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The Working Mom’s Survival Guide
Working moms often feel like they’re running two different rat races. When they’re at the office, they’re worrying about reports, meetings, deadlines, and what to wear at this evening’s cocktails. When they’re at home, they’re balancing checkbooks, checking their kids’ homework, fussing over a child’s Halloween costume, and planning what to serve for Saturday’s dinner with the in-laws.
It’s exhausting, stressful, and ultimately, confusing. Things fall through the cracks. “Oh, was it my turn to bring cookies to this month’s PTA meeting?” “Oh no, I forgot my mother’s birthday!” “What do you mean, you need a costume for tomorrow?”
Here are some tips to keep working moms on track:
* Keep a consolidated planner. While most working moms will have a business calendar, with meetings and deadlines carefully plotted, they often forget to include personal appointments like vaccination schedules, birthdays of relatives, or soccer practices. Instead of keeping your family calendar and office planner separate, keep your notes in one place. You can use color coded pencils or, for greater convenience, use a digital or online planner so you can revise your schedules neatly and efficiently.
* Don’t trust your memory. Even the most organized working mom will be hard-pressed to remember everything that needs to be completed in a given day. Leave reminders where you can see them, and where you’re most likely to look even when you’re at your most frantic. Stick post its on the dashboard of your car or bathroom mirror, not on the already overcrowded bulletin board. Tape an important document on the inner lid of your briefcase. Or better yet, set up your digital planner to send email reminders or create pop up windows on your desk top.
* Never overbook. If you find that your task list has spun out of control, and your meetings tend to overlap, then it’s a sign that you’re not allotting enough time for delays or obstacles. If you think you’ll need just one afternoon to complete the report, allocate two just in case someone schedules an emergency meeting. Then, delegate the tasks that you won’t have time for given your more realistic schedule.
* Resist the urge to do everything. Working moms, let go of the Superwoman Myth! Not only is it impossible to do every single thing, you shouldn’t. You need quality time—with your child, your partner, yourself—and that means letting go of the tasks that aren’t important. Can you enlist your sister to bake the cookies for this Saturday’s PTA conference? That gives you an extra hour to cuddle with your toddler instead of slaving in the kitchen. Can you cascade information through email instead of setting up a meeting? You save yourself (and everyone else involved) an hour where you can finish another report or clean out your files.
* Pencil in that “Me” time. When you’re stressed out and busy, you tend to put yourself last on the list, just to be able to keep up with your responsibilities to other people. This is the worst decision you can make. The busier you are, the more you need to recharge, even if it’s half an hour soaking in the tub, or sneaking to the parlor to get your toenails painted pink. Work hard, but play hard too—you deserve it.
About the Author: Philip Nicosia is the webmaster of Onlinereminders.net, a free online reminder service.