Eldest child dressed in school uniform? Tick. Coats on ready to go? Tick. Nappy incident that requires the swift removal of coats? Tick. Important work documents for today’s meeting? Tick. Baby sick on shoulder of new work clothes? Tick.
It’s no wonder that working mums need to utilise every single minute , so how valuable would an extra half an hour every day be? Is it really possible for a working mum to claw back an extra half hour each day? Here are 10 ideas for you to try!
1. Teach your child independence. No matter how painful the initiation stages of this process, this’ll ultimately reward you with time. Start by offering your child choices about their clothes or food in order to instil self- belief and decisiveness. Build up to dressing themselves, or even have a low cupboard with their drinking cups that they can go and fill up. Yes, this will sometime drive you mad when you are late for work and they insist they are going to ‘do it themselves’ as both legs are jammed down one trouser opening, but ultimately it’ll make your children less likely to whine ‘MUUUM’ every 5 minutes whilst you shower.
2. Cut the cleaning in half. Follow great advice on making your life easier during the cleaning chores. Keep all your supplies in one place and clean as you go; wiping up spills straight away instead of leaving them to harden, necessitating a remedial chisel, will ultimately save you time. And ultimately, be less fussy. Think “Cleanliness is next to… driving myself into the ground with exhaustion”.
3. Share the load. Make friends with other working mums on the nursery run and, once rapport is established and a few play dates are under your belt, broach the subject of sharing the drop offs and pick-ups.
4. Learn to do it online. If you’re not already, invest the time to get your groceries delivered. Buy children’s cards and gifts in bulk so that you never have to do that last minute shopping dash when an unexpected invite arrives. Next time you get an email flashing up from Amazon saying “20% of all kids’ toys” do a bulk shop for the various parties!
5. Master the art of saying No. You’ve heard it before and you’re going to hear it again. Working mums are expected to do a lot, not only work, raise the kids and manage the household, but often , their business and time-management skills are commandeered for every committee going. It’s quite simple, two letters – NO! (Although you may keep your friends and your job if you follow it with a ‘thank you very much’).
6. Try to be simply great rather than perfect. Due to spending less time with the kids during your working day, as a working mum you probably have a tendency to strive to be super mum in every other aspect of parenting. “Reading, you say? We’ve been conducting a Jolly Phonics lesson each week with our eldest”, “Food, ah yes, I make everything from scratch”. It’s OK to be simply great, settle for that. Perfect doesn’t exist, whether you work or not.
7. Buy a wall calendar. Sounds simple and obvious – it is. Capture all those birthdays, appointments, nights out (yeah, right!) in one visible place.
8. Sort out your wardrobe. Clichéd, I know, but having your work clothes separated from your day clothes and your skirts, trousers etc. in dedicated areas will really help your turnaround time. An added benefit will be saving you time and money on shopping trips as you realise that you already have all you need.
9. Don’t put off until tomorrow. You get home from work, the kids need feeding, bathing and stories. The post needs opening, the kids’ bags need unpacking and the food shopping is about to arrive……and breathe! The last thing that you’ll want to do is file that post, but do it and straight away. It’ll take 5 minutes, a far cry from having to set aside 4 hours to sift through that huge pile of ‘filing’ at a later date. Try to adopt a “handle it once” policy for your paperwork. You’ll never actually 100% achieve this, but the principle will serve you well.
10. Remember to have fun. There’s never been a truer adage than ‘time flies when you’re having fun’. However an observation is that additionally everyday tasks seem easier. It’s all too easy as a working mum to include all tasks in the ‘chores’ category and view them as a big tick list, even those to do with the kids. So what if the floor gets covered in flour during the baking sessions, or that the dog will be scratching glitter out of his ears for the next three months? Laugh, real belly laughs, and feel renewed to take on the world.