Working Moms: A Sample Plan for Hectic Workdays
The Night Before
- Prepare clothesListen to the weather report, know what to expect, and have the proper cleaned and pressed clothes ready to go.
- Prepare for work and day carePack your briefcase and your baby's diaper bag. Keep the items you need near the door to avoid last-minute frantic searches.
- Mix formula.
- Fix lunches.
- Plan breakfastServe everyone the same breakfast to save time and dirty cooking pans.
- Prepare the table.
- Prepare caregiver instructionsWrite instructions down; don't plan to depend on your memory. Keep them in your briefcase or the handbag you're planning to use the next day.
- Get up earlierYou'll be surprised what a difference in composure an hour makes. You have more time to get yourself ready and to spend with your family. What's more, you can more easily cope with the unexpected when, for example, your caregiver calls in sick or your baby spits up on your only clean blouse.
- Use the trip home to relaxOn public transportation, take a book for relaxation and get your mind off responsibilities. Listen to soft music in your car, not the bad news of the day. Use devices such as an iPod to organize and store your personal favorite playlists consisting of calming and relaxing music you enjoy the most, or record comical stand ups from your favorite comedians to listen to wherever you go to keep yourself in a good mood. Laughter is the best relaxer.
- Leave problems at the officePrepare to meet your child again. Think of positive things; take a few deep breaths and relax. The office problems will still be there in the morning when you're better able to deal with them.
- Focus on your childThis is a high-stress, low-energy time of day for your baby also. Be understanding if your child remembers feeling anger and confusion during your morning departure and greets you with resentment.
- Talk things over with your caregiverThis is the time to go over events of the day and uncover any problems. It's also an interim time for your child to adjust to your arrival.
- Develop a good-bye ritualSmall children find it difficult to have the continuity of their lives disrupted. A good-bye ritual will make leaving a child-care center easier. For instance, a good-bye wave to the caregiver or teacher, to a favorite toy, or another child is reassuring. Bring a special toy or treat for the ride home, such as soft fruit slices or easily digested oat cereal.
- Get comfortableAs soon as you get home, change into something comfortable. This can become a symbolic signal that it's time to stop thinking about work and to begin a family life.
- Have a dinner planned in advancePlan your weekday evening meals so that they are simple and fast to make.
- Concentrate on your childPlan a relaxing ritual or some activities that are done only at this reconnecting time. Be generous with hugs and kisses. Talk about the evening ahead. In other words, make homecoming a positive experience (see "Dos and Don'ts for Quality Baby Time" in Working Mothers: Organizing Your Life). Eat a high protein snack at 3 or 4 p.m. so that you have enough energy for what's ahead.
- Save time for yourselfIf you neglect yourself, you won't have the stamina for all the things you want to do. Read, knit, surf the net; in other word's, have fun!
- Avoid strugglesQuality time with your child has less to do with physical needs than with doing things you all enjoy. Don't butt heads over disliked foods or insist on a bath when your child doesn't want one.
- Limit interruptionsLet the message machine or voice mail take your calls during the evening visit with your child. Return the calls later.
- Make dinnertime peacefulSet the stage for good behavior at the table. Turn off the TV, turn some quiet music on low, and make it clear that dinnertime is for pleasant conversation, not bickering.
- Clear the table togetherThis should be a cooperative effort. Even a toddler can carry a spoon to the sink.
- Create a peaceful sleeping environmentHelp your baby go straight to sleep with the hum of a fan, sound of the dryer, ride in a car, running vacuum, or rumbling dryer.
- ImproviseOrganizational strategies will work one week but not necessarily the next. Be ready to improvise. When life at home goes smoothly, everyone wins.
More on: Work
© 2005 by Marla Schram Schwartz. Excerpted from The Working Woman's Baby Planner with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.
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