Balancing work and family is one of the biggest challenges that I face on a regular basis. Considering what I read on the internet and see on the television, I think most women fall into this category.
I was thinking that no matter how much I enjoy my job, it is hard not to feel guilty about the time spent away from my sons -- and more than ever I am torn between doing what I love to do and spending more time with my kids.
We all experience the mad race to get out the door -- we all have the inevitable exhaustion at the end of the day. I want to share with you 10 tips that I have learned from my own mother and my working-mother friends that make my week a lot easier.
1.) On Sunday, cook extra pasta and rice to use later in the week. Cover either of those with a sauce or add a side and a fresh salad for an instant meal. Plus the rice and the pasta take the longest to cook.
2.) Make one meal a week -- a one pot or one dish or one pan meal. My favorite is lasagna with finely chopped spinach. Line the pan with foil and clean up is a breeze.
3.) Make dinner time family time. My 4-year-old puts out the napkins and his "job" is to keep the 1-year-old entertained while I put out the food. Dad does the dishes and we have a true family dinner. Everyone helps out.
4.) Ask your caregiver, babysitter or nanny to recap the day for you if you missed it. I have a journal where anyone can write -- me, my parents, our baby sitter, the nanny, and my husband. It's fun to read what everyone wrote about the kids and the day. Then you don't feel you missed so much.
5.) Try to get flextime with your boss -- if you have one. Can you work from home one day a week? Can you work four 10-hour days? Can you work earlier or later in the day?
6.) Ask yourself regularly, "What does it really matter?" Especially when my husband or dad is minding the kids -- if they are safe and their needs are getting met, does it really matter that he has blue and green pants, yellow socks, and an orange hawaiian shirt for preschool? My father let my son go to preschool in his batman costume -- without the mask -- and in the end we all had a good laugh.
7.) When you have to go back to work for the first week, have your husband or mom watch your baby so you can concentrate on your first days back. Then start the daycare the following week if you can. It makes transition easier.