Balancing Work, Kids And Home
The main purpose of this article is to give single moms, working moms or any moms some practical ideas to make it easier to take care of their homes and be available for their children.
I have been all of the above including a disabled and work from home mom. Each one of these has it’s own unique problems but they also have a lot of the same problems. When you find a good tip that doesn’t quite fit your circumstance, try adjusting it to fit your situation.
For example let’s say I give you a recipe for a tuna sandwich. Instead of saying, “I can’t eat gluten. Will you give me a different recipe that will work for me?” take that recipe and adapt it to fit your needs. In place of bread, put your tuna on a lettuce leaf or a rice cake.
There’s an old saying– “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Instead of using your time and energy e-mailing me saying, “That idea won’t work for me,” figure out how to adapt the idea for your situation. One of the secrets to success is adapting things that you learn to your own personal situation.
For single moms: I know it is hard. You have lost not only physical and material support but also emotional and spiritual support. It is a scary feeling knowing you are the sole person responsible for you and your children. Some of you, like me, had jobs with no sick days where, if you missed work, you didn’t get paid. When things are that tight, missing work may be the factor that determines whether you can eat this week or not. I know it is very difficult. God understands, too, which is why the Bible is full of commands to take care of the widows and orphans.
Working moms: You are mostly exhausted, meeting yourself coming and going, struggling with guilt for not being there with your family as much as you like. You might be angry because you want to quit but, for whatever reason, really can’t.
Stay at home moms: So often you deal with guilt, exhaustion and a continual feeling that you’re just running in circles. Some stay at home moms go for days or weeks dealing with newborns, sick toddlers and having to shuffle older kids. You listen to “super moms” on TV or the Internet and can’t figure out what you are doing wrong. At times, you are made to feel guilty by others because they say you aren’t contributing to the family income or aren’t using your education or skills. We know that isn’t true, but the accusations and guilt are sometimes there.
There are some positives to all of these. For example:
The single mom doesn’t have to worry about working on a marriage and being there for her husband which, if we are honest, does take a lot of work if you want a good marriage.
A working mom has less hours in the day to spend cleaning a house but there is usually no one home for most of the day tracking in as much dirt, using the bathroom or making a mess in the kitchen.
A stay at home mom has the advantage of being in charge of her own schedule and being at the beck and call of only a husband and children without having to worry about a boss.
As usual, I am running out of room so before I do I want to give you some tips and ideas that are geared for the single and working moms but will actually help any mom.
You can do all the studies you want but nothing will change the fact that kids want their moms to be there for them. The reality is there are times when mom just can’t be there but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Mom doesn’t have to be home for children to feel her presence. You can do things to make the kids feel like you are near and are thinking of them.
Once I had to be away when my kids got home from school. I thought they might be upset but my son calmly said, “That’s OK, mom. I don’t mind if you aren’t here. Just make sure that you leave us our snack.”
There are many things you can do to let them know you are thinking of them, like:
Lay out a snack on the table for them.
Call them as often as you can.
Put something in the crockpot so they come home to a good smell.
Leave a special note or treat, like a plate of cookies sitting on the table with a big kiss on it.
Mom and kids: Work together on chores. Forget “quality time”. My kids didn’t care if I was playing a game or working with them. They just wanted to be with me and have my attention so I killed two birds with one stone.
We would fold laundry together, dust a room or pick up. During that time, they were telling me about their day.
While they did homework, I would pay bills, do some mending or prepare dinner and lunches for the next day. The important thing was that I was just a few feet away to help them with their homework or to listen.
Teach the kids to make all or part of the meals and help with clean up. It is important that kids learn to help and pull their own weight. You are doing them a great injustice if you don’t allow them to help you. Especially if dad is gone, the kids have a great need to feel like they are helping and making mom’s life easier. It gives them a sense of control over at least one thing when the rest of their world is out of control. Helping mom gives them a sense of pride. When you don’t let them help, you are robbing them of a blessing and the good feelings that come from helping others.
Leave work early. If your job allows it, see if you can work through your lunch hour so you can come home an hour earlier or maybe just work a half day on Friday. At one job I had, I didn’t even take a 15 minute break, which meant I could go home 30 minutes early. Look for a new job with better hours if you need to.
Being organized is a must. Make sure all clothes are laid out the night before, lunches and backpacks are ready, the breakfast table is set, etc.
Laundry. I put a load of laundry in the washer before I went to bed. The next morning, it would take me 10 minutes to hang the clothes on the line or put them in the dryer. When the kids and I got home, we folded the clothes and put them away. I did one load of laundry a day during the week and had no trouble keeping up with the it.
Cleaning. Since the laundry was all caught up, that left Saturdays free for me to deep clean, do yard work and play catch up. There were times when I would clean for 30 minutes each day after work. Then, Saturday was free from most cleaning. Either way works. Stop moaning about not having two days off a week. In case you didn’t read the fine print in the moms manual, you don’t get two days off every week.
Sunday was our day of rest, which we specially set aside to have fun together.
Meals. I prepared as much of dinner as I could before I left for work. I often made extra food so we could have leftovers the next night. That way, I really only made 3-4 meals a week instead of 7. Most of the time I didn’t even cook that much because, on the weekends, we ate sandwiches, hot dogs and chips, soup or something else that was very very easy.
Let things go. You can’t do it all. I couldn’t keep my yard in perfect condition, my car washed, my windows washed and my floors polished to a high shine.
Forget vacations. Use your vacation time to catch up and do things like clean out the garage or basement or paint that room that really needs it. I know that seems like the pits but buck up and stop whining about no vacation. Someday things will change and you can go on vacation but, for the moment, this is the way it is.
Hire a mother’s helper. I think mother’s helpers are great. A mother’s helper is an 11-13 year old girl who comes to your home and either watches the children while you clean or helps you clean. At this age they are usually really good helpers and they don’t charge as much as having a cleaning lady clean for you.
There is nothing wrong with paying for help or asking for help. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. I don’t understand why so many people frown upon asking for help. Generations ago most of our great grandmothers, if they had any money at all (equivalent to $50,000 a year income today), would hire their laundry out or pay to have someone come in to do the “heavy” cleaning. They were smart ladies.
Study and learn as much as you can about running a home and being organized, even if you hate doing it, so you can learn to do it quickly and smoothly.
The most important thing of all: Take a deep breath, do your best and forget the rest.
If you’re trying to get a better handle on things at your house, our Menus On A Dime e-books can help you cut your time in the kitchen with helpful meal plans and our Keeping It Clean e-books can help you get your housework organized so you can get your cleaning and laundry done in less time. If you need help in these areas, be sure to check them out!
Photo By: Molly_darling