How To Lighten the Load for Working Parents

Life in the past three months has been pretty hectic.  I’ve returned to work full time in my day job as a PA in London, after 14 months maternity leave.  Henry has started attending nursery full time.  Alfie has gone back to full time, after reducing to one day a week, and then three days a week whilst I was off work.  You may have read my post about a week in the life of a full time working mum, and how busy we are as a family right now – well things have gone and got even busier!  In the last three months we’ve had to deal with preparing Alfie for starting school, and all the settling sessions, parent/teacher meetings that come with that; preparing Alfie for his surgery next month which involves having his tonsils and adenoids removed, and his grommets put in; and Craig having a heart episode which has resulted in further tests and therefore is always at the back of our minds until a formal diagnosis is made.  Therefore I’ve decided that I need to learn how to lighten the load.

We desperately need a break, together as a family, but due to all the various school/hospital/holiday related reasons, we have no annual leave together at all this year apart from one day for Alfie’s birthday.  The next time we’ll actually spend some together other than a weekend is Christmas.

So to say things are stressful right now is a bit of an understatement.  I’m trying not to let it get on top of me, and find some ways to lighten the load and ease the stress a bit in the coming months.  I hate moaning, especially about lack of time because it is what it is and everyone is dealing with their own problems.  But I’m also acutely aware that things start to fall apart when I start to fall apart, so for the sake of keeping the ship running, here are some things I can be doing to keep organised and on top of things as we run in to a few busy months:

  • Hire a cleaner: this is often suggested to me as a way to help with the housework, but I’m on the fence for two reasons. Firstly, the cost.  I’m not sure we can afford it just yet, but possibly when Alfie starts school and his childcare costs reduce.  Secondly, finding the right one!  I have friends who have gone through lots of different cleaners because they just don’t do the job to their expectations. I’m not particularly a clean freak, but I think if I’m paying for a job, I will expect it to be done properly.  If we were to look for a cleaner, I would use a household staff agency to ensure the right person is recruited.
  • Have a nanny: This isn’t something I had previously thought about due to cost, but it would definitely reduce the amount of childcare headaches we have when it comes to child illness and school holidays.  We love the boys nursery and are certain that a nursery was the right choice for us for a number of reasons.  However, I can’t deny that having a dedicated nanny to look after the boys would definitely make our lives a bit easier and run a bit smoother.  We could even go a step further and hire a home help who would also help with housework.
  • Shop online: save your weekends for family time by doing your shopping online during the week.  This is something we currently do, and I think it also helps us to save money as I’m not buying random stuff from the supermarket that I don’t need!
  • Meal planning: I plan our meals every week and always have done, so I know what we’re having every night. I have a meal planner at home so my husband knows what to start cooking if he’s getting dinner ready before I get home from work.  I also try and use my slow cooker as much as possible as it means dinner is done when I get home so no need to worry about cooking! It also means we can get the bedtime routine started earlier and hopefully have some kind of evening together when the kids are in bed.
  • Self care: taking time out to look after yourself is so important when you have a busy lifestyle.  For me, it’s doing some sewing.  It might look like a chore to others, but it’s something I enjoy and that feeling of achievement I get when I create something new is amazing.  I often feel guilty about sewing when I could be doing something else like washing up, but it’s important to take some time for yourself and not feel guilty about it.  It might be having a bath, reading a book or watching your favourite tv show!  You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes!
  • Make lists: I am a massive lover of lists!  Writing things down helps to lighten your mental load and I find having a physical to do list in front of me that I can tick off really helps me to focus.  I have a list a work, a list for home, a list for blogging, a list for future events, lists everywhere!!
  • Do nothing: Some advice I have been given is to do nothing. Try and have one day a week where there is no pressu to go out, to see people, to do “stuff”.  Just have a lie in, laze in your PJs, let the kids play with what they want and just chill with no pressures.  We don’t manage to do this once a week, but I like to do this especially after a particularly busy period and although sometimes it can me feel unproductive, most of the time I really need it!
  • Little and often: doing the chores little and often can really lighten the load of having to do everything all at once.  I try and do a wash every other day, I will sweep and mop the lounge every day, the kitchen is done every night to keep on top of it, and the bathroom is cleaned whilst the kids are having a bath.  Doing these little jobs as we go really helps to decrease the pressure of having a clean house.  Of course, it doesn’t always stay like that, and sometimes things pile up, but I try to keep on top of housework as much as possible.  I’ve recently been recommended The Organised Mum Method of cleaning, so I’m going to look it up and give it a go!
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare: having a full time job means there are no days at home in the week when I can take time to organise for the week ahead, I have to do a little bit every day as I go along.  This means school/nursery bags are packed the night before, lunches are prepared after dinner, slow cookers are put in the fridge to get out first thing in the morning, clothes are ironed the night before…. anything to calm the morning rush is helpful in order to get out of the house on time!
  • Ask for help: this is the biggest and most important way to lighten your load.  Ask someone for help.  Be it your partner, your kids, your family or your friends.  If you need help, ask.  If help is offered, take it.  Don’t be proud, don’t feel like a burden.  Take the help and then pay it forward when you have a chance.  As the saying goes, it takes a village, so find your village and look after it.

What are your top tips for lightening the load of life?

With thanks to my fellow bloggers who contributed to this post:

Me, The Man and the Others

Mummies Waiting

The Incidental Parent

Yammy Mommy

Yorkshire Wonders

Emma Reed

Travel Vixta

The Growing Mum

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Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Beauchamp Partners.

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