{Working Mom Hack} 7 Tips to Get More Time for Yourself and Your Family

Being a working parent, I am always looking for ways to maximize time with the family and for myself. In between the morning rush, getting to work, and then running out the door at 17h00. The week is just madness.

Here are seven tips that help might just help you!

1. Grocery Shopping

Try to do as much of your grocery shopping during the week when possible or online. This will save the pain of having to take your Saturday morning to have to do your top up. Grocery shopping on the weekend is my pet peeve because it takes so much time and I feel that it ‘eats’ into my weekend time.

2. Do as much shopping as you can online

Following on from above, do as much  your shopping online if you can. Nappies, milk, meals, gifts, kids clothes, books. My favourite online shops are Woolworths, Takealot, Spree, and Zando.

3. Lower your cleaning standards; there is no ‘clean house police.’

[bctt tweet=”Working Mom Tip for saving time: Lower your cleaning standards, the cleaning police are not coming” username=”cherralle_”]
I am sorry, but I am not going to spend my weekend cleaning the whole day. Of course, keep your home in a liveable and relatively tidy state. Tidy enough so that if you have an expected visitor, you can quickly clean it in five minutes flat. Seriously the ‘house cleaning police’ are not coming. Yes, I am blessed as I have a nanny who also tidies in the week. With kids, this is a constant issue though. I promise the house is a mess on a Saturday morning. When you have spare time on the weekend, don’t clean. Just relax, read a book, do a fun activity with the kids, talk to your husband, do anything just stop cleaning. If cleaning relaxes you then, by all means, whip out the mop.

4. Cook bulk meals where possible

Try to do at least one or two bulk meals on the weekend. Even if you don’t cook, at least do as much of your preparation on the weekend. I try to cook at least two to three nights worth of dinners on the weekend, and it makes a huge difference. Some weekends I am not cooking, and am just chilling though (see the previous point!).

5. Still get your hair and nails done -but after hours

At one stage I was going to a hairdresser on my way to work where I could pop in at 7 am or after hours, and it was on my way to work. HEAVEN! I did not need to take any extra time as it was just about carving out that extra 30 – 45 minutes to get there. Ask your hairdresser or nail technician if they can accommodate special hours, just ask, a lot of salons are willing to go the extra mile and do this.

6. Block your diary

Blocking out two to three hours a day has changed my working life as I was being swept away in meetings. Blocking my dairy each day helps me have a productive time in the day where I can focus on getting things done. This means that I can manage to leave work at a decent time most days (this is an ongoing work in progress for me).

[bctt tweet=”Working mom time saver: Blocking 2 – 3 hours a day in my dairy each day allows me to get things done” username=”cherralle_”]

7. Work out a routine for your family

Did I ever mention how much I love early bedtimes? For the kids, not for me 🙂 I do need my space for a few hours in the evening to just chill out. Let’s be honest; do parents need the routine more than kids do? I think there are strong arguments for that. With my second daughter we are a bit lose on the routine, but she is perfectly fine and still sleeps decent at night! Figure out what your family needs are and go with that. Herewith an article from Quick and Dirty Tips on how to set up a family routine to simplify your life if you are interested.

Take care of yourself, as a parent you have many demands on you, work, life, family. Its important to carve time out for yourself too. This post is titled, tips for finding time for your yourself and your family.

What are your time saving tips?

Life Lately Update and Why I Am Writing a Blog for Working Moms

I started writing on the blog about two months ago, and I wanted to share an update of how this has been going. In this post, I will cover:

  • why i write
  • why i want to write about working moms and their careers
  • currently reading, watching, anticipating and feeling

 

I write.

Writing has given me an opportunity to share thoughts on parenting and working motherhood.  At times I feel as if I am bearing my soul, it is sometimes scary to push that publish button.

I learnt from South African blogger Melissa in 9 Lessons I Learnt in my first year of Being a Blogger that feeling scared at this juncture happens.

Why do I want to write about moms and careers? Because moms deserve awesome careers too.

I often come across women (including me) who:

    • work hard but who are afraid of starting a family as they fear it will damage their career
    • pressurize themselves (and each other) to be perfect
    • talented women, not claiming their space at work because of myths that ambition is not for ‘mothers’
    • Guilt around not being “mom” enough and guilt around not spending enough time at work

Is it hard being a working parent? Yes, nothing worth it in life is easy but it is also very rewarding. I do not  have the answer to these dilemmas, what I do know is that we need to be okay to talk about it.

Whatever you decide as a woman, you need to do what works for you and your family.

[bctt tweet=”I believe in choice, whatever you decide, whether its being at home or working, its up you” username=”cherralle_”]

Posts that people responded well to:

Do I Still Need to Lean In When I Am Just So Tired

Will Gender in Kids Clothes Every Go Away and Should We Even Care

I Am Okay with Being a Good Enough Parent (in SA Mom Blogs)

This demonstrates that people are enjoying reading about real accounts where personal experiences are being shared.

The blog

Having a blog is work, boy oh boy! To maintain my blog, I am writing, reading, commenting on blogs, and always researching trying to figure out how to change something ‘technical’ on my blog.  I feel at times like my blog is a third child in my life, it needs love, attention and time. It’s an intense hobby.

[bctt tweet=”I feel at times like my blog is a third child in my life, it needs love, attention and time” username=”cherralle_”]

I read more now than I ever have in my entire life. Topics I read about: content marketing, social media, writing, motherhood, career topics, digital marketing, any topic to broaden my knowledge. The blogging community is very engaged and supportive, and I am learning a lot from them.

Currently

Reading: Shonda Rhimes – Year of Yes and am about half way. It is a very entertaining read and I now I cannot put it down (after a super slow start). I am in love with this book.

Watching: Game of Thrones (duh!)

Anticipating: we have a week of holiday coming up, so I am looking forward to this. Also, Caitlyn turns four in September, and Ava turns one in October! Insane how quickly time has flown by!

Feeling: Feeling excited about all the new things that I am learning, and all the new people that I am meeting (albeit virtually).  I am also feeling appreciative about people responding to my blog, and hearing that something resonated with them.

That is me.

If you are a working mom, what topics would you want to see in a blog that will add value to your life and career? Let me know in the comments or contact me.

Do I still need to ‘lean in’ when I am just so tired?

I came across Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In when I was on maternity leave with my first (December 2013). I was planning my move back to work and I was struggling coming to terms with being a mom and how that fitted in with wanting a career as well.

Then…I caught an interview with Oprah and Sheryl Sandberg, and I was blown away.

Here was a woman, a mother, super successful, COO of Facebook (right!) and she was setting the path. I immediately bought the book on my kindle – there was no time to get to Exclusive Books. I had to have it right then and there.

Related PostPart 1: Our Journey Of Equally Shared Parenting

Sheryl was telling me that I have choices.  ‘Hey even if you have a kid, lean in, go for it, allow/ encourage your husband lean in at home,  etc.’

I totally lapped it up and yes it was challenging but that became my motto. Lean in! The world was my oyster. I even had a lean in circle and quoted her in conversations. I loved this woman (and I still do).

 

Now here we are 3 years later, am I still leaning in?

lean in when tired

I now have two kids, we are a  mostly functional 🙂 and happy family. Sheryl was right by the way, ‘leaning in’ has been good for me, it came with stretch assignments, rewards and  sponsors. All good. As I said, I love this woman.

So everything is okay…. but I am so darn tired. So tired. I have two kids now, and I am over thirty, if I have not made it clear already having two kids is really busy and exhausting (yeah yeah I love them and all that).

[bctt tweet=”Lean In to the things that make you happy” username=”cherralle_”]

What I actually am saying is that I will lean in but will lean in to things that make me happy and fulfilled. This is something I started thinking about when I returned to work in February from my second (and final) maternity leave.

Related Post:  7 Things a Working Mother Wants To Tell her Boss

Leaning In: Where to from here?

Leaning in at work too much  takes time, head space and emotional energy. It could leave me with nothing left to give. Time is less of an issue, I mean actual emotional energy and head space. And I need that emotional energy and head space to live my life.

I want my girls and my husband to have me as part of their lives.

This book remains one of THEE books for me and I still find so much value in these ideas and that can be a whole post on its own.

My life has evolved and what I take from Lean In has evolved too. I needed it at a stage of my life, where I needed to understand how to work through being a mom who also WANTS to work.

And it served it’s purpose beautifully as I took exactly what I needed from it. It still remains a truly inspirational book to me.

I still need the concept of leaning in, but in a different way

I still believe there is value in the ideas from Lean In  for me personally as I do still want to work and make an impact through my work.

I like to think of leaning in, as having choices and as leaning in to what makes me fulfilled. It is not about leaning in to climb the ‘corporate ladder’, but it’s about ‘doing me’.

That is why it is important for me that the work I do excites, energizes and interests me.

I like how Cathy Caprino puts it “Let’s just choose what we want, and live that.” Lean in to life, work, family, kids,  whatever makes you feel fulfilled and happy. As life evolves, we evolve and change and that is okay.

Do you have any mottos, quotes, books that you find inspirational?

 

Dear stressed out mom – take care of yourself

Women are 70% more likely to suffer from work related stress than men. Women are also known to be masters at juggling home, work and friends leaving them over stretched.  In that regard taking care of yourself, need to be intentional. Incorporate these 4 practical lifestyle changes right now to take better care of yourself.

I am a work in progress and trust me when I say I do not follow these to the letter, however I aspire and I wanted to share this knowledge with you. I was mostly inspired by Arianna Huffington’s Thrive journey. Arianna Huffington launched Thrive Global with the stated purpose to help companies  and individuals achieve their best through focusing on overall well-being. ‘You do not need to be ‘burnt out’ to have success in life’ is a key tenet of this movement.

Vintage filter, Green lotus leaf at garden.
Image source: i stock

Do the Thrive Pulse Check

On the Thrive website, you may access the Thrive pulse check   which I recommend you complete. It has  10 quick and easy questions about your lifestyle. According to the thrive pulse check I am “Part Time Thriving”.  Nice way of saying “I need to get my it together before I fall deeper into bad lifestyle habits”. There are a range of categories, the lowest being a “Burned out Zombie”. Ouch!

Sleep with your smart phone outside of your bedroom

women in bed with cell phone
Image Source: istock

I have not managed to get to this point! I know its hard, but by leaving your smart phone outside of your bedroom (or in  the cupboard) you are freeing up time for yourself. Consequently, you will have time to either read a book, relax, reflect, or connect with your partner. We are constantly digitally connected and so it is important to build in time to disconnect from our smart phones.

Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day

A tall order when you have young kids. Regardless, one of the key elements of thriving and getting it together is sleep…important for moms too, not only for babies.  Seven to nine  hours of ‘sleep’ is being prescribed  to ensure you are well rested.

Work in extra rest wherever possible that suits your life style. The main reason moms do not get enough sleep is not only related to baby waking (although that is a key one). In actual fact the reason is that moms stay up a few hours after their children have gone to sleep, because this is the only kid-free time they have. However, going to sleep soon after the kids have gone to bed and reducing non critical activities in the evening is recommended (easier said than done I know).

Be mindful

Mindfulness is about being present, engaged  and intentional in each moment and interaction.  Its about being human in our interactions with people, and  showing our true self. The  ABCs of mindfulness are:

A is for awareness – Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – whats going on in your mind and body.

B is for “just Being” with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.

C is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.

To leave you with more food for thought, I found this awesome Infographic  which outlines 12 steps to Thrive. Do you have any activities that help you to recharge?

Inspired by Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive, we created this artwork to remind ourselves to question what it means to be successful in today’s world.

Arianna huffington 12 steps

Featured image: Source Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{Working Mom Hack} Asking For What You Want At Work (the right way)

Knowing how to go about getting what you want at work does not need to be a mystery.  As your company invests more in you, you return the favour by being the awesome employee that you are. It really is a win-win. It all starts with asking. Here are 5 working mom hacks you can apply right away, to get what you want.

What do you have to lose?

Related Post: Bye Bye Mommy Guilt, Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mother

#1 More training / study support

So, you want to study further but HR advised you that the company only covers a fraction of the fees ‘as per the policy’? Here is what you do. Work with a sponsor (your supervisor or mentor) and draft a one page motivation to request an exception. Your motivation should outline costs and acknowledge the policy (this shows you read it and you are not disregarding it).

Finally, it should include why this programme is good of your career and for the company. The fact that you have applied your mind to your studies in the context of your career will count in your favour.

#2 More flexibility

Importantly, be good at what you do when you are in the office, then  ask for flexibility . You want to be in a position where no one really cares about where you work, as you always deliver.  Suggest a trial period at first and show how it helps your employer (i.e. you will be more productive, not just easy for you).  You will often find a manager being more open to flexile arrangements if its positioned as a trial at first.

[bctt tweet=”If you are requesting more flexibility at work, ensure your work output is impeccable!” username=”cherralle_”]

#3 More maternity leave

Your company will probably have a  set policy in place, but if you want to take more time off you need to negotiate your maternity leave with your manager.. This is quite a challenging one to navigate.

Position the maternity leave request as early as possible (immediately after your completion of your first trimester). The critical factor that will be considered in an extended maternity leave is the backup plan. You will be leaving your colleagues behind to take over your work while you are off having a baby (as important as this is, it’s a pain for those left behind).

Related Post: The Other Side of Maternity Leave: The Coworkers We Leave Behind

Come up with a unique way to cover some of your responsibilities. Example, volunteer to train an Intern, you could groom someone for 6 months and you can set this person up to support the team in some activities.  Whatever the solution is, do not throw your hands up in the air. You need to lean in and work with your manager to work out what your backup plan is. This may help towards getting that extra bit of maternity leave.

#4 More professional memberships

If you want to join a professional community, whether your company has a policy or not, you should request your boss to sponsor it.  This reflects your dedication to your craft. It also helps with you remaining up to date with trends (which is good for business) and allows you to network.

Related Post: The Side of Motherhood That We Do Not Post on Instagram

[bctt tweet=”Studying further and professional memberships reflects your passion for your craft” username=”cherralle_”]

#5 More visibility

If you want to gain more exposure to high value projects, or gain more access to senior leadership – ask. Be good at what you do, and then ask for more. Your manager would be willing to expose you to more opportunities, if you have shown your credibility in other tasks.

In closing, an employer will invest in employees who have demonstrated their commitment to the company through their performance. As a valued employee, you can and must enhance your position in the company by asking for what you want. Spend time with your manager, mentor or HR to understand what is available but also be encouraged to lean in and ask for what you want. 

What do you have to lose?

What do you think, do you have any tips for asking what you want at work?