You know it – the struggle to find a balance between work and family life. It's a constant dance, trying to delicately balance the demands of your job and the joys of your family … and sometimes it can be the joys of your job and the demands of your family. I've gathered a few tips from personal experience and from other moms.
Find Quality Child Care
Mom guilt can be crushing. I have a wonderful situation with my daughter in a classroom just down the hall from my office at a childcare facility. I can peek in and see what she is doing at any given point of the day. She is happy. She is playing. She is learning. She has friends. She loves her teachers. Knowing this makes it easier for me to work hard and without too many distractions. She knows things that she wouldn't if she was home with me (I'm not sure we would be learning which animals live on farms and which animals live in the zoo if we were home together). I know for certain I wouldn't have thought to teach her all the colors in sign language. She is learning to get along with other children, to find her place in the world, and to have self-control and problem-solving skills. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that my little lady is taken care of and growing by leaps and bounds is priceless.
Another alternative is in-home child care, an opportunity for your child to remain in an environment in which he feels comfortable and at ease, again, giving you peace of mind he is happy while you are away from home.
Get A Little Organized
Those of you who know me are giggling at this one. Sure, my house is not spotless, my laundry is not folded, and I have eight pairs of shoes at the bottom of the stairs waiting to be carried up. But, I am way more organized than I used to be. My clothes – shoes, jewelry and all – are laid out each night. There is no fumbling around in the morning to find my necklace. My daughter has already picked out what she will wear the next day, including which, if any, barrette she will wear. Her bag is packed for school before bed and hanging on the front door. Her "show and share" item has already been decided upon. Getting prepared the night before makes our mornings easier and even gives us time for an extra cuddle or two.
Start Planning Meals
I can't tell you what a difference this has made in our lives. We eat healthier, we don't go through the drive-thru anymore, and good snacks are always available. On my late nights, dinner is quick – maybe pasta with a jarred organic sauce. On my early nights, I can get more adventurous – maybe a curry dish or tacos. I even have become good friends with my slow cooker. But, I had to start planning. Each weekend, I sit down and write a menu, and then I shop from this menu – either in the store or using the online shopping at a local grocery store (I love having the shopping done for me and picking up the groceries, as it saves time and a little money because I don't impulse buy). Sometimes, my husband will grab a pizza on the way home … but for the most part, we eat food that I know is good for us and that we have prepared at home.
Easier said than done, I know! It's so easy to check our email or update our Facebook status. It's easy to let my daughter sit in front of the TV. We all need a moment of down time. But I try to think about what she will remember about our home life when she's older. This week, we've had a dance party, set up an ice cream store, ridden scooters, and created masterpieces with sidewalk chalk – and through all of this, I've tried to keep my phone put away so I can focus on our time together.
It's a nightly ritual for my daughter, my husband, and me to get into our bed and read books before bedtime. We each pick a book and then we take time to read each one – sometimes each more than once. We have found that this time often turns into a ticklefest, but my daughter looks forward to this each night, and this time serves as a transition to bed time.
We all know that it's a delicate dance that we do to maintain a balanced life. I struggle to find this balance, and I have only one child who is only three years old. I know things will only get more complicated as she grows. But I hope that we have begun to set a nice foundation for the years to come.