Nothing can quite drain Sunday of its joy like the sinking realization that tomorrow is Monday. Sigh. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some tried and tested parenting and organization hacks to help you prepare for the work week ahead and say goodbye to that anxious Sunday feeling. After all, Sunday makes up half of your weekend and if anyone’s earned a break from stress, it’s you.
Let’s take a look at the most common causes of stress that working parents experience over a work week and some top tips for managing them.
In today’s world, it can be challenging to remember your own schedule and commitments, never mind those of your family members. Your brain will continually cycle through all the things you mustn’t forget, sapping you of energy and raising your stress levels. It’s no wonder you get that sinking feeling in your stomach on a Sunday afternoon.
So what can you do?
- Create a visible family calendar in an accessible place where you can enter in weekly commitments and other appointments. Be sure to keep it up to date. Having this information written down immediately frees up valuable mental space.
- Looking at your weekly schedule, you might decide to make some changes, rearrange or even cancel certain commitments to allow for a calmer week — and a calmer you.
- You will also be able to spot open “pockets” of time that can be useful for increasing your efficiency in other areas or for grabbing some much-needed rest.
The morning rush
Do you feel behind on time before you even climb out of bed? Do you feel like you’re managing a small circus getting yourself and your little ones dressed, fed and ready to go? Often the key to a calmer morning is what happens the night before.
Here are some ideas that have helped many working moms handle their mornings during the week.
- Get enough quality sleep so that waking up on time is easier. Healthy sleep hygiene can make a world of difference.
- Prepare clothes for the next day the night before. If your toddler is picky, let them make their own choices. They’ll be less likely to fight you in the morning.
- Pack everyone’s bag with any specific gear they will need for the following day. Toddler swim class? Check!
- Plan breakfast (even if it’s cereal) the night before.
- Carve out a morning routine that is calm and don’t forget to allow for some margin (you know, unexpected diaper changes, a toddler meltdown at breakfast, etc.)
Maybe your heart sinks when you realize that there will be seven evenings of trying to figure out dinner and lunches as the new week approaches. You know that after each long day at work, you are tired, your little ones are irritable and being home doesn’t feel as sweet as it should.
Try these tips for taking the stress out of mid-week meals.
- Keep meals simple.
- Meal planning, even jotting down some ideas can make a huge difference to your dinner prep. Some parents plan a two-week repetitive cycle of meals so that grocery shopping is simple.
- Batch cooking can be your best friend. Double up on recipes and know that dinner is sorted out for two nights instead of one – highly recommended for meals your toddler loves.
- Outsource help; dinner at the grandparents’ once a week? What a treat! Many working parents enjoy an evening of takeout once a week. If you can afford it, why not? Maybe your partner loves to cook, wonderful, hand them the apron!
- Try to prep and pack lunches for the next day while dinner is being sorted out, this will make it feel less like an extra chore.
Chores and Housework
Laundry. Kids toys — everywhere. The grocery shopping. If your heart rate has just increased, there’s a good chance some of these tips might help you handle chores and housework while balancing work and a family. Yes, it is possible. No, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Using your weekly schedule, identify quieter days and plan your chores accordingly. Many working parents are able to maximize the efficiency of their lunch break to grab some groceries (online or in store).
- You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in just 15 minutes a day. Select one area of your home for each day of the week and spend 15 minutes cleaning/tidying/organizing.
- Less stuff to tidy and manage makes for a calmer home and a calmer mom.
- Set up the timer on your washer/dryer so that laundry can happen while you sleep.
- Ask for help! Share the cleaning load with your family. It’s never too early to introduce a toddler to chores – in fact, they love it! If you can afford outsourcing some cleaning help so that your home gets a deep clean once or twice a month, go for it!
Spend some time thinking through the elements of your work week that cause the most stress and choose a couple of ideas to implement at first. Try to attach these new habits to existing ones in order to help them “stick.” Then, as you start to see progress, you can add in a couple more. It might take some time to get into a new groove but when that Sunday comes around and you wake up smiling, it’ll be so worth it!