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When I returned to an old job after baby number two, a handful of people said, “Something is different about you, but I can’t put my finger on it.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but a few years later it hit me. That difference was motherhood, specifically, being a working mom.
We work moms have so many balls in the air at one time to be masters of our household, our games, and our desks—wherever that desk may be, or if you even have a desk.
Over the years, and with much trial and error, I learned some tricks that helped me create the perfect working mom schedule. And as you know, when kids are involved, the schedule is constantly shifting.
6 ways to hack your working mom schedule
- Blocking chunks of time on your calendar. This by far has been the most effective way to protect my time and my sanity. If I need to leave to get the kids to their after school sports at 4pm, then I block my calendar starting at 3pm. This way, no one will schedule a meeting with me right up until 4pm, leaving me rushing out the door with my head cut off. This also goes for time throughout the day. I always block time for coffee breaks and lunch. This is the time I need to have the white space to be able to do my job.
- Set expectations about when you will and won’t work. This might mean having a conversation with your boss and colleagues about when you’re available. It’s also tremendously important to walk your walk. What this means for me, is that just because I sometimes do work and need to reply to emails at 9pm, doesn’t mean anyone needs to know. I never send emails after 5pm. If I’m working to get ahead for the next day, I’ll use the email delay delivery feature to schedule the email to go out the next morning. If people see you’re working in the evening, they’re going to expect you to keep working in the evening – so keep it on the down low.
- Working from home. As an introvert working in a big open office space, being in the office sucks the life out of me. I come home completely depleted, not to mention whiny and cranky. Basically, I’m like a 4 year old. Once you have the trust of your colleagues, try working from home once a week and build up to a few days from there. Of course, you need to actually be working from home when you say you are. Take the same approach with your calendar. Doing this helps you carve out the perfect schedule for you.
- Get ready to change. Our family schedule varies with each season depending on which kid I’m shuttling to which activity. On Sunday nights, I sit down and look at what’s happening at work and what’s happening at home to plot a map for the week.
- Listening to your body’s rhythms. Chances are, you have a pretty good idea of when you do your best work. For me, this is from 6am-7am, 8am-11am, sometimes 2-4pm, and then from 8-10pm. Many of us weren’t meant to sit in a chair and work for eight straight hours. Building in breaks around school drop off and pick up times, along with dog walking or lunch breaks (depending on if I’m in the office or at home) all help me approach my work with a fresh brain. Sometimes, you’re going to hit that wall. The same one marathoner’s talk about. Which I think is a totally suitable comparison here because being a working mom is a marathon. Sometimes, you’ve just got to put your head down and check out.
- Cooking on the weekend. This is the best way to keep food bills in check. You don’t need to become a meal planning master either, I take a completely minimalist approach. On the weekend, spend just an hour or so preparing staples for the week. I recommend starting with preparing three dinners in advance and figuring out how much to make from there. Cook things that take a long time to prepare like rice, potatoes, and sauces on the weekend so you can easily grab and go all week long. Also get chopped veggies ready to go and greens washed so you can turn your kitchen into a healthy fast food restaurant. Think of all the time you’ll save from browsing Pinterest for dinner recipes and staring hopelessly into your pantry.
What one piece of advice would you give a new working mom about creating her new working mom schedule? We love your comments – let us know!