Back to Work Tips with Mommies Work
Founder of an Atlanta-based public relations firm, author of Mommies Work, and Mom, Kristin Cowart Pierce, talks about her favorite tips for balancing work and life (as much as reality allows)!
Motherhood. It’s everything precious and wild, crazy and wonderful. It’s also a balancing act as we play the role of coach, therapist, cook, cleaner, teacher and nurse. And for the working moms out there, the pull between office and home can feel overwhelming and exhausting in navigating the demands of clients, colleagues and children. The ebb and flow of delicately balancing meetings, work travel, dance practice and bake sales make us feel like a tightrope walker. But yet we carry on this time-honored tradition of motherhood, making the most out of what I consider perhaps the most important job in the world.
Many moons ago, as I struggled to explain to my small children why I worked and where I went each day, I decided to write a book for them. Mommies Work was soon born, designed to foster conversation and illustrate why and how moms went to work. The book helps them to understand, but I’’ll be honest: it doesn’t do much to relieve the pressure that seeps in on a daily basis! It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae — and we often spend so much time worrying about how to tackle everything on tomorrow’s to-do list — that we miss out on what’s right in front of us today.
So I had an idea. I started taking some of my best practices and key learnings from my work for clients and applying them to family life. I’m happy to share some things I learned in hopes that they will help other working and stay-at-home moms. With back-to-school season hitting us hard at the moment, it’s a great time to get into some solid routines. Whatever you want to call them – tips, hacks or just common sense – these steps helped me better prepare for the upcoming recital, the carpool matrix that needed rehashing, the meal prep for the week, while allowing me to take in all the little moments of today right in front of me. I hope they help you too!
A few of my favorites:
Teach Cleanup at a Young Age and Delegate Select Chores:
- Kids inherently feel valued and engaged when they’re involved in something bigger.
- Start small and early, and it will become an expected part of their routine.
- On weekends, I find it helpful to crank much of the cooking for the week.
- The freezer is your friend:
- Many meals can be portioned and frozen to whip out and defrost on a given weekday. Leftovers can be also be repurposed for lunches the next day.
- I also recommend prepping lunch boxes, breakfasts and even after-school snacks the night before. It will save you time and mental bandwidth the next day!
Have a Master Plan for Every Day:
- Using a large family calendar that the entire family can see and understand ensures everyone knows the plan.
- It’s simple for the littles to double check and for you to add new items when last-minute plans pop up.
- If parents prefer to go digital, use an app where you can merge work schedules, kids’ activities and transportation.
Post-its and To-Do Lists Are Game Changers:
- Brain-dumping a list that is swirling in your brain onto paper or into notes on your phone helps unload and clear your mind, allowing you to focus on the moment.
- Even if it’s dictating yourself a to-do list for later, get it off your mind so you can live in the present.
- It may sound silly, but planning “fun” helps having things to look forward to, while energizing and incentivizing children with a something special.
- Even an outing as simple as a trip to the local ice cream parlor can bring anticipation, smiles and giggles.
A Good Night’s Sleep:
- We hear it all the time.
- Sleep is important at every age!
- It’s a key element in our ability to give our best in school and at work, providing patience and energy to deal with roadblocks that inevitably come our way. I’ve found that as kids get older, they feel they need less and less sleep, but hold firm, mamas.
- Their brains and bodies need it more than ever!
Use Car Time:
- As kids get older, they open up less and less. Your energetic toddlers and elementary-age children turn into eye-rolling, sighing pre-teens and teens. I’ve discovered the secret of time in the car. A captive audience, they are often more receptive to conversations here. And… sitting side-by-side, I’ve found that conversation often flows more freely when eye contact is not required!
Choose Your Childcare Carefully:
- Some of my biggest stressors have revolved around childcare – or lack of it.
- Talk to moms with older children, tour daycare facilities and chat with neighbors about nanny shares.
- Having someone whom you trust care for your children is worth its weight in gold.
- Experience taught me that sometimes you have to pay a higher rate to ensure peace of mind… but, in the end, is there any more important investment than your children?
- Choosing a daycare can be difficult. Check out Moms on Call has tips on How to Choose a Daycare.
Hire a Responsible Teenager – Or a Senior:
- When you just need a little extra help, teens can be a secret weapon!
- They are cool, in-touch with all things current and hip, and can serve as an excellent role model for younger kids.
- I have hired teenagers to take the kids for a day so I can work on a client campaign, drive them to soccer or dance class when my flight is running late, or teach them pro tips in basketball or tennis.
- They can be lifesavers – and your kids will be thrilled to have a “big kid” around.
- Similarly, older neighbors can be a Godsend.
- A few older empty-nesters have jumped at the chance to care for my children or pick them up from school when my husband and have both been traveling.
- They love being around kids again, and their experience and words of wisdom can serve as great lessons for the littles.