I am a creature of habit; until I get the hang of something and it becomes routine I feel completely out of sorts and it totally stresses me out. And usually it’s about trivial things, but this whole working mom thing is the big leagues. Wow it’s tough. I survived last week, but barely. I also only had a 3-day work week. And I’m not sure I would have made it any longer than that! It’s amazing how little time you actually have before/after work with a 3-month old. Every minute needs to be spent wisely, each task calculated to be as efficient as possible. If I’m going to succeed at all I’m going to have to push my already top notch organizational skills to a whole new level. Forget the endless lists and preparing that B loves to tease me about (well, really complain is a better word). That stuff is for amateurs. For surviving this type of challenge I need to sharpen even the best tools in my arsenal. It’ll almost be like a new sport: extreme list-making & uber-planning.
Here is how I plan to tackle each work week to keep things as stress-free as possible. I was already doing a few of these things in my previous “civilized” life, but I’m hoping to step up my game. I’m sure working mom readers are laughing at me for even trying to alleviate stress, but I am going to attempt it. Please feel free to poke holes in my game plan – I’m very open to criticism. Or, if I’ve inspired you to try along with me, I’d love to hear about that as well. And PS, these tips are really not restricted to any sort of lifestyle, I’m just being overly dramatic about going back to work so I designed them for that purpose…
1. Meal Planning. At some point over the weekend, figure out meals for the week. Go to the store for things we need and prepare as much of the meals as I can ahead of time. I know this sounds totally sucky, who wants to be at the store on Saturday morning when you could be watching Kitchen Crashers and E! THS? But trust me it’s totally worth it. I try to do it most weekends, but obviously life gets in the way and we miss a week here or there. On those weeks I try to do a very quick and small produce and dairy shop as early into the week as I can and we supplement with some healthy things we try to keep in our freezer. And there’s always pizza. Our credit card company has an online feature that allows you to sort your annual statement by merchant – I added up all the charges at pizza places and I’m way too embarrassed to reveal to you how much we spent on pizza in 2011. Let’s just leave it at “a lot”. But hopefully I can plan better this year and bring that figure down a little…
2. Pack lunches and/or snacks for the next day. Actually, this one is arguably not much of a time saver since you’re now spending evening hours preparing food, which is tough when A’s witching hour hits from 7:30-8:30. But I will at least grab breakfast items and a few healthy snacks for the next day so all I have to do is pick up a salad or a sandwich at some point during the work day. At least it’ll save me a little bit of time and money.
3. Pack all bags for work the night before. Especially important if attempting to work out before/during/after work. Ha, that’s a good one. I don’t think I’ll ever have time for that again, but I’m ever hopeful so I’ll leave it in here. Also leave shoes, phone, SEPTA pass, and keys in one central spot, and make sure they are somewhere visible on first floor near bags. Since it’s winter, place jacket and scarf/hat/gloves nearby.
4. Plan outfits for the week. On Sunday nights, check weather for the week and figure out what to wear on each day. Also consider meetings or other engagements that may require special attire. Each night, take outfit out of closet for the next day, including all undergarments and accessories. It’s amazing how much quicker you can get ready to go somewhere if you have your clothes laid out in advance. You don’t even have to think, just put the clothes on and go. And if I’ve tried everything on over the weekend, I don’t need to spend those 5-10 minutes in front of the mirror in a bad outfit trying to convince myself it doesn’t make me still look 4 months pregnant, only to rip it off, freak out, and start over. It’s really a huge time saver.
5. Prep for A’s Day. We are fortunate enough to have A’s wonderful Grandma’s watching her during the week while we’re at work. One of the MANY perks about this is that we don’t need to have her fed, dressed, and ready to go anywhere in the mornings. Thank god. Just getting myself ready these days puts me at stress level midnight. But there are still some things to get ready for her and my plan is to make sure I have everything complete and organized the night before, eliminating any morning chaos and confusion.
Since I’ve only been doing this a whopping 2 weeks (which weren’t even full weeks) I’m sure this will be a work in progress. But for now, this is my game plan and I’m sticking to it!