If you’re like me, a busy working mom, then you know what that 6am – 8am bracket looks like most days. There’s always potential for perfect mornings as you hit 7.30am and then your toddler doesn’t want to put shoes on and has a meltdown in the middle of the carpet or your baby spits up all over his freshly changed outfit as you keep a beady eye on the clock.
With two kids in the house I’ve found that generally life is so much more hectic just in terms of managing time and resources, BUT it is all entirely doable if you are committed to being organised and set boundaries and realistic expectations. And that is the key thing – you have to commit to it, otherwise mornings can melt into puddles of tears (toddler), forgotten lunches (ours) and back to front nappies (baby).
Here are my top tips on how to get out the door in the mornings for the busy working mom:
- PLAN AHEAD OF TIME
I have a calendar month for both the current and the next month printed and stuck up on my kitchen cupboards, filled with playdates, appointments, birthday reminders, parties, what’s going on at my husband’s school, clinic and paediatrician visits and girls’ nights out (the rare yet important thing that they are).
This has proved critical when it comes to planning my week; I know that I need to get a birthday present for both my friend turning 30 and my toddler’s school friend turning 3. I know that I need to confirm my hair appointment and let my colleagues know I’ll be late on Friday as I have a school interview.
How to? Either download a cute 2017 monthly calendar, or simply create your own using excel.
- GET UP AT THE RIGHT TIME
In our house, I need to be out of bed at 6.30. For others, this could be 7am or 5.30am – whatever it is, stick to it and make sure that you are up and doing what you need to do before you end up running out of time in the mad rush out of the door. I normally use an alarm on my mobile, but my kids are pretty regular risers and so we tend to have the family awake by 6.30am.
How to? Set an alarm that doesn’t go back to sleep (or just keeps getting louder).
- PACK THE NIGHT BEFORE
Goodness, if I didn’t do this everything would fall apart. I make sure that I’ve got lunches for my husband I in the fridge, toddler’s school lunch and afternoon snack for Granny packed, my baby’s bottles are sterilised and his breastmilk is defrosting on the kitchen counter! Doing this while I make supper in the evenings or sometime after we’ve eaten is critical to ensure that the next day is not a mad rush in the kitchen of trying to prep a million things.
The big thing here is to tell yourself to get off the couch after a particularly arresting episode of [insert favourite show] (I’m going with Suits, Homeland or Blindspot currently) instead of hanging on and watching a Friends rerun or another Everest Rescue real life drama. Making sure you’re not doing any of the nightly prep-and-pack after 10pm is a good idea.
How to? Reward yourself after a week of excellent evening prep by taking yourself out for a treat. That should be a motivator!
- BREASTFEEDING? PUMP BEFORE BED
I try to be disciplined with this. For those working moms who are still breastfeeding, I salute you. It truly is tough and sometimes I certainly want to throw in the towel. But then I realise that while I still can (have enough milk and the energy to keep doing it) I should keep on. I find expressing at night and adding another packet of milk to my freezer stash is just one little step to keep this breastfed baby, breastfed.
I am no means disillusioned by this though. While I still am able and willing I will continue to pump – but come the day where it is taking too much of a toll on me and it becomes something I really dread doing, then weaning will be our next step. I have found the support on the La Leche League SA Facebook group to be really invaluable.
How to? Just before you head off to shower, make a cup of tea and sit and pump while scrolling through a good long article on why you are an awesome mom.
- GET TO BED EARLY!
Okay I try. Really I do. But there are nights where I’m only hitting the sheets at 11pm, knowing with a slight sinking feeling that come 2am (or somewhere there abouts) I will be up feeding my 6 month old. If I manage to get into bed at 9.30pm, read a few pages of my book and then nod off, then I give myself a silent high five.
Being a full time mom and a full time working professional is tiring and needing all the sleep I can get is pretty important. Weekends tend to vary, my husband and I try to give each other at least one ‘rest period’ or naptime, but it all depends how the day unfolds.
How to? Put a reminder on your phone to tell you when to go to bed in the evening. Sounds silly but it works.
- ANTICIPATE THE ODD UPSET
Toddler suddenly got flu in the morning? Nanny running late? Your doctor asking to change your appointment to 10am instead of 3pm? There are lots of things that can change in a blink of an eye, so my suggestion is to keep options open where you can. Friend or family able to watch a child if they are ill and can’t go to school, the chance to work from home or go in late to work… all those things help in ensuring you still keep a grasp on the day and it doesn’t get away from you entirely.
How to? Have a list of emergency contacts at hand to ensure you don’t end up in a flap, you just call the next available village member!
- GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
So yes, sometimes you’ll forget to pack lunch or enough dry undies & shorts in your toddler’s backpack, or mix up which milk is which or need to stop for petrol as soon as you get out the door, AND THAT IS OKAY. Give yourself a break, while you can be as organised as possible and set good personal boundaries and expectations, you (and I) are certainly not perfect and holding on to that little gem of motherhood is what’ll make everything okay.
Just one more thing to add: I’ve had some friends tell me that I look super organised, that they can’t believe that I manage to do everything and still work etc etc, that I’m ‘supermom’ or other wonderful adjectives… but REALLY I’m not. Today I was feeling exhausted and a bit overwhelmed with the non-ending enormity of it all, but God really just touched my spirit and lifted me up in a wonderful way. All things in Him who strengthens me.