6 Realistic Tips for Working Mums with Toddlers
Posted on January 19 2018
As a working mum with a five-year-old and an almost-two-year-old, I can completely relate to the insane and often hectic daily routine in which you find yourself. As you wake up at the crack of dawn to plan yet another seemingly unplannable day, you probably find yourself asking whether anyone else lives such a lifestyle as well. After all, is it possible to be both a mother and an employee? Trust me, as a business owner and a mother of two, I know it’s hard, but yes, it’s completely possible.
It might seem like every day is a battle; and of course, sometimes it is. But there are plenty of tips for working mums with toddlers available, and I’m the first to admit I’ve tried heaps of them (failing at some, conquering some.) Even if it seems like there’s no way to get the children ready and then work a full day, it’s possible! Here are some things that are currently working for me on a daily basis.
#1 - Use a planner
If you don’t use a planner or some form of organiser, you’re not starting out on the right foot. With so much to do on any given day, it’s almost impossible to remember it all. Planners exist in many forms, and you can either purchase them online, in a store or make one yourself. I use our very own mum planner to plan my working day, as well as anything else I need to do for my family. If ever you need something to remove working mums guilt, a planner is it.
Daily, weekly and monthly planners enable you to plan your work hour by hour, as well as allocate time to spend with the kids. It might seem like this is overly organised simply to fit in time with your family, but with only so many hours in the day, it’s all too easy to spend too much time working, and not enough time with your family. There has to be a healthy balance.
I’ve also found planners are useful for scheduling both work and family appointments. For example, you might have a work meeting at 10 am, but you might have a dentist appointment for the children on the same day. By using a planner, you’re able to effectively manage your time and ensure you don’t forget anything important (and don’t forget to make use of cute planner stickers!).
#2 - Set realistic expectations
One of the most important tips for mums with toddlers I’ve found is to always set realistic expectations. On a daily basis, it’s so easy to stretch yourself too thin, and put too much pressure on yourself to perform. The truth is, there are only so many hours in the day, and it’s so important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Setting realistic expectations can apply to both your home and work life.
If you’re working for someone else as opposed to running your own business, make sure your boss understands your firm working hours, and avoid taking your work home where possible. If you work from home, as many of us do, it’s helpful to set firm working hours for yourself. Remember, an hour extra on work is an hour less you spend with your family.
Those realistic expectations can also apply to how many chores you can get completed in a day, after just spending several hours working, and several hours playing with the kids. Don’t be afraid to leave that washing until tomorrow. I did, and it was the best thing I could have ever done.
#3 - Plan meals in advance
If there’s one thing most mothers have in common, myself included - it’s that meal times can be a lot like feeding time at the zoo. Carrots might have been your toddler’s favourite vegetable yesterday, but today, they might hate them and refuse to eat them. Such is the life of a mother of a toddler. One of the many working mums’ benefits is being skilled on how to use a range of computer programs. Such knowledge enables you to plan out meals for the week in an organised and non-chaotic fashion. The more structured meal times are, the more likely they are to go off without a hitch.
Use a spreadsheet to work out the protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable for each meal. Compile these into days of the week, then build a shopping list out of those ingredients. By planning your meals and meal times with military precision, you will spend less time aimlessly looking in the cupboards. You will know what you’re eating on what day, and you can even cook in advance to save time the following day.
#4 - Don’t forget to have fun
As a working mum, I’ll be the first to admit that it can often be all work and no play, but it’s vital to have fun and do it regularly. Your entire week doesn’t have to be structured, even if it helps for it to be so. Of course, plan your working day around daycare pick-ups and drop-offs, but why not eat fish and chips at the beach for dinner one night on a whim? Or, on a lunch break, pick up your tot from daycare for a surprise picnic lunch? There’s nothing like making memories. (I think the highest point of my day is finding time to do a “Netflix binge” with my husband once the kids are in bed.)
#5 - Don’t feel guilty
So many of us, at some point, will suffer from “mum guilt”. You might miss a sports game, or you might need to work late and miss out on playing a board game with the kids. While those times with the kids are important, so too is your work. If, on the odd occasion, you have to skip out on family time, don’t feel guilty. Remember, your tot loves you unconditionally, and one missed game of Go Fish is not going to make them stop loving you.
#6 - Have a support network
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many tips for mums and toddlers you read, you’re still going to feel overwhelmed. A hectic week can quickly turn into a hectic month, and before you know it, you’re tired, worn out, and just need a break. Balancing work and life can take its toll, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Surround yourself with friends and family, and other working mums who understand. It’s crucial that you know you’re not in this alone.
My best friends and family are back in the Philippines but I make it a point to catch up with them once in a while. I must say that my current situation is quite different given that it has only been 2 years since I moved to Australia. If you’re like me, opening yourself up to the opportunity of making new friends and catching up with your in-laws work wonders in terms of being able to hold on to your sanity :D
Are you a working mum? How did you find your work/life balance that benefited both your professional and personal life? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks.