As the kids get ready to start a new school year, work-life balance again becomes high on the worry/stress/priority list. I have had a pretty demanding job on Wall Street for over 20 years and have (somehow!) managed to juggle my job and my children for the past 15 of them. How do you work, make sure the kids are thriving and looked after, have some time for yourself, and still nurture your marriage? It is not easy, but with effort and a little planning, it is doable. I have been mentoring younger women for many years with these tips and they are the same ones I used ten years ago.
Here they are:
- To quote HRC, it does take a village. If you think you can do it all yourself, think again. Yes, we “Type A” mamas want to control it all. But in order to stay sane, you need to enlist the help of others. Babysitters, Friends, Colleagues, your mom, your husband, get them all lined up and ready to pitch in.
- Delegate. Do not be afraid to delegate- and this includes the kids. My boys are a little older now, and when we recently hosted a small dinner party I had them making guac (good job!) and setting the table. Your nanny doesn’t go to the dry cleaner for you? Well now she does! That goes as well for picking up prescriptions at CVS and shipping a package at the UPS store. And around the house, make sure the kids know what chores are expected of them. Sure you’ll get the heavy sigh and eye-rolls, but you’ll also get beds made, garage taken out, and a semblance of order and tidiness.
- Multi task- One thing I was fanatical about before kids (or even when my kids were really young) was the weekly manicure. Now when I get my hair cut, I get a manicure and pedicure at the same time. One hour well spent.
- Be Organized– Are you the one that realizes your daughter has a birthday party to go to tomorrow and you have no gift? Make a list of all the birthdays for the next few months and order the gifts on amazon (gift cards are always a hit) and throw them in a closet. Buy cards in bulk. Order stickers for gifts that say “With love from Susie”. Have a calendar in the kitchen where everyone can see what activities are happening- when the dentist is; the date of an upcoming field trip. As they are prone to “forget what you told them”- send your husband meeting invites. If your kids are old enough, send them meeting invites too (same genetic defect!)
- Date Night. I am surprised how few of my friends make sure to save a night for date night. With both of you working, and a few kids around, it is important to have some one on one time. For us, its Saturday night. I have always had a standing Saturday night babysitter and it is definitely something I look forward to during the week. One of the best dates is grabbing dinner at a local restaurant (sit at the bar if you didn’t plan ahead) and a movie after. Its relaxing and you two can catch up on the goings on of the week. If a Saturday night babysitter is not in your budget, find a good friend with kids and take turns watching them all. At least then you’ll get your date night every other Saturday.
- Some me time – One of the best things I ever did when my kids were little was to have my Saturday night babysitter start in the early afternoon. This way after a day at the park, lunch, and family time/chaos, I could sneak out and do some things just for me. Shopping, that manicure I mentioned, coffee with a friend. This way you don’t feel like you’re at one job Monday-Friday and another one Saturday-Sunday. I also leave a little bit of time before the end of my work day, and the time my nanny leaves. This way I can quickly run to the gym, do an errand, or just enjoy a quiet moment alone.
- Have Fun. Life is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Sometimes when it all piles up it can be overwhelming. Sit down and think about what things are stressing you the most. Talk with your nanny, housekeeper, husband and see how to solve those problems. Friends in similar situations also give great advice, and when you bounce ideas off them you will find that we are all in a similar boat and its all manageable.