Tosha is a mother of five, a former childcare provider, and currently a business professional.
Let Go of the Little Things
Successfully balancing work and family is a challenge for even the most seasoned parents. The first thing to remember is that you’re not perfect, you’re never going to be, and that is perfectly ok. Learn to let go. There are only so many hours in a day. Sadly, you are only human, so things are going to be missed, and that’s alright. I promise you that at least most sane people are not going to walk into your house and judge you for a sink full of dishes. Obviously, you shouldn’t live like a pig, but don’t be so hard on yourself for the little things. Remember that the most important job you have as a parent is raising your kids to be the best version of themselves they can be. That requires love, attention, guidance, discipline, and patience. Kids don’t need a sparkling clean home and Betty Crocker for a mom, baking a pie and folding their laundry. When the choice between doing that sink full of dishes or cuddling on the couch with kids and watching a movie arises, take the movie and cuddles.
Having a baby is a joyous experience, and we all fantasize about what kind of parents we are going to be. We dream of this picture-perfect family life, one that includes well-adjusted, well-behaved, happy kids, and a great career for us working moms. The truth is that this is a fantasy; there is no such thing as a sitcom family where all the problems are solved in a 30-minute episode. We got real problems, and the struggle no matter how well put together you are is trying to balance it all. This becomes even more difficult for those of us who work full time or are single parents.
Get the Kids to Help Out
Get your kids to help with chores, even though this may seem difficult at first. Often times, especially with younger kids, it’s faster and easier to clean up their toys yourself or fold that load of laundry without little hands messing up your neatly folded piles. I promise you it’s better, in the long run, to get them involved young. You are not a maid. Like I stated above, one of your most important jobs as a parent is preparing your child for adulthood. Involving them in chores is a huge benefit in so many ways: it teaches them necessary life skills. Eventually, when they get a bit older and better at doing these tasks, it gives you some much-needed help. It is also a great way to spend quality bonding time together.
After my divorce, my life was so much easier because I taught my kids from an early age how to help around the house. I’m the sole source of income in my home, so when I have worked a ten-hour day and I come home and still have to make dinner, straighten up the house, get everyone a bath, help with homework, and try to find a minute or two to just unwind this would be impossible without help. Therefore, the compromise in my home is this; we all work together. It’s such a simple concept when you think about it. While I’m cooking dinner, the kids are helping straighten up. When it’s time to do homework, the older ones are helping the younger ones. When it’s time for baths my kids are gathering their clothes and helping to wash themselves. Before you know it, the work is done, and we can all have some time to relax or play.
I talk about this concept a lot but it’s because it’s such a huge time saver. For me, I do most of my grocery shopping Sunday morning, and yes, I take all five of my kids. After the grocery store, I prep each meal for the week, put it in a freezer bag, and label it. The night before, I thaw it in the fridge. During our chaotic morning routine, I throw dinner in the Crockpot so by the time we all get home we have a freshly cooked healthy meal. This can even be done with casseroles, in which case I prep a few casseroles, throw them in the fridge, and pop them in the oven when I get home. This is a huge time saver, it’s healthier than going through a drive-thru, and it is easier on the wallet.
Schedules and Routines
I'll admit that this seems a little on the nose, but schedules and plans make life easier, especially when you're balancing work and family. The trick is to have routines and schedules to minimize the chaos. You don’t want a strict timeline where your whole day is planned out and life is boring. You need to allow for spontaneity, but having a routine can do wonders.
Try preparing ahead of time: set that timer on your coffee pot, have the kids pick out their clothes, and round up their shoes before bed. I have a scheduled time for homework and chores, and most importantly, for some relaxing time. Having events that take place around the same time each day will minimize the chaos. There are a lot more hours in a day than you realize when you prioritize and schedule accordingly.
Take Time for Yourself
Most importantly, take time for your self. Everything is about balance. You can’t give 100% to your job or your family if you’re not at 100% yourself. Find time for that bubble bath and glass of wine or make the effort to exercise or read a good book. Remember, you are more than just a mom, wife, and job title; you're also you. It saddens me when ask another mom what she does for fun and her response is "um..."This is just not ok. Plan a mommy vacation, have a girl’s night out, or get dressed up and go on a romantic date with your husband. As far as we know, you get one life, so live it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on May 08, 2018:
This is a really useful article with people with busy lifestyles. I only have myself to look after though thankfully!