As a working mom, you are pulled in many directions. You feel that everybody needs you -- your kids, your spouse, your boss, your parents, your committee and your community. And normally, they all need you at the same time.
It's difficult to make it all work, yet some people seem to do it better than others. Here are some tips from a few working mothers who somehow manage to get it all done and keep it all together.
1. Get up earlier.
Setting aside an hour or so in the early mornings when everyone else is sleeping and the phones are not ringing can make an hour seem like two. The "early bird" was on to something.
2. Simplify your make-up routine.
One working mother stopped using mascara. Not only was it faster in the morning, she didn't have to worry about midday smudges. It also made bedtime makeup removal fast and easy.
Just say no to television and you'll be surprised how much more time you have on your hands. Kimberly, an executive who also is a scout leader, board member, room parent, soccer coach and active volunteer notes, "Watching TV was a giant time waster and wasn't really adding much to my life. I'd rather work on a project with my son, bake cookies for a bake sale or make calls to volunteers. I invest my time in my own reality show – it's a lot more rewarding!"
4. Cell-Phone friends.
Chances are your friends are as busy as you. If it's been weeks or months since you've had a long girlfriend lunch, consider the cell-phone chat instead. Making a few quick calls on the way to work or coming home from a client's office is a great way to check in with other busy moms just to let them know you are thinking of them. They'll likely appreciate the brief attention and will be glad to know you care. Think of it as a "cellular greeting card."
5. Get ready first.
One mom, who commuted to the city once a week, always gets her shower and work clothes on before the morning chaos begins. "This allowed me to focus on the kids and help them get ready each morning. I was no longer trying to dry my hair while they were brushing their teeth. It really reduced my stress levels, because I wasn't rushing around at the last minute."
6. Fast food.
There are a lot of mealtime conveniences beyond the drive-thru, tv dinners and mac and cheese that can make you feel good about what you are feeding your family. Consider the pressure cooker that can cook tender, juicy chicken breasts in 10 minutes or cooking beef stew all day in the crockpot. Cutting up and separately wrapping small pieces of beef for stir fry and individually wrapping burgers in wax paper can make thawing quick and easy. Slicing and dicing fresh veggies with the latest kitchen gadget from Pampered Chef can make side dishes ready in minutes in a steamer. Instant rice takes 10 minutes, couscous just five. Chicken can be purchased in strips already cooked for easy additions to a salad or pasta.
7. Calendars and Post-it Notes.
Behind every do-it-all working mom is a great calendar and lots of Post-it Notes. Creating a family calendar where you log all the music lessons, sports practices, birthdays and bar mitzvahs is one of the most important things you can do to keep your work and life in balance. Whether on your Palm Pilot, your desktop or your kitchen counter, having every family and work event on the same calendar will help you avoid double bookings and missed appointments. When you get the school calendar, write down everything for the full year. Update your calendar daily with notes from school, volunteer meetings and dinner dates. Use Post-it Notes placed strategically in your house, on your keys and at the office to help your remember key events.