I’ve written before about being a working mom. Forgive me. It is all I’ve known for the last year. It is rewarding. It is never ending. It is exhausting. This post could not have come at a better time! I just finished two 70+ hour weeks, where I was running ragged and ready to throw in the towel. I’m not sure which one. The mom towel? The work towel? The “Brittany needs some freaking sleep” towel? I was going to throw something! But I didn’t.
And here’s why. Over the past 12 months, I’ve developed a few hacks that have saved my sanity and ensured that my entire family gets out the door with (most) of what they need every day.
- Pack your bags at night. Purse. Mommy’s lunch box. Baby’s school bag. The swim bag. The gym bag. Dress clothes. The bag of clothing that needs to be returned to Target. Grandma’s birthday present that needs to be mailed today to get to her in time. Most days I feel like I’m packing for a month long vacation as opposed to a day or work and school. It is a lot to remember, which means it is also a lot to forget. Getting it all packed at night is easier than doing it in the middle of the chaos that is trying to convince a toddler to eat breakfast (without smearing it all over mommy’s dry-clean-only suit) while he demands a story and a horsey ride and a hug and a pizza.
- Give each bag a specific purpose. Mama’s lunch box is black. Baby’s is blue. The swim stuff goes in my Kansas City tote. Diapers for daycare go in a re-usable grocery bag from Trader Joes. Having specific bags for each purpose makes it easy to survey my belongings and say “the KC tote is missing! Can’t swim without swimsuits!”
- Stock your office. As a symptom of putting others’ needs before my own, I notoriously forget my own things. My son might have three packs of diapers at daycare, and I might make it to work without deodorant. I’m lucky to have the kind of office that allows me a bit of freedom, and I take full advantage of that in terms of stocking my office. I upgraded my college-dorm-room, turned beer-and-drinks refrigerator. Now, it sits happily in my office, keeping my lunches, half and half, and water pitcher cool. Plus, it makes a great place to store my coffee and tea supplies. This saves me money and time by preventing me from running through the Starbucks drive thru or ordering Jimmy Johns for lunch every day. Plus it is one (or two or three) less thing to pack each night. I also keep my dress shoes, suit jackets, and a spare dress or two at work. Because this mama is not carting 35 full bags and a toddler down the stairs in heels and a suit.
- Embrace prepackaged food. This one was hard for me. I puree my own pumpkins every year. I grew, steamed, and canned my own baby food. Eating something pre-cooked, frozen, and then microwaved is a cardinal sin in my house. Or, it was. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Anymore. I’ve found a whole host of foods that are actually quite delicious and nutritious, that cut down on meal prep time! My current favorites are the pre-packed bags of brown rice and quinoa from Costco. I can microwave them or sauté them with veggies, and I have instant, healthy dinner! My boys are huge fans of Amy’s frozen, organic burritos. And I’ve recently rekindled my love affair with Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
- Create a Command Center. I’d show you mine, but I’m too embarrassed. I pretend to be one of those amazingly creative and crafty, Pinterest-worthy moms. But I’m not. My command center is located in my kitchen. On my refrigerator, actually. It includes a monthly calendar with all of our family’s important dates. Birthday parties, doctors appointments, work travel, school events. Both my husband and I are responsible for keeping it updated. Our command center also includes our weekly menu (I meal prep – which is a hack all by itself. I prep 5 meals a week, and double the recipes so that we can take leftovers for lunch. Boom!), so whoever gets home first can start getting dinner ready. You can add anything you want to your command center. Just make it easily accessible to everyone who is responsible in your home.
- Learn from other moms. Seriously. I’d love to hear what you do to make your life a little bit easier! I’ve always got room for improvement.