Saturday, January 4, 2014

10 Tips for Jen...and All Other Moms Out There Returning to Work

Today my friend, former boss, and uber Urban Mom, Jen, posted this Facebook post:

I started to respond to her plea but after three comments in a row, I thought it might be better to post them all here for her... and all of you other mommies out there returning to the 9-5 world.

Now, in no way am I pretending to be an expert in this whole working mom thing, but after 10 years of leading two lives, I think I know a thing or two about a thing or two:

1. Make sure there are always ready-to-eat snacks in your kitchen, our favorites being applesauce, cheese strings, cut up fruit and veggies, and cooked chicken. I'm sure this is not news to any of you.

2. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day... and not just because of the food. Those 20 minutes in the morning are when forgotten notes are signed, end-of-day plans are finalized, inappropriate clothing is changed, and sick eyes are noticed and addressed... thus avoiding the dreaded lunchtime call that you need to pick up your feverish child; a call that is both guilt-ridden, shameful, and (let's face it) inconvenient.

3. If a meal has three of the four food groups in it and one of them is a fruit or veggie, you're doing ok.

4. Have a regular one-on-one "date" with each of your kids. It could be once a week, like hot chocolate after skating lessons, or once a month, like McDonald's after the orthodontist. Believe me when I tell you that your kids will remember those times more than all those time you walked them home from school. For real.

5. Now that your days and nights are busier, I find the first casualty are your friends. We feel guilty leaving our kids at night especially now that we're not around during the day anymore. Have a regular one-on-one "date" with your friends. I've been going out for dinner with my best friends once a month for the last ten years. My kids know it, my husband knows it, and no one ever gives me z hard time about it. 

6. Get enough sleep. Tired mommies are crankier, have less energy, and tend to eat more unhealthy food. And then you get less done, feel crappier, get overtired and stay up too late again, and the cycle continues. Set a good example for your kids: have a reasonable, regular bedtime.

7. Set the responsibility bar higher for your kids; they'll rise to it. When my son told me his braces broke, I responded by telling him to call the orthodontist. He did. And made his own appointment. And took the bus there and back on his own. Yay, Billy!

8. Be prepared to shift from "clean" to "clean enough." I fully accept that between September and June, my house become exponentially more cluttered. As soon as school's out for summer, we clean the whole house out, attempt to get more organized, and then in the September, the whole process starts again.

9. No matter how busy you are, whether you're at work or not, if your kid says he wants to talk to you about something, stop whatever it is and listen.

10. Make these cookies for breakfasts, lunches, and dessert. They're easy, fast, yummy, and crazy-healthy:

2 mushy bananas
1 cup of oats
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1 egg white
2 tsp brown sugar
Handful of chocolate chips

Mush the bananas into a paste
Mix in everything else
Drop by the tablespoon onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet
Bake @375 for 12 minutes.
Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then eat.

What other tip do you have for Jen?

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