Do you find yourself stressing about everything? Do you wish you could clone yourself or that you could still function on zero hours sleep? Do you struggle to juggle your career, look after your children, manage your house, have a relationship with your partner, and find some ‘me time’? Do you get home from work, after a long day and wish you could just relax, instead of having to tackle another to-do list and prepare a nutritious dinner, which the children won’t pick at?
Do you feel guilty that you are spending so much time making sure you don’t drop any balls, that you don’t have quality time left to spend with your children, being the ‘fun mum’ you know you could be…if only you had more time? Are you worn out and exhausted, so even the smallest thing makes you snap? And then you feel even more guilty. Or do you feel like you have it under control (sort of!) until you, your partner or your child(ren) gets sick and then it just snowballs and its hard to get back on track? Do you feel like you are drowning most days, overwhelmed by life and rushing everywhere?
If you can empathise with any of the above, the first thing is to know that you are not alone. It is almost impossible to have it all and find that elusive work-life balance, but we have listed our top 10 tips below which hopefully should help you.
1. Schedule everything. Whether you use the calendar on your phone, a large whiteboard on the kitchen wall or a diary in your handbag, plan it all. And stick to it. Or at least try to.
2. Plan the night before. Getting school uniforms ready, packing the bags (including a spare set of clothes, depending on your child’s age), putting out the breakfast bowls and cereal and making packed lunches will all ensure that school mornings are not so chaotic. You could even go one step further and plan outfits for the week, after checking the weather forecast, and hang them in chronological order.
3. Have a checklist, on the fridge or near the front door, to make sure you don’t forget anything. This might sound like overkill, but the less you have to think about, the easier your life will be. Why do you think Steve Jobs wore the same clothes every single day?! After settling into a routine, mornings will seem like they are on autopilot, rather than a struggle to get out of the door in time.
4. Spend some time on a weekend planning for the week ahead and cooking batches of food which can be frozen. If you don’t get chance to do this or you simply can’t be bothered, when you do cook dinner later in the week, always cook twice as much, so you can save some for another night. Slow cookers are also great, for quick, healthy meals that all the family will love. Simply throw it all in, put it on a low heat, and it will be ready when you get home from work. You can even buy ones which sear the meat for you too now, saving one more job.
5. Speaking of food, get your groceries delivered. It is the easiest and cheapest thing to outsource. Shopwings will even shop at several supermarkets for you, for just one small delivery fee. Plus, it arrives within the hour. As well as supermarkets, they also deliver from Kent Street Cellars, Pet Stock and Ikea. This also saves on those toddler tantrums in the middle of the snacks aisle.
6. Make sure you get enough sleep. Easy said than done I know, but if you are sleep deprived, you will snap more easily at your children and end up feeling even more guilty. Staying up late to finish a work project is not worth it, if you end up making mistakes.
7. Have a dedicated bag for everything, so you never have to repack a bag and forget something. Have a daycare/school bag, a work bag, a beach bag, a swimming bag etc. And hang them on a coat rack in your hallway or near the front door. Also, leave a spare phone charger at work, so you are never left short.
8. Declutter your home, so that you can always find what you need. Get some good storage units or tubs for your children’s toys. Once a month, go through them and check what they still play with. If it isn’t being used and doesn’t have sentimental value, take it to a charity shop or give it to a friend. Perhaps you could even organise a toy swap once a month with friends, to save buying yet another new toy.
9. Ask for help. Outsource as much as you can. We are a big believer at CC HQ that you can do ANYTHING, but not EVERYTHING. We are here to help you. You can outsource your to-do list to us, either on a regular or adhoc basis. Other things which are easy to outsource are cleaning, home cooked meals, a reliable babysitter (for that much needed time out and gardening.
We can assist you in finding all of these vendors, plus anything else you might need. You may see it as an added expense at the start, but time is the most valuable asset we have these days, especially if you are a new or working mum. If there is something you don’t enjoy, such as ironing, you should definitely look into outsourcing it, even if it is just once a fortnight or month. Every little helps. This will give you more time to spend with your family. Life is too short to not do what you love.
And if you can’t afford to pay to outsource anything, make sure your partner is pulling his weight and get your children involved in age-appropriate chores (simple things like putting away their clothes and toys).
10. Last but not least, don’t be hard on yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you don’t get everything ready the night before or would rather watch your son play football on a Sunday than spend half a day cooking, then that’s okay too. Be kind to yourself and the rest will follow. Happy, healthy children are far more important than a neat and tidy home.
Don’t set your expectations too high either. There is no such thing as the perfect mum, the perfect wife or the perfect employee. Find a balance that works for you and your family and remember, you are doing an amazing job! If your children are happy and healthy, you are killing it!
Please let us know what you think, and if you have any other tips to share with sleep-deprived and hard-working mums reading this.