As a mum who works part time as a Virtual Assistant from home I understand the guilt and pressures that we as parents face when we are juggling work and kids.
I’ve compiled a list of my top tips to staying sane as a working mum and keeping a perspective on what really matters!
It’s has taken 11 long years but I think I might be halfway there!
1. Make sure you are 100% happy with your childcare arrangements
As a working mum I have spent hours agonising over childcare. At one point my son was in three different settings. A childminder, a nursery and a pre-school.
It wasn’t easy and looking back, it probably wasn’t necessary. I was trying to make sure he had the best of both worlds as I didn’t like the idea of him being at nursey full time and missing out on seeing the friends he had grown up with. Luckily this time didn’t last for long and I really shouldn’t have worried so much!
Before choosing a nursery I made sure I visited them in person, my son included. The first nursery I visited left me feeling VERY uneasy. In fact, I remember bursting into tears after I had left! The children never went out as there wasn’t a garden, and there were odd jobs around the room I could see needed seeing to. One child was sticking his fingers into the holes in the walls.
They were Ofsted inspected excellent and had great reviews. But it just wasn’t for us. I panicked as I already had it in my head that ‘this’ was where he was going to go. But I took a deep breath and did some research on other childcare settings and options and found an amazing childminder.
I learnt then you must always trust your gut, and not to be pressured into anything when it comes to your kiddies. If you are going to worry about where your child is, you won’t relax, and you won’t be productive at work, not to mention that they are spending a LOT of time in an atmosphere that might not be good for them. For that reason childcare is TOP of my list! DO YOUR RESEARCH!
2. Get ready the night before
This is not easy for me. As a Virtual Assistant I can work at any time so I am more than happy to bustle away on my PC working late into the evening but that’s as far as it goes, after tea the PJs are on and I’m in wind down mode, so I keep it as simple as possible!
I do my ironing on a Sunday late afternoon while watching a film (great excuse to be in control of the remote) so everything is ready for the week ahead. My husband gets our son’s lunches ready each night while preparing his own.
I pack the school bags and get out any PE kit or musical instruments (see my next point!) and check to see if any slips need handing in.
Between us we have prepped and are ready to go each morning (just about – no one is perfect!)
TOP TIP: My work clothes are mostly iron free to save even MORE time. Got to love a bit of polyester!
3. Prepare your kids for the week ahead
So up until recently I never had a timetable on my wall until I was at the point of loosing the plot about what on earth was going on each week and regularly missing things (sorry Jack for all the Jeans days you DIDN’T wear Jeans!) That not only stressed me out but stressed my kiddo out!
You might have it all in your diary or calendar, but it’s super useful to have it laid out on an A4 sheet, up on the wall for everyone to see – share that responsibility! Add to it:
• What clubs are on each night
• When to do homework – when to hand it in
• When spellings are being tested – what nights to practice
• Which nights to read
• Any other important appointments
It’s not just for you but the WHOLE family to keep track of.
TIP: If ‘reading night’ is written down in black and white it’s almost like the written LAW! ‘I didn’t say you have to read right now, the TIMETABLE does!’ Sneaky….. It also saves on nagging – blame it on the timetable.
4. Organise your working time and try to stick to it even if that means being flexible on the where…
If you work set hours and are employed this is quite straightforward as your times are set for you. Job done.
If however you work from home and are self employed, it can be a little trickier depending on whether the kids are at home or at school during the day.
Decide on what times work best for you to get your head down. I’m an evening worker and often work late evening and break the rest up throughout the day. I’m super lucky in that being a Virtual Assistant the work is all remote and generally not time specific. Some people However prefer early mornings.
If your kids are at school then decide which hours you are going to work and don’t get distracted by chores! If you think you will, then get them done first. Out of sight out of mind does work. I also work in LOTS of different places. The car, the bedroom, office or lounge. It really doesn’t matter to me, but I do try and work in hour increments and just crack on. Mixing up the work environment can be really good for you too!
With smaller children you could decide to take them out early morning, then come home and have lunch and film time, while you cram a few hours in.
Try to separate your work time and your chore time into different chunks. Overlapping can get really tiring and distracting and can feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. It’s a juggling act, but you can TOTALLY do this!
5. Accept you are doing the best you can
The fact that you are working AND raising these little human beings makes you a Supermum for a start so don’t EVER forget it. Add into the mix that you are trying your best to keep on top of everything – hellooo you are fricking amazing!!
Life is never perfect and there always seems to be something else going on to keep us on our toes.
Once you accept that things don’t always go to plan, but you know what, YOU TRIED YOUR BEST, will make you feel less stressed and a lot happier. (a bottle of wine at the end of the week also REALLY helps! Get that ME time in!)
6. Delegate Jobs
Do you know what, you probably aren’t the only person living in your house RIGHT? So you divvy up those jobs!
Even if you are the only adult, kids are completely capable of helping out. Age dependant, let them empty the dishwasher, set the table, bring the laundry down, hoover etc. Okay so they may need a little persuading – my son is rather partial to a few pennies in return!
7. Learn to say no
So on top of being Supermum you might be the kind of person that:
• Helps out at events at school
• Volunteers your time at your kids’ clubs
• Bakes cakes for the school fayre
• Makes handmade costumes for World Book Day, Roald Dahl Day, Dress Up Day (these are also known as ‘Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare Days!)
• Puts in overtime at work
• Takes on another client when you are already at your limit
Can you see this list building up? Recognise yourself in there? At some point you might feel like an egg that’s about to crack? That’s when you say NO.
It’s a little word and its super hard to say, but sometimes you HAVE to.
Now and again you could buy the cakes from the shop instead of baking them, or look for a second hand costume off ebay for world book day. Maybe a friend can take it in turns to help at the school club?
It isn’t failing – it’s looking after yourself. And If you don’t look after yourself, you will find it really hard to look after anyone else.
8. And Finally…You Time
Make sure you meet up with friends, or run the bath and shut the door. Whatever your ‘me time’ is put a date with yourself in your dairy and KEEP IT! This point is at the end, but to be fair it’s probably JUST as important as item number 1 when it comes to juggling work and kids. How are you going to keep running on empty? Think of yourself like a car, and ME TIME is your fuel!
If you feel yourself getting stretched then that is where I come in!
I can take the pressure off you and help out in your biz! Feels a bit scary at first – I get it. But I am your MULTI-TASKING QUEEN. It’s the one thing that my clients say time and time again – they didn’t know they needed me till they started using me.
I’m more than just your typical Virtual Assistant that helps out with your admin. I have a creative streak and I’m the most amazing soundboard to help in your business I promise!
Do you like this blog post? Then you will LOVE my free blogging pack full of ideas and tips on how to write a banging blog for your audience here