Melanie Moore writes at her blog, Only a Breath, and shares her real-life faith journey. Her blog's mission is a simple one -- to make you smile and to point your heart to the Giver of true joy. Melanie works as a full-time software developer and cherishes every moment she can spend with her husband and two hilarious sons. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @MelanieAnneTN.
I have worked as a full-time software developer for almost 13 years. For eight of those, I have been a mom. I understand the chaos and juggling of life as a working mom.
For years, though, I have whispered quietly that I am a "work outside the home mom" for fear of judgement, especially in Christian circles where there seems to be a great deal of support for stay at home moms, but none for working moms. Sweet friends, I don't have it all figured out (at ALL!) but I do want to encourage others who may be walking the same path as me and finding a hard time getting support.
For you, sweet friends, here is a list I pray will encourage you. After a reader emailed me to ask how I "do it all" (blogging, working, parenting, blog design, etc), she said "Are you related to superwoman?" Unfortunately, I'm not! :) However, I have (though trial and error) found things that work for me... ALL moms are working moms, and even though I wrote this primarily as a "working mom" -- for "working moms who work outside the home" -- my guess is that we are all struggling with juggling. These are the things I wish I had known years ago.... Love and prayers to you!
1. Don't try to be perfect -- none of us are, sweet friends. Give yourself grace... (I'm still learning this one)
2. Be a MOM first, everything else comes second to that.
3. Lower expectations -- I used to see this as a negative, but now I completely understand how important this is!
4. Ask for help -- don't be afraid or ashamed! We ALL need help!
5. Take time for yourself -- I know the guilt train sneaks up on me when I do this, but it is SO important.
6. Keep things in perspective -- family comes first, everything else will work itself out
7. Share your struggles -- having a hard time managing it all? Maybe telling someone else will make them feel like they aren't alone. So many people keep the "I'm Fine" mask on... please take it off and be transparent.
8. Let go of stress.... God is in control
9. Let go of the guilt.... Are you following God's will for your life? That's all that matters.
10. You DON"T have to do it all, let go of this idea and the pressure. None of us "do it all"
11. Take a mommy timeout... sometimes we all need time alone. It's okay.
12. Treat yourself once a week! (Manicure? Coffee shop? Movie night? ... and I normally do all of these at home!) :)
13. Don't compare your life to others... They don't have a perfect life and "do it all" either. I tend to get caught here. Sweet friends, please, please, please don't get caught in the comparison trap.
14. Give yourself grace -- please don't be your own toughest critic. You are doing a great job!
15. Just say "NO" -- Do you over-commit? Learn to gracefully say "NO".
16. Get a hobby -- working moms need a creative outlet (which is how I started blogging!)
17. Be content, count your blessings, be thankful...
18. Pray, pray, pray....
19. Take your vacation days! You need to take time to be with your family! Work will wait.
20. Remember “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”
21. In this blur of life, remember to cherish the little things… after all, our life is "only a breath"
22. Go on family vacations (even weekend getaways) and make memories
23. Take lots of photos to remember these crazy days ... one day, hurried mama, your home will be quiet and empty. Treasure these chaotic, crazy, happy days!
24. SLEEP -- It's very important to take care of yourself and sleep! You will be productive after a full night's sleep.
25. Eat breakfast -- it truly is the most important meal of the day. Pushed for time? Try fruit and some protein bars!
26. Rest…. (said by one who has a hard time with this... easier said than done, I understand).
27. Exercise (when you can, but give yourself grace. The important thing is to take care of yourself)
28. When you have a task to do, keep moving! Any progress is still progress!
29. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize... because you can't do everything. Choose the most important things to do first.
30. Don't waste time -- procrastination will not help you accomplish anything. Just jump in and get it done!
31. Don't think about the whole overwhelming "to do" list. Just pick one thing and focus there.
32. Keep a list of weekly goals
33. Keep a daily list of the “top 3” most important things to do
34. Delegate! Make peace with your inner drill sergeant :)
35. Celebrate your progess and milestones!
Organization at Home
36. Be very organized -- I can't stress how important this is! Organization is a beautiful thing.
37. Hire a housekeeper if possible -- my husband suggested this... and I pouted for three days. (And won a finalist entry in Real Simple Magazine's writing contest!) Truth be told? BEST IDEA EVER.
38. Get your kids involved in chores -- helps you, family time, teaches them, it doesn't have to be perfect. Try this free chore chart!
39. Keep a daily chore list for yourself too!
40. Split jobs with your hubby -- many men are happy to help. Just be thankful and don't expect "perfection".
41. If you can't get it all done, just clean up the kitchen and bathroom.
42. Simplify -- less "stuff" makes it easier to clean, stay organized, etc.
43. Teach your kids to pick up their own toys... I'm still working on this one...
44. Don't sit anything in the sink. Just move it directly to the dishwasher. You will thank yourself later.
45. Keep everything in the right place. You won't have to run around like a crazy woman looking for things. Organized = calm.
46. Set up an entry area for backpacks, shoes, keys, etc.
47. Get rid of junk... If you have things you don't use, they are just taking up space and keeping you from finding the things you really need. Don't feel guilty, just toss it. I play a game where I "pretend" like I'm moving and ask myself if I love this object enough to pack and move it. If it's a NO, it' gotta GO!
48. Aim to do one load laundry per day (evening)
49. When you do laundry, set out outfits for a week. This saves time in the morning!
50. Buy one of those handy laundry sorters -- LOVE mine! This makes doing laundry so quick and easy!
Meals and Groceries
51. Always make a weekly meal plan -- I just recently started doing this, and I am kicking myself for not doing it sooner!
52. Try to grocery shop on your lunch break, if possible.
53. Slow cooker meals are your best friend. Really. You will write them love notes.
54. Quick, easy dinners are the best for busy moms. Please save the gourmet fare for holidays when you have more time.
55. Freezer cooking -- I am new to freezer cooking, but I am hoping this will save lots of time in the evenings.
56. Family dinners are SO important -- please take time to eat with your family each evening.
57. Grocery shop with a list -- this saves on expenses, allows you to shop less often, and makes shopping much quicker.
58. Make double meals and freeze the extras -- chili, soup, meatloaf, bread, etc. all freeze very well.
60. Make a monthly meal rotation of your family's favorite meals
61. Keep track of staples you are out of
62. Eat healthy --- less sickness!
Time and Routines
63. Pick out clothes the night before -- the less you have to do in the morning, the better!
64. Train your children to do their homework right after school. It is very important not to procrastinate -- raise good workers!
65. Pack lunches night before
66. Keep a family "master calendar" and personal calendars for each individual if needed.
67. Embrace routines. Even though routines may seem boring, they require less thought and effort, which allows you to concentrate on more important things.
68. Early to bed, early to rise STILL makes a person wise... I have found that keeping everyone on this schedule, even on weekends, is a great help.
69. Say no to lots of social events. Treasure your family time.
70. Shower in the evening and give your children baths in the evening. This speeds up the morning routine.
71. Protect your weekends! This is family time... time to rest, be silly, play, relax, and is important. Guard it!
72. REST on Sundays.
73. On Sunday night, prepare for the week (make weekly plan and lay out clothes, pack lunches, etc.)
74. Set clocks 5 minutes fast! (This little trick gets people moving in the morning!)
75. Plan everything…
76 … but be ready for everything to change. Sometimes you have to just go with the flow.
77. Try to be 10 minutes early for every appointment. Most of the time, you will actually be on time, and this is a great habit for children to learn.
78. Clip coupons at night, once a week. Most coupons come in the Sunday newspaper.
79. Set up online bill pay for as many bills as possible. This will automated tasks that may incur charges if missed or forgotten.
80. Clip coupons with your kids -- they love to clip!
81. Shop online -- this makes it easy to compare prices without running to many different stores. Google for a coupon code, which can give an extra discount or free shipping!
82. Buy extra gifts when they are on sale -- This keeps you prepared in case of a birthday party when you are very busy.
83. Date nights are very important! Your kids will be fine for one evening. They need parents with a solid marriage.
84. Buy a few key pieces for work and layer/mix and match to make different outfits.
85. Set budget milestones and celebrate success!
86. Create a budget – your work is important! Don’t wait the fruit of your labor! If you don't know where your money is going, it is most likely being wasted! I love Crystal's tips at Money Saving Mom for how to create a budget!
87. LOVE your husband -- do you realize how important a loving husband is? Cherish him!
88. Thank your husband -- two-income homes have very unique challenges. Thank your husband for all he does for your family. (... and chances are, he will do more if he knows he is appreciated!)
89. Make time to be alone together -- mmm, hmm.... Smooch. Go for it. That's all I'm going to say about that. ;)
Kids and Working Moms
90. After school childcare can be tough. Try to think outside the box. For example, my oldest son come to my office after school and does his homework, reads, plays quietly, until I am off work. I love the extra time with him!
91. Try to take care of errands on your lunch break (without children!)
92. Do you have a flexible schedule? If possible, try to work from home one day which will allow you to throw in laundry while you work.
93. Enjoy your commute -- talk to kids, listen to music/podcast, and try to make the most of what I call "my most hated hour of the day" :)
94. Be an email ninja. I love Mary DeMuth's tips on this!
95. Don't get involved in office politics. Just say "NO" to the drama. No good can come out of it.
96. Very carefully weigh promotions and how they will affect your family.
97. Choose child-care carefully. Be sure to thoroughly research the people you trust with your children. Please.
98. Carpool…or not. It may be a blessing or a curse. Just try it out and see what works best for you.
99. Stay in communication with your child’s teacher. Email, write notes, check in with a phone call every now and then.
100. Try to go on school field trips or eat lunch with your child on occasion at school. Last, but most importantly....
101. View all you do (marriage, parenting, work, hobbies) as ministry and work as unto the Lord!
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