02 February 2018

Working Mom Organization: Practical Tips For Life That Actually Work




One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a working mom is how I keep our life organized. How do we get out of the door in the morning in one piece, sane and on time? How do you juggle work time and family time? How do you keep it all balanced? 

Well friends, allow me to be honest. I don’t really have a concrete answer to those questions because on any given day, life happens. The school calls un-expectantly to ask me to pick up the sick kiddo. I get a flat tire. Starbucks is out of soy milk to make my chai tea latte (the freaking horror!). You get the drift – life happens.

Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, we're all working moms and we all have the same amount of hours in the day to work with. Having said that, I think the key for me in helping our lives run smoothly as a full-time working mom has been establishing and keeping to routines and keeping a well-organized, day-to-day plan aside from looking at the big picture (months down the road planning) types of things.

Maybe you’re someone who has this organization thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organized with Ikea storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to color and season.

Great.

But what about your everyday organization? How do you go about your day with an organized schedule and to-do list? Here are my tips on helping to organize the everyday crazy as a working mom.

Maybe you’re someone who has this organization thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organized with Ikea storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to color and season. Great, good for you. But what about your everyday organization? How do you go about your day with an organized schedule and to-do list? Here are my tips on helping to organize the everyday crazy as a working mom.
First and Foremost, Accept NOW That You Can’t Do It All...And Shouldn't
When you talk with other working moms about life and work balance, the majority of the conversation, without fail, always goes to, “How do you do it all?!” It’s as if the answer is a unicorn just waiting to be discovered when in reality, the answer has been in front of our face the whole time. How do I do it all?

I don’t.

Over the years, I’ve learned when to let things go in order for me to keep my sanity, and learning to be truly okay with it.

House not completely clean and spotless? Okay. Laundry not done? Oh well. Pantry a hot mess? The world will keep spinning. Have to eat out a couple nights a week because the sheer thought of making dinner is stressful AF at the end of the day? You want pizza or Chinese takeout.

The secret isn’t learning how to do it all. It never has been. The secret is learning what’s worth sacrificing your peace, family time, and sanity for. Every day, we read so many social media posts about “Slay all day,” and “Hustle hard, girl” and while those sentiments have their time and place, the majority of the time I’m saying, “NAH.”

It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to not do all the things. It’s okay to not be everything to everyone. Learning to let go, and living without, goes a long way to having a more peaceful and time well-spent life.

Prep the Night Before
Nothing helps me to get my day started on a positive note more than going to bed at night knowing that the details for the following day are handled. I wake up feeling far more refreshed and not so much in a panic.

Put together and organize kid stuff – handle all of those pesky forms and paperwork and pull together day care and school bags for the next day. Establish a “command center” where all of these items are placed. For me, that’s the bar in my kitchen. My purse, Chickie’s school bag and any other items for the next day are placed there so that in the morning, it’s an easy grab and go.

Do a quick pick-up around the house – bath time for Maddy is at 7:30. Around 7:15, we do a quick clean up around the house. Toys are put away, the kitchen is cleaned up with the dishwasher going and all stray items are put away. If I’m on my game that evening, I’ll let Maddy pick out her outfit for the next day the night before to try and minimize morning meltdowns and tantrums.

Make a to-do list for the next day – this habit does wonders for my productivity. Instead of waking up in a panic wondering what I have to get done for the day, I simply refer to my list to see what’s on the agenda. I usually break my list down to “Need to do,” “Want to do,” and then list any appointments, events or special reminders like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays.

When I’m done with my list, I place it on the bar in our kitchen because that’s where I go first thing in the morning for coffee. While I’m waiting for the Keurig to do its magic, I can look over my list and get mentally prepared for the day ahead.

Get the Most Out of Daily Activities
Let’s be honest – no matter how much we plan ahead and organize, there’s no way to predict how the day will really unfold. I do believe however, that we can do our best to try and stay on track to keep things running smoothly. Here are some of my tips:

When you rise, put that cell phone away! I know that since most of us use our cell phones for our alarm clocks, it’s only natural to want to get on our phones and see what’s going on but DON’T. Get a cup of coffee. Have some quiet time. Read over that amazing to-do list you planned the night before. If you’re a religious person, use those first few minutes of the morning for devotional time. Point being – put the phone down. Allow yourself some time to wake up and shake off the morning gunk. Don’t get sucked into the big, bright shiny screen and allow emails to run over and dictate your life from the get-go.

For me, I usually sip on my coffee, go over my to-do list for the day, and read blogs. This usually takes around 15 – 20 minutes. THEN I get my phone. Trust me, you’ll feel far more refreshed and ready to tackle the day if you don’t get sucked into your phone first thing.


Keep a good routine that works for you and your family
No one in our family is a morning person, but I’ve come to learn that having a good routine in place helps to minimize the cray-cray. We all wake up knowing what to expect and how the morning will play out so there are no surprises. Do we have meltdowns and tantrums? Yes. Do we have set-backs? Absolutely – but having an established foundation to the start of our day is half the battle.

Take a break
I’m the type of person who can get very bored very quickly working on one thing. It’s hard for me to sit down and work on one project for a long length of time. I try to break up my day into manageable chunks with little breaks in-between. For instance, if I’m working on a project for work, I’ll go hard for about an hour or so and then take a break and call and make appointments for Maddy, schedule things for myself or follow up on house and life items that need to be taken care of. I get my work done but I’m also able to handle personal things as well.

One Last Suggestion…
Find a planner system that works for you. Finding your perfect fit will be worth its weight in gold. I personally LOVE paper calendars and organizing systems. I’m a writer and love putting pen to paper and being able to write things in a planner to physically see is what works best for me.  

Some people enjoy keeping electronic task lists and that’s great, too. Whatever works for you is what’s important. There was a time when I tried to go electronic and used Wunderlist and Evernote. Both are great products, each with their pros and cons. It’s simply just a process of finding what suits you, but do it. It will be worth it.


What working mom life hacks, tips, and tricks do you have to share? I’d love to hear them!

25 January 2018

Five Questions I'm Tired of Hearing as a Working Mom



A few days ago, I was talking with a co-worker of mine about how I love working and having a career and how I feel I’ve grown so much as a person, a mom and a mate by having the opportunity to work outside the home while being fortunate enough to have Maddy in a school that I trust to leave my child with every day. I thought the conversation was going well; two professional women and mothers talking about why they love to work when out of nowhere, my co-worker says to me, “Well, I think it’s great you feel so comfortable working, but when my kids were young, I would have never dreamed of working outside the home while having someone else raise them.”

It took every ounce of willpower I had to keep my composure and not let my ugly show. While I understand that this woman raised children in a completely different era than me with different expectations and societal “norms,” I was still so completely offended for women, especially working moms, in general. Haven’t women worked harder to deserve more than this? In the year 2018, when the women’s movement is stronger than it’s ever been, have we not yet truly learned that in order to have a society of strong, independent, confident women we should all be uplifting and supporting one another in our decisions, hopes and dreams? I was completely and utterly befuddled and sad all at the same time. 

Let me be clear: I don’t think anyone sets out to be rude or judgmental, but I’m often surprised at what well-meaning and generally thoughtful people say to mothers who are not staying home full-time with their children. It’s not in every case but more than I would like, there’s a subtle hostility or judgment that comes from statements like the one my co-worker made that makes me wish more people would be conscientious enough to think before they speak.

As her comment marinated in my mind for the rest of the day, I couldn’t help but think of all the other comments and questions regarding my choice to be a working mom that gets thrown onto me more than I like. So here they are – the comments. And before anyone gets their feathers ruffled allow me to be crystal clear: I 110% support SAHM’s. They work hard all day, every day, and I truly believe that bottom line, all moms are working moms. The choice SAHM’s make to be with their children daily is both amazing and selfless. This is simply my point of view as a working mom outside the home.


I’m often surprised at what well-meaning and generally thoughtful people say to mothers who are not staying home full-time with their children. It’s not in every case but more than I would like, there’s a subtle hostility or judgment that comes from statements like the one my co-worker made that makes me wish more people would be conscientious enough to think before they speak. ONE. “Can’t you afford to stay home with your child?” 
No, I’m not kidding. People actually ask this bold shit.

Let’s assume for a minute that I can’t. Let’s say that in order for my child to have the education her father and I want her to have, I work so that she can go to school or have braces or for any other need our family might have. Where exactly does this conversation go now? Awkward, right? Furthermore, I’m then tempted to put you on the spot and ask how much money your husband makes so that you’re able to stay home. Let’s just both agree to not go there, okay?

Having said this, sometimes it’s not all about the money. Sometimes, mothers such as me, work because we actually want to work. We enjoy it. I value my education and the years I’ve put into my career. I also think it’s healthy and beneficial for our daughter to see me working so that she knows there is more to life than being a wife and a mom. Bigger than this, I also know that one day, my child will grow up and leave us. I want to keep a footing in the professional world so that there isn’t a big gaping hole on my resume making it harder for me to find a job. So you see, there are many reasons I choose to work but honestly, it really shouldn’t matter because the question devalues my choices. Simply put, please don’t do that. 

TWO. “I could never have someone else raising my child.”
What I really want to say to you: “am raising my child you stupid, ignorant ass hat!”

What I’ll actually say to you: Refer back to #1. Loving and raising a child is not incompatible with having support to do that. Yes, my child may be with other people during the day but make no mistake about it – her father and I are deep in the trenches raising her.

If the old saying goes, “It takes a village” than let’s all encompass every aspect of what this saying means and stop being just a little less judgmental, thank you very much.



THREE. “There’s plenty of time to work later. These early years are so precious.”
The last time I checked, all the years are precious so your point is?


FOUR. “It must be amazing to get away from your kid every day.”
What I really want to say to you: “It is! You know, it’s just like a mini-vacation and can you believe they also pay me??!!”

What I’ll actually say to you: How about we all just STOP polarizing the conversation and the debate about who has it worse. There are pros and cons to each choice. Instead, how about we join forces by saying, “I know you’re at home all day with the kids and I really need a break from work. Want to do a spa day together?”


FIVE. “Don’t you have family nearby that can watch your kid when she’s sick?” (A pretty standard and infamous questions asked by co-workers and bosses)
What I really want to say to you: “My child is my responsibility, especially when she is sick. No one else’s. She wants and needs her mother and I will not deny her that need.”

What I’ll actually say to you: Regardless If I have family or not nearby to help me, I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for taking care of my child, period.


If you’re a working mom, what challenging conversations or statements have you had to deal with from others? How do you handle it? Share below and let me know. 


20 December 2017

9 Creative Ways to Give Back to Others This Christmas



Christmas is an exciting time of year, especially when you have children. It’s so much fun to celebrate the holiday through their eyes and experience the magic of Christmas as a child yourself all over again. Having said this, I also think with all our joyful celebrations, we can easily lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday season.

In as much as I love doing things with and for my daughter during Christmas, it’s extremely important to me that she understands the season is about more than Santa, gifts and Christmas movies. I’ve often thought that the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to instill and develop a child’s philanthropic mindset while cultivating an attitude of gratitude.


With this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of nine things you can do for others to give back during the Christmas season. Finding ways to practice kindness doesn’t have to be a blown out production. Kindness comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Here are some ideas to help your children, at any age, understand the true spirit of Christmas so they can apply it in their own lives for a lifetime.

Finding ways to practice kindness doesn’t have to be a blown out production. Kindness comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Here are some ideas to help your children, at any age, understand the true spirit of Christmas so they can apply it in their own lives for a lifetime.



Toys for Tots. I’m a huge fan of the Marine Corp’s annual Toys for Tots toy drive. Every year, we take Maddy to the toy store, let her pick out a gift and then have her donate it to Toys for Tots. I always like to explain to her that not every child is as fortunate as her so it’s important that we help to give others a nice Christmas. It also helps her to develop a sense of empathy and a heart to serve others.

Leave a homemade treat with a kind note for your mailman in the mailbox.
 These men and women provide such a thankless service every day regardless of weather conditions, traffic and more. Let them know you appreciate what they do for you. 

Spend time with the elderly, especially those home-bound or in assisted living. Help an elderly neighbor with Christmas decorations, grocery shopping, and yard maintenance or simply spend some time with them talking and being a companion. This will mean more to them then you will ever know.

Be a Dollar Store angel.
 Leave 10 {or any desired amount} of $1 bills in random spots in the dollar store. If you’re feeling extra kind, leave the 0.07 cents for tax. Imagine how happy the single mother shopping for her kids will be or the child who wants a toy but mommy and daddy are hesitant to buy one because of their tight budget. It sounds like so little to us but it makes such a HUGE difference in the lives of others who really need it.

Remember children in the hospital or in hospice care. Make small gift baskets for kids who are in the hospital and deliver them with your children.

Be kind to someone you dislike. Our children are always watching and listening. What do you think they see and hear when they look at you?

Cleanout! Use this time of the year to collect your child’s old books that they no longer read and donate them to a children’s center, shelter or local library. You can also do this with clothing, shoes and other necessities.

Donate your time to new or exhausted parents. Offer your time to stressed or tired parents for free babysitting. Bring your own kids along as playmates and helpers! Imagine being a new parent and having the chance to get out for a few hours to do a little {peaceful} Christmas shopping, have a quiet coffee break or simply get some much needed errands done. This simple act of kindness means so much to parents who desperately need a break.

Donate the spare change in your car to The Salvation Army bell ringers. We all have ungodly amounts of change lying around, especially in our cars. Put those coins to good use and donate them! Grab a few coins every time you come across a bell ringer and toss them into the bucket. It may seem like very little but all that money adds up quick.

These are just a few ideas to get you started and really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many things we can do to help spread kindness and joy to others during the holiday season. What ideas do you have to share? I would love to hear them!