This week, I will mark 15 years since I became a mom and I’m still figuring things out as I go along. This parenting thing is a wonderful gig but it is not always easy. When the kids were younger, I used to hate when people said to me “little kids, little problems” as I walked around in a constant state of exhaustion. I have such a visceral reaction to this phrase now that I refuse to say it to new mothers. No matter what stage of parenting you are in, we are all in the same boat. Some days are smooth sailing and others are filled with rocky waters. To the moms who have younger children, I’ve been where you are even though I may not be rowing along right next to you. Right now, I’m at the helm of the teen/tween cruise line where life preservers are required. Someday, I’ll be an empty-nester watching my children from the shoreline as they surf the waves of adulthood and try to stay away from high tides. I remember some of the times I think I would never want to go back to like Jenna biting other kids in her preschool and Andrew crying so hard when he was upset until he would throw up on everything (or everyone) closest to him. I couldn’t wait for them to grow out of these phases and onto the next one. And yet, I miss taking them music class and reading stories before bedtime.
January 2016 archive
Disclaimer: I am no expert at attaining work/life balance, but I work really hard at it. For me, it is all about time management. If I can find increments of 30 minutes to save throughout my day, I feel like a winner. Here are some examples of ways I find precious time in my day.
- I raise (somewhat) self-sufficient kids – Give your kids more responsibilities around the house as they get older. About a year ago, I declared my lunch-making days were over and told the kids to make their own. At first, it was a disaster. Someone ultimately forgot a juice box or a sandwich. But then, they learned to pack PB&J, a piece of fruit, a cookie and a drink. This saved me time at night to take care of other chores the kids weren’t ready for yet. Now that my kids are older, I’m teaching them how to do their own laundry. When they can do this without turning the entire load pink or leaving the random Sharpies in their pockets, my work/life balance will be that much more attainable.
- The 3 D’s – Delegate, Defer, & Do – I’ll tackle the first one here. Delegate things to your spouse or partner or others. Last week, I received an e-mail about the 6th grade chorus singing at the Philadelphia Soul game. It included a 5 page document on how to order tickets, medical/emergency forms and permission slips for the event and the bus. 5 PAGES! My husband happened to be home with the kids over winter break so I asked him to check with our son to see if he wanted to go. Then, I took it a step further and asked him to fill out the forms and order the tickets. Guess what- he did it. Another 30 minutes saved.
- Two words – Google Calendar – Besides the typical doctor appointments and kid schedules, I have some weird things on my calendar. Send can of tomato sauce to school with Andrew. Buy gift for Jenna’s friend. Pick up book on hold at library. Some people use Evernote or Siri to set reminders. I put everything in my Google calendar. It has automatic reminders and everyone in the family has access to it and can add things when they remember to do so. I refer to my calendar all day long, Like an adult security blanket, I’d be completely lost without it.
- Defer – Just like you, I receive so many e-mails and they all scream some level of importance. I have become quite agile at determining the actual DEFCON level of the e-mail and whether or not to defer it or better yet delete altogether. The time it takes me to deal with each one as it comes in saves me 30 minutes in the long run of going back and looking at them all over again.
- Do – Just Do It is a slogan I live by on a regular basis. Instead of putting folded clothes in a laundry basket that will ultimately sit in the hallway for days on end, I’ll try and skip the basket entirely and just put the clothes away. Before I go to the drugstore or the supermarket for a specific item, I look around to see what other things need to be purchased so I don’t have to go back out again.
- Friends Don’t Let Friends Watch Friends – I know Rachel gets off the plane. I know Phoebe has her brother’s babies. I know Richard tries to steal Monica back but she ends up with Chandler. I know Joey still loves sandwiches. I know all of this. So, why do I continue watching back to back episodes of Friends every night of the week?! Talk about a time-suck! I am taking back those 30 minutes (or 60 or 90) and doing something much more productive with my life – like going to the gym, reading a book or watching a new show on Netflix that I’ve never seen before. The point is find your time-sucks and then banish them. You will be surprised what you can accomplish!Okay, your turn. What is the one thing that helps you attain work/life balance?