Until about a year ago, my husband and I worked opposite shifts and traded off with the kids in the middle of the day (usually in the parking lot of our company, where we both work, but sometimes at a nearby park). A lot of times I felt like I was going straight from one full-time job to another, since I was on my own with the kids until my husband got home around 3 a.m. Here are a few of the things I did to prepare myself for my “second shift” each day:
1.) Consider your commute your “me” time. This is harder when you have kids in the car, of course, but at least part of your commute can be all yours. Catch up on the news, listen to books on tape, learn a new language — or just turn off the tunes and enjoy the silence.
2.) Carry portable stress relief with you. Dot some soothing Peace of Mind (from Origin’s Sensory Therapy line) on your temples and feel the tension drain away. Stash a portable back massager in the car (or in your desk at work) to keep the stress from building up in your body; Life Fitness offers a lightweight, battery-operated one that you can strap around your back (you can find it at most CVS stores).
3.) Keep a snack in the car. I mean something healthy that can give you lasting energy — a fruit-and-nut mix, granola bars, an apple, a protein bar. Avoid energy drinks and anything high in refined sugars — you might enjoy a rush of energy for a little while, but the crash that comes afterward will just make your “second shift” more difficult.
4.) Change your clothes as soon as you get home. It’ll help you separate work from home, and may remind you to keep your office issues from creeping into your time with the kids.
5.) Have dinner already ready. Cook in advance and freeze an extra meal or two, or prep everything and have it ready to assemble when you get home after work. Your stress levels will drop dramatically if you don’t have to worry about what to cook for your ravenous crew the instant you get home.