I’m about to return to work after taking the last 15 months off to be a stay at home mom (SAHM) with my son. I’ve returned to teaching in a preschool classroom, and I was fortunate enough to get my son in the same child care center! It’s nice to have him close by. When I run into his teachers in the break room, they let me know how he’s been that day, and I feel so lucky to have that.
Being a working mom is new to me. I’ve had busy schedules before, I even spent 6 years working 30 hours a week while being in school full time (and one of those years I was also planning a wedding!) But nothing compares to this!
These are the things I’ve been doing to help the transition to working again. If you have any working mom tips, please let me know! I can use all the help I can get!
CHORES & HOUSEWORK HELP
I’m a pretty organized person and I’m great at planning (*pat* *pat* that’s the sound of me patting myself on the back). So I already had a chore plan for myself. For example, I clean the upstairs bathrooms on Tuesdays, change the sheets on Wednesdays, etc. I live in a house with my husband, father-in-law, a toddler and 2 pets, and for the last 15 months, I have been doing 95% of the chores.
Before I return to work I knew that that MUST change. So I sat down with my husband and FIL and we evenly split the chores up. I typed that all up on a calendar, printed it out, and they’ve been great about doing their fair share.
If you’re a working mom and do not share your chores or use a chore board, you need to start! It’s not fair for parents that both work to not both do chores.
As a SAHM I would get tired of being with my son 24/7 and cooking dinner was my “me” time. I also enjoy cooking, so I would pass off my son when my husband got home, pour a glass of wine and spend an hour making a lovely dinner.
That much cooking time is now a luxury saved for weekends! But I still believe that delicious and healthy home-cooked food is important and I refuse to succumb to frozen/canned/delivery dinners more than a couple times a month. So these are the things I’m doing to help make that busy weeknight dinner happen.
I’m sure by now you’ve seen commercials for services like Blue Apron. We tried a couple of those services when we had coupons. It was really helpful during busy weeks when we were moving. I like to pride myself on being a good chef with tricks up my sleeve, but Blue Apron really did teach me some great easy tricks, with some tasty food.
Unfortunately, there are no food delivery services for our family size: 3 adults and a toddler. Most are 2 adults & 2 kids for the family plans. If it’s in your budget, I recommend it. (Definitely look around for coupons; you can find some as high at 60% off for your first box!)
A food delivery we have sworn by for years is our CSA, or produce delivery. Look up one in your area since they’re locally based, but once a week we get a box of fresh in-season and organic produce, for not much more than I would be spending in the grocery store. It’s a great way to get us to try new foods and helps guide my menu planning when I feel stumped.
You guys, this is a must. I denied it for a long time when I was working and in school because I thought “I like to see what I’m craving on the day.” But you know what? On the day it doesn’t matter what I’m craving. When I’m exhausted from a busy day I don’t want to come up with something fun to cook, so I’m just gonna make spaghetti for the third time this week. Or worse, frozen pizza.
There are a lot of blog posts out there on menu/meal planning, with different methods. Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas (this is my personal Pinterest, so I’m not trying to promote anything, just help some fellow mama’s out!)
Another popular item on Pinterest: freezer meals. I started doing this when I was in school full time and working almost full time, and it’s an absolute life saver. Every 3 months I’ll choose 3-5 things to make an excessive amount of. Freeze it, and we’re good for many meals.
This most recent time I enlisted the help of my husband and father-in-law. In about 4 hours we made chili, meatballs, enchiladas, and egg rolls. All in all, we made about 30 meals for 3 adults and 1 toddler, for about $150. That comes out to $1.25/person! Not to mention how wonderfully easy it will be on those nights when we just don’t feel like cooking.
KEEPING IT FUN WITH MY CHILD
With such limited time with my son now, I don’t want to waste any of it setting up elaborate Pinterest ideas. So when Julie of Little Learners Kits reached out to me to test one of their kits out, I said absolutely, perfect timing!
(Note: I received a Little Learner Kit to review, but my opinions are my own.)
Little Learner Kits is a subscription box. Every 3 months you get a box of educational and fun things to do with your child that are age appropriate. I received the 13-15-month-old box.
What you get
I wasn’t sure what to expect in the box, and I was pleasantly surprised with the value for the money. The first thing that jumped out to my little book worm was the book, of course, followed by the puzzle. There were tons of little activities like stickers, paint brushes (with water) and paper, and animal cards.
The theme of the 13-15 month kit (farm animals) was perfect for my son right now because he’s currently obsessed with pigs. He seems to find them in all books and squeal at them. So when he finally noticed the pig face game, he was all about it. The stickers were also a hit, and a fabulous way to develop his fine motor skills. I’ve been wanting to play with stickers with him since putting that on my list of 100+ things to do with a one-year-old.
As the parent and teacher, I love the cards of activities provided. It’s easy to take each item at face value (ie: it’s a book, read it. It’s a puzzle, put the pieces where they go) but the activity cards get your thinking outside the box. On the back of each activity card is an explanation of why this type of activity is beneficial.
All in all, this seems like something I would put together myself in a busy box. Only, I don’t have to work for it! We’ve had the kit for nearly a month now and we’re still enjoying the goodies from it, and working through the activities.
So here’s the down low if you’d like to sign up. The kits range from $35-$39, depending on how far in advance you subscribe. Shipping is included! Which is great since these boxes are huge.
But here’s the best part! Sign up in the next 2 weeks (before April 9th, 2017), and use the code “PLAYFUL17” to get 15% off!
That’s as low as $29.75 each, which is a great deal for what’s in the kit.
Head on over to Little Learner Kits, and don’t forget the code!
I recommend these kits to anyone that loves doing activities with their children but doesn’t always have the time/energy/creativity to come up with new things to do. This would also make a fabulous gift, especially baby-shower gift!
There are other little things I’ve been doing to prepare myself to return to work; like packing our bags the night before, using my Stylebook app to plan my outfits, and carpooling with my husband.
But the most important “little thing” is still my son. Although I’m loving working again, and I can see that his teacher are wonderful and loving him while he’s away from me, I still miss him all day. So it’s important to me to make the most out of our time we have together. I put away my phone now, and I focus on him. I spend the least amount of time I can on chores, cooking and prepping activities, and I’m more present with my son.
When time is this precious, I can use all the help and tricks I can get. What are your working mom tips?