Before my Littles entered the scene, I was a young, single, elementary schoolteacher. I lived in my semi-modern apartment, drove a two-door coupe, and spent my weeks looking forward to Friday afternoon happy hours with work-friends-turned-close-friends, margaritas, and less than authentic Mexican food. Then, I met my husband and before I knew it, we were having the “Why don’t you just stay home when the baby comes” conversation. Throw in a second baby, 4-door CUV, and a convertible double stroller and I was fully immersed in the wonderful world of the Stay at Home Mom.
The past four years at home with my children have been fulfilling, challenging, sometimes perplexing, but absolutely rewarding. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to spend so much time with them in their early development. I have made fantastic mommy friends along the way who have kept me sane and been an incredible support. I have also taken up new interests such as baking, recycling/repurposing, and eventually blogging. I even completed a Master’s degree program in my “spare time”!
Now at the precious ages of 2 ½ and 4, both of my Littles have entered preschool. This newfound daytime freedom means that Mommy has officially headed back to work!
For me, returning to work brings new forms of fulfillment, challenge, and reward. As a Stay-At-Home-Mom, I believe I set a good example for my children of the importance of family and providing a loving home environment. Now, I get to set another positive example as a Working Mom by pursuing my career dreams and helping to support our household. I truly enjoy what I do and look forward to returning to a positive and supportive environment (at work and at home) each day. Furthermore, I am thankful to have found a safe and loving environment for my children to begin their educational journey, and I look forward to snuggling up and hearing about their preschool adventures every day after school. Change can certainly be difficult, but we are off to a wonderful start!
Here are some of the strategies that led to my success in the early stages of this transition:
Before heading back to work, make a list of things that are important to you — the non-negotiables of your life. Then, make the conscious decision to be consistent in keeping those things first. Doing so early on will help you keep a cool head when managing multiple responsibilities at once.
To illustrate my point, I want to share an analogy: Big rocks, small rocks, and sand.
- Your family priorities are your big rocks.
- Your other adult responsibilities and interests are the small rocks.
- All the other “stuff” in life is sand.
- A glass jar represents you – and your capacity to maintain it all.
If you were to fill a glass jar with your rocks and sand, which would you put in first?
If you put the sand in first, you may not have much room left in your jar for your rocks. However, if you prioritize by filling your jar with your big rocks, followed by your small rocks, the sand will find its place in the nooks and crevices. My point? Don’t sacrifice your big rocks for sand. Focus on the big stuff, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
*Note: I am aware that every family is different, and there will certainly be exceptions from time to time. Therefore, there is absolutely no shame in making sacrifices along the way that will ultimately benefit your family. I am simply encouraging the act of keeping a healthy balance whenever possible.
Develop your own routine.
This tip may sound familiar, but I have found that it rings true whether you work in or outside of the home:
The key word in this tip is “YOUR” own routine. Figure out a routine that works best for you and tweak it as the needs of your family change. Seeking advice and trying things others have done can be helpful, but please don’t compare yourself to other moms or judge yourself as a parent if those tips and tricks from others don’t go as well for you. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but give yourself the time and space to figure out the best rhythm for you and your little ones.
Wake up early.
This one is the most challenging for me. I am not a morning person by any wild stretch of the imagination; so waking up early is never on my list of fun things to do. Also, when I was a new mom and everyone told me to “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” I took their advice to heart. Four years later, I am still a serial snoozer who still has the strong desire for a two-hour nap in the middle of the day.
One thing that helped me with waking up earlier was doing a so gradually: Waking up 15 minutes earlier every day for four days in a row helped me get up a whole hour earlier in less than a week. Another thing that helped me was setting multiple alarms. This way, waking up is more gradual and I can take it at my own pace.
Once I started waking up early, I quickly saw some benefits:
- Waking up at least an hour before the children allows for a little “me time” before the day begins. There is suddenly more time to pray or meditate, read an extra chapter in a favorite book, or even get in a quick workout.
- Being up early allows more time for a yummy breakfast.
- Waking up early leaves me more time to do some quick tidying, like making the bed and straightening up so we return to a clean home each afternoon.
Select outfits in advance.
(Bonus tip: Do this for yourself AND the kids!)
Take a peek at the forecast and plan your weekly wardrobe in advance. This can save you from the daily agony of groggily standing in front of your closet vacillating over what to wear. It will also allow for a more seamless morning routine. I usually pick out two “Maybe Outfits” each week, just in case I have a change of heart on an outfit one morning.
Create a Dinner Plan.
Your evenings can be much easier (and tastier!) if you create a dinner plan. Planning ahead allows you to spend more time connecting with your family, and less time standing in front of the freezer debating over what to defrost.
Cater your meal planning strategy to fit your needs: For some, this involves advanced meal preparation or “cooking ahead.” Others might try setting the crockpot in the morning and coming home to an aroma filled home after work. Recently, I decided to take the advice of my friend, The Good Mama and try Themed Dinner Nights. Each night of the week is assigned a different theme, and my husband and I pick out different recipes to match them. This makes grocery shopping easier because we already know exactly what ingredients we’ll need. It also gives us something to look forward to during those busy days at work. Check out this post for more details (click the photo):
Remember self care.
Remember those big rocks I mentioned? Your own health and well-being are one of them.
During a major change or really any hectic time in your life, it is important to be mindful of your physical and mental well-being. Taking a little bit of time each day to focus on self-care will allow you to function at a higher level and take on life’s challenges. Even if the transition is rocky in the beginning, remembering that taking care of you is essential to getting a handle on your work/home life balance.
Remember to be kind to yourself – You’re the only you that you’ve got!
Now that my family is settled into our new routine, I am also incorporating these excellent resources for staying organized, maximizing my time with my Littles, and staying involved with their education. I’m new to the Working Mom scene, but the ladies I have featured below are true experts. Check them out – or pin them to refer back to later!
6 Working Mom Hacks to Get More Time with Your Kids
5 Ways Working Moms Can Get Involved at Their Kids’ School
Tips to Maintain the Work-Mom Life Balance
Have you transitioned from SAHM to Working Mom? Are you are Working Mom balancing a career and family while making it look oh-so-effortless? I would love to read about your tips for success in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
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