Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ten Tips for Working Parents

When Bella was 13 months old I went back to work.  I was a single parent with no car who worked almost two hours away (by public transport). We left at 6am so I could walk to daycare in time for when they opened at 6:30am. At 6:35am I caught a bus/train/bus, got to work a little after 8am, worked til 4pm and the caught the bus/train/bus combo back to daycare and then walked home, arriving by about 6pm unless I had to do some grocery shopping first.

Since having Ashley things are a little different. I have a partner now, a drivers license, a job much closer to home. But now there’s four of us to look after instead of two and we still need to be out the door by 7 o’clock each morning. I don’t know how we do it some days. I definitely don’t know how I did it with Bella.

Being a working parent can definitely be hard work but adopting certain habits, routines or attitudes can make it easier. I thought I would write down a little collection of tips for anyone else looking for advice. I’ll go into them each in more depth later on.

1. Be sensible with your money
This might seem an odd tip for a double-income household  but it is the crux of why we leave our babies to go to work. There is NO point working Mon-Fri to spend it all on Saturday.

2. Shop Once, Cook Twice, Eat Four Times.
Okay, the maths on that is a little bit incorrect but make good use of your time, money and energy by mealplanning and cooking in bulk.

3. Make getting dressed a no-brainer
Make sure your clothes, make-up and hairstyle can be selected and put on in the dark whilst half asleep.

4. Get everything ready the night before
Make lunches, pack bags, pick outfits, fill out school permission slips, etc. You can afford that extra ten minutes at night. You can’t afford that extra ten minutes when you need to leave in the morning.

5. Get yourself up and ready first
Get yourself completely ready because you will easily fill your time with getting your children ready and will not make time for yourself to go back and put some lipstick on. It’s also just quieter and easier ;o)

6. Use your lunchbreak productively so that you have more free time at home.
For me, this means writing blog posts and doing home business stuff. It also includes browsing pinterest, reading blogs and other things that might not be entirely ‘productive’ but which I would otherwise do at home in the evening.

7. Make the most of every spare  minute (do your housework in small batches)
There are small pockets of time available to you if you try and notice them. Two minutes while you wait for the kettle to boil to make dinner, 15 mins while the pasta bake is in the oven but before you have to prepare the fresh veg to go with it. Use these pockets of time to throw a load of washing in the machine, wipe over the bathroom, clean the toilets, sort through the junk mail, clean the cupboard fronts, empty bins etc.

8. Keep your child in the social circle
Working can mean missing out on after-school  birthday parties or school holiday playdates. I get Bella to send a card & present to the birthday child, and at the end of term I get Bella to pass out our phone number so we can schedule weekend playdates. I also try and keep in touch with the other Mums via email and facebook to keep us in the loop.It can be difficult if you're shy like me, but worth it. 

9. Get the children to pitch in
Even very young children (past 12mths) can pack away their school/daycare bag, pick up toys, put their shoes and towels back in the right place. They may even enjoy cleaning windows, feeding the animals, pulling up weeds etc.

10. Things should go where they will be used
Keep school bags in bedrooms, sponges in the bathroom, toilet and kitchen ready for cleaning, dirty clothes in the laundry etc so that when you need to complete a task you can do it efficiently. Some things might not have a permanent home (car keys, dvds from the video store, notes from school)  so you need to make a temporary home- usually a basket on the kitchen bench- so they still have somewhere to go instead of being dropped random places around the house. 

Laura xx


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