One of the most common questions I get and actually most busy moms I know or follow get asked is: how do you do it all? The short answer? They don’t. No one can do it all. There’s always things you give up or don’t do well. There are days you kill it and feel like you’re superhuman and days you fail so horribly you cry. But no one does it all well. This is really true of parenting in general, whether you work or not. It’s a juggling act, and it’s never easy. However, I do believe that there are some smart working mom hacks that make it easier to kick ass at work and at home all while staying sane.
I am still learning how to be a working mom, and most days, I’m a complete mess, show up at work with coffee and some weird substance on my dress, have to run out at lunch to pick something up I forgot my kid needs or ask my nanny to do it, and I barely remember what day it is. Most days I feel like I failed on all fronts, and mostly at home tbh. I have a big job with a lot of responsibility, and when I get home at the end of the day, my most important job begins. I try to separate work and home and balance it all, but it’s hard, and I’m often still finishing up work long after I get home. But aftter finding myself wasting my precious home time doing chores and ordering groceries instead of relishing in my kids, I decided to look for some working mom hacks that could help me streamline my life and juggle it all. Plus, I just don’t have time for it all. But before I reveal my tricks for making it work, I want to put out a disclaimer: I have help and none of my life or my children’s lives would be possible without it. I know that’s a huge privilege and advantage. Here are some working mom hacks that have helped me learn how I have learned to balance it.
Order Groceries Online
This has admittedly become harder as Fresh Direct has been moving warehouses for months and hasn’t had a very good selection, but I find Fresh Direct and Food Kick to be a lifesaver.
I used to try to do everything, but then I realized that’s why I pay some very competent amazing people to help me. I need help. I can’t do it all, and that’s okay. So now rather than worry about diapers, diaper cream, tylenol, milk, etc. I’ll make lists for my nanny. She’s amazing and usually reminds me when we’re almost out of something, but those Target runs and orders take up time, and delegating that stuff to her has really helped.
Buy in Bulk
I buy things like cleaning supplies, shaving cream, toilet paper, etc. in bulk so I don’t have to constantly restock
Order as Soon as You Notice You’re Running Out
This is where Amazon Prime really kicks in. The second I realize I’m running low on something, I don’t add it to some shopping list and make it another to-do on my list, I just pull out my phone, type it into amazon and hit buy. Easy, peasy.
Make It Part of Your Workout/Dog Walk/Playtime
Dry cleaning and other tedious errands can be hard to fit in. So now, if I’m going for a run or walking the dog, I’ll just grab it and make it part of the activity. Or if I just don’t have time, I’ll ask our amazing nanny to do it. I try not to make it a habit, as this is really for Andrew and I, so I don’t consider it part of her duties, but she’s always happy to help out on the occasions I do ask.
Plan Out Your Meals
Ok, I don’t do this, which is sad, but I should. It’s the best way to ensure your family is eating healthy meals all week and to save on all the takeout and prepared meals. I really stress out about what James eats during the week, and I really should be better at preparing melas for him in advance that our nanny can heat up or complete. It would also help Andrew and I stick to a healthier diet. It’s one of my goals for the fall when the weather is cooler and we’re not traveling every weekend and therefore, have time to cook.
Read Parenting Books During Your Commute
I find this the best way to take advantage of my commute and the only way I am able to squeeze in uniterrupted reading. Wile I miss reading books for fun, this has really helped me, and James is at the age where I need to be reading about everything from tantrums to potty training. If you drive, try audio books or podcasts.
Book Appointments for Lunch
Brow appointments, waxes, eye checkups, teeth cleanings, I book these all for my lunch hour or my first meeting of the day when necessary.
Make Park Time Productive
I stole this hack from super mom extraordinaire Eva Chen who revealed that she cleans out the stroller while her kids are running around at the park. Genius! It made me think of other similar things I could do. I’ll use park time or when I’m waiting in line for lunch or at CVS to order groceries (usually fresh direct) or schedule appointments.
Book Your Next Appointment While You’re There
Speaking of appointments, I find it incredibly stressful to book – the waiting on the phone, spelling out and repeating your name, holding, trying to find a day/time that actually works for you, etc. plus, I hate the dread of omg did I miss a teeth cleaning or is James or Dakota due to for a vaccine. I’ve found it much easier to just book my next appointment while I’m at the doctor. I know my schedule pretty well and when does/doesn’t work generally and it just means one less thing to add to a future to do list. If I have yo move it, it’s the same amount of work as it’d be to make it but tbh, I usually stick to it once I make it.
Get Your Hair Done First Thing in the Morning
I hate coloring my hair. It takes forever and feels like such wasted time but I also hate brassy, root-y hair. I’ve found that getting my appointments in first thing in the morning before work, while a pain and means I usually leave before James is awake, is the best time. There are fewer people so it gets done faster, everyone’s tired and less chatty so it’s easy to hang out a bunch of emails/write blog posts/work on a proposal or presentation, and bonus There are fewer chemicals in the air first thing.
Use Bath Time to Beautify
Like most kids, once jakes is in the bath, he loves to hang out and play. I’m trying to be more patient and let him play more but it’s boring and there are like a zillion other things I need to do. But I am trying to be more present and not on my phone. So I’ve started using bath time for face masks or teeth whitening strips or painting my nails or toes. That way I feel somewhat productive and less preoccupied with all the things On my to-do list but i can also talk to and play with James st the same time without getting annoyed if he splashes my phone.
Work Out Before the Kids are Awake
I have always been a morning workout person. Not because I’m a morning person but because I dread it and otherwise, I find a million excuses not to do it. Plus, I am lazy and prefer not to shower twice. Once I had James, it put a wrench in my morning workouts, first with feedings and then with trying to get ready and out the door once I went back to work. I thought about joining the gym at work and getting in my cardio at lunch, but pumping ate into so much of my day and I find I have so many meetings and things that come up that I end up never getting to the gym. And after work, putting the baby down, I’m too exhausted to do anything. Plus, I try to use my evenings to work on my blog. A few months ago, I decided it was time to get back in shape and commit to a workout routine so I started getting up an hour earlier to squeeze in a workout and shower before James wakes up. And because I actually want to commit to getting in shape, I have a backup plan – a jogging stroller – for days he wakes up early. It’s hard. I’m always exhausted and there are days I really don’t want to get out of bed, but I know it’s good for me, my day is always better when I get up and workout and I’m hoping I’ll start to feel better about my body too. While I’m still waiting for that six pack and non-jiggly ass, I have found myself craving workouts now, which I like. Now I know a lot of moms who do hardcore workouts. That’s just not for me. I also know that if I say I have to workout for an hour every day, I’ll cop out. So I’ve also given myself permission to go easier on myself than I have in the past. I am committed to 30 minutes five days a week (during the work week because it’s just easier to stick to a schedule and make it a non-negotiable). Then I try to supplement that with chasing after James and getting in as many steps as possible. I usually end up doing something active on weekends as well but that is then an added bonus that makes me feel better. I’ve also found that committing to being active – going to the park, taking James to a museum or zoo, running around in a field, hiking, walking Dakota, swimming – is important for our family. It makes me feel better than sitting around and eating and watching tv. It makes James more manageable because he’s stimulated and gets his energy out. It sets a good example for him and it’s a nice way for our family to bond.
Include Your Kids in Your Workout
For days I don’t have time to workout in the morning due to an early morning meeting or appointment, I’ll try to get in cardio with the James and Dakota. Maybe it’s walking to get groceries and other errands. Maybe it’s playing chase at the park. Maybe it’s doing burpees and jumping jacks while he plays outside. Maybe it’s squats while I cuddle him before bed. Sometimes it’s putting him in the jogging stroller or putting him in the pack for a hike. Bottom line: I still try to get in some exercise and I get to bond with my baby.
I do most of my grocery shopping online with FoodKick and fresh direct. As I mentioned, I’ll order while watching tv, waiting in line at Starbucks, whatever. I also order toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, toiletries, dog food, online. Some from fresh direct, the rest mostly from Amazon prime. With fee shipping it’s a no brainer. Plus, that way I’m not stuck trying to carry it all home or unpack from the car. It’s all delivered right to our door.
I find this most helpful when paying bills, but anything else you can automate will make your life a zillion times easier.
Lean into Pre-Made Meals
As I’ve said before, I’m no chef but I am committed to feeding my family healthy meals. Frankly as a working mom who has a side business, a husband who travels constantly for work and a million other things, I’ve accepted this just isn’t the stage in my life where I’m going to become a pro cook. Instead, I rely on pre made meals: a rotisserie chicken or salmon and rice I can pick up at the grocery and heat up. I also love fresh directs ore made meals. I get the kids meals for James and we’ll also do the individual meals or family meals. I wish I could be the mom who whips up yummy meals on weekends that she freezes and heats up when she gets home but I have yet to find that time, James is too hard to watch when cooking and my schedule is far too erratic. However, this fall I’m going to try more slow cooker than other meals that our nanny can help take over the finish line. We’ll be spending more time indoors when it gets colder so it’ll be easier anyway.
Make an Early Laundry Date and Stick To It
I do laundry every Friday morning before James wakes up, before I workout, before I shower or go to work. That way, by the time I’m done with my workout, it’s time to switch the laundry and when I’m done with my shower, the laundry is ready and if I’m lucky, I can fold it all before James wakes up and jumps all over my clean clothes. I used to always have it on my to-do list and then get annoyed that I had to do the laundry and put it off and it would stress me out. This way, I don’t have to carry ten loads down because I skipped a week, I don’t have to debate all week when I’m going to do it, and I have a system in place so I (rarely) forget about the laundry sitting in the dryer or run out of clean underwear. Lucky for us, our amazing nanny helps with James’ laundry, but when she’s away or we need to clean James’ stuff, I do it at the same time rather than making extra work for us. Honestly, we used to have our cleaning lady do our laundry and then when we moved and got a new cleaning person, she hasn’t. She already charges an arm and a leg (I feel like my mom saying that), so I just do our laundry but if your cleaning person can do it, it’s a great way to avoid fights and cut out one more time-consuming task.
Hire a Cleaning Person
Speaking of cleaning help, as a busy working mom, I outsource our house cleaning. We have a cleaning person who comes every other week. Honestly, it’s the best investment we ever made. It’s not cheap in the city. It’s actually ridiculous what we pay to have an apartment cleaned, but she does an amazing job, and it’s something I just don’t have time to do. Above all though, it’s really a marriage saver. Fighting with my husband over whose turn it is to clean the tub or if he scrubbed the toilet properly is just not what I want to be doing at this point in my life, so it’s something that’s important to me to budget for. Between cleanings, we try to vacuum and wipe down surfaces etc. every day so that the mess doesn’t accumulate and drive me nuts and our nanny is really good at helping to clean up, especially since most of the messes are from James. Unless one of you likes to clean, I honestly, think a good cleaning person is the key to a strong marriage. Life is just too short to fight over whose turn it is to scrub the tub or dust. Now she mostly focuses on the deep clean so it doesn’t save us from having to make our own bed each day or teach James to clean up after himself, and that’s fine with me, but I’m also not wasting hours of my precious weekend cleaning the house.
Stock Up on Gifts
If you’re on the birthday party train with your kids and have the space, stock up on a bunch of cute kids gifts in advance. I generally just buy the same one five times. That way, you’re not running around buying a gift before every party. I also like to keep wrapping paper and tape on hand and a stack of cards so I don’t have to worry about that as well. This also works really well for hostess gifts if you go to a lot of dinner parties etc.
Change Into Your Work Clothes at the Last Minute
I’ve learned this one the hard way. When I get out of the shower, I throw on sweats or yoga pants and a tee until our nanny arrives. That way, I can eat breakfast with James and play with him and drink my coffee without worrying about spilling all over myself, which inevitably happens. I can’t tell you how much time this has ended up saving me in the morning as well as embarrassment over getting to the office and noticing my child’s breakfast or my coffee has planted itself smack in the middle of my dress.
Plan Your Outfits in Advance
I’m not the best at this, but when I do this, it saves me so much time and tears in the morning. It’s impossible to try on different outfits with a toddler vying for your attention. I don’t usually try on my outfits the night before, but laying them out means 9/10, I can just throw on my outfit and go.
Simplify Your Wardrobe
On that note, I have majorly simplified my wardrobe since becoming a mom. It’s hard, especially when you work in fashion and love being creative with your wardrobe, but I just don’t have time to get super complicated with my outfits and honestly, my on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t allow for it. I try to stick to easy pieces that are throw-on-and-go like dresses and statement tops that are essentially instant-outfit-makers when paired with jeans or black pants. I don’t do a lot of accessories. I have a pretty simple style, but I also just don’t have the time. I tend to stick to the same jewelry every day. Same goes with shoes. I usually stick to shoes that I can easily mix and match and are comfortable enough to run around in so I don’t have to worry about packing an extra pair of shoes. Yes, I still wear heels, but I opt for block heels and wedges and avoid the four-inch stilettos of my youth.
Create a Shared Calendar
I am much more a paper person when it comes to calendars — I like to see things in front of me. But electronic calendars make it much easier to sync with a spouse and caregiver, so it’s really up to you. I create a calendar for us and each month ask Andrew for his travel days, write in any of mine and any appointments, deadlines, medications for the dog etc. Then each Sunday, I plan out my week and add anything new. This makes it easier to keep track of when I need our nanny to leave early or stay late, when the dog walker will be out of town, when Andrew will be home for dinner, and even things like when I need to get extra dressed up for work. This has also helped me really stay on top of things like Dakota’s heartworm medicine (instead of wondering if I gave it to her or not), my workouts (yep, I have recently started scheduling those in too), and doctor appointments and food deliveries.