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Working parents - how do you do it all?

(142 Posts)
MalmMumma Wed 01-Jun-16 17:09:25

Just that really. I have a 2.5 year old DS, work 4 days, in a very busy, relatively stressful job and trying to progress to the next level within the next year or so. I feel like time runs away from me everyday and before I know it, it's time to go home and I've not achieved everything on my to do list. By the time we sort or tea, bath, bed, our own dinner, get tidied up, make lunch for the next day, do any washing etc, it's 9pm at the earliest and if I log onto emails at that point, I'm either totally ineffective/exhausted or can't sleep when I go to bed after too much screen time. Does anyone have a magic solution other than wine! How do you juggle all the balls?

AliensInUnderpants12 Wed 01-Jun-16 17:13:43

Following for tips 😁 I'm going to be working 5 days a week soon and have 2 DC!

knaffedoff Wed 01-Jun-16 17:16:22

Sorry I can't help, your dilema is the reason I only work short hours for a pittance. The only friends I know who are successful in what you are looking to achieve are single parents with an ex who is relatively co-operative or married couples, who's partner takes on more than there fair share of the housework / childcare requirements.

I guess there is no easy answer which make the discussion sahm / working parent so challenging!

TeaBelle Wed 01-Jun-16 17:20:33

I work 3 days a week in a super stressful environment. We all eat together so no separate dinners. On the day I am working I wikk have left a meal such as shepherds pie or pasta bake that can just be bunged in yhr oven. I find the house doesn't get particularly messy when we are not here in the day so I just hoover after did has eaten. I use the timer on the washing machine so that it goes on at 4pm. Then I put it out when dd is in bed and get it in the following night. Everything else gets cleaned as we go eg kitchen straight after dinner while dh reads to dd..

Pootles2010 Wed 01-Jun-16 17:20:46

Stop the bath every day, helped us massively. 3 times a week is plenty.

Ifiwasabadger Wed 01-Jun-16 17:22:49

Two working parents here...full time. We both run our own businesses so it's long stressful hours but we can fragment them eg I can make a conscious effort to stop between 530-730 for bedtime and pick up again later.

I have a cleaner who is a godsend and outsource anything i can eg ironing. I am the queen of getting stuff ready the night before, planning and lists.

We have a slow cooker which means easy dinners a few nights a week. Nursery provides DDs food (she's the same age as yours).

I definitely wouldn't feel as on top of things if I had more than one child...hence she will happily be an only smile

OhWotIsItThisTime Wed 01-Jun-16 17:25:53

I have a cleaner. I eke out leftovers. Sometimes I drop the ball, I'm usually tired. I've learnt to be kind to myself. For instance, ds1 has been given the choice of a school project. I've put my foot down at the craft one as it'll take days and we can't do it.

peppatax Wed 01-Jun-16 17:29:40

There was a thread not long ago with useful ideas... I cope manage by the ideas above - outsourcing/delegating etc. - but also trying not to drink in the week and prioritising any form of exercise over housework during the week. It's not meant to be patronising at all but I sleep better and then can cope manage with more when the meticulous plans go wrong!!

peppatax Wed 01-Jun-16 17:30:26

Also, as long as everyone's fed, clean and sleeping then go to bed satisfied it's been a successful day!

RNBrie Wed 01-Jun-16 17:30:33

I read Getting Things Done by David Allen and use the principles religiously. The basic premise (massively simplifying) is that you keep To Do lists based on where you are... So you have a To Do list for the office, one for home, one for "anywhere" etc.

So for instance, on my commute, I check my anywhere list and whizz through that.

Ita changed my life so much for the better even if my dh thinks it's a bit mad.

I also Marie Kondo'd the house so keeping it tidy is so much easier.

winchester1 Wed 01-Jun-16 17:30:57

We both work ft (middle management and academic) and have a one and two yr old in nursery 7hrs a day. We take it in turns to or pick up so both get a full day and once a week each work late (2100).
Mostly we just never double parent so one looks after the kids and cooks dinner, other comes home, all eat, one washes up, puts washing on (or next step needed), tidies etc while other puts the kids to bed. Then we have an hour or two doing (we are doing some light renovations) then an hour on out computers/tv before bed. At weekends we tag team the kids while doing renovating or work/study depending on what is most pressing.
At work I only answer emails at set times of the day, and if I'm working on a task that should take 3 hrs I block my calendar and turn my email off and crack on. I do further study/ prof quals at weekends but more slowly than before the kids.

Cakeymum Wed 01-Jun-16 17:32:40

I work 5 days a week in a high pressure sales job, leave home at 7.10am, back home at 6.30pm (doing nursery pick up and drop off on the way). DH leaves at the same time, back about 5.45pm. DS is 3 next month, in nursery full time, and I'm 32 weeks pregnant so if i make it to 9.30pm thats a late night

We let things slide in the week, like cleaning and save it for the weekend (obviously we tidy up / dishwasher etc) , have some quick to cook dinners (think pasta and sauce) or sometimes have main meals at lunch time so cheese on toast for tea, order a takeaway once a week - saves us 30 mins here and there (DS has all his meals at nursery). I may cook while DH does bath, then I do story and he finishes dinner

We do online shopping so that saves us a supermarket trip

All this will go out the window though when DC2 comes along in 8 weeks or so!

peppatax Wed 01-Jun-16 17:33:05

RNBrie - what's Marie Kondo?!

Xmasbaby11 Wed 01-Jun-16 17:33:21

I work 3.5 days a week, Dh full time, dc are 2 and 4.

I think it is always going to be hard working in the evening after a full days work already plus wraparound family stuff. Have you tried ...

Taking short cuts with meals so it's quick prep and minimal tidying

Letting go of inessential housework on work days eg I don't hoover those days ( no big deal as we're put all day anyway so no mess)

Allocating weekend time to work instead eg one weekend morning. You can get a lot more work done when you're not tired. I know it's nice to have family time at the weekend but you're working part time so by sat you'll have already had a day with ds. I find it helpful.

Of course everyone will suggest getting a cleaner which I'd love - we can't afford it though but it would save you time if you could.

Unescorted Wed 01-Jun-16 17:36:17

Let your standards drop - who knows except you when you last changed the sheets?
Wear clothes that don't need ironing.
Keep work at work and home at home.
Leave work on time, but work hard when you are at work - I see so many people at ours working from 8 until 6 not getting any more done than I do in my 8- 4 hours. They stop and chat a lot, over think things, stare at it hoping the reports will write themselves, do things that aren't important etc.
Make time for you - I run almost everyday. It is my time when I do my thinking.
Do things as you remember them or they hit your mail box - my desk bounces so that most of my projects are waiting for action from someone else. If my boss asks about them I can then say it is up to here & I am waiting for legal to take a look.
If you can't do things immediately write it down on a list. It means that you don't have to think what needs to be done next if you have an unexpected 10 minutes.
Do high visability things first.

Granard Wed 01-Jun-16 17:37:04

I think you've just described the life of most working Mothers. It's simply really tough and I don't think there is a magic solution. Do your best.

I'm a working Mum in a stressful job and also a single Mum for the past 12 years, my DD is now 15. Now it's so easy, I can' hardly believe it compared to when she was small and I was on a permanent roller coaster of pressure. Because I had to leave 10 minutes early to get to the after school facility each day, I ended up working my lunch every day for years to try and give back the bit of flexibility my company afforded me in leaving early. I then logged on at night to do further work because I was never in a position to "work late" like the others in my office. My company absolutely manipulated the fact that I needed flexibility.

Looking back on it now, I regret it so much. I missed out on simply enjoying my daughter. I can remember reading stories to her at night and hoping she'd fall asleep quickly so I could log on to work and finish something. If I had my time again, I would have either changed jobs or just done what was realistic.

One of the best decisions I made was joining a gym with a pool. Every evening when I collected my DD from after-school, we went for a swim. Had I gone home at that time, stressed about work, I wouldn't have been able to give her the time to just hang out with me in a relaxed space and tell me her news. It was a life saver. We had 30-40 minutes in the pool which gave me a chance to catch up on her news and focus on her and we both got some exercise and I got to de-stress.

It's important to accept also that there is only so much you can do. Make a shorter To Do list so you can focus on achieving it rather than focusing on what you haven't achieved, which creates negativity.

Good luck.

Runningupthathill82 Wed 01-Jun-16 17:39:52

Two children under 3 here - no family help, no cleaner. I have a full time, stressful job which also involves some out of hours working.

Housework I try and just keep on top of by cleaning as I go and doing two or three things at once, ie wiping down work surfaces, putting the dishwasher on etc while the bottles are sterilising, or while DD's bottle is cooling.

All toys are put away as we go, washing machine on as soon as there's a full load, and dirty dishes straight in the dishwasher, so there's no build up of work. I'm also a dab hand at bleaching the loo while conditioner is on my head doing its thing, and painting my nails while watching DS in the bath. Multitasking is key!

I'm not a stickler for routine or for things being "perfect." So it is fine if the children only have a bath 3x a week, fine if DS's tea is something simple like egg on toast, and fine if DS isn't in bed bang on 7pm.

We make housework "fun" and get the children involved - DS "helping" by listing socks, for example, and DD watching from her Bumbo. That way I don't have to wait til they're in bed to do it.

Exercise is also a big one for me. Through the week I fit it into my daily commute as much as possible, and at a weekend we involve the kids, who are usually taken along to races. I run most days and so does DH - this is non negotiable.

We don't watch much tv (which seems to waste a lot of people's time?) and always make sure the house is clean and tidy before bed, so we have a fresh start each day. Erm, that's about it!

Runningupthathill82 Wed 01-Jun-16 17:43:08

Pairing socks, obviously, not listing them!!

CMOTDibbler Wed 01-Jun-16 17:45:08

Equal jobs - when ds was little, one of us would start dinner (for all of us) as soon as through the door, keeping it simple in the week, the other would play with ds, all have dinner, non cook does dishwasher and a load of laundry on while other took him for a quick bath, playtime, bedtime. Then we had the evening.
Shopping, bills etc all done online (these days on our phones, so wherever we have some dead time).
You don't need more than a swipe of kitchen surfaces and bathroom with a wipe in the week, so no housework.
Weekends it was an hour each of cleaning, and minimal garden work. We chose to prioritise having time together doing things after 5 manic days over time alone or doing things for others

MummyBex1985 Wed 01-Jun-16 17:46:19

You can't do it all.

As soon as I realised that, life became easier. We have a cleaner and I reduced my hours at work. Life is far less stressful now, although I don't feel any less busy!

Terramirabilis Wed 01-Jun-16 17:48:56

We are a full-time working DM and a PhD student DF. We manage because we have to. We do have the benefit of 2 days a week childcare from family plus my DH's hours are not regular office hours unlike mine so we can trade off. We have the disadvantage of working the equivalent of 2 full time jobs but only getting one salary. If my DH had a job we'd have more money to buy help. We have no paid help apart from 2 days paid childcare. If he were a SAHD we'd have no childcare costs and he'd have no pressure from other commitments. As it is now, being a student is the worst of both worlds, but once he graduates in a couple of years he should be high earning so we will benefit. He's going into a field which is pretty lucrative and where there's a shortage of skilled people.

We do the parenting-on-your-own thing mentioned by a PP a lot during the week. We make dishes that can stretch over multiple days reheating. We minimize housework. Certainly wouldn't dream of hoovering every night. Maybe every two weeks. Last night I finished everything I had to get done at 9pm and then read for a while before going to bed. What keeps me going is having a great job that really means something to me. Plus I'm not one who wants to be out and about all the time so I'm happy to be at home when I can with DS.

Caravanoflove Wed 01-Jun-16 17:50:18

We both work full time (me about 60-70 hours a week)
My top tips are let go of the guilt over meals. Ours have school dinners (all locally produced organic food, not private we are very lucky) then something on toast in the evening. No more batch cooking at weekends.
Konmarie'd the house, so much easier to keep on top of things/keep organised.
No ironing
Exercise to keep sane and healthy
Always spend weekends and free time doing fun things
Always have a holiday to look forward to and a bucket list of things to look forward to in the next year (ours ranges from strawberry picking and baking a cake to a holiday in Santorini and Sardinia)
Use the commute to get admin phone calls done (I don't get a lunch break so all those tips people give about using your lunch hour to do stuff is lost on me)
Read about time management/organisational techniques
Let go of the guilt about stuff not getting done

Stripeybetty Wed 01-Jun-16 17:51:29

Single parent, worked full time for 12 years. No support from ex or family. I just get on with it. I try not to iron clothes. Wash, dry and hang up. My house isn't always immaculate but I just clean up as I go along. It gets easier as the get older. I don't think kids need a bath every day. I mostly cook from scratch but bulk cooking helps then freeze. I work from home now and wish I did years ago. It really helps. I used childcare but don't need it now. It really does get easier.

PrincessHairyMclary Wed 01-Jun-16 17:51:33

Single parent with 6 year old DD. It's all in the planning.

Lunches are made on Sunday wholemeal rolls buttered, filled with something freezable (often cheese and ham) and frozen in sandwich bags which are taken out the morning needed. Frubes are a favourite for DD which are also frozen. The night before I put the rest of our lunches together in the fridge in our lunch boxes, yogurt, Apple, juice carton etc, add the rolls in the morning and it's done.

Breakfast are also made on Sunday in Tupperware boxes normally porridge oats, sunflower seeds, - check it all in one of those sustenance soup pots the night before add the milk and peanut butter and honey ready to chuck in the microwave in the morning.

Dinner is often done on the slow cooker, prep veg the night before watching TV. Throw the meat and veg in in the morning. In the evening freezer any leftovers.

Housework, Hoover, mop and dust once a week unless there's been a spillage etc.

I prefer to bath / shower each morning DD is done on a Sunday, Wednesday and Friday unless particularly sweaty or dirty.

I recently brought a tumble dryer, all the uniforms are washed and dried Friday night and ironed Saturday morning whilst Dd does her homework.

A big monthly shop normally at Morrisons in person and then maybe a top up shop online from Iceland free delivery £25 so by the time you've done your bread and milk and some fruit and yogurts it's done. And better quality then my corner shop.

BlueCheeseandcrackers Wed 01-Jun-16 17:53:50

I work full time 8-5 each day with 3 kids and it's hard work!! I find meal planning on a Sunday a great help! I batch cook on a Sunday for the week so I don't have that stress in the week! I have a major clean on the weekend. It is hard trying to fit in homework, reading, spellings and projects! Make sure you find some time yourself!!

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