Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unflappable Working Moms- Tips for Work-Life Balance but is Balance the right word ?

Michelle Slatalla is one of my favorite writers. She did a wonderful lifestyle column in the New York Times Sunday Fashion and Style section.
Her writing is sharp ,witty and direct.

She wrote an excellent article under Life Lessons for Real Simple last year and I kept a copy for future pep reads! Whenever I feel the backward slide coming on I read this for a focus reminder.
Here are her tips for staying sane despite the chaos.

10 secrets of an Unflappable Working Mom.

Do Work at Home;Do Work at Home.

You need to accomplish a certain number of things during a 24 hour period. Where you complete those tasks is beside the point;you just need to check them off the list in order to free up time for the things you want to do. Pedicures come to mind. And reading.So go ahead:pay your bills at the office during your lunch hour and check your work email at home while you are waiting for the kids to show up at the table.

Juggle Strategically

 Sure,try to accomplish A and B and C simultaneously,but don't do it all by yourself.Instead get A to accomplish B,so you can take credit for C. For Instance,I like to sit at the kitchen table and work on a laptop next to child of mine doing algebra. While A does worksheets(and I can write my own column),she is being mothered by me. Also, I can change gears fast to google the"quadratic equation" if A gets stuck. Child aces her math class, I meet my deadline.Score two points for the working mom.

Make your Home Office a Command Center

Those pesky experts say that to get any work done at home, you have to be cordoned off in a room far away from anyone who can nag you. This makes me wonder how many experts have children. Instead figure our which location in the center of your house provides some privacy, while reminding everyone that you are a presence to be reckoned with. From this spot, you should be able to stir a pot of simmering soup or assist with a history project that involves the use of glitter(by nixing the glitter).

Ignore the Latest Parental Fear Mongering Literature.

I don't want to catch you reading anything with a title like, Either I should be Drinking More or Less Chardonnay Out of Sippy Cups at Work and Home.
Instead stick to the classics that remind us, with great wit,what we like about this business of being an adult with a complex life. For example, Shirley Jackson's raising Demons will help you decided whether it's more fulfilling to spend the weekend doing housework or playing cards with the neighbors(Hint: think mixed nuts and drinks over a few rounds of bridge).

Getting Out The Door in The Morning(without anyone in tears) is The Only Thing You Have To Achieve Before 8:30am.

Stop trying to organize everything Your only goals are the leave the house looking good and without your first grader sobbing because she hates getting dressed in the morning. If that means you put her to bed in her school clothes to avoid a 7am tantrum, I think you're a genius.

Arm Yourself With Secret Weapons

Mine include a ream of copy paper( hide it on your underwear drawer so no one can cut it up into snowflakes), an instant thermometer, and emergency high heels( stash in the car)

Go With Your Gut, And Don't Second Guess It Later

If you've spent days preparing for a meeting that starts in and hour and the school nurse calls to report a painful,though not hospital worthy monkey bar injury,there's no one right thing to do, On any given day,your instinct might be to skip the meeting. Or suggest that the nurse apply an ice pack and send Shorty back to class. make a snap decision and then-this is key- don't question it later. Let it go. Really,I mean it.

Leave Your Kids( And The Stories About Them At Home).
While I'm sure your coworkers love hearing about Sophie's Ballet recital or poison ivy, you can keep them begging for more by limiting updates on family life to one per week(unless your kid gets a perfect score on his SAT, in which case keep the good news to yourself forever). Remember -bragging about your kids is what family parties are for.

Don't Obsess Over Things No One Will Remember in Five Years

Come 2015 no one,not even you will still be angry at the PTA that insisted on scheduling meetings during the workday.Or that your child was the last holdout against potty training at preschool. I learned this from a nursery school director names Susie Meisler. She used to peel screaming 3 year olds off their parents, carry them into her office and call over her shoulder to fretting parents. "Get a cup of coffee. Everything will be fine" Susie was right.

Stop Thinking of Yourself as Split into Separate but Equal Roles: Mother,Worker,Me.

Listen to philosopher John Locke, who said that a person recognizes himself as the same being throughout his life, in different time and places. You are one person, indivisible,who just happens to wear many hats. And while I get that weight of all those hats can wear you down, at least be happy you've got something important to do.

Photos courtesy Istockphotos

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