When I hear the word “homemaking” I always think stay-at-home mom. I’m not sure why that is, but the truth is that even with two parents working full-time jobs outside of the home, we still have a home that needs “making”. All of the stuff that stay-at-home moms do like cooking and cleaning and taking kids to all the activities are required of working moms as well, we just also get to add our job to the mix.
Which means that homemaking for working moms can actually be even more difficult and overwhelming. We have less time and energy to devote to managing and taking care of our homes. However, usually, when I see homemaking tips and tricks online, it is nearly always geared toward stay at home moms. And while there is some overlap between what will work for stay at home moms and what works for working moms, there are also some unique challenges that working moms face.
Here are some tips for managing your homemaking responsibilities while also balancing your career and family life.
Develop Strong Routines and Systems
You’ll see these a lot in the stay at home mom circles, but routines and systems might be even more important for working moms. You probably have some routines in place. Your mornings likely look very similar each day with a certain order and structure. However, it’s important to make sure that the routines we have are actually intentional and serving us well. If your mornings always look the same, and you are always stressed and frazzled and running behind, it’s likely time to take a look at your routine and make some changes. Here are the routines and systems you might want to consider developing:
Mornings are hard. It’s early, it’s often dark and cold. And the kids are anything but cooperative. But what happens in the morning can set the tone for your entire day. Being intentional in the morning can make a huge difference in your daily success and productivity. You might need to get up earlier or avoid social media in the mornings to give yourself the extra time needed to get a good start on your day, but you’ll end up thanking yourself later.
Do you know what makes mornings easier? Setting yourself up well the night before. This might mean backing up your bedtime so you get proper sleep. Cleaning your kitchen before bed so you don’t have to wake up to a mess. Setting out clothes and backpacks the night before. Pulling out frozen meat (or an already prepared meal) from the freezer to get a head start on dinner. Think of things that always seem to frustrate you in the morning and try to come up with a way to incorporate it into your evening routine to make your life easier.
You spend all day at work and the very last thing you want to do at night or on the weekends is more work to keep your house clean. I completely understand. But, the reality is we can’t live in complete filth all the time. Some people prefer to clean the house all at once in a few hour span of time, others like to do a little cleaning each day. Find out what works for you and your family and develop some systems and routines to keep things clean on a regular basis. Be sure to include all the members of your household. You aren’t the only one making messes, you shouldn’t be the only one cleaning. Develop a team spirit approach to cleaning in your family to get everyone involved and keep it from taking over all of your free time.
“If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Congratulations, you actually matter. Your health, your well-being, your sanity, and even your desires, matter. You don’t have to be a martyr, putting all of the people and all of the things before you. When you take care of yourself first, you become stronger, healthier, and better able to do all of the things. This doesn’t mean daily lattes and massages. But it does mean that you get to eat healthy food when you’re hungry (not two hours after everyone else because you spent dinner time wrangling kids). And it does mean you get to put your exercise time on the family calendar before it is filled up with 101 kid’s activities. Figure out what you need to be the best version of yourself and make those things a non-negotiable part of your family routines and schedule. You are worth it.
Related: 101 Ways to Practice Self-Care
Don’t set it down, put it away. This is a really hard rule that I’m trying to get myself and my family to follow. Clutter can be a big problem for busy working families who are constantly on the go. However, putting things away in their proper place the first time can save you lots of time and stress in the end. Spend some time talking with your kids and husband about putting things away. Gently remind yourself and them when you notice things being left out. Implement the rule that if you can do it in two minutes or less, just do it now to avoid procrastinating on simple tasks.
Plan Your Life Well
It can be so challenging to put aside time for planning when you are already feeling overwhelmed. Planning can take time you feel like you don’t have. But once you have a plan, you become more efficient and effective so you can actually get more done in less time. Here are some key areas to plan ahead:
Set aside time each week or even a month at a time to plan out the meals that your family will eat. Be sure to include breakfasts and lunch and even snacks. This will save you both time and money. Less food will be wasted and you’ll spend less time standing in front of your pantry hoping the food will magically appear and make itself.
Related: 50 Meal Plan Dinner Ideas
Even with two parents working full-time, money is probably still not falling from the sky (if it is, please send some my way). It can be easy to ignore your finances and just hope it all works out. You don’t have time for a budget and you work far too hard to follow a strict frugal lifestyle. Shopping around for sales, clipping coupons, and driving all over town to find the best deals are simply out of the question. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan and be intentional about your finances. There are quick and easy ways to track your spending and develop a simple, yet flexible budget that can help you reach your financial goals. You work far too hard and far too much to waste your money simply because you aren’t paying attention.
My recommendation: YNAB (youneedabudget.com)
I firmly believe that if you’re not growing, you’re dying. I know, that sounds really harsh. But life is a journey, we are supposed to live it well. For me, that includes learning and growing and constantly challenging myself to become the best version of myself possible. That can sound ridiculous to some working moms who are living in survival mode, but we aren’t meant to just survive live. You really can thrive and enjoy the fullness of life, even as a busy working mom, and even when your kids are young. Set some personal goals and intentionally pursue the passions that make you come alive.
Related: How to Pursue Your Personal Goals
Calendar and Schedules
If you don’t have a calendar that you use regularly (whether it is digital or a physical written planner), you are probably struggling in “survival mode”. A family calendar is one of the most important pieces you need to manage a busy family life well. But the key is to actually use it and use it well. Don’t just throw in all the major family events, use your calendar to also schedule time for all the priorities in your life. Schedule time for your self-care, time for one-on-one time with your kids, date nights, and time for each person to pursue their goals and passions. Your calendar is what can visually help you determine where there is too much of something and not enough of other things to help you live a balanced life.
Eliminate the Excess
Life is busy, especially when you have two working parents, kids in school and extracurricular activities, volunteer opportunities, maybe a side hustle (or two), and everyone has hobbies and passions they want to pursue. Sometimes, you have to remove things in order to make it all work.
Delegate and Get Help
You don’t always have to remove something you love just because you don’t have time for it. There are ways to delegate and get help in areas that you don’t love to open up time for things you do enjoy. This is why I have a housecleaner. It is also why my kids have a chore chart. I still do plenty of dishes and laundry and picking up around the house, but I don’t do it all, which gives me time to run, read, and write on this blog.
For help on teaching and rewarding kids for chores, we use this system: Financial Peace Jr (by Dave Ramsey)
Too Much Stuff
If it is becoming a nightmare trying to keep your house cleaned up and clutter free, it might not be a cleaning problem, but could actually indicate that there is just too much stuff. If you have less stuff, you have less stuff to clean and put away. Minimalism is becoming quite the trend lately as people realize how much extra time, energy, and space they have when they get rid of all their stuff. I’m not suggesting that you sell all of your belongings, but it can be helpful to block out some time to purge your house of extra toys, clothes, and stuff to give you more room for life.
Related: Decluttering the KonMari Way
Once you have a calendar that you actually use for all of the events and priorities in your family, it can be easy to notice when things get too full. If there is no blank space in your calendar to just be (by yourself and with your family), it’s probably time to see what can be eliminated. This can be a painful decision, but cutting just one thing out can make a huge difference in your stress levels and sanity.
Keep Your Priorities
The most important thing to remember as a two parent working family is your why. Your why is what drives you to do what you’re doing in the first place. Why are you living life the way you are? Why do you make the choices you make? Why do you make the sacrifices that you do? What are your priorities and how do they shape all of the details of your life? When you lose sight of your priorities, life can become draining and unfulfilling. Crazy, hectic, and busy are not necessarily bad descriptions for your life if you are happy and fulfilled. But if things are chaotic and you’re miserable, it’s time to evaluate your priorities and determine if your decisions match up.
Your faith isn’t just about dragging everyone to church on Sunday morning in pretty dresses. If that’s all your faith is for your family, your kids will grow up hating and resenting the church and God, and you will personally struggle through life. Take the time to make sure your faith is a real priority for you personally and for your family. Incorporate your faith and spiritual life in your parenting, your marriage, and all the choices you make.
Your relationship with your spouse came first, then the kids came. And you likely want to keep your relationship with your spouse long after your parenting days are over. This is why your marriage should always come first. Your kids need to see you prioritize your love for each other and your relationship, it helps kids feel safe and secure. It provides an example for them. And it teaches them what love looks like. Go on a date night. Say you’re sorry. Hug and kiss when the kids are watching. Send the kids to another room so you can have a real conversation with your husband without interruption. Marriage comes first.
Time with your kids is one of the most important gifts you can give them. Not time rushing them to school and soccer practice. Not time teaching them lessons and coaxing them through another dumb homework assignment. But simply time together. Laughing, relaxing, playing, goofing around, living life. A quality life for a kid is not one filled with lots of toys and lots of fun activities. A quality life for a kid is one spent loving and connecting and enjoying life with the people in their life who matter the most, their family.
Be Present Where You Are
There are a lot of things vying for your attention and time. It can be hard to manage all of it and know what to do and focus on when. We try to manage it all by multi-tasking everything at once. But that method usually fails. We become less productive and efficient and we never feel like we can fully enjoy anything. We’re spread thin and stretched to the max.
The key is to stop multi-tasking. As hard and ridiculous as that sounds, multitasking doesn’t actually work. What does work is being fully present, exactly where you are. Decide what you are doing in each moment and live fully, right there. When you are at work, you can guilt-free focus on your work with all of your energy, the kids are taken care of, dinner time will be tackled when it’s time, and your long list of to do’s will be there later. Focus where you are. When it’s time to be with your kids, put down your phone, step away from your laptop and be fully present with them. Intentionally choose how you want to spend your time and then fully embrace your decision with all of your attention.
Today’s Action Step
Choose one area that can use the most attention, maybe it’s creating a morning routine or implementing a meal plan, or maybe it’s figuring out how to delegate some of your tasks to the rest of your family. I’ve tried to include as many links and images as possible to additional posts and online courses that can help you in several of these areas. You can’t tackle everything at once, but start somewhere and begin making small steps in the right direction today.