I grew up with a working mom. My brother and I had the first-hand example of a mom who was not only an entrepreneur but also somehow managed to do it all. Or at least, give off the appearance that she had her shit together. Now that I’m a working mom I can see how “doing it all” is really fucking hard. Juggling the schedules of your children, school, work, and being an attentive partner can be overwhelming. Add to that the telltale feeling of working mom guilt and you have a recipe for burnout.
I’ve been there, momma.
But as you’ve no doubt already experienced, becoming a parent isn’t just something that happens overnight and in a vacuum.
As a working mom, building a schedule and a routine is essential to your survival both emotionally and physically.
Being a good mom has less to do with time than it does with intention and we’re going to get into how you can maximize your time with your kiddos, your spouse, your work, and yourself.
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I recently offered a survey to my email subscribers (and you can click that link there and take it too if you wanna) asking them a bunch of questions about how they prioritize their mom life responsibilities. Some of the questions included asking moms to rank how important things like quality time with their spouse, kids, handling chores, and themself was.
I then asked the responders to tell me how well they think they’re handling each of these elements of their life.
According to the women surveyed, overwhelmingly they all prioritized spending quality time with their kids as a high priority (and I think most moms feel that way).
And also, overwhelmingly, most of the moms in the survey felt as if they were doing a pretty good job of managing this (scoring an average of a 4 out of 5).
But every other area of their lives: spouse, chores, self-care were taking a hit in how well these moms felt they were handling them.
I see those results and I can’t help but empathize.
As moms we get so good at prioritizing our children’s lives that we neglect nearly every thing else.
Weirdly enough, the harder and longer hours I worked when I was working in TV, the more I appreciated the time I had with my kids, even when they were throwing epic tantrums or refusing to go pee on the potty.
To maximize your precious time with your kids you need to get your mind right and prepare.
This is Not a Short List
Some real talk momma. As you no doubt already know, being a working momma means you’re doing two point five jobs every single day and your to-do list is pretty much endless.
I do not want this post to add to your list of feeling overwhelmed. Like it’s another thing you have to do.
If you do these things, you’ll make space for the other shit you have to do. And some of this shit, on my list of ways to win as a working mom, is shit you’re doing anyway, right?
Consider this a different kind of shit list. The shit list you need in your life.
What I’m trying to say is don’t get a look at the below list and totally shut the fuck down.
That’s not helpful.
You need to win and to win you gotta do some work but you don’t have to do it all at once.
Tonight, after you’ve read this entire thing, pick ONE FUCKING THING on my list of ways to win as a working mom and commit to doing it.
Send me an email or drop a comment below and tell me how you’re winning as a working mom today and what step you’re going to take to do that.
Tomorrow try another. Chisel away at your working mom schedule until you get something that works for you and makes you feel empowered.
90% of your success as a working mom will come when you become fiercely unapologetic about your time, your responsibilities, and your family and work.
As the super cute saying goes, excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one, no one wants to see it.
Stop making excuses for working.
Stop making excuses for having to be with your family.
Make peace with your choice to be a working mom regardless of Brenda at drop off who throws a shady look or Tom at work who questions why you have to leave early again.
Learn how to communicate your schedule and expectations firmly and, frankly,
SUMMON your innermost mediocre white man by communicating with fewer words and built-in confidence.
Don’t apologize to your work for your child being sick.
Don’t apologize to your family for needing to do work.
Claim your fucking space and own your shit.
This is how mom guilt festers and oozes into every corner of your life.
I’m not suggesting that you go and do something that will get you fired. Only you know what the environment is like at work. I’m just suggesting that it’s time to stop apologizing for being a mom. For being a worker. And for everything in between.
I’ve been lucky to find a core group of mom friends at my boy’s daycare to help me navigate the chaos of remembering it’s school picture day to having someone pick up an extra white shirt to wear to the end of the year school program.
Find your tribe of people.
Yes, if you are painfully introverted and shy this is gonna be hard but you are investing in the freedom of having a crew to lean on when you need to.
They will always be there and there will always be a few that you can text in a flurry to find support.
Be available when they need you too, so it’s easier to ask for help in the future too. Be proactive in your support of them.
You need your village and they need you.
This article shows that women who get together with friends regularly are happier and healthier and generally more well adjusted.
Prioritize your mom’s night outs and hold them sacred like you do a date night, or a child’s trophy presentation.
Value yourself as much as you value your kiddos.
Don’t fuck around with your friends.
Build in “tech-free” time.
In our house, we have a rule of no electronics at the table. Even silly toys that have batteries are banned.
Finding time to be 100% present with your kids can be hard when you’re on a deadline or waiting to hear back from a client or managing a stressful project but it is essential that you disconnect.
Practice patience even if it’s for 20 minutes a day.
The science that supports that quality of quantity is vast but it’s also kind of a no-brainer. (TK – Article about tech-free time)
I’ll never forget the feeling of hearing my 4-year-old say: “Mommy you’re always on your phone.” Don’t be like me. Put down your fucking phone (as I did from them on) and be present with your babies.
In my house, when our kids are around, phones are down (as much as possible).
What the FUCK is the Golden Triangle?
Home → School → Work. Repeat.
Is Target closer to school than work? Hit up the store on your way to work after drop off.
Grocery store closer to home? Get your shopping done on the way home.
(Or even better yet embrace apps like Instacart or Grocery Store Pick up to make your errand running even faster)
In my family, we tend to always run about 5 to 10 minutes late no matter how important or essential the appointment we’re trying to get to may be.
Recently we’ve been working on the transitions to make sure we build in time to mitigate these late arrivals. And it’s working.
Becoming more predictable about your schedule has a significant psychological effect on others.
If your colleagues know to expect you around 9:32 AM every day, then they’re more likely to forgive when you’re late due to a Parent/Teacher conference or Dr. Appointment that runs late. It’s not the norm for you to be late. And it makes it so much easier to be unapologetic.
If you’re apologizing for being late to work every day, your entire life is going to be one giant apology because, as you no doubt know by now, kids are notorious time suckers in need of something last minute that they forgot.
Build in buffer time for every move you make throughout the day that involves them. A few minutes will do but plan for it like it’s a fucking train schedule
Speaking of mom schedules embrace a militant mindset about yours.
I’m not saying you become some sort of drill sergeant barking times at your kids so that they make the 3:32 Dance class.
Instead, sit down and write out your weekly schedule and be specific about it. How often do we actually look at our entire week and map it out. I for one always over estimate how much I can accomplish in a week and underestimate how much time it will take to do it.
I love using this journal from the 5 Second Rule. It allows me to block out specific time in my day for everything that needs to be done, set appointments, and stay on track of the REALITY of time.
For some reason, I always think that there’s going to be more time in a day but when I start to write down details and buffer time, I realize that it’s important to prioritize certain projects and my attention.
Get a Pomodoro Timer. (Video about Pomodoro Timer)
If you’re going to be working and away from your kids, make it fucking count. Don’t fuck around on Facebook all day.
I’ve long believed working moms are the most dedicated and hardest working employees a company can have because they have a newfound respect for time and energy.
Become specific and intentional about your time.
During one of those Pomodoro work sessions, make yourself integrate the entire year’s calendar into your calendar. This is especially helpful if you share a calendar with your family. Give a fuck early and often, reap the rewards of never scrambling again.
No more scrambling to figure out an early release, school closures, or important other dates.
Same, Same as above.
Save yourself time later by spending time now to do some grunt work and add these dates in your calendar from the jump.
Trello is a free program for your desktop and your phone that seamlessly syncs between the two.
I use trello for legit everything. Like. Everything.
Check out my post here about how to use trello for beginners.
Trello is like a digital post-it note on a whiteboard. So when you’re at soccer practice you can quickly look at your “boards” and know exactly what your schedule is for tomorrow.
I use Trello for meal planning, for keeping track of doctors appointments and important family information. For everything to do with this blog and my clients. For project management.
If you fail to plan you plan to fail.
10 – 20 minutes every Sunday will shave hours off your life.
I typically look at my calendar (that I’ve pre-programmed), meal plan like a mother fucker, order groceries delivered (Or use the grocery trip as a fun family excursion now that the kids can handle it a bit more).
I plan out my work schedule too based around school activities, early release or anything that could shorten my day, always taking into consideration some random shit storm of a bad fall on the playground or the new school plague that’s floating around.
Speaking of meal planning, using Trello is kind of the best thing ever for meal planning, budgeting, and making sure you have all the food you need for the week.
Idk about you, but when 5 PM rolls around and I’ve got two hangry toddlers, waiting UNTIL then to figure out what the fuck is for dinner is probably the single most stressful moment of my entire day.
That is until I figured out how meal planning with Trello could completely change my life.
If you’ve entrusted your children in the care of a babysitter, nanny, or daycare try not to become so attached to not see their faults or their flaws.
I learned too quickly that even the nicest and most accommodating daycare facilities have inherent flaws.
Occasionally drop in unexpected to see how life is like when you’re not around.
Trust your mommy gut. If something “feels” off, it probably is.
Talk to your kids about their caretakers and encourage them to tell you things that may not be fun to hear: how they made you sad, how they made you cry?
Hopefully, the babysitter never makes them cry.
As the Russians like to say, “Trust, but verify.”
Wanna know how to fuck up your marriage?
There are a lot of ways (let’s be honest) and I’m not about to get into all of them.
But for the purposes of this post let’s talk about that thing that happens when we misdirect our anger/frustration/don’t communicate our needs and instead: criticize our spouse, make them feel less than, bitch about them publicly on social media, and then wonder why they don’t want to talk to us.
It makes me cringe when I see very public posts on Facebook bitching about how someone’s husband is lazy because he doesn’t, apparently, “do anything.”
If you’re reading this and realize that oh fuck, you may have done this DO NOT DESPAIR. Marriage is hard and complex and it takes a lot of work.
You are allowed to feel overwhelmed and frustrated and angry in your marriage.
That being said, a supported spouse who is given grace in their weaknesses is going to make you feel a lot better than someone who is consistently critiqued or berated for all the ways they’re NOT living up to expectations.
Also, be sure to be on the same page about expectations when it comes to your routine, your schedule, and everything in between.
If your marriage is in turmoil, finding a qualified marriage and family therapist is essential to helping you build mutual respect and trust.
My husband used to do daycare pick up, make dinner, manage bath time and bedtime with a almost every single night while I was working late. I’d only see the kids for about 5 minutes via Facetime while they were screaming for food because they were so hungry.
And yet, even though I knew that he was juggling the most, I’d still become so frustrated that after a super long day at work, and an hour commute home, the kitchen looked like a bomb went off.
Every night the first thing out of my mouth would be some passive aggressive comment about the disaster area that is our kitchen.
I’m more of the clean as you go type, he’s definitely more of the clean up after type.
After a while, we came to the agreement that he would at minimum move all the dishes and pots and pans to the sink and the area right next to it and I would do the dishes and clean up that stuff.
The disaster area was more contained at least so it was less stressful for me to come home to. And also being able to clean it up fed some weird need in me to control what was happening when I had no other control. Instead of repeating the cycle of not appreciating, and arguing, we figured out a way to honor each other’s needs and appreciate the hard work we do every day.
My husband deals with all the pet issues: cleaning up dog poop in our back yard, taking the dog to the vet, managing his shots and paperwork.
I deal with all the kid Dr. Appointments.
There’s no real reason for this other than we just sort of fell into these roles.
My husband is a natural introvert and doing simple tasks, like making appointments feels exhausting and overwhelming to him.
Therefore I get the lions share of everything from ordering take out to making those dr. appointments.
He, on the other hand, is much more patient with home projects, building Ikea furniture, and other random handy things around the house. He doesn’t love it, but I love it way less so that’s his department and I’m grateful for it.
Divide and conquer for success.
Studies show that the simple act of transferring your thoughts ( you know the ones, the ones swirling around up there competing for your attention at every waking moment) onto paper or even onto a digital space can vastly improve your quality of life. Particularly when it comes to to-do lists . And you don’t even need to complete them!
Use this perfectly organized (and scientifically backed) journal to get your thoughts down onto paper and get on with your fucking life.
Or sign up below for the “Brain Dump” Trello Board to help you get organized about your to-do list. Once it’s all out of your mind and in a place where you can go through and check it off the list, you’ll begin to benefit from the space and time that opens up in your mind (and in your life!)
Ever heard of the term “hug until relaxed.” This is a big move in in the therapy world and a great way to connect with your spouse in a daily way that doesn’t take much time.
My husband and I try to practice this (and this f nothing else) at least once a day.
The idea is to hug until your body relaxes every so slightly. You must continue hugging until your partner’s body also relaxes because that’s where the real connection happens.
While it’s tempting to want to go to bed whenever you can (I mean sometimes you’re just exhausted AF) going to bed at the same time can be a surprising game changer for intimacy in your relationship.
If that means you have to go to bed earlier and your partner slightly later, make a commitment to honor those times.
I get up every morning at 4:45 AM to write which means I have to be in bed by 9:30 which means so does my husband.
Because he also realizes the benefit of a full night’s sleep, he happily obliges. Because he likes to get up at 5:30 and go for a run or exercise.
There’s something so magical about those 10 or 20 minutes when we have pillow talk that really makes me feel connected to him.
While it may be difficult to figure out a time to go to sleep it’s very important for your marriage (and a small step) to improve your relationship.
According to this article in The Wall Street Journal , “Researchers found spouses who go to bed at different times report significantly less relationship satisfaction than those on the same schedule. They have more conflict, spend less time in shared activities and serious conversation, and have sex less frequently than couples with similar sleeping schedules.”
And since we’re talking about sleep, and I’m going out on a limb here, but you’re probably not getting enough of itl. And while I never like to be a fear monger…study after study proves that not enough sleep is legit, how do I say this…killing you.
Go to bed (as early as you can). Increase intimacy in your marriage. Save your life.
Win mother fucking win, you glorious working mom.
Your kids cannot have too much attention, affection, or love.
You cannot spoil your children with hugs or kisses or attention.
In fact, studies show that the more hugs and kisses you give them, the more likely they are to thrive in almost every area of their lives from their academics to their attachment to their ability to socialize.
In fact, what is so traumatizing about what’s been happening at the border of the United States with immigrant children being held in concentration camps (and separated from their parents) is that most of these kids will grow up to have significant attachment issues in resistance to being held, comforted, or touched. Thankfully older kids are stepping in and helping each other (it sounds like) but the mental and emotional toll that this kind of torture (that’s what it is) can inflict on children for years to come.
For me life happens in the in between. The drive to school. The drive to daycare. The drive to work. The drive to pick up groceries.
Prepare for the in between moments in little ways.
Pick out clothes the night before.
Make a space for each kid so that it’s easy for them to find backpack, shoes, and any supplies they need.
Declutter drawers and heavily used trafficked areas so you never lose your keys. Your phone. Your glasses.
Add 5/10 minutes onto any travel time or leave the house time.
Find family traditions and rituals that nurture bonding with your family and create memories.
For us that looks like family movie night once a month. Hiking local trails together. Exploring new exhibits at the museum once every other month.
Going to the movies as a family.
Celebrate even small wins with a big reaction.
We have a little gelato place in town that we love to take the boys to as a special treat for nearly anything.
For about three years I was in a shit storm of epic proportions where my dad was dying, my mother in law was dying, and about 15362975 other things both good and bad were happening in our life at the same time.
While I was in it, it felt like it would never end. Both the positive and negative stress kept coming.
But it did. Eventually.
Everything is temporary, even pain. Even stress. Even chaos.
Learn to anticipate that when things are “normal” that’s just as temporary. And embrace a family culture that recognizes and learns how to adjust to the shit storm.
Yep. Sit and eat a meal together. Studies show that this simple act does wonders for your kids in their social adjustment and ability to connect. It also helps to influence healthy eating habits, and prevent picky eating.
Get to know your kids friends and their families through weekend playdates. This is incredible insight into who your children are and what they talk about, and do.
You’re not an idiot. You know you need to build a regular exercise routine and habit.
Stop talking about it though, and just fucking doing already.
Your health is the single most important thing, and if you are neglecting it you are saying to your kids, it’s cool if you die.
Stop fucking around and take a 10 minute walk around your block. No matter when you start an exercise program will help you live longer and feel stronger and healthier (and like a bajillion other things)
If it makes you feel good to get a manicure every three weeks, do it. If it makes you feel good to get a massage once a month, do it. If spending an entire Saturday at the hair salon makes you feel like you’re living your best life, fucking do it.
Personal grooming and self care needs to make time in your calendar too. Schedule it like you do everything else.
At the end of every month I try to look ahead at what’s coming and on weekends we don’t have a birthday party or family engagements we try to do:
Hike or walk in a new place (or old familiar fun place)
Explore new cultural exhibit or attend a local event – like a drum circle or play, concert in the park.
4 Home Base Weekend Days
I don’t love to over program my kids, and as they get older and become involved in extracurriculars I don’t want them to feel like they never get down time. My husband tends to work on Sundays, so that’s our “home base” day where we let the kids play at home, do chores, decompress, and prepare for the week.
It doesn’t always happen, but when I make a conscious effort to schedule in down time into our month, it ends up making a big difference.
If you’re looking for things to do with your kiddos check out these summer activities ideas for kids.
When it comes to what we do, I always run it by the boys to see what interests them the most.
More and more research is showing that when we let children and particularly toddlers “help” we are building major connections in their brains to become adult helpers too.
Sometimes when life gets hectic, kids gotta run the errands too.
And there’s mounting evidence that they actually WANT to do this.
Think of the errands you have to run and if it might be fun or interesting for the kids (post office, car wash, farmer’s market) take ‘em.
Do not do this if the idea of your kids tagging along stresses you out.
Fuck that, that’s not the point.
As a busy working mom it may not always be possible because of time constraints but consider the extra 5/10 minutes as an investment in producing the kind of teenager who has built in brain wiring to do their chores and make their bed and at least pick up their fucking socks.
Being a working parent is no easy feat. Studies show the average working mom works an equivalent of 2.5 jobs between paid work and home work.
To get on top of your workload, it’s important to stay proactive and think ahead about what’s coming.
The same goes for volunteering at your child’s class, or chaperoning events. If you can’t attend a single field trip, look for other ways to connect with your child’s class and teachers.
Let’s take it from the top because I want to re-state this.
Please do nto try to do all of these things in one go.
You are a superhuman and we all know this, but even superhuman’s need sleep and grace.
Take one thing ONE FUCKING THING from this list and try to implement it today.
For example, as I was writing this post the “school schedule” came in from my son’s class. As soon as I’m done and hit publish on this post guess what I’m doing? Adding that shit to my calendar so that the rest of the year is fucking scheduled. At least the school year will be and that’s one less thing on my plate to navigate.
What are you going to tackle today? Come back tomorrow for one more, or wait a week or whatever. Pin this post or add it to your Trello board so you can go back through the list whenever you want to.
Do it in your own time in your own way but do it and win as a working mom.
How are you juggling that work life mom life balance? Any tips I forgot that are helping you win your working mom life? Comment below.
Oh! Also if you liked this and it was helpful, stick a pin in it okay? (so other mommas know what’s up) and you can save it for later to remind you of how much of a badass boss bitch you are.