{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?

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?

 

Why Mentoring Is Overrated And Why Sponsorship is Better

A mentor has become one of those things that we are all ‘encouraged’ to have if we want to get anywhere in our career. But, do you REALLY need a mentor?

No.

Mentoring is overrated, however there are ways you can leverage this approach if you apply these 4 career strategies.

A board of directors

It is important to have many mentors, and not only rely on one person. In this way, you have access to a wide range of people whom you may seek guidance from. Example, have someone who inspires you across different aspects of your life . You could admire someone for living a healthy lifestyle, how they prioritize family, how they run their business, etc. Mentors can be more senior than you, junior or even peers. It depends on what you want to learn from them.

Would you like to be my mentor?

Let’s be honest, no one wants this pressure, it’s just too much to ask someone to be your ‘ultimate’ role model. I have never approached anyone to be  my mentor, but I have a handful of people who I learn from across different topics.  I have people who inspire me to:  stretch myself at work, integrate home and family,  look after myself, etc. Labelling the relationship is not required. 

Additionally, approaching someone from scratch and asking them makes the relationship seem “forced” and one dimensional. I believe that a mentor and mentee relationship is beneficial if it is built on a foundation of mutual friendship and is mutually beneficial.

Having a sponsor is better

A sponsor is someone with decision-making influence in your organisation. They attend meetings higher up than the ones you attend and this person ‘leans in’ on behalf of you. You may not always know who your sponsors are but they use their social and political clout to support you. When a special assignment comes up, this person will advocate for you in your absence. A reality of the working world is that visibility of your contributions (not the contributions by itself) is what will get you the recognition. A sponsor plays a key role in helping you achieve this visibility. By being a strong performer, adding value to the organisation and others you will acquire sponsors.

Stretch assignments have a big impact on growth

Let’s be honest, do you really need another company leadership programme or another mentor link up? Assignments with increased complexity have a strong impact on career growth, more so than what a mentor can provide. This is especially true for females, where companies invest heavily in implementing leadership programmes. The impact of sponsorship and growth experiences can have a bigger impact on career growth than a leadership programme.

In closing, have many mentors at all levels and ensure that these relationships are built on a foundation of friendship. Very importantly have sponsors, and ask for stretch assignments. Now go be a lady boss!

Related Post: Working Mom Hack: How to ask for what you want at work, the right way

 Featured Image: istock

 

{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?