By Janine Corea
You’ve made the decision to go back to work and now you’re worried about keeping things running smoothly at home while you’re away from the house more often. Don’t fret…consider the following organizational tips to keep everything together as you balance work and home life:
Keep one calendar. Having separate calendars for work and home is sure to result in double-booking, often leaving someone disappointed. To avoid this, use one calendar and block out work meetings, events, hours, as well as your family’s activities, school functions, recreation, etc. It’s ideal when spouse’s share the same calendar as well, however, with two separate careers, that’s often not practical. Instead, be sure you’re communicating and know who’s doing what.
Block school events in advance. Being a working parent doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the daytime events that take place at school. It just means you have to plan ahead a little. Look at the school calendar in advance and block out all holidays and days off so you know when you need to take a day off or make additional childcare arrangements. Many schools send out monthly calendars indicating upcoming events such as field trips, concerts and plays. Schedule these events on your calendar as soon as you’re notified, and request time off from work, if necessary. You may not be able to attend everything, but let your child know you will be there for as much as you can. Letting your child tell you which ones are most important to him is helpful too.
Plan meals in advance. Know what you’re going to make for dinner each night and prepare meals the night before whenever possible. This will save you a lot of time during those bewitching hours when the kids are hungry and you’re tired after working all day. Consider buying/preparing some meals in advance from an establishment where you make or purchase select meals. It’s fun preparing the meals with friends, it’s economical, and you save time while providing your family with home-cooked meals.
Get everything ready the night before. As tired as you may be at the end of the workday, it’s important to prepare for the next morning before you go to bed. Lay out/iron your work clothes and the children’s school clothes, pack lunches, backpacks, briefcases, etc. This will help your morning routine run more smoothly and reduce the likelihood that something will be forgotten.
Keep the clutter at bay. It’s easy to dump everything in one spot when you walk in the door, but that’s also a habit that will result in a very large pile of “stuff” to eventually sort through and could lead to missed deadlines or opportunities (e.g., the bill you forgot to pay, the birthday party invitation you failed to respond to, etc.). Instead, put everything in it’s place as you walk in. Hang keys on a key hook so you can find them in the morning. Put your cell phone on the charger for the next day. Set aside a specific time each day to look through the mail and school papers. As you review each piece, act on it, toss it, or file it.
Enlist the help of your partner. Now that you’re working outside the home, even on a part-time basis, it’s going to be important for you to communicate needs and expectations with your spouse or partner. Decide who will be responsible for which chores around the house (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc.). You can’t do it all…and if you don’t speak up and ask for help, he may not be aware that you need it!
Let some things go. This last tip is the hardest for me personally, but also a necessary one. We all have the same number of hours in a day and no matter how hard you try to cram in one more thing, the end of the day will come. So make the conscious decision to relax and let some things go. Is it the end of the world if there is dust on your dresser or a load of laundry in the dryer when you go to bed? No! Give yourself permission to relax, enjoy some quiet time with your family at the end of the day, and even sneak in a few moments for yourself!