6 Tips for Working Moms to Get Through the Day Easier

6 Tips for Working Moms to Make Their Lives Easier
6 Tips for Working Moms to Make Their Lives Easier -The Well Dressed Life

All moms have stress, regardless of how and where we work. Working moms (moms who work in and outside the home) have our own unique set of challenges. We “balance” full-time careers and full-time motherhood with all the responsibilities, curveballs, and craziness that comes with both roles.

I get frustrated when I see us portrayed online as these overwhelmed, frantic, and forgetful women running from the office to the car line, complaining about unhelpful husbands and kids who don’t listen. While I guess that gets an article clicked and shared, I don’t relate, and I don’t see these characteristics in the working moms I know either.

In fact, many of the working moms in my life are the most together and organized people I know.

Do they have tough moments? I’m sure they do. We all do. Are we all perfect? Not even close. My last official meltdown was on December 15th, around 10:30 am, because Christmas, at that moment, was bullshit, and I was doing ALL THE WORK.

But it was a moment in time, not my life. Yes, working and being a mother is hard, really freaking hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable.

My work allows me to meet and create friendships with so many remarkable women, many of whom already raised good families and enjoyed successful careers. I have had the good fortune to receive some fantastic advice from many of these women who have been there done that.

Today, I’m sharing some of my best lessons learned – some very much learned the hard way – that have made me happier and allowed my life to run smoothly despite my busy career and family.

 6 Tips for Working Moms to Get Through the Day Easier

6 Tips for Working Moms to Make Their Lives Easier

1. Teach Your Kids Independence Early

Once your kiddos hit a certain age and ability level, give them chores. That sounds easy enough, but as a recovering perfectionist, seeing my kids’ version of a neatly made bed used to make the vein on my forehead throb.

Take deep breaths and close the door.

Eventually, they get better. They’ll never learn if you always do it for them.

These days, we call chores “contributions.”

Our philosophy is this: You’re part of a family; you live a beautiful life and have all the opportunity in the world. Therefore, you need to pull your weight.

We base each of their assigned contributions on their age, skill, and, to a degree, their interest level. I found this chart on Etsy. It hangs right outside our kitchen so they know what to do every day.

 

2. Just Say “No”

We need to say no more often — not just when it comes to volunteering to make cookies for school when you know you have zero capacity or joining yet another committee, but to other time killers as well.

Early in my life as a mom, someone told me, “If you do one thing, only make one dinner. If the kids don’t like it, too bad.” So, that has been our rule. It’s not always easy.  Call me crazy, but I refuse to make more than one dinner a day.

Take a minute to look from the outside in and ask yourself: Am I making my life more difficult by saying “yes” to things I should be saying “no” to? Start to say no to the work you don’t have to do so you can say yes to the things that matter.

Everyone will be better for it.

 

3. Embrace “Oh, Well”

Many working moms try to control everything because we understand that we are usually running a zero-margin game. This need for control really used to get to me.  I had to make myself realize that I was trying to control everything and, as a result, getting super bent out of shape about it all.

Now, I try to analyze what I’m getting worked up about and to give it value. Is it important, or can I just shrug my shoulder and say, “Oh, well”? If I can, I let it go.

Can I tell you how amazing this is?

A friend stops over, and the house is a mess. Oh, well! Here’s a glass of wine.

The babysitter cancels, and we can’t go out. Bummer, but, oh, well!

Has school declared another snow day? Oh, well, but please, no more.

I didn’t get the gig I really wanted for work. Oh, well, something else will come along.

“Oh, well” helps you acknowledge that you have no control over the situation or that it’s not that important. This technique teaches you how to manage disappointment better, allows you to make the best of the circumstances, and helps you to let go of the things that are inconsequential in the long run.

 

4. Get rid of your clutter.

Clutter is such a time killer. If you have clutter, you likely can’t find anything and are wasting a lot of energy, time, and money. By putting in the upfront work that comes with simplifying your life, you open up space not only in your home but also in your schedule and in your mind.

I enjoy following Emily Ley, a Florida based entrepreneur. Emily helps women simplify and organize their lives.  She is the creator of The Simplified Planner and author of two books: Grace Not Perfection and The Simplified Life. She’s also a wife and mom of three. Her tips are practical and digestible.

You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.  I am organized by nature and still learned many helpful new strategies.

 

5. Outsource and Automate

If your goal is to spend more time on what matters: your family, your work, your health and happiness, you have to realize you can’t do everything. If you have it in your budget, give yourself permission to outsource some household chores. You’ll get back hours in your week.

This post from last year outlines everything we currently outsource.

Along the same line as outsourcing, take advantage of all the opportunities you have to automate. Automate your savings and schedule bill payments. Sign up for Amazon Prime (how did we live without it?) so you avoid after-dinner runs to Target.

Invest in an Echo and keep it in your kitchen so you can quickly add items to your grocery list or shopping carts. By automating and outsourcing you can eliminate a significant portion of the additional workload that comes with running a household

Related: 6 Important Lessons I Learned as a Working Mom.

6. Schedule Everything

My best, most productive days are the ones that I map out hour by hour. Otherwise, the day starts to get away from me. This doesn’t mean I schedule every hour; rather, I have an idea of how much time I’m dedicating to every task and give it the time it needs.

Every Sunday night, I sit with my phone and write out my week in my planner.  I map everything including meals, who needs to be where, workouts, appointments, errands, date night and uninterrupted time with the kids.

EVERYTHING.

When I write it down with pen on paper, I own it and it always gets done. What’s great about seeing your day in writing is it gives you an opportunity to re-prioritize and eliminate time wasters that may sneak in.

Difficult doesn’t have to be Miserable

Just because this is hard doesn’t mean we can’t do it well, or that we have to sacrifice our joy. With the right mindset, systems and sense of humor; it can not only be doable, but enjoyable.

So tell us in the comments below – what was the best advice you learned as a working mom?

 

 

Create Your Imaginary Advisory Board

Imaginary Advisory Board
Create Your Imaginary Advisory Board - The Well Dressed Life

They say one of the keys to success is to have a mentor. Someone to go to for guidance and advice. Preferably, it should be someone who is an expert, who you admire, who’s reached a certain level of success and is willing and able to guide you on your journey.

That last piece, “willing and able” has been the most challenging for me. The older I get, the harder it’s been to find someone that meets all of those qualifications. I can name a million people I admire, but I don’t know any of them. Over the last few years, I’ve all but given up on the concept.

Instead, I focused on reading books and watching videos of popular influencers in an attempt to stay motivated and inspired.

A few nights ago I was scrolling through Instagram and landed on a post about creating an “Imaginary Advisory Board.” (It was on one of my favorite accounts, Grace Bonney’s @designsponge c/o @freeperiodpress.) The idea is based on Napoleone Hill’s “Invisible Counselors Technique” found in Think and Grow Rich. It is a form of visualization, where you imagine a group of successful leaders (living or dead) sitting around a table, discussing your needs, goals, and challenges.

According to Hill, by doing this, you can tap into the knowledge and skills of some of the greatest minds the world has ever known.

It sounds goofy and oddly intriguing, so it’s right up my alley. The modern interpretation of the technique is to create a Vision Board of five  people you admire.

When we decided to write a post about this, Lauren and I went back and forth on text about who we would include. It was fascinating and surprising to sort out our top five.

I printed out my image (below) and pinned it on the cork board over my desk at home. My list includes an array of people who cover the scope of everything I love. It serves as a guidepost of my influences and who I aspire to be like.

I’m sharing my Imaginary Advisory Board today and would love to hear who you would include and why.

Sheryl Sandberg, Gary Vaynerchuck, Ina Garten, Oprah, Brené Brown

My Imaginary Advisory Board

Brene Brown: The first time I watched her Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability , I didn’t feel so alone in the world. She’s openly messy, impulsive and flawed, yet filled with empathy and compassion. Her message about letting go of perfectionism, embracing your authenticity and that we are all searching for belonging and connection changed how I navigate the world and made me a better wife and mother.

Read: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness. They will change your life.

Oprah – No surprise here. Sitting in my living room as a little girl, I grew up with Oprah on my television. She exposed me to stories and ways of thinking I would have never learned otherwise. Her life is a miracle; there’s nothing she can’t do, and like millions of other women, I idolize her.

Read: The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations.

Gary Vaynerchuk – Gary V is an intense social media guru who preaches hustle and no excuses. He owns VaynerMedia, a full service digital agency and is prolific with not only his understanding of the social space but his ability to predict the next big thing.

I’ve followed him for years, watch DailyVee (his daily video blog) religiously, and have read all of his books, multiple times. He has a lot of energy and says some crazy things. I take the bits and pieces of his advice that work for me. Basically, the key to success is to put in the work and quit complaining.

If you are an entrepreneur he’s a must follow, especially on days when you are feeling sorry for yourself and want to give up.

Read: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness, The Thank You EconomyCrushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too

Sheryl Sandberg – I read Lean In at a point in my life and career as a young mom when I really needed to hear her message. While the book has its flaws, the foundation of it has influenced my advocacy of women in the workforce more than anything else.

More so, her latest book, Option B, is a heartbreaking and compelling account of the loss of her beloved husband, and the lessons she learned about how to be resilient in your darkest times. She articulates feelings in a way that hit me in my core.

Read: Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to LeadOption B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Ina Garten – The single most influential member of my imaginary council is The Barefoot Contessa. I don’t want to say I’m obsessed with her, but I am.

I received her first cookbook when I was 23 years old as a bridal shower. Slowly, I cooked my way through the entire book, then her next, and on and on. A read every word, over and again, sometimes in bed, like it was a novel.

She opened up a world I didn’t know existed. She inspired my passion for cooking and showed me how I wanted to live.

More than that, her personal story is so inspirational. Living in D.C., working in the White House, she drives up to the Hamptons, buys a specialty food store with no experience whatsoever and turns it into an empire.

I mean, come on, she’s amazing. I love how she cooks, how she lives and her philosophy that things don’t have to be complicated to be special and lovely.

Read: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Parties!, At Home, Back to Basics, In Paris, Foolproof, Make it Ahead, Cooking for Jeffrey.

Who would you include in you Imaginary Advisory Board, and Why?