Raising kids as a working mum

10 ways to stay sane while rocking it!

I am a happy loving engaged mum when I look after myself. But when I put myself last, that is when the shit starts to hit the fan. Below are my ten key tips for raising happy well-adjusted kids who believe in themselves and feel loved.

  1. Routine – set specific times for key activities and stick to them (e.g. bedtime, mealtimes, screen times). This way everyone knows what to expect and you are not constantly being asked questions such as “can I go on screens?”
  2. Efficiencies. Write lists for your kids to tick off their jobs. This way you don’t have to repeat yourself and it eliminates the need to hear their reaction if it’s not joy. I don’t write to-do lists for them every day (as the kids know their daily jobs) this is more for weekend tasks or travel/activity packing lists. I find it helpful because it is out of my head and the kids like to cross tasks off their list. Another way to create efficiencies is by streamlining the dinner process. My husband and I take turns to decide on the weekly dinner menu (I put it up on the kitchen wall) and I shop online for the groceries. During non-Covid19 times, when the money was more plentiful, I would also pay for a weekly cleaning lady (which was heaven on earth) and we would purchase weekly meal boxes. But alas, that is not my life right now.
  3. It’s a team effort. Make sure that your husband or partner are doing their fair share. Similar to the kids, my husband also needs set regular tasks, otherwise he will happily sit on the couch. Instead I make it clear – everyone must contribute daily i.e. he makes dinner most nights.
  4. I make time for me. Sleep, exercise, and self-care are vital non-negotiables for me. I make sure the kids go to bed at the same time each night – 8pm. My 12yr old reads for a bit, but my 10yr old needs 10hrs sleep each night otherwise he becomes irritable and annoying. More importantly, they go to bed at 8pm each night so that I can get some ‘me time’. Because when I’m well rested I am a 100% happier and a much better mother.
  5. I stay organised. I have daily to-do lists that I steadily work my way through. I try to never procrastinate because that puts me behind and makes me stressed. I finish each workday by writing down my tasks for the following day – so they are not on my mind when I go to bed.
  6. I use positive reinforcing language always. My kids believe what I tell them. They think of themselves as helpful, funny, and lovely because I’m constantly telling them that they are. They then act accordingly. For example, “you are such a great helper”; “I love it when you stack the dishwasher in-order”; “you are the bestest kid in the whole-wide world!”; “thank you for all your help today – I really needed it”; and when I see my child all dressed and ready for school – “look at you all ready – gosh you are perfect!”.
  7. I know my work life balance. I know when I’m most productive and when I’m not. For me that’s 8am-4pm during the week. Out of those hours I switch off work completely and focus on family time. By not having competing work interests, I am free to focus on family adventures and activities. This is what makes our family thrive and its not something that I’m prepared to give up.  
  8. I push away the ‘mummy guilt’. Being a parent comes with so much guilt. I’m sure you know what I mean. I unapologetically push this ‘mummy-guilt’ out of my mind if it ever starts to raise its head. Because otherwise it uses up positive and productive mind space.
  9. I don’t make it hard on myself. This means that I am comfortable with saying ‘no’. For example, not once have I let the kids sleep in my bed (I value my sleep too much). Whatever the kids can do – I get them to. So, no driving my kids to school either. In fact, I make the kids leave early for school so that they can pick up their friends on the way. This burns off extra energy and lets me start work at 8am.
  10. I use the rationale that I want to raise great men. My boys constantly need training and direction. Arguably my husband often does too. Whenever they complain about the number of jobs they have to do. Or when they roll their eyes at my guidance on how to stack the dishwasher, iron a shirt, eat with their mouth closed etc, I just remind them that it’s my job to raise them to be helpful, contributing members of society and that their future girlfriends/wife will thank me. So really, I’m doing them a huge favour and they should be eternally grateful.

At the end of the day we are all just doing the best we can. As long as we are not raising monsters who chew with their mouth open – then I think we are winning!