With my foray into full-time work quickly approaching, I feel like my to-do list is mounting while the time is dwindling (I suppose this is a supply and demand thing for your econ geeks). For this project, I really need to be out the door by about 7:15, a full 45 minutes earlier than we have been leaving! Yikes! So with this shift, I’ve started to look at some working mom hacks to help me get out the door and get on with life and word as quickly as possible.
So what are working mom hacks? Pretty simple, really. They’re tips and tricks that I’ve picked up from either my own experience or from other, way cooler working moms that help streamline my life. I’ll be honest about a couple of these: some of them include paying a premium like paying for grocery delivery service fees. Some of these working mom hacks aren’t going to be suitable or doable for all of you. but they may be doable for some. And my goal with some of these hacks is to provide a mix of ways to maximize your family time that isn’t rushed or frenetic.
Working Mom Hacks: In the Morning
Morning is the hardest part around here. My son is an early riser and demands his smoothie tout suite, and my daughter would rather lounge in bed and wake up around 9 am (first of all, she has good taste; second of all, she comes by it honestly). These differing schedules have helped me come up with some tips to get out the door.
1. If you didn’t choose your clothes the night before, have your children help you in your closet. Seriously, my kids love helping me choose a dress or blouse to wear for the day. Sometimes we get a little fussy when I have to turn down the “so beautiful” ratty gym shirt, but that rebuttal comes with deep regret on my part.
2. Kids love to feel empowered with choices, and a smart parent sets the choice scope for breakfast. On our way downstairs, I’ll often ask my children what they want for breakfast: a smoothie, bagel and cream cheese, or apple cinnamon waffles? The trick here is that I’ve taken the known universe of our kitchen and pantry and narrowed the choices down to 3 possibilities that are easy to make and portable. Like I mentioned above, my son loves smoothies, and I’m digging using Vega All-in-One Protein Powder as the basis for his smoothies. It has some veggies and plant-based protein so I feel a little better about him sipping on a smoothie with this as the base.
3. Pull those pre-packed lunches out of the fridge. Admittedly, this one is less In the Morning and more The Night Before, but it bears pointing out that having a pre-packed lunch in the fridge, ready to roll, is a lifesaver. And often there are a lot of repeats: yogurt tubers, string cheese, grapes, strawberries, and blackberries make a lot of appearances. But I like to think that while kids love routines, they also love the predictability.
4. Embrace cold brew coffee. I’ve talked about it a little before, and it bears repeating. I think going over to cold brew coffee is likely my most brilliant working mom hack yet. I can steep it the night before, keep it in the fridge for close to a week, feel good about saving money, and have my java ready to roll before I walk out the door. No messing with timers or inadequate scoops. It’s just cup, ice, pour, enjoy!
Working Mom Hacks: During the Workday
Just because you’re in the office doesn’t mean you can’t use your time efficiently! Sometimes taking a quick break to scroll through Amazon is a welcome respite from your daily tedium. Other times, you may have to be a bit judicious with your down time. Either way, here are a couple of working mom hacks to help out during your work day.
5. If you are able, pump while you work. Maybe this means taking your laptop with you into your designated area. Maybe you can close your door and pump at your desk (I have a few friends that love the Freemie!). When I pumped for both of my kids, I took about three 15-minute breaks each day to make sure they had enough milk. That many breaks away from your desk and/or work can kinda break my stride, so where I was able, I pumped and worked.
Quick note on pumping and working: Some sites indicate that stress may inhibit a woman’s milk let down. If pumping and working gets you too stressed to effectively pump where you might have been able to pump effectively before, you are not a bad mom for choosing to stop pumping and you are not a bad employee for choosing to focus on pumping during these breaks. I can’t make that decision for you, and only you know which one is right for you and your family.
6. Managers do this all the time so take a cue from them: figure out what you can delegate. Can you set up a diaper subscription service so it’s one less stop on the way home? Can you quickly plug into Instacart, choose your groceries, and have them delivered by the time you get home? Your time is worth something so treat it like the valuable commodity it is! These services are great tools to utliize to help you spend a little more quality time at home rather than rushing from errand to errand.
Working Mom Hacks: Winding Down at Night
Nighttime probably gives a lot of us anxiety: it sometimes feels like there are a lot of tasks to complete with little payoff (although, hello! sleep is a really great payoff). Frequently, we’re logged in and plugging away even after the kids go to bed. Stop focusing on that for a hot second and think about what you can do.
7. Yes, you do have to feed them. You can use your time to meal plan (I’ve been partial to Once A Month Meals for a while now) or you can throw some Easy Mac into the microwave. Dinner doesn’t have to be a thing – repeat that one after me again… dinner doesn’t have to be a thing – and it can be an easy grab from the freezer or an easy grab from the pantry.
8. If your kids aren’t wearing uniforms just yet, have them choose their clothes the night before. Letting children make choices that affect them gives them a sense of empowerment, and it’s often pretty great to see what choices they make. My kids don’t wear uniforms right now, but I do try to help them coordinate what they wear. For example, both of my kids may go to school in Lion Guard shirts so we don’t have a fight in the morning… and fewer fights mean more smiles.
9. I’ve mentioned it before, but wind down with your kids. At the end of the long day, you and your children have been away from each other, and spending those snuggly moments together helps both child and parent reconnect. It helps your children to feel secure and safe, and for me, it’s always a lovely reminder who I’m working hard for during the day.
Now, I’ve laid out these working mom hacks, but I feel like a disclaimer is necessary: even if you implement these hacks, even if you come up with a schedule or routine that would make well-oiled machines jealous, even if you think you’ve done everything right… chaos is bound to happen. Rigid schedules aren’t necessarily fun or sustainable which is why working mom hack 10 is…
Remember to go with the flow. Some days you may lose your chill because you have a meeting and the baby just spit up all down your blazer. Some days your child is going to miraculously remember that they have a book report due in a matter of hours that they didn’t mention at all during homework time. Some days it’s just going to stink. Remember that those days are fleeting, and you can do today.
What hack would you add to the list? What tip or trick helps you keep you on target? Let me know below in the comments!