As a working moms, we sometimes feel the overwhelm of trying to balance family and work life. Sometimes it can feel like we’re being pulled in more directions than we can handle, especially with toddlers who may have earlier bedtimes, so those after work hours of their wake windows feel so short and limited.
We’ve found that the easiest-to-find toddler activities are weekdays between 9 and noon, not exactly working mom friendly.
So, we’ve turned to two of our working moms who have traditional workday schedules, to share how they maximize family time around their schedules, and what works best for them.
East Valley Moms
Kira, working mom of 4, ages 2-11
- What time do you get off work? Since I am salaried, I don’t have set hours but I generally work 7:30-4pm. I have to pick up my son from daycare by 4:15 so whether I am done or not, I generally wrap by 4pm and then often use bedtime to sneak in whatever I need to feel prepared for the next day.
- How do you balance your schedule and finding activities to share with your child on work days? I am lucky that my husband’s days off are during the week so we plan for him to take our youngest to the library program and his swim classes. If my schedule allows, I will use my lunch to join in on the fun when I can! I also work for an amazing organization that is very supportive of finding work/life balance so when my girls have programs/parties/events at school, I can usually proactively block my calendar and prioritize attending these types of things.
- What are your favorite after work hours activities with your kiddo? I really enjoy that first 30 or so minutes after everyone gets home and we can decompress together. Even my son, who is 2, needs this transition time between our daytime life and nighttime life. We have snacks, maybe watch a show, play outside etc. It is a time to catch up on the day but also relax a bit before activities, dinner, bath, bed time.
- Advice for first time working moms struggling with this topic? I read a book very early on in my time as a working mother that said “balance is a crock”…which I actually agree with! We can strive for balance, but the scale usually tips heavy in one direction or another. So my advice is to plan plan plan and then be ready to pivot. If I didn’t map out my week ahead on Sundays, I wouldn’t be able to fit in things like working out or attending a school function. And then my best tip is to use the edges of the day….meeting wraps 5 minutes early? Call and schedule that doctor appointment and check it off the list! Only have time for yourself after 9pm? Make it a priority to plan what you are going to do with that time and set yourself up to actually do it.
Amanda, full time working mom of 4, ages 1-12
- What time do you get off work? My current work hours are 6:30-3 m-f. I work a hybrid schedule where I’m in office every other week. I work from home the opposite weeks. Luckily, being one of the managers in my department, I had a say in our work hours as our team came back to the office in October. We offer three different shifts and we chose which one we wanted based on what worked for our family/lifestyle. Being off at 3 is really nice given that it’s a 40 minute drive from the office back home. It gives me a little over three hours with my baby and toddler they need to go to bed.
- How do you balance your schedule and finding activities to share with your child on work days? I’m not always as intentional as I would like to be after work. Sometimes I need some time to zone out due to the stress of my job. This time may just mean sitting on the couch watching a TV show while my kids play next to me. However, when I’m not feeling that way, I may hang out in my backyard while they play, play with them and whatever it is they’re playing with, and sometimes it’s just as simple as letting them help me cook dinner. Our nightly schedule tends to get busy, but the kids go along. We may go watch their brother’s football practice or go to community groups and they play with their friends while the adults talk. Tuesday night community groups is their favorite night.
- Advice for toddler parents working from home with kids there, too? Working from home is a lot harder. When I take a break my kids are there. When I’m in a meeting my kids are there. I try to make my break time, time to be with them. I may set up a water table activity (think busy toddler stuff), watch them play outside for a few minutes, or just get them food or snacks and talk to them. They just want a few minutes of focused time. And I assure you, a few minutes (not hours) of focused time while working from home won’t hurt your job.
- Advice for first time working moms struggling with this topic? Don’t be hard on yourself when you’re not as intentional as you would like to be. It’s okay to decompress with a little of whatever makes you happy while you happily watch your kiddos play. Also, bring them along (if you can) to whatever you have going on at night. Take some snacks, toys, and water, and they tend to be happy being there with you.