Working mums guide to staying sane

Working mums guide to staying sane

Helen Druitt

It's tough to try and be a mum, have a career, keep a house in order, while still managing to stay sane.

The other day, someone asked me how I manage to keep it all together. I just blinked back at them, my mind blank. How could I possibly describe life what is going on in my mind? Only someone who's lived it can understand the juggling act it requires. I am pretty sure not even my husband has any idea what I do or what it takes to keep this ship afloat.

Busy mums have the usual responsibilities of being a mum - folding laundry, scheduling doctor's appointments, helping with homework, reading bedtime stories, and basically being on call 24-hours a day. In addition, there is the conundrum of how to find time to work and answer emails, do networking, update bookkeeping, make phone calls, and more. And, it must fit into a 24 hour day. So, how do we do it? How do we stay sane in the chaos?

It's disclaimer time. I am not the person to give advice on sanity. I'm pretty sure I filed away my sanity last year when I did taxes. I have my days where I say "That's it! I'm getting a regular job!" But, then I talk to my wonderful friend who reminds me of the reality of the real world -- the traffic, the boss who won't let me go to my son's field trip, all the patients, and the fact that I'd probably have to buy pantyhose agaіn. She manages to slap some sense back into me every time. I hate pantyhose.

Working from home the last few years, I've picked up a few handy tips. They aren't magic beans, that, when planted, will grow you a nanny and a housekeeper, but they can help you to enjoy being a work at home mom just a little bit more.


Get a diary or planner. Let’s face it we are not getting any younger and our memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Let your brain have a break and put all your lists and thoughts into the diary. Make sure you put your name and contact details on the front page. I once left my diary (filled with 6 months of schedules and appointments) on the counter of a store and for 4 hours I was filled with horror. Luckily an unfortunate incident of having all my luggage get sent to Adelaide instead of Sydney taught me a valuable lesson in labelling all my irreplaceable valuables with my contact details. The lady at the counter opened my diary and found my details on the front page and called me! Phew! KMart is my go to place for cheap diarys


Take very good care of yourself physically. Yes I know this is cliche but it works. Doing this will help you with energy, focus, and emotional stability as you face the various pressures and stresses of single parenting. Eat healthy foods, avoid "junk" and highly processed food, take supplements as needed (a food based multivitamin and fish oil are a good start for many people), and exercise regularly to increase fitness and boost your mood. Buy yourself a BuggyCart™ and walk to the store with your kids. Think about how much time you spend being down on yourself about being unhealthy or out of shape. Simply by changing your attitude and your actions towards becoming a healthier version of yourself makes an incredible amount of difference to your mental state. Here are some self-care practices for every aspect of your life


Gather your support network and accept their help. You will need adult support for you emotionally, as well as practical help so that you can prevent being overwhelmed by parenting alone. When people offer to help you, don't pretend to be superwoman and turn them down. Accept the help with gratitude and make the most of it! If you do not have the luxury of family around get yourself a BuggyCart™ to make getting out and about with your family much easier or a good babysitter to help out when things get a bit too much


Do a small thing for yourself each day. Make a list of activities or little indulgences you really enjoy. Pick one thing off this list to do for yourself daily. Perhaps schedule a moment of indulgence at 7pm and this will ensure you breeze through the bedtime routine as there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This helps send your mind a message, that you are worthy and deserving of a little spoiling. As much as you give your children and your job, etc, you need to give yourself something to look forward to. As a mum I still feel guilty when I take money out of my family budget so I often use coupon sites to book myself some cut price pampering.


Freezer cooking! This is my personal life-saver. Spend one day during the week assembling meals and your reward is a freezer filled with food. And NO it does not taste horrible when defrosted IF you know how to defrost and reheat food. Then, when it's time to make dinner, just grab a healthful, inexpensive meal from your freezer, heat it up and serve. Think about it. Next time you cook dinner, quadruple the recipe and put what you don't eat into the freezer for later. Presto! Magic food will appear in your freezer for you and your whole hungry family.


Pay it forward by helping others. It reminds us that many of our own problems are much smaller than they appear. Whether you donate money, give blood, or volunteer your time, you are setting a beautiful example for your children. Involve your older kids and make volunteering a family activity. Check out this link for some volunteering opportunities. Even help out on a micro level. If you know a mum struggling to take her toddler grocery shopping offer to mind them (or buy her a BuggyCart™)


Stay fit in a fun way! Dust off your rollerblades, strap a pillow across your bottom and hit the pavement. Or surprise your children and the dog with a nice long walk. “I regret taking that walk” said NO ONE EVER! Fill your BuggyCart™ with all the kid's favourite activities and a picnic and spend a day at the park. 


Organise, organise, organise! If you're spending hours each week sorting through piles of paper, looking for receipts or "to do" lists, that is wasted time and unnecessary frustration. Sweep the Magic 8 ball, the empty jar of peanuts, the Slinky, and the Snickers wrapper off your desk right now. Organise the kids wardrobes in outfits so your mornings are easy. Organise the fridge with ready to go snacks to avoid meltdowns. I truly believe organisation is the key to a calm household. I personally love the KonMarie organisational method Does it spark joy?!


Save Money - As Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac "A penny saved is a penny earned." Work at home mums know how hard it can be to earn a penny. So, do everything you can to save those hard-earned cents. The Barefoot investor is a savings phenomenon. I get loads of motivation from the facebook group


Time Management. Don't let time thieves make you work any longer than you need to. When you're sitting in front of your computer or talking on the phone, that is time away from your children. Always remember your "why". WHY are you working from home? If the reason is to spend more time with your kids, then figure out how to make that happen!


Learn, learn and then learn some more!  Find a mentor or someone who you like the way they handle their business. Network with other moms who are successful, take online classes, or hire a coach. Invest in yourself and you'll invest in your business. Udemy is a great platform to learn anything at all


Play with your kids. Whether you sit down to sing a song with your baby or play a board game with the older kids there's always fun to be had. I play a game with myself that I need to do whatever it takes to make my kids laugh every time I sit with them. It’s too easy to get caught up with all the stress of running a business and household so I make it a point not to pass this energy onto my children. Good vibes only.


Keep your sense of humor and laugh every day! Turn off your computer, put in your copy of The Village People "YMCA" (I know you have one) and Dance! Dance! Dance! If you have had a bad day call up a friend and have a laugh about how everything possible went wrong and when you make it it will make a great start up story.


And the number one way to stay sane as a work at home mum .....


14. Always remember "The days are long, but the years are short." Although it oftentimes feels like the days drag by as a work at home mom, remember that the years are flying by. It's that reminder that keeps me grounded on days when the projects are heavy and the beach is calling.

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