Somewhere between waking up and falling into bed exhausted you know you need to do a million things... and 999,999 stand a good chance of staying undone!  So how do all those other working moms seem to balance all the demands with grace, while your life feels like it's a constant series of missteps?

Well, here are some of the clever, funny and unusual things that real working moms do to make room for everything that has to get done and still have time for the fun and most important parts of parenting.

madibea

File all your bills and paper by month/year. I used to try to do it by the payee (electric, phone, mortgage, etc) and got stressed when I was months behind. Then I got this tip out of a magazine. It's the only one that's really made a difference. We pay all bills once per month, just throw them all (with the bank statement and other miscellaneous scraps of paper) in one folder and file it. If you need to find the electric bill later, maybe you have to look through 3 months of stuff, but that only takes a minute or two longer.

lisacs

  1. Put it all aside once in a while and take a minute to just look at your child and really see him or her in your life. This helps me a lot when things get out-of-control. Often I'll just hug her and kiss her and tell her I love her, but it helps me refocus my energy, especially emotional energy, on what is really important.
  2. Rather than doing a nightly bath (our 30 month old daughter gets really dirty playing outside at daycare in the afternoon) I just use a washcloth to get rid of the really overt dirt.   Then, in the AM, she showers with me. It adds a couple minutes to my shower time, she loves it, and it frees up time in the evenings for us to do other things. I don't do this every day…she likes her baths so we do them a couple of nights a week. But having that extra 20-30 minutes to play with her or read books 2 or 3 times a week is really nice.
     
  3. In a related vein, whenever we do our daughter's backyard wading pool after daycare, I always take the shampoo, soap, a clean pull-up, etc. out with me. When it's time to go inside after playing in the water, I soap her up, rinse her off, and towel her dry in the back yard. For the most part, I only have to wipe a little bit of dirt off her feet once we get inside and she's ready for jammies and bed. And she thinks it's a real hoot to run around the backyard naked with shampoo in her hair. Hmmm, I guess I may have to forego the naked part soon, but I suspect we'll still do the outside *bath* part for as long as she lets me get away with it!

3tina3

  1. Save one night each week to eat dinner with your husband or S/O AFTER the children are in bed. It helps keep the spark alive.
  2. Take walks with the family and discuss your day together.
  3. Keep serious discussions with your spouse for when the children are in bed. Keep time with your children fun and as stress free as possible.
  4. Always tell your kids you love them, and remember they are never too old to be hugged or kissed.

michellesmom

  1. Stop everyday and take a moment to be thankful of what you have. Hug and kiss your child and let him/her how much you love them. Do this to your husband or partner!
  2. Realize you can't do everything and then prioritize. Let things slide a bit--it's OK that the house isn't clean at all times. Designate a day to get caught up and powerclean (or better yet, hire someone to do it if you can).
  3. Take time for yourself. You have to "recharge" now and then.
  4. Run errands at lunchtime, if you can.
  5. Definitely keep some chocolate around (the perfect food)!

baxmom

  1. Keep all important paperwork in one place. Buy an inexpensive cardboard-type accordion folder that has a lot of different sections for documents. One for bills, one for car insurance documents, one for personal stuff like play tickets and marriage license, etc. It's been a lifesaver for us.
  2. Throw/give away anything you don't really need. Coupons you know you'll never use, food you know you'll never eat, clothes you'll never wear. Not only does it save time, but also space.
  3. Start putting important keepsakes away on a regular basis. Update photo albums whenever you get a few free minutes. It beats having a horrendous job to do all at once, and gives you enjoyment often.
  4. Always, always have some good frozen meals on hand that are fast and easy to prepare. It can go a long way when everyone is over-tired or the kids are sick.
  5. Keep the TV off. It saves you from feeling like you don't have any family time, and makes the evening much less tension filled. Save TV for weekends or special programs only.
  6. Play with your kids for a minimum of 15 minutes to a half hour per day. It doesn't sound like much, but it can work wonders for you and them feeling like you're really, truly blessed. Get down on the floor with your toddlers and just enjoy them. Play outside or read with your young kids. Talk to your teenagers over dinner. It all counts.

kandiam

  1. Get a housekeeper. Once a week, once every two weeks, once a month...a little help with the cleaning eases the burden. (Takes away the old "who has to do it" argument with the husband, too!)
  2. Cook double recipes on the weekend, so there are leftovers to just reheat during the week.
  3. Make a menu/shopping list for an entire week, then buy all the food you'll need at once rather than running to the market for this and that.
  4. If you're out of both food and time, take-out is a really good idea. Or emergency frozen meals.
  5. Catalog or internet shopping is faster than trying to do shopping errands. Some companies will gift wrap and ship directly to the recipient (check out http://www.amazon.com books and music!).
  6. Someone already mentioned bulk shopping--yeah! Do this for birthday cards, etc., too (buy all you'll need for a few months rather than going out right when you need one).
  7. At least once a week, be with someone who supports you completely...lunch with a good friend, chat with Mom on the phone, whatever. Moms need to be nurtured, too.
  8. Every once in a while, if circumstances allow, takea day off to do what you're lacking, be it playing with your kids for a whole day, spending a day alone or catching up on all that filing and paperwork. If things are getting out of balance, a day can help restore it.

pollyanna

  1. Throw out your TV -- seriously. We haven't watched TV for 15 months -- what a difference!!!!
  2. Buy an crock pot and use it -- a lot! Mabel Hoffman's Crockery Cookery is great for crockpot recipes. Check it out at the library! She's also coming out with a healthy crockpot recipe book soon. But usually I just put potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes & onions on the bottom, stick a roast or chicken on top, and turn it on low when I leave for work in the a.m. By the time I get home I have meat and a vegetable for dinner!
  3. Go for a walk every evening after dinner with everyone in the family -- what a tension reliever.
  4. Listen to books on tape in your car while driving to work or doing housework.

hollymom

  1. Definitely take a few minutes each day to stop everything and focus on the kids....they are our treasures. Give 'em a hug and a kiss. Tell them you love them.
  2. Tell yourself, over and over, the house will NEVER be clean for more than a few minutes. Life goes on.
  3. Lay out outfits for the kids the night before. That goes for the big people too.
  4. On the weekend after doing laundry, I rotate the kids clothes so we're not wearing the same thing week to week. (They grow so fast - and before you know it, that new outfit at the bottom of the drawer isn't going to fit - been there, done that).
  5. Definitely double up on recipes that can be frozen... a Life Saver.
  6. If something you use regularly is on sale, buy two or three! You'll save in the long run.
  7. When you change seasonal clothes in the closets, thoroughly look over the items, do you still want it? Is it still in good shape, and the most dreaded question - does it still fit? (gulp).
  8. Take time for yourself everyday. Even a short walk at lunch time revitalizes YOU.
  9. If you see something you know someone would love for a present, buy it for them, even if their birthday, anniversary, etc. is months away.
  10. At the beginning of every month, I look over my calendar for upcoming birthdays & anniversaries, and write out those cards then....addressing and stamping as well. Leave them on your desk w/little post-it-notes of when to mail. (Of course, I try to have an ample supply of all occasion cards on hand).
  11. As soon as you have pictures developed, put them in an album. This has been a life saver. If you can't do it right then, date them, adding any notes (e.g. day at the park w/grandma and Uncle Bill)...so if you do get a little behind, you will know what picture goes where!
  12. Fill your home with pictures of loved ones.

poohntig

  1. I use the crockpot to make chili, brown beans, brisket, roast and barbecue. We get at least 2 meals from a roast. Cook the roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions all together one day for a meal. The next day, reheat any leftover meat with barbecue sauce for barbecue beef. For brisket, shake on/coat with Liquid Smoke (around 2 Tablespoons I think) wrap up in aluminum foil and place in crockpot. Cook on low all day.
  2. My daughter is 3 years old. She usually wears cotton short sets or a T-shirt and shorts to daycare. Many times after her bath, I have dressed her in what she will wear the next day or maybe just the T-shirt she will be wearing. At first I thought the clothes might look too wrinkled in the morning, but it hasn't been a problem. Same thing in the winter, depending on what she will be wearing. Leggings and a shirt are comfortable to wear to bed. I don't/won't do this with jeans, overalls, etc. I am sure you have the picture.

pams_mom

  1. My daughter is 8.5 and every now and then she gets very determined that she's going to wear her next days clothes to bed--usually against my wishes--she'll get up after I tuck her in and change!  When I wake her in the morning she's ready to go and I have to admit there's no harm done!
  2. I just got a big 90-day organizer wall calendar--the kind that you can write in the months you want--wipes off too! Each person has their own color and everything is on it--I put it on the kitchen wall--easy to see when our free time is. My husband really likes it too.

aphotomom

When I'm planning on getting up extra early in the morning to go on my daily walk/run, I will wear my leggings and T-shirt to bed. That way I have one less excuse not to go in the morning. Just add shoes and socks and I'm off. Laugh if you must, but it works.

vaniam

  1. Gardening is a great hobby & stress reliever. Takes a bit of time, (like anyone has any extra time, Ha Ha!) BUT the kids can help (my 4year old does) and it really is empowering. Getting all those things to grow in a row like little soldiers - that feeling of CONTROL. We can't always control our kids behavior, our bosses behavior or our spouse or SO behavior - but those little plants will stand at attention just for us!!
  2. Do not, under any circumstances become a slave to the house. As my mother says, never worry about housework because it isn't going anywhere. Hire someone, or lower your standards. A sticky floor or read a book to a child?? Read a book. Priorities!

momtoteens

  1. Keep it simple. Simplify your life in every conceivable way.
  2. Lower your standards. Decide what's important; drop your standards for things that aren't. In the process, you'll be able to meet your high standards for your important things.
  3. Feel good about the contributions you're making to the work world, and to your family by having a job.
  4. Make time to be selfish. Carve out niches of time, and ways, to do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
  5. Buy in bulk and cut your shopping time down.
  6. Keep lots of chocolate around.

lesleyh

We've had a problem with paper clutter in our living/dining area (it's a "casual living space", with no separation between the two areas.) Important and junk mail alike, catalogs, insurance papers, bills to pay, you name it, it all tends to collect on the dining table, buffet counter, and coffee and end tables. I tried setting up an elaborate filing system on our desk, which is in the spare room at the back of our house with no luck- too lazy to walk back there to dump stuff off.

I solved the problem by putting a very small desk right IN the dining area, with a mini-filing system in one of the drawers. Now I have someplace to put everything as it comes in, and if worse comes to worse, I can throw stuff in a drawer to deal with later. Maybe a desk in the dining area isn't my ideal, but it looks a heckuva lot better than the clutter did! I guess my tip is, put a storage facility where you tend to experience the clutter, and it will make it much easier to not only contain the clutter but to organize it later.

keditor

My boys are constantly bringing home tons of art work from preschool, elementary school, and summer camp, and the refrigerator's just not big enough to display everything they want to hang up. So I put up two large bulletin boards (one for each boy) in our family room. The boys have filled it up with what they consider to be their best artwork and periodically take things down & put new things up. We put the rest of the artwork into scrapbooks.

This list will always be a work in progress, so stop back and see what strategies other Moms have come up with... and please feel free to write and let us know your ideas managing the balancing act!

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