3.21.2017

Workin' It {Balancing Home & Work Life}

Today I am linking up with Shay & Erika for their Workin' It series.
Today's topic is one that is near & dear to my heart.....
Balancing Home & Work Life.
As moms, it is SO, SO, SO hard to maintain balance.
You might be working out of the home mom, work from home mom or a stay at home mom.
You might be single with no kids, you might be married with no kids, you might be a single mom.
No matter what you are, the struggle of balancing your life is hard.
I have been a mom for over 10 years and I kept working even after I had Kate. 
I have learned a lot in the past 10 years about balance.
I have failed A LOT at this & had some successes.
I am in a unique situation, because I feel like I am actually a combination of all 3.... working out of the home mom, work from home mom AND a stay at home mom.

Let me explain.  

When Kate was born 10 years ago, I was a full time 7th grade math teacher. 
After she was born, I went part time. Because I teach middle school & have my own classes, I didn't have to job share. So, I teach everyday until noon. I teach 4 classes & all 4 of my classes are before lunch. I am so incredibly thankful to my principal for letting me have this schedule.
 So, even though I work outside of the home, I am part time when I do that. 
 I have created a TON of boundaries with my teaching job to keep my teaching stuff at school.
For example, I don't bring ANY school work home to grade. 
I grade all homework, tests & projects at school.
Before I had kids, I would totally bring stuff home to grade, but after having kids, I realized I needed to keep my school stuff at school.
Everyday before I leave school, I prep the next day's lessons, catch up on school email, grade & enter things in my gradebook.
It feels so good to leave all that at school & not worry about it when I am at home.
It also feels great arriving at school in the morning having everything already prepped!

I am also a work at home mom because of my Rodan + Fields business. 
Can I just tell you what a blessing this business has been for us?
It has allowed me to stay teaching part time & not go full time.
I only spend about 15 minutes a day on my Rodan + Fields business and all of that is web based.
The time I spend on my R+F business is answering emails/texts from customers (or potential customers) who have questions about products, etc. 
Or, it is answering emails/texts from girls on my team who have questions, etc.
It is SO flexible and all you need for the business is a smart phone or a computer.
I love that Rodan + Fields ships everything to my customers so that I don't have to keep inventory.
You can work the Rodan + Fields business in the nooks & crannies of your life. 
Like I said, I spend maybe 15 minutes a day on it, which is mostly emails that I do at night after my kids are in bed.
If you are looking for something flexible & fun like this, I would LOVE to chat with you more.
It is a perfect side gig for stay at home moms or working moms!
I have girls on my team from all over the US (and in Canada).
We are launching in Australia next month!
We have some amazing March specials going on, so send me an email if you want to learn more.
melissa_larson17@yahoo.com

I also sometime feel like stay at home mom because everyday from 12pm until 3pm I am at home with Luke while the girls are at school. 
I cherish these one on one hours that I have with just him. It has been such a gift.
I have chosen to use this time to be more intential with him and not drag him around on errands, etc during this time. He is 4 years old...he doesn't want to do that!
I also love that every other week I can help out in the girls classrooms. 
My mother in law watches Luke every other week for an hour so I can volunteer and I love that I can be involved with their classes also.
I also take him to swim lessons once a week while the girls are at school.
 I love that I can have playdates with Luke & some of his friends during those 12-3 hours (I need to get better at this...poor 3rd kid who doesn't get as many playdates as his sisters did that age)


So, that is how I feel like I fit into each of those categories.
I don't completely fit in 1 of those boxes of:
Working out of the home mom,
Work from home mom or 
 Stay at home mom.
Sometimes I feel like I can be on Island of my own because of this, but I really do like my schedule even though it can be very busy and crazy sometimes. 


Here are some tips/strategies that I have incorporated over the past 10 years of being a working mom that have helped me maintain (somewhat) of an okay work/home balance:

1.  Meal Plan for the Week
Every Sunday afternoon I meal plan for the week. I LOVE meal planning our dinners for the week. I go through our fridge/freezer/pantry and make a list of things I need to get at the store. I go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon. That way, Kevin is home to watch the kids and I don't have to drag all 3 kids to the grocery store. Because let me tell you...dragging 3 kids to the grocery store is not fun!
I can't tell you how much I love meal planning...it truly makes my weeknight dinners go so smoothly. That 4-6 time in the afternoons is SO crazy for us. Trying to get homework done, running the girls to activities, etc. Knowing that I have a plan for dinner is a lifesaver. 


2. Have Monday night's dinner prepped on Sunday night
On Sunday afternoon, I not only prep the meal we are having that night, but I also try and prep the meal we are having on Monday night. About 90% of our Monday night meals are Crock Pot meals or Instant Pot meals. On Sunday afternoon's I will dump all the ingredients into the crock pot/Instant Pot, put it in the fridge so that on Monday morning, I just pull it out of the fridge and pop the crock pot into the heating unit.
Another meal I do a majority of the time on Monday nights is my Chicken Tortilla Casserole (Recipe HERE) because you make it the night before and on Monday afternoon, I just have to pop it into the oven.
You can check out my family friendly & easy Slow Cooker/Instant Pot Recipes {HERE} and the rest of my Recipe Box is {HERE}
Another note about meal planning....when Kate was born 10 years ago, I declared that every Friday night is Pizza Night. 
I am DONE and tired by Friday night, so we have pizza at home.
It's the best!

3. Early dinner, bath, books & bedtime for the kids.
Our kids need to be in bed at a decent time each night. 
Neither Kevin or I are morning people, we are night owls. 
This means we like having the kids have an early dinner, baths(not every night), books & in bed before 7:30/8:00pm.
 Our kids do much better when they go to bed early & get a good night of sleep.
And those few hours of quiet that Kevin and I get each night are also so nice.
It's time for us to catch up on our shows or read.
Night time is also when I do my blogging, which I only do 2-3 a week (if that)

4. Pick out outfits for the next day (kids AND yourself!)
Every night, the girls and I check the weather for the week. We then pick out what they will be wearing the next day. We have a rule with our kids....they pick out their outfit the night before and they CANNOT change their mind in the morning. We set out their outfits, socks, shoes & headbands (and jackets if necessary) so that when they get up in the morning, they can get dressed right away and so there isn't a scramble in the morning searching for things.
What they pick out the night before is what they are wearing. Mornings are chaotic trying to get out the door, so no outfit changes.
Every work night I also layout my outfit/shoes/jewelry so that I am not trying to figure it out in the morning!
Sunday nights I  paint my nails so that my nails are fresh for the week :)
5. Make Lunches, Check Backpacks & Make Coffee for the next morning
Every school night, I make lunches for the girls and keep them in the fridge. This way, in the morning, I just have to take their lunch boxes & put them right into their backpacks!
Again, this is something I started doing when I was in middle school and my mom made me make my own lunches, I would make them the night before! That habit has stuck with me.
Every school afternoon, I also go through their backpacks. Sunday nights, I check through their folders, see if any paper work is due for me to turn in, see if there is anything that needs to be turned in (Fieldtrip forms, etc)
After I have checked backpacks, I set out their backpacks at the kitchen table so that after they eat breakfast, they can grab their backpack and be ready to head out the door.

We have an automatic timer on our coffee maker, so every night Kevin makes coffee and we have it set to brew in the morning. Again, mornings are chaotic trying to get everyone out the door to work  & school, so we prep the night before to make life a bit easier.
Can you tell that we are NOT morning people?!? LOL...we need everything prepped at night! 
 
6.  House picked up, dishes done & cleaning
If my house is picked up on Sunday nights, then I feel like my week is going to go so much smoother. Having 3 kids and being a working mom, the weekdays are chaotic and I don't get to clean up things and organize them much during the week. I like to start my Monday morning with a clean house. If my house doesn't get picked up on Sunday night, then it won't get picked up all week. Not having a picked up house makes me feel stressed out. I feel much more peaceful when my house is picked up.
Every night we go to bed with an empty kitchen sink. We try and get things cleaned up before we go to bed. Not always, but most of the time.
I have a house keeper come one time a month & that helps with the deep cleaning.
We also got this Roomba for Christmas and it has a timer so that it runs every morning for an hour while we are at work.  It is seriously amazing....we have a lab and when we run the Roomba each day the dog hair is a non issue! It makes our house feel so much cleaner each day.

7.  Have a Laundry schedule
I've have no advice on this. I am THE worst at laundry. I hate it. 
I save it all for the weekends, but then I get behind and it's just a disaster. 
I would LOVE laundry tips. Help!


8. Take a look at your schedule for the week on Sunday night.
Look at your calendar and see what you have going on during the week. 
Any week night meetings or things not in your normal weekly routine?
Any playdates, activities, appointments scheduled?
Make a list of things you need to get done.
I LOVE making to-do lists and write one almost everyday.
It helps me stay organized and not forget things.
9. Don't over schedule your kids.
Crazy kids schedules = crazy parents.
I think one of the things that makes parents so crazy & that we over schedule them.
Kevin and I try really hard to not do this, so we are intentional about what activities we sign our kids up for. What has worked well for our family is that we limit our kids to doing one sport at a time. Right now... Kate is in gymnastics, Claire is in basketball & Luke has swim lessons. So far, this has worked well for our family, so that we aren't rushing around going from one sporting event to another. We like to have down time as a family and margin & flexibility to do unscheduled things together.

10. You can't do it all.....Give yourself Grace.
I don't know if there is such thing as finding the perfect work/home/family balance.
I know I just gave you 9 tips to help with balance, but the reality is, there is no perfect balance.
I know even though I try, I fail miserably all the time. 
If you think someone has it all together, they probably don't.
I know I can try my best to have balance, but the truth is, I always drop the ball on at least one area of my life trying to balance it all.
For example, even though my house might be picked up & meals planned, I haven't been consistently gone running in months. 
It has been put on the back burner.
Another random example is this winter, Kevin decided this was the winter we were committing to teaching the kids how to ski, so we got season passes and have been in Tahoe almost every other weekend since Christmas. It has been a blast and even though we have had so much fun skiing as a family, our yard has suffered...we have spent barely anytime doing yard work in the backyard. It has rained so much that everything is so overgrown. We normally trim things back in January and it is almost the end of March and we are just now doing the backyard work that we should have done 2.5 months ago.
Since we haven't been home much on the weekends, I am behind on running errands...I still have extra party supplies that I never used for Kate's party that I need to return. They are sitting in bags in our garage collecting dust since January waiting for me to return them. Oops. Thank goodness Target has a 90 day return policy :)
 
It's all about Give and take. 
If you commit/focus on certain things, then it's inevitable that other things will have to take a back seat.
Something has got to give....and that is okay! 
There is a season of life for everything and sometimes thing are crazy...and that is normal.

 

So, there are 10 tips that I have to help keep the Home/Work/Life Balance.
Hopefully these tips will help you, but the most important one really is the last one.
It's what I have learned most in the past 10 years of being a working mom.
I can't do it all & I just need to give myself grace.
If I try and do it all, I will fail and my family will suffer.
I have come to accept that I can't do it all....and that is normal.
Sometimes you just have to let things go or say no....and that is okay.

I would love to hear what tips you have or things you have learned.
And for real....if you have laundry tips....let me know.
I need all the help I can get!

12 comments:

  1. I LOVED this!! Thank you so much for linking up Mel! Your tips is fantastic!

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  2. Thank you! I've been waiting for this post forever. I'm a full time working mom of 1 and I struggle constantly with the balance. I always admire your style so I appreciate the tips!

    Laundry has been an ongoing chore the last two weeks 😝

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  3. Get your kids started doing their own laundry! I put this off forever but it was such a good thing. For them and for me. Also, i keep hangers by the dryer and shirts for strait on hangers and right to closets. No folding and laying around and getting wrinkly. T shirts and everything go ever on hangers.

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    Replies
    1. I second having the kids do their own laundry (at least the older ones). If they can run an ipad they can run a washing machine. Buy some Color Catchers for the accidental black sock in with the whites. Between the color catcher and pod laundry detergent, it is pretty easy for them. Mine aren't good folders, but they are getting better with practice.

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  4. I used to be a disaster at laundry, and always had piles of it which made me very overwhelmed, until I finally accepted that I just HAVE to do one load a day. Period. So every morning I throw a load of clothes in the washer while the kids are getting dressed (only takes a minute!). I don't separate lights and darks, I just put all the clothes in together and it is fine. When it's done, I throw them in the dryer (or hang anything that must air dry, like my shirts, on a bar hanging over our machines). And as mentioned above, I don't put clean things into a basket or on a couch or anything when they are done in the dryer. Whenever I get the clothes out (often will be later in the day), I immediately hang them on that bar or fold them and put them into specific piles for each bedroom. Then I get the kids to take their folded clothes to their dressers, I take ours, and I hang all the hangables in the closets. And I do a load of towels about two times a week, and all our sheets on Saturdays or Sundays to be fresh for the week (off the beds that morning, into the washer together, then dried and back on the beds by that evening).

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  5. I've been doing the working momma thing for a little over a year now. I also did the work from home thing for a year and the work from home work in the office for a year and none of them are easy. I love the give yourself grace instructions. That's been a big thing for me the past few months and I feel like I've accomplished so much more and enjoyed my time at work and at home.
    I need to take your advice for meal planning and lunch prep. That's where I struggle!

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  6. WOW...what an awesome blessing that you are able to teach part time. I've never heard of that. I love my Rodan + Fields business as well. (I was just thinking this morning I need to do an entire post related to that. It's been a while since I talked about it much) Great tips! I love being organized and with kids, work and home you need to be.

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  7. Amen to all of your tips! I try to pop a load of laundry into the wash in the morning before we head out to school and then I can put it in the dryer when I get home so that I don't have to do a million loads over the weekend. I was doing so well with my dishes, but now I'm way behind! Gotta incorporate your clean sink into my routine!

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  8. You know what your kids will remember? The awesome ski trips to Tahoe every weekend and not your slightly overgrown back yard! That's what I keep telling myself: my child won't remember how sticky the kitchen floor was/is but instead the fun we had together. I second the Sunday night rule; it's in our family handbook as well. :)

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  9. The biggest time taker for laundry for me is sorting! You can get a three-part hamper and put the clothes in accordingly when you take them off so all you have to do is dump the basket in the washer!

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  10. My laundry is always piled up and I only have 1 kid left at home put with all his sports it doubles the laundry.I make sure I always start a load before bed everynight and put it in the dryer in the morning and then fold it in the evening.I wash bedding every saturday to keep up with that and grocery shop saturday mornings after meal planning fridays

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  11. I want to sincerely thank you for starting with the statement that work/life balance is hard no matter what. My husband never ended up being blessed with kids of our own, and while we have accepted that for whatever that just wasn't part of the greater plan for us it's tough in some ways because people think our life is somehow "easy". I work long hours and I usually gone from around 4:45am and not home until around 6:00 each night. It's tough.
    And I commented this once before, but I think it's great how you balance it all. Your kids get to see how to have fun, work, and keep it all going.

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