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The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Working Moms

7 Habits of Highly Effective Working MomsAs a mom, I don’t just have one job. On any given day, I can have ten: cook, stylist, chauffeur, housekeeper, handywoman, manager, social director, teacher, therapist, cheerleader. Not to mention my sideline gigs, like school meeting attendee, birthday party coordinator, hairstylist and more. Oh, and then there’s my job job, the one that gets me a paycheck and benefits.

Like many working moms, I’ve developed strategies to keep my days more organized and (kinda sorta) sane. I reached out to fellow moms to compare notes; these are the tried-and-true habits that make our lives as working moms work.

1. Always prep extra food

“One of the best purchases we ever made for our house was a second freezer that we keep in the basement,” says Betsy P., a pharmaceutical sales representative in New Jersey. “Whenever I cook, I make extra and freeze it in baggies, and then I have dinner ready in a flash on a hectic night. Even if I make chocolate-chip cookies, I mix up an extra batch, have my little one help me firm the dough into balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet for a few hours, then pop them into labeled baggies. Voila, fresh cookies the next time I need them. Same with homemade pancakes and waffles. Freeze between wax paper and the kids will be psyched when you pull them out on a school day. Add in fresh or frozen blueberries or strawberries or bananas and they get a full meal … with no working mom guilt for you.”

2. Take it online

My favorite time to shop for my family is approximately 11:30 p.m., when you will finding me roaming Kohls.com, Soap.com, Shoes.com, you-name-it.com. Says Hedy C., a social worker in New York, “Amazon Prime is a godsend — free overnight shipping has solved many a school project crisis. I have been known to even overnight tampons and toilet paper if I don’t have time to get to the supermarket or drugstore. Wish I could order manicures and exercise classes online, as they always seem to go by the wayside!”

3. Delegate without shame

We have a wonderful sitter who’s been with our family since my son, now 11, was three months old and I returned to work. She loves to bake; me, not so much. And so, she is the one who bakes the kids brownies. She is the one who made oatmeal cookies for our Girl Scout troop the other week. While I don’t pass them off as my own (well, maybe just once), I have zero guilt. Says Cindy H., a communications specialist from Silver Springs, MD , “I have not bought my children socks for three years. My nanny is the sock magi.”

4. Make mornings easier any way you can

“I have been known, on more than one occasion, to dress my kids in ‘morning clothes’ at night for those days when I have to get everyone out the door by 7. a.m.,” says Erika L., a New York City publicist who’s mom to two kids, ages 7 and 3. “They sleep in the t-shirts and leggings they wear to school the next day. You gotta do what ya gotta do to make it work! I haven’t gone as far as making my kids sleep with their shoes on … yet.” Perhaps the most lovable shortcut ever: a dog. “No family with young children should be without a dog,” advises Katie Y., a pediatric speech therapist in San Ramon, California. “Kid spills yogurt or applesauce on the floor? No problem. The dog is there in approximately 0.8 seconds, busily cleaning up for you. Drop an entire box of cereal just as you ae about to leave the house? No worries! You leave, and the dog will take care of it while you are gone. Seriously. Get a dog. Best vacuum-mop ever.”

5. Be a party hoarder

Once a year, I buy a bunch of 99-cent birthday cards and sock them away. I’ll also pick up several disposable plastic tablecloths at once for family celebrations. If a good game is on sale at Target, I’ll buy five of them. Says Erika, who does the same, “It’s such a relief when that party rolls around not to have to scramble to the store!”

6. Just do it now

I once heard a time efficiency expert give a talk. One of her best tips: If there’s a task you can do in just a minute or two, rather than adding it to your to-do list, take care of it. The idea is to prevent a chores pile-up that ends up overwhelming you. “Some days, it’s hard to find a few minutes to pick up the phone to make a doctor, dental or beauty appointment,” says Laura B., a university administrator in Chicago. “I book the next appointment before I leave those offices.”

7. Take time for you

“As a working mom, one of my most effective habits is knowing when to take a sick day,” says Lisa Q., an administrative assistant in New York City. “I don’t take advantage of all the paid sick days I get, especially because I don’t want to risk getting fired! But every so often, when things get really stressful and I’m feeling overwhelmed, I call out ‘sick’ and do something just for me. I’ll go shopping, see a movie, or go to a restaurant where the hostess doesn’t ask me if I want crayons!”

Image source: istock

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