make sure they have done their homework by tomorrow, make sure they have clean clothes for the next day, make sure they are bringing this, that, and the other to school, sign them up for next season’s sporting events, don’t forget practice tonight. The deadlines are endless and it can be exhausting. It wasn’t working because I also needed to sleep at some point.
Since I have become a mother, I have tried to change my procrastinating ways in favor of a more organized approach. It has helped me accomplish all of my work goals and my goals at home without pulling any all-nighters. Here are some tips on how to stop procrastinating and get things done:
Make a list- Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the number of things that have to be done on a given day or week. It helps me to make a list so that I don’t forget any of these important things (because that also happens). I organize my lists to include the things that must be completed at the top and the other less-urgent items towards the bottom.
Accomplish one “non-urgent” thing on that list each day. If I am lucky, I will accomplish all of the things that need to be done on time. That is my goal at the end of each day. I also try to accomplish one of the things that didn’t have to be done that day. It makes me feel good when I have completed a task early and there is no running around at the last minute. Also, getting one more thing done than I need to makes my overall goal seem less overwhelming. For example, it is now almost February and my Christmas decorations are still up. Getting the holidays packed away is always an overwhelming project that I really hate. Instead of doing it all at one time, I have vowed to pack away one box of decorations per night. At this rate, I should be done by March.
Let go of perfection. It is not always going to happen and it is not always going to be perfect. Deal with it. A few months back, my son had a project due at school. We were running around at the last minute, trying to get just the right materials for the project. When we couldn’t find exactly what was needed, I took a step back and let my creative 10-year old improvise. It wasn’t perfect but it was done on time. There was no yelling or panicking and I was really proud of my son for his finished product.
Procrastinating is not your friend and a more organized approach will help you continue to meet deadlines without driving yourself (and those around you) crazy.
Now I want to hear from YOU. What are some of your tips to help our fellow PWM’s stop procrastinating?