Fulfilling the role of Mom while also holding down a job can be dizzying. But with a little planning and family cooperation, moms can make routine tasks easier, get family members involved and helping instead of asking for things, and reduce everyone's stress level. Try these tips out.
Do you clean up toys, hang up coats, stow shoes, pick up laundry and make beds? Then stop it right now. These are things even 3-year-olds can do. When you come home, ask politely for everyone to hang up their coats and put away their gloves. Explain to kids that dirty clothes go in the hamper and clean clothes go back in the drawers. Show them how to neaten their beds. Resist the urge to fix or fold after they are done. After all, they're learning and helping, so don't discourage them or make them feel they did an inadequate job.
Ask your kids/spouse to help you. At mealtimes, small children can set the table, older ones can serve drinks and everyone can help bring plates to the table. Teach kids to clear the table, how to get their own cereal and how to load the dishwasher. Have children take out the trash, teach them to use the laundry machines and have them put their own clean clothes away. Grant points or make a sticker chart as rewards to show your kids how much you appreciate their help.
Plan Your Morning
Mornings will go more smoothly if you do some things the night before. Pack lunches (or have kids make their own), lay out clothes, ensure homework is done, pack backpacks and check the calendar for after-school plans. Teach kids to get themselves ready in the morning by putting up a wall chart that lists "brush teeth," "make bed," "get dressed," "eat breakfast" and whatever else they need to do.
Schedule Quiet Time
Have each family member spend a few minutes alone when everyone gets home. This gives you all time to calm down and regroup before getting dinner ready and discussing the day.
Plan a Work Schedule
Don't let work pressures eat into your family time. If you often work late, talk to your boss or coworkers and figure out a way to leave at 5 p.m. on certain days. Cooperate with your spouse to make sure you're prepared if one of you must work late. This way, your family will know certain days are family dinner days or one-parent nights, and they will learn to cherish those times together.
Plan Meals Ahead
Make only one shopping trip per week to buy ingredients. Get a cookbook that contains easy-to-prepare recipes. Double a recipe and freeze half for another meal. When you're making a salad, make double and save half for the next night. Keep lasagnas or other one-dish meals in the freezer for nights when you don't feel like cooking. Designate your most hectic night as order-out night and get pizza or Chinese food. Have the kids make dinner one night a week if they are old enough.
Schedule Quality Family Time
Strive to have a family dinner as frequently as possible. Plan a family movie night once a week. Plan a group outing for the weekend. Take the whole family to a child's sporting event.
Make Time for Yourself
Moms tend to put themselves last on the list, but regenerating your own inner strength and peace will go a long way toward giving you the energy you need to be a mom. So take care of yourself: Go to the gym, visit a museum, meet a friend for coffee, join a book club or work on your hobby. Make a deal with your spouse allowing each of you one night a week to do your own thing.
Be a Couple
Get a babysitter once every two weeks, or whatever is feasible, and go out together. It doesn't have to be fancy. Even a trip to the bookstore will help the two of you remember what it's like to be adults together.
By Alyson Preston, Monster Contributing Writer