Every working mom knows that a good routine is the foundation of her and her family’s success. I went back to work after 18 months as a stay-at-home mom. Through this time, I have learned a lot about managing our routine as a mom of two little ones.
Here are some tips I have gathered over the years that have saved me a lot of time every day, allowing me to focus on myself and my family. I am a huge fan of outsourcing non-value-added tasks. If that is possible for you, I recommend looking for service providers who can help support your daily routine.
Check with your daycare to see if they will provide meals for your child. This may be an additional cost. Or, it may be included in your tuition! If not, make preparing lunches part of your dinnertime routine. You may be able to package up leftovers for your lunch and pull together a quick sandwich for your kid(s). When you do your grocery haul on the weekends (may I recommend grocery delivery to save time), items that you buy in bulk, like crackers, cheez-its, or cookies, you can break down into smaller packages. This can help you quickly grab them and add them to a lunch bag. For a brief period, we subscribed to a toddler meal delivery service to make it simpler to serve meals to our toddler.
If your little one is not eating solids yet, prepare bottles the night before and store them in the fridge for use the next day. This might consist of thawing frozen milk in warm water while you prepare dinner. Or, you can also take fresh milk from your pumps earlier that day. Having the bottles ready to go the night before will help simplify your mornings.
Managing Groceries and Meals
I mentioned grocery delivery earlier. That is a major chore that I choose to outsource. The fees are minimal compared to gas and the amount of time it takes to grocery shop every week, not to mention managing the inventory in the fridge and pantry. You can keep a running shared grocery list and add items as the week goes on and you realize what things you are low on. Once a week, you can reconcile those items and build a grocery cart!
We only use grocery delivery for our staples and kid-related meal items. The adults subscribe to a meal delivery service (remember what I said about outsourcing earlier?) that takes all of the guesswork out of meal planning and grocery delivery. For the nights that are truly unmanageable and hectic, we default to DoorDash or the beloved frozen pizza we keep on hand for nights like that.
If grocery delivery isn’t something you want to commit to, utilize grocery pickup if your store offers it. I promise you. It’s a godsend.
As a breastfeeding, working mom, my pumping routine is non-negotiable. I block off several 30-minute calendar appointments daily to reserve that time for pumping. But what happens if my calendar has last-minute changes? As we all know, calendars are a moving target. I try to leave enough flexibility in my pumping schedule to shift times as needed to accommodate meetings or urgent requests. If all else fails? I have a wearable pump. I have worn it at my desk to pump when I cannot step away due to meetings and other tasks (and I work in an open office environment!).
I know many people who choose to work through their lunch break. However, as a working mom, any free time you get during the workday is a cherished time to try and do something for yourself. When I was pregnant with my first son, I once napped on my lunch break in my car because I was so exhausted in my first trimester! Now, I do not suggest regular naps at work. But, you can use your lunch break in several different ways.
If it is possible to work through your lunch break and end your work day a bit earlier, that might be a great use of your lunch break! If you have a more firm start and stop time with a mandatory lunch break, you can use that time in so many different ways. I would prioritize self-care such as a walk (indoors or out), soaking in some Vitamin D outside (don’t forget your sunscreen!), or reading a book or magazine away from your desk.
Exercise is the hardest thing that I have found to prioritize as a working mom. There are a few options, though, including before your kids get up, on your lunch break, after work, or after the kids go to bed. Working from home has made this easier for many women. It allows them to squeeze in a quick workout between meetings since there are so many at-home workout options these days. After work, if the weather permits, taking a family walk before or after dinner is a great way to get some exercise in and spend time with your family. Whenever you decide exercise best fits into your schedule, I recommend scheduling it on your calendar just like you’d schedule a work meeting! I find I am more likely to do my workout when I manage it that way.
I beg you to please put as many bills as possible on autopay! It’s so nice to “set it and forget it.” I spend two Saturdays a month for an hour or two paying bills that are not autopay. I also review our family’s budget to ensure we are staying on track. Try and carve out a set time during the month to work on finance-related tasks all at once.
I firmly believe that the best money we spend all month that helps me tremendously with my working mom routine is on a regular cleaning service. I recognize that this is not a possibility for everyone. There are ways to work cleaning into your daily routine. Make a list of daily, weekly, monthly, and annual chores and review them with your partner to determine who can best handle what tasks.
Try to complete daily tasks every night before bed. Many tasks mentioned above, such as making lunches and bottles, would appear on this list. Perhaps while your partner puts the kid(s) to bed at night, you can tackle wiping down the kitchen counter and loading/unloading the dishwasher.
For weekly tasks such as cleaning bathrooms or vacuuming, split those up with your partner on the weekends so you can divide and conquer and still enjoy some of your weekend time. You can work monthly and annual tasks into the routine as you have time. Examples would be giving the dogs their heartworm meds or changing your air filters. There are tons of printable resources to help you organize your chores!
Now that we know everything that needs to get done in a day, it’s up to you to organize your day in the best way possible. Don’t forget about outsourcing chores to someone outside of the home if you can. It’s best to build your routine around the items you must do. You have to be at work by 9 a.m. and home by 5 p.m.? Let’s make that the foundation of the routine! Do your kids have to be in bed by 7:30 p.m.? We can build that in, too.
- 6 a.m. Rise and shine! Get ready for work, make coffee and breakfast, and make sure all bags are packed for the day.
- 7 a.m. Time for baby to wake up and feed, get baby dressed and ready for the day.
- 7:30 a.m. Get your toddler up and serve them breakfast while the baby plays in their activity center. After breakfast, change clothes and brush teeth – begin the toddler battle to get shoes on. (You may need to add in an extra 15 minutes or so for this.)
- 8:15 a.m. Leave the house. Drop kids off at daycare. Commute.
- 9 a.m. Arrive at work.
- 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Pump break (if needed). This is a good time to take a brain break in general.
- 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Multitasking time! Lunch break at your desk — pay bills, renew gymnastics membership for toddler and do other online chores.
- 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pump break (if needed). Another good time for a brain break.
- 5 p.m.: Commute home. (Maybe partner picks kids up from daycare!)
- 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Make and serve dinner. Clean up and throw in some laundry while kids play independently. Bath time and bedtime routine. If time permits, perhaps work in a 30-minute family walk after dinner.
- 7:30 p.m. Get ready for tomorrow (pack lunches, pack pump parts, make bottles). Then, me time! Use this time to work out, shower, prep for the morning, read, spend time with your partner, or watch TV.
- 10 p.m. Lights out.
Remember to Breathe!
Being a working mom has its pros and cons, but it doesn’t have to uproot your routine completely. With a few changes, you can take some stress off your shoulders while you’re away from home. What does your routine look like as a working mom? Did you learn anything new that you will incorporate into your routine? Happy scheduling!