It can be difficult to balance work, kids and home life. Here are some practical ideas to make it easier to take care of your work, home and family without going crazy!
How To Balance Work, Kids And Home – For Moms
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 How To Organize And Clean Your Home 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!
Standing ovation from Me…wonderfully worded!
I loved this post, quite a bit of good information. Thanks for all that you do.
hahaha… absolutely none of my grandmothers had cleaning ladies.
From the 1950’s to present day for some reason cleaning ladies were taboo but before that there weren’t as many as many helpful appliances as there were later and truly most middle class women would send their laundry out or have a woman come in to do the “heavy” things once in awhile. It also depended on how many children and other family members you had to help you too.
Thank you for the ideas!
Great article! I needed the encouragement *today* and you delivered it, very well.
Thank you for this…as a stay-at-home mom who will soon become a single, working mom, I needed this encouragement today!
About asking for and/or hiring help: My grandmother had “hired” help when my mother was young (in the 1930s) and running a large farm. Her “help” was her youngest sisters (ages 12-16) who came one at a time to live with them for the summer and learn about caring for little ones and homemaking from her. Their “pay” was room, board, and skills learned. Grandma ususally made something special for them to take back with them – an apron, embroidered handkerchiefs, or pretty hair ribbons, but that wasn’t expected. Today I know a couple of moms who “pay” for a mother’s helper by giving them instrument lessons instead of cash.
Jennifer K Green
What a lovely legacy your grandmother left (or will leave). That is beautiful!
You always have such a wonderful perspective. Thank you. Again. And again.
Way to go, it is going to get allot toughter before it gets better. My dad would have said to pull up your boot straps and deal with it! I say put your big girl panties on you can always find someone that is worse off than you! So go help them. It is not about money, putting an extra potato in the pot or a little more pasta feeds two more people! Lets pull together! We can do this!
Thank you for this very helpful ideas.I am a stay at home mom and I always complained about how messy my husband was, instead of doing all that cleaning up and being organized myself.This ideas told me to get out there and do what you got to do and rest all will fall in place.Once again thanks for the ideas.
I love to read your advice. It is so uplifting and really gives me the proper perspective. I am retired now, but I sometimes reflect on the days when I was a single parent (13 years with 2 children)and tried to “get it all done and perfectly while working full time.” After reading your suggestions to the younger moms of today, it makes me feel like I didn’t do such a bad job after all. I really wish I had had your advice back then to help lift and keep my spirits up. I am sure that your tips are helping those who are now going through tough times now. Thanks and please keep writing!
Thank u! This is my fav article yet!
I really appreciate so many of the things you said in this article, as well as your newsletter as a whole. But perhaps instead of saying “buck up” about no vacations, offer some helpful advice like take a couple hours, or a half day, and do something for yourself, or something fun with your family. Vacation, or lack thereof, is a sore spot for me because I am often exhausted and long for one (last one was our honeymoon three years and two babies ago), but I’ll bet the pang wouldn’t be so heavy if I alleviated the pressures of life by taking some hours away every so often. Thanks again for your wonderful website!
We didn’t take vacations when I was a SAHM with 2 kids ages 2 and under; our relatives live a long way away so our “vacations” involved visiting them. It does get better! (although now we camp, and that’s work, too!) I think one of the kindest things that can be done for a couple with young children is for someone to babysit for free for a few hours or even overnight. If you have relatives who will do this for you, take them up on it! Try to find a friend who you can share babysitting with–you watch hers for a couple of hours, she watches yours. The mother’s helper idea is good, too. If your community has a Mothers Of Preschoolers program (MOPS), take advantage of it. Someone will watch your kids while you get a little time with other moms. Sometimes mom just needs a break!!!!!!!
Sarah, here a few tips I learned over the years of being at home with children. I know the don’t I ever get a vacation syndrome. We would go camping every year and I loved it. But where was my time off?
I still had to cook and do dishes and make sure the sit looked neat.
We would take a day to go shopping in the city and it was fun wandering through the stores eating at a fast food place but where was my time off?
I still had to shop for groceries, stop up on socks and underwear for everyone.
For taking a day off once in a while it was not easy for me as I cannot walk and I don’t drive so I was pretty much house bound. In a small town it is not like I can walk to a museum to wander through or even take an evening and go to a movie I want to see. They are just not there.
So my solution was to take a day and do some job around the house that was fun for me.
I would take a day everyone was gone either to school or work and cook. I would make a meal that I had wanted to try and take as much time doing it as I needed. It was fun time for me as I experimented on things for my family and had my time.
Or another day I would give everything around the house a lick and promise and sit down and knit on the project I wanted to get done. A sweater for a christmas gift for my husband or barbie clothes for my granddaughter. It was relaxing and fun for me. I would sit and knit and listen to classical music turned up just enough that it was background noise.
When we bought the house I was still able to do some of the yard work. I would go out and mow the lawn it would take me 2 hours as it is a huge yard and I would do it in bits. I was out in the sun and getting fresh air and some exercise. What better way for me to have a day off from housework?
Now if you have a job outside the home let each person have a job on your day off. Youngest can go through the house and pick up all the dirty clothes and put them by the washer. If old enough they can put a load in for you. If not at least getting the things that far is now done.
The next one can run the vacuum cleaner through the house and then put it away.
They can work together and make their beds and put away toys, toys include computer games and books which are cluttering up desks and tables.
Another couple jobs you don’t have to do.
And when they are done. Don’t be critical of how the job was done. The beds don’t have hospital corners but they are the ones sleeping in it so don’t worry about it. The room looks neat and they will learn on their own. If it is uncomfortable they will do it better next time.
Plan an easy meal for dinner. Throw a pot roast in the oven and all the vegetables are in the same pot. Cooks all day and you don’t have to worry about dinner. It is done when you are ready to serve it.
Now you have the time it takes to cook a supper and you can claim that half hour as your time.
Sit down and read a book or take time for your hobby or simply sit and have a nice cool drink. Chat with your husband and play a game with the family.
When everyone helps in the house and the yard you will find odd moments to sit and think about things and will find other ways to make more time for you.
Here is another tip to save you your time and money The day you plan to clean the fridge put a soup bone or chicken carcass on the stove simmering. As you clean out the fridge add the last of that jar of spaghetti sauce, all the vegetables that are their last legs in the crisper some salt pepper and spices. let it cook the rest of the day and supper is made and lunch the next day is covered. More you time and money not thrown out.
Think outside the box for stolen moments and you will find you don’t need a week off since you will be more relaxed and rested with your stolen moments.
Been there done that and learned over the years how to get out of it.
Grandma, thank you for your very good ideas and tips. I try to relax without spending any money or getting out of the house too.
I don’t think that it’s true for most working moms that there is no one at the house to make mess while you are at work. I am a stay at home mom now, but when I was a working mom, my 2 kids were toddlers, my mother-in-law was watching them, my house was a complete mess. I usually worked anywhere between 50-80 hrs/ week, I worked 2 jobs, and when I would get home I would be too tired to clean or anything else. But I would still spend hours to do all the chores. I was working really hard, I even hang laundry outside when the weather was good, mowed my lawn and helped my husband to do house repairs( we were improwing our fixer-upper, because we didn’t have enough money for a newer house). I was always very careful with what I spend and did most of cooking from scratch. My mother-in-law was always complaiining that I was lazy and cheap. But I was working really hard for the money I had, then why waste it. Because she was always saying that I was laizy, I really thought that I wasn’t doing enough of what I should be doing. But thanks to the bad economy, when lost both of my jobs, things worked out perfectly. I could stay home with my kids, collect unemployment, and didn’t have to put up with my mother-in-law anymore. Why didn’t I do that years ago? Now I have 3 kids, I have enough time to do all the housework and have time for my kids
What I can’t understand is when I babysit the grand kids I clean up the mess they make during the day and have the house clean when mom came home. Normally I would think this would be the case that if someone is watching the kids you would usually clean up after you feed them or if they made a mess. Maybe not deep cleaning but just the messes they make during the day. Sounds like you have a better situation now.
Also when I write things like this article there always exceptions to every rule so I am just talking about the average person or the general idea. Each person no matter what the situation will have a bunch of different things they need to deal with.
Getforfree you are the exception not the rule. In your case it would be really hard to keep up doing all of it but as you can see it’s still a lot less stressful to be able to stay home and get the work done instead of working until midnight on chores. :-)
I would say laziness is not a problem for you. :-)
Yes, you are right. When I stay home now, I have a whole day to do all the work instead of just a couple hours. Plus when I am at home I control the mess and teach my kids to clean up. Even my little 3yr old would pickup and help me hang the laundry, feed the pets, clean and everything I do. She is my little copy. My kids behave a lot better now and way better than others people’s kids I know. Because when you have time to spend with your kids you can make anything you want out of them, now what your mother-in-law wants or any other babysitter. I still make money on ebay and trading coupons and getting the best deals and free stuff. So now I make and save about a half of what I was making after taxes when working.
excellent article! .. thanks for posting it..
even tho my kids are full grown, one out of the house, the youngest stil with us, i still get the “no vacation blues” .. oh i would love to go and visit my sister in nj, esp this time of year with the leaves changing colors .. but we cant afford it .. and bc my sister talk each day on the phone (or every few days), so its not so bad but i still miss us having coffee/tea together (altho when we talk we drink our tea but in our own homes) ..
since i love disney, and cant afford it, we go to downtown disney (which is free, unless you buy something) and just walk around and enjoy the shope (we dont do this very ofter but a few times a year) ..
and every so often, i will go to the local walmart just to “shop” .. by myself and take my time .. yes i do grocery shop there but when i do this, its usually for relaxation adn i take the time and really look at the different things they have (seasonal, toys .. etc) stuff i dont normally look at when i am grocery shopping..
i like to call this “me” time ..
as far as cleaning .. well we all pitch in now .. i used to try to do it all .. not anymore and bc they apt is so much smaller theres no room for clutter . and every is responsible for their own area/room ..
but again.. \excellent advice jill .. for everyone of all different situations .. :D
I think that hiring one the girls we no for very cheap of course since we don’t have much money would be very beneficial for me, whether it was once a week or twice a month. How much would you pay them for a couple hours of keeping my baby monkey occupied while I do some cleaning, baking, etc. at home? I living in the midwest, and I’ve never hired a babysitter.
Right now they are paying about $5 an for babysitters in the midwest.
Ok I like your website but it seems you saying that mothers have to do all the work. Dads can cook, clean and do laundry and take care of kids too. maybe if mom cannot be there when the kids get home maybe dad. It seems you advocating for women to do all the work while Dad’s go to work and come back doing nothing
I am not saying that at all Niki. It is amazing what people read into what I write and how it can be twisted into a way they want it to read. I have talked to many couples and I have never been able to understand how two adults who say they love each other unconditionally and love the other more then they do themselves, will get so miffed and act and sound like two kids saying “I had to do more chores then they did and it isn’t fair.” When you truly love someone you do everything to try and make their life easier and not keep track of who is doing more or whine about who is having to do more. Children do that not mature adults.
Of course dad’s should help and if they truly love their wives they will. Often when the husband doesn’t volunteer to help his wife or help around the house there are other problems in the marriage or with the person which is another whole article. I find it interesting though that wives tend to forget that when men get home from work they often have to deal with other things too like car maintenance, home repairs, sometimes bill paying, yard work that the wife doesn’t always do. I rarely if ever have heard a dad say “It isn’t fair. Women can do car maintenance, home repairs and yard work too so why can’t moms share in that?”
I totally believe that dads should stay at home with the kids just the same as moms and that kids need at least one or the other there for them. In fact I think my kids ended up being better emotionally adjusted then many kids because their dad and I were both there at home for them the first years of their lives. This here article is geared specifically for moms that is why I talk to moms about this. If I had had a dad ask me the same questions I would address them but geared for dads.
You are so right, Jill. Marriage 101 – it’s not a competition. It’s team work.
Bravo, Jill for making a very important point that I often have to remind even myself of. In today’s society, many women do still pick up the bulk of household duties, but men still have a lot of jobs generally left to them, that women don’t necessarily think of. In my part of the country, many families think of getting in a year’s supply of firewood, as the man’s job. He can take his sons and maybe a few buddies. (In our house, myself and/or the kids always helped.) My husband has been the one to rototill the gardens. Building of animal pens, flower beds or any other construction was pretty much his job. He cleans the chimneys, and has to get up on the roof to do it. Maintenance, repairs and renovations on the house are largely his responsibilities. I may be a person who runs and fetches, but he has to plan, and do most of the work. Vehicles and small appliance repairs, as well as moving anything heavy was his department. If there is livestock to handle or butcher, that becomes the man’s job, and all this after working a regular job. Many men in our area, hold down an entire farm after working a ten or twelve hour day, so the women have to ready helpers. In our house, one of the reasons we chose to raise rabbits for our own meat, instead of chickens, is because if my husband was overwhelmed or too busy with other work, I could (and often have) slaughter the rabbits by myself, and get them in the freezer. I get firewood with him. His back is bad but he is stronger than me. He pulls out the logs, and runs the power saw. Because my back is in better shape, I do the jobs that need more bending. I load and toss the wood. He runs the splitter at home and helps stack the woodpile. He still rototills the garden, and the bulk of the weeding and harvesting in the garden is my job, though after a long day of canning or freezing, he often does dishes or cleans up the kitchen. I help carry renovation supplies and paint where I can. He goes up on the roof to clean the chimney or adjust satellite dishes or repair the roof….we don’t really keep track of who does what, but each tries to help the other out and picks up the slack if the other seems to need extra help. Once again, I did not read that you were trying to put anyone into a stereotypical role, just giving some good tips for people who are dealing with reality.
Mary Jane what you are saying and I know to be true, is in a good marriage and strong family where people really love and care about each other, it is like you say, people don’t keep track and that is the bottom line. It takes 2 people who care more for the other person than they do for themselves. In the olden days it was called selflessness. Putting someone else’s needs over your own. When I got a camera I always wanted to right away take pictures of my family members and friends but now the first thing so many do when they get their phones/camera is to take selfies. This tells you how the world is changing as far as what they care for the most and who is most important in their life.
Now some of you will holler and say everyone is not like that and I am so glad that we still have an amazing amount of unselfish, loving, kind wonderful people out there but we need to look at the little areas in our lives and be careful because we are not headed in a good direction and one of those directions is always keeping tally of who does the most in a marriage.
Great post. I read it in a going-in-circles moment. Just what I needed. Thank you.
This is a great post! I love how it emphasizes all moms have to find balance working or not.
Grzzly Bear Mom
Also, realize that the house, the clothing, and anyone potty trained can go a day without being washed. And no one died from eating frozen pizza once a week.
I do so agree Grizzly Bear Mom