I’m often asked, “How do you do it all?” When I went from being a stay-at-home-mom to working full-time as a teacher with four growing children, it was a rude awakening. Here are some words of wisdom to full-time working mothers of children still at home, especially for those who are entering the workforce after being home full-time taking care of children.
If this is the season for you to work outside the home, don’t to expect to do everything you did when you were home full-time. It’s not possible. But this season can be good, too. You are in transition. Give yourself grace as you figure out how life looks in this season.
Talk with your husband about the new “normal.” After I started working, I tried to do everything I did as wife and mother before I worked. It wasn’t possible. I talked with my husband about the things that were most stressful. For me, it was paying bills and cleaning the house. He took on paying bills and sweeping the floors each week and so I have time to get the other household chores done. My husband also learned to make meals if needed and he helps clean up the dishes after we eat. It’s become a partnership. It’s okay to say, “I can’t do it all.”
Working or not working does not define you as a Christian woman. When I stayed home full-time, that role defined me as a Christian woman. Once I began working, I pursued God and asked Him, “Lord, show me how to be the Christian woman you desire me to be,” He answered me that my identity was not in staying-at-home or working. I’ve been in both roles, and I know the struggle. Your identity as a woman is in Christ and in your partnership with your husband. If your husband supports you, then rest in the Lord’s word to you and the headship of your husband.
Have more fun time with your kids. I realized being a teacher could consume my not-at-school-time if I let it, so I intentionally made time to connect with my kids. I often took them out to breakfast before school for something special. I wanted to be fully present as much as I could with them. I may not have had cookies for them when they come home from school, but we often stopped for a hot pretzel at our favorite diner after school.
Give your kids responsibilities and have an organizational system that meets your family’s needs. For us it was an erasable calendar and shoe bins. Each child had their own drawer in a plastic tub for shoes and whatever shoes they needed for sports went in there, along with anything else that was theirs. With kids at different ages and stages, having spots where everyone knows where things are can be essential. Give your kids ownership, too, because it just helps them and you.
Have a cooking day and put meals in the freezer. For me, this is the best investment of time. In three to four hours on a Saturday, I can have up to twenty-five meals (a lot of casseroles) in the freezer. I also cook multiple portions of things when cooking a regular meal. If I’m cooking one pound of hamburger, I’ll cook a few more pounds and put the extra meat in freezer bags for quick meals. You can do the same for rice, pasta, etc. I have casseroles thaw during the day to stick it in the oven once I get home.
Do laundry during the week. With four kids from high school to preschool, I was often overwhelmed on Saturdays trying to do laundry, go to sporting events, and get the house picked up. I bought a divided clothes hamper and started laundry on Tuesday nights and would do a couple of loads a night. Each of our kids has their own laundry basket that folded clothes go in. By Friday, all laundry is done, in the kids’ baskets, and they are sent to put their clothes away. Once our kids turn 5, it’s their responsibility to put their own clothes away. For us, this works.
Above all else, find what works for you. None of these suggestions may work for you, but it’s what’s worked for us. Find what works for you and your self-care. Take time to take care of yourself. It might be a morning cup of coffee in a room by yourself on the weekend, or an early bedtime for the kids so you can have some quiet time. You’ll need time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty for taking it.
Do you have a copy of Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All? This is a glimpse of one of the chapters. If you don’t, get it here!
Dear Lord, help me to find the things that work the best for me as I work either in or out of the home. Equip me to find the practical needs in my house that will help me have time with my family and personal rest. Thank you for taking care of me.