Loren W. works from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, and doesn't get home until around 5:30 p.m. on a good day. "I feel like a terrible mom," says this Circle of Moms member, and she's far from alone. As the ensuring dscussion reveals, when you're a working mom with a full time job outside the home, worrying that you're neglecting your kids, goes with the territory.
How can working moms find quality time to spend with their kids and alleviate these anxious feeings? Here are five tips shared by busy moms in our communities.
1. Ignore the Housework
Mom Jennifer M. admits she struggles with finding time to spend with the kids while taking care of house necessities like grocery shopping, making meals, laundry, dishes, etc. She has finally decided to let the housework go so that she can instead concentrate on her children.
She's among many moms reporting that while they don't let their homes get completely filthy, they do spend less time on housework than they used to.
"As with many mothers, I feel it's more important to spend time with my children rather than making sure the house is spotless," says Kennie K., who works as a full-time nurse practitioner. "The laundry may go undone for a few days, but I usually do [it] after my children are in bed. Same goes for cleaning the house. My house may not be spotless but it is clean, and my children are happy and I get to spend more quality time with them."
Brandy T. admits it's been difficult to relax her standards for cleanlinesss, but worth it: "[I'd] rather have dishes in the sink and happy, content, kids that feel and know they're loved than no dishes in my sink. I figure I'll have all the time in the world to do the chores when they don't want to hang out with mom. But for now, it's all about spending after school time with the kids."
To make chores less cumbersome, Kate C. breaks up cleaning to one room per day. She gets up at 5 a.m. to dust and clean the floors in one room of her house each day. "This way, when I get home from work and day care with my son, all I do is pop dinner in the oven [and] we have family time while waiting for dinner to cook," she says.
2. Let Kids Help With Chores
When chores can't be neglected, members recommend enlisting your child's help. Anne B. has her children help with dinner prep and dishes. "When you have little time together, even chores can be made special," she says.
Eileen L. and her children fold laundry together and use the time to chat about what's going on in their lives and their day at school. A member named Mylene says her son helps to do the laundry and empty and fill the dishwasher. "Even grocery shopping is a family outing. Spending time as a family doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated," she shares. Lisa M. adds that her daughter loves to hold the dustpan and help gather up the trash.
If you have the time and patience to cook with your kids, many moms report that it's an especially fun way to get things done with spending quality time with your kids. Linda W. says her eight-year-old daughter loves making dinner with mom, and as a bonus learns math and life skills in the process. "We get a chance to talk and laugh," she says. "If she has homework, she does it while I'm cooking. It's hard to be a working mom, but the more you involve your kids with what you're doing, you'll be surprised how much fun they and you will have. You'll be teaching them something and they'll be learning something without knowing!"
Even younger children, like Dora L.’s three-year-old son, can have fun stirring and adding ingredients to the family’s meals, and then washing dishes. "I will wash everything first and then ask him to help me scrub with lots of bubbles (of course) and rinse," she says. "Just try to make the chores fun. It also helps teach children responsibility."
If your children are too young to help with chores, then Leanne P. says you can sing songs and nursery rhymes while you go about your business so they feel they're getting all the attention and can join in.
3. Run Errands During Work Hours
To help get chores out of the way before it’s time to be with the children, some moms say they take care of errands during their lunch hours.
Mom Tina B., for example, says she has a 50-mile commute each way to and from work. She has invested in thermal grocery bags and does her shopping during her lunch. This way she can reserve the time after work and school, between 4:30 and 7 p.m., for playtime with her daughter.
In addition to running errands during lunch, Anna S. does housework before her son wakes up and she has to go to work. "Then when I get home, I spend the evening with my son. We have dinner, play, read books, and get ready for bed. Once he is in bed, [I] spend another hour cleaning, then finally go to bed."
Another option is to outsource time-consuming tasks. A member named Valerie splits housework with her husband, but they also recently hired a cleaning person to eliminate some of their chores. "I felt guilty at first about spending the money, but it really frees me up to spend time with my family," she says.
Candi W. says a nanny can help tremendously — not only with childcare, but also with light housekeeping, laundry, starting the evening meal, and getting kids started on homework. "When you return home from work, you can sit down and enjoy time with your family and not have to worry about the little things," she says.
5. Schedule Family Time
With all the household tasks out of the way, moms suggest scheduling family time. Anne B. says she moved her children’s bedtimes back an hour so that they could spend time playing board games or reading together.
Bonnie S. puts her younger son down for bed and then squeezes in special time with her three-year-old for movie night. "He loves cuddling on the couch with mom and dad enjoying a late night. He also loves that his little brother isn't 'big enough' to do movie night so he stays sleeping upstairs. It's special time for all of us, and my husband and I have just as much fun as he does."
Instead of just dropping off her son at his extracurricular activities, Teresa W. gets involved; she is the den leader for his cub scout group and is involved in the kids' program at their church. "My house is always on the brink of chaos," she says. "But my son and I have a great relationship, and we spend a lot of time together.
However you choose to schedule in time with your children, experienced working moms say to make the minutes count.
"It's not how much time you spend with your child that counts, it is the quality that counts," says Florencetine P. "I am sure if anyone asked [your daughter] about the time you and [she] spend together, her answer would go something like this: 'We had a good time when she read to me before I went to bed, she splashed water all over [herself] when she gave me a bath. It was fun.' Things like these, even a walk to the store or around the block, just the two of you [are] the little things that count."
Image Source: Ed Yourdon via Flickr/Creative Commons
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