Working mamas: figuring out the magic formula to balance work and family life isn’t easy (or possible?)
I’ve been struggling with finding a balance for almost 5 years now, and I always feel like I’m on the constant hunt for that magic ‘hack’ that will make it all work. To feel like the balance of work and family life isn’t some impossible, unreachable thing I’ll never achieve.
But here’s the thing: that magic hack doesn’t exist. And while that is insanely unfair, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other tips, ideas, and ninja moves that simply help, even if they don’t fix it all.
Which is why, when I started feeling like everyone else had it together except me, I turned to my tribe for some advice on how to keep it together. And let’s just say their words totally blew me out of the water.
I am so, so lucky to be surrounded by a group of hard loving, hard working, busy mamas- both online and in real life.
I put out the call on Facebook asking what working moms do to keep their family life together while also trying to make time for themselves, and I was rewarded with some amazing answers!
Listed below are the tips, tricks, secrets and, hacks that all help balancing work and family when you’re a working mom.
These routines and systems (and secret ninja moves) keep their families’ lives running as smoothly as possible. They also help to fit in a little self-care time and get everyone out the door in the morning. Which is no small feat!
As I read through the comments, I kept getting so excited! These tips were so good, so actionable, so helpful!
But reading comments and tips is one thing. Putting those tips into actual use is a whole different kettle of fish.
And so, without further ado, here are some of my favorite tips from my fellow working mamas (these were comments left on Facebook and I’ve edited them for clarity and brevity!)
Megan, marketing specialist and merchandising: I’ve started sacrificing an hour of sleep in the morning to get up alone, shower, answer emails and get my day organized before the chaos starts.
Marcela, teacher: I bought a cardboard file organizer and labeled it Monday- Friday. On the weekends, my 6-year-old and I choose his clothes for the week and place them in each slot. Then he gets dressed during the week with no struggle!
Jackie, teacher: I order my groceries from Amazon Fresh and have them delivered, and I got a bi-weekly cleaning person (worth every penny!)
Katie, client services manager: I will often use my steamer bc I can make two foods at once – my son’s pasta and his veggies!!
Jennifer, public relations senior manager: I organize my purse/bag the night before, and make sure to check the weather and see if I need to pack an umbrella, what shoes etc. I pack lunches after we make dinner so everything is ready for the next day.
Tricia, PharmD: I have my nanny come early, so I can get ready in the mornings. I’ve mastered shower/makeup/hair in 30min or less.
Eva, healthcare administration: My main life hack: lowering my standards.
Karen, senior editor: I’ve finally trained both my kids to pick out their own clothes and dress themselves and it makes a world of difference in the mornings. At least on the days they are being agreeable!
Lizz, event planner: I listen to work-related/biz lady podcasts on the way to work, parenting/other podcasts on the way home.
Christine, operations manager: Capsule wardrobe, for everyone! The fewer choices I have to make in a day, and the less clutter, the better.
Sofia, owner of a martial arts school: I am making the Instant Pot my new best friend! It’s really helpful to get it cooking overnight so that I have something ready to take to work. Then all we have to do is heat up in the evening because for our family, we all eat at different times.
Elizabeth, executive assistant: For the mental load, my husband and I found the concept of “silos” to be really helpful. We each have a list of things we’re “in charge” of mentally and then decide on who will physically do the task at any given time. Writing it out feels more complicated than it actually is! It’s definitely the biggest part of “making it all work” that we’ve found.
Becca, teacher: I pump breast milk at work so after he goes to bed I am portioning milk into bottles, washing all pump parts and packing it all up for the next day. I get my outfit out of the room before he goes down (we room-share for bedtime).
Samantha, salon owner: My favorite hack: you can clean your entire house with a pack of baby wipes.
Jessica, television producer: I’m loving mason jars right now for meal prep. Breakfast: fresh berries and Greek yogurt, toss some granola on top before you eat or before you toss it in your bag to eat at work. I prep 4 at a time and treat myself on Fridays. Lunch: chicken, veggies and a grain. The jars help with portion control and I use a different sauce on each to mix it up. Then, Monday to Friday, I have my boys do a 5 min tidy while I’m making dinner. I put the timer on and they pick up as much of their stuff and put it away as they can. Some days it’s amazing and some days it just removes a layer of toys but it’s always an improvement
Abigail, biologist: When we only had one kid, his daycare was the opposite direction from work. I would drop him off and then go back home for 30 minutes, and that totally changed my days. And I decided to leave the Christmas lights up all year. They’re festive.
Domonique, partner manager: I now shower at night (which was really weird for me at first) but saves time in the morning. And I only cook 2-3 nights during work week so there’s enough for leftovers the other nights, and order takeout Friday.
Olivia, social media manager: Does ignoring the kids count? Just kidding. I made my kids their own snack bins in the pantry. Therefore, if they need a snack, they don’t need to ask. And believe me, they need a snack all day.
Lindsey, lawyer: Time blocking. It’s like the opposite of multitasking but allows me to be more efficient with my time and give my kids more of my undivided attention. When I work on a document/project, I only do that and don’t look at email, etc. Then after work, we truly focus on playing, then family dinner, then usually a family bike ride. They get that dedicated time and I’m not distracted by work, because I separate the two.
Tifani, health coach: Success is scheduled!! If you need to do it, it goes on the schedule. As a work at home mom I schedule breaks through tasks, short 3-5 minute breaks every half hour so if a kid needs me, they don’t need to interrupt because they know I’ll take a break soon
Emily, copywriter: On longer days I rely on caffeine.
Cyndl, credit operations specialist: Making sure I incorporate my girl into everything I do when I’m home. She loves to help sweep. My self care translates to: I do face masks and she has her play makeup. She has her own fairy garden she tends to while I actually garden. If she asks to join, I never say no, even if it means it’ll slow down the process.
Melissa, VP of partner operations: One night a week I have my nanny stay late and put my daughter to bed. That night I’ll get a mani/pedi, soulcycle, dinner with friends, etc.
And that’s it!