10 Life Hacks for Busy Working Mums
Being a working woman is very demanding, and even more so if you are a working mum!
Apart from the everyday expectancies of holding down a job and keeping up a home we obviously have the added stress of ensuring that our babies are taken care of too. I can think of no better or rewarding job than being a mum. Our children command our thoughts 24/7 and their wellbeing is always a priority.
I am a busy single mum. I have three wonderful daughters who rely on me to be there and to provide for them. I run 2 network marketing businesses that, luckily, I can work as and when I have the time. I also work in a college on the mainland, which means that as I live on the Isle of Wight I have a two and a half hour commute each way, 5 days a week! My time is very limited and very precious. Having the commute time though is actually beneficial to me in some respects. It gives me the time to plan and do jobs while I’m travelling. I do, however, have to be organised on a day to day basis.
There are some ‘life hacks’ that I have found that work for me which help me ensure that I can still run a family home, even without a partner to help.
At the beginning of the week I make a menu. I write a list of all the meals I am going to cook that week, including the weekends. This helps me save time in an evening. I arrive home and I know what I am cooking and get straight on with it. If I didn’t I know that I’d spend 20 minutes deciding what to prepare and eventually the kids would end up with egg and chips! Creating a menu also means that I save time at the supermarket. I have a list of the foods that I need to buy and am usually in and out of the store in a flash.
I check my menu the night before and if I require something out of the freezer then I get it out before I go to bed, so I’m totally prepared the next evening.
2. Bulk cook
I have never been a fan of spending the whole of my Sunday cooking for the week, although I know friends who do. Unless I’m in the kitchen cooking with my children I don’t like to be in there spending time away from them. After all, I didn’t have them so that I could spend time alone. When I say bulk cook I mean it on a much more casual basis. Just little things that will make your life easier. For example, if I’m cooking up spaghetti bolognese I’ll cook extra minced beef and then freeze or refrigerate half of it. The rest I can use for chilli, cottage pie or lasagne on another day. All these dishes have the same basis of cooked mince and onions, even mushrooms, so it makes sense for me to do it once rather than each and every time.
3. Using my commute time wisely
Seeing as I have a two and a half hour commute each way, so five hours in total, I do jobs during this time. I can make lists, send business emails or texts and even fit in some form of exercise (although I haven’t actually broken out into a full blown routine as yet!).
I am lucky enough to use public transport as I don’t have a car on the mainland, only on the island. I can physically write whatever I need while I’m being chauffeured around. However, when I’m driving I use the voice recorder on my mobile phone to do the job for me. It’s especially handy when things that I have to do pop into my head, because I know that if I don’t make a note of these things I WILL forget them!
The exercises I do may be small but they are important. While I’m sat on the bus I do my pelvic floor exercises (kegels) and use the time to strengthen my core muscles. Tightening and holding for counts of ten. Every woman should do these exercises regularly as I’m sure you already know.
During my journeys I like to read. I spend some time each day reading personal development or inspirational/motivational books. I used to read before bed but I found that by the time I actually got into bed I was so exhausted that I’d fall asleep after a couple of pages. Books used to take me forever to read! I download books mainly on my kindle as it’s easier for me than having a bulky book in my handbag. If you are driving then audio versions of books are great, or even podcasts.
I actually hate cleaning! I find it such a time drain. I’d much rather be doing something more fun with my day. The thought of cleaning all day Saturday is so not appealing so I tidy/clean regularly. Tidying or cleaning one room a day is much less of a daunting task. I find it quicker and it helps me to stay on top of things. I also get the kids to help. There are plenty of jobs that they can do and if they are doing them with me then we can have some fun together too. Children like to feel that they are helping make mum’s workload a little easier. I also get the kids to do the washing up after dinner! I think that it’s important to teach them responsibility and not pamper them all the time.
6. Wake up a little earlier
I like to wake up early. I get up between 4.30-5.00am most days. This time before my children awake allows me to shower and plan the day ahead. It’s also a quiet time before the bedlam of TV, fighting siblings and general tasks that a family home requires. There are jobs that I can do once I’m up too. I know that the kids would kill me if I started up the hoover at that time in the morning but I can tidy round, set the laundry off, peg out and even cook. I’d much rather go to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn than stay up late. By the end of the day the children are winding down anyway and don’t really want to be chatting to mum all night.
7. Eating together
As a family we have always had dinner together. My girls are not allowed to take dinner in front of the TV, or into their bedrooms. We sit together at the dining table and eat. I love this time of day as we get the chance to catch up on what we’ve been doing that day and discuss any topics that they or I wish to bring up. Saturdays, which are often homemade pizza night (purely because no store delivers to where I live, out in the sticks! LOL), we have a picnic in the living room. We lay out a table cloth on the floor and eat there. Seeing as pizza is quite an informal food we find that much more suitable. If you are lucky enough to be able to order take away then, apart from me being jealous, I say do it! You have to allow yourself at least a day of simple, quick and easy food. Pizza or pasta bake are ideal. I make meals from scratch so I don’t think that my girls will be permanently scarred if I give them fast food once a week. Everything in moderation.
8. Enjoying family time
I make sure that we spend some time together everyday, apart from dinner. My children are growing up so quickly that I want to make sure that they have memories to take with them, memories that will make them smile and maybe even laugh. Being all girls in our house we like to dance so we use this as a time to be together. We play music on you tube, or our favourite play lists and dance and sing together. We do this everywhere we can. In the car, in the streets, in the house, on the beach. It doesn’t matter we are. We are having fun. Find what suits your family and do it as often as you can. Even a little often is still quality time together.
9. Schedule your social media
For those of you who have online businesses, or an online presence, then you must schedule your social media in advance. It’s such a time saver. Writing posts and statuses for a couple of days, or even the week, will free up your time in the long run. Again that’s something that I can do on my commute. There are different platforms out there but I personally use Hootsuite and have done for many years. I find it quick and easy to use.
10. Take time for yourself
Our children are very important but often we tend to forget that we are too! It’s easy to get sucked into being a mum and all the magic that that title holds, so easy in fact that we can end up neglecting ourselves. We have many demands on us and in order for us to do what is required we have to be at the top of our game as much as is humanly possible. For that reason a ‘time out’ just for mum is definitely in order. My children don’t have a dad who lives round the corner, theirs lives in Greece so they can’t spend time with him and visit regularly so my time out comes with a little help, or should I say a lot of help, from my mum. If I need a night out, a night at home alone to relax or a coffee with a girlfriend I call on mum to look after my girls for me. Yep, my mum is still an important part of my life. Working all day and then changing my job title to mum and working at home is full on employment! I have to recharge and don’t feel guilty about it. My ‘me’ time is as special as it is necessary. Make sure that you are getting enough time on your own too.
These are a few of the ‘life hacks’ that help me out, help make my life a little easier. There are plenty of others and if you’d like to share them below in the comments I’m sure every mum reading this article will be grateful! Tell us what you do that means you stay sane just a little longer 😉