Top 10 Tips for Working Moms

by Claire Minnaar

I used to be able to work whenever I wanted to, however long I wanted to until my little gremlins arrived and work and life had to be shuffled and turned upside town. Being a Mom is hard work at times and when you are trying to find balance with work, life, raising kids and all that jazz, those close to “Mammas about to Crack” moments start showing their ugly faces!

Based on what I have learnt over the last 4 years of being a working Mom, I’ve put together a few tips. I worked from home (SAHM) and I have worked from an office. If you are about to be a Mom who will be working after a few months, are a Mom planning on starting a new business or are a Mom trying to find a little bit of balance as a working Mom, I hope these tips will be of a little use to you.

Top 10 Tips

  1. Prioritise your work every day: Do this by making your to do list at the start of your day and make sure (you going to hate this one!) that you start with the task that you are avoiding or is that really BIG one that you know you don’t want to deal with. My business coach calls it “Eat a frog every day”. I read from quite a popular celebrity in the States that she does her to do list in her car – there’s no kids, dogs, husband, work people, noise, etc. to distract her and she says it’s one of the most productive times of her day….I’m going to give it a try!
  2. Prepare yourself that things will not be done in the time you think it can be done: With kids, anything can happen – a fever can pop out of nowhere, you will get interrupted for some attention (popular with a SAHM) or the nanny is late or hasn’t pitched!
  3. Be prepared: You have to be organised and this is mastery in itself, so don’t get freaked out if you don’t get it right. You have years of practice (around 18 yearsJ) – every week, you will get a little better and some weeks, you will be more organised than others….and guess what – that’s TOTALLY OK! Here are a few things you should prepare in advance:
    • Meals and grocery lists – preparing food ahead of time will only simply your meals or just knowing what you want to make food wise in the week ahead will make sure that you know what to buy each day. Buying in bulk and learning to freeze things will help you be more prepared food wise!
    • Make sure your partner in crime knows the routine – make sure you and your partner are on the same page with responsibilities and what is required or planned for the week. Make sure roles are clear on who does what and when. This will reduce stress AND allow you to have more time as everyone gets things done quickly and efficiently. Less chance of giving your partner the beady eye at the end of the day as well!
  4. Start your day early before everyone wakes up: This is a hard one for me – I LOVE my sleep so much! I started taking this on this last week and it’s made a huge difference! You may need to go to bed a little earlier than usual, but I can guarantee you that getting up a little before the normal wake up time of kids, you will get more done in the day and you will actually find you are more relaxed as a result of being more productive (and less stressed!)
  5. Check email only TWICE a day: I’m still trying to work on this one. My businesses are all internet based, so in certain instances, this won’t be AS applicable. Start controlling your emails a little by rather allocating 30 minutes every 3 hours or something like that to sort emails. Ideally once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Amazing to think they thought computers would make our lives easier and we would have less worked…..emails are proof of that philosophy being FALSE!
  6. Have a nanny or au pair that understands your needs and respects your requirements: You caregiver is possibly one of the most important people for you and your work. You need to trust your kids with them and you need to trust that they will do what they are supposed to. Make sure that whoever you have assisting you with your kids knows what you require from them (TASK LIST WEEKLY) and writes everything they’ve done down so you can review each day. Make sure to ask them to keep a grocery list somewhere so you can see what you need at any given time. If they don’t work with you to help you with your needs, you need to either train them or find someone else. This sounds extremely harsh, I know, but a caregiver who doesn’t support YOU can result in you having so much more stress in your life than what you need (I’ve experienced this and I’ve seen friends go through this). Trust your gut with this one!
  7. Stay uncluttered: Mess and clutter will frustrate you even sub-consciously! Keep work area (car, desk, etc.) tidy and make sure your caregiver or partner lends a hand with the rest of the house.
  8. Create a routine and schedule everything: This is very important and will keep you sane. Set times for lunch, play time, leaving work, etc. and stick to it!
  9. Keep in touch with friends: Working and being a Mom can distract us from other people in our lives. Make sure to keep in touch with friends (and I’m not talking via BBM or Whatsapp). Get together, have a telephone conversation or have a weekend away with them and their family! It’s amazing what spending time with friends can do!
  10. Prepare to feel GUILTY: Sorry to say, you will feel it! You can’t hide from it! There’s a reason so many magazines, websites and people talk about the Mother’s Guilt gremlin – accept that you know it exists, you’re aware of it and you’re doing what you have to do survive. Don’t doubt yourself as a mother because of the guilt feeling. Even stay at home Moms feel guilty – as soon as our bambinos pop out, guilt sets in and it will possibly be there forever (ask me in 50 years!)

Bonus Tip #11

Remember YOU – don’t neglect yourself. You are MOM and without Mom looking after herself, you can’t run a business and kids and be the super woman that you are. So, please (I’m on my hands and knees here begging you!!!) – make time for yourself.

Have a few more tips? Please leave a comment below – would love to hear from you!

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Lacy July 12, 2012 - 3:31 pm

Great tips! My mama always said, “Do the thing you want to do the least the first!” and it’s good advice whether you’re a mom or not!

I have a babysitter who only comes in for 6 hours a week, and I have been really lenient about letting her change things and reschedule, because I thought I was lucky to get someone so qualified on such a part-time basis. But you’ve got me thinking that I might need to reevaluate—she’s not supporting me if she’s changing things all the time, and if she’s not supporting me, then what the heck am I paying her for?? 🙂

Main Mamma July 13, 2012 - 7:21 am

Hi Lacy, I think everyone will have their own opinion. My personal suggestion would be to make a list of times and responsibilities which you wish to enforce. You are paying her to help you and not make your lives more difficult. HOWEVER, if it’s easy for you to chop and change, then that’s your call. If the chopping and changing on her part stresses you out, then you do need to evaluate whether it’s a worthwhile relationship. Hope that helps a bit!

Clara Goni July 13, 2012 - 8:15 am

Hi Lacy

Waking up ealier than everyone has made wonders for me. Moms out there – please try it. It really works.

Nanny and Au Pair Tips | Momtrepreneur July 17, 2012 - 7:44 am

[…] last article on Top 10 Tips for Working Moms, I received some feedback about the nannies and au pairs, so I thought this would be a valid and […]

Lyn July 20, 2012 - 8:28 am

What inspiring tips, Main Mama! I really needed to read all of that and I have decided that in order for me to have form of sanity in my life I have to start applying these tips. Thank you!

Main Mamma July 20, 2012 - 8:29 am

My pleasure, Lyn x

Carla January 9, 2013 - 11:21 am

Thanks for the helpful tips. I’m craving a declutter but will need to dedicate time to getting it done, perhaps that could be my ‘frog’ for Feb!

I’ll reluctantly try starting my day before everyone else gets up, it’s going to be tough but I’m sure it’ll be worth the less stress result.


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