Balancing the big three—work, children and a social life—for moms today is an arduous task.
Working moms struggle daily to keep their heads above water, and far too often it becomes difficult to keep it together. Sure, it’s one thing to be making an income, but without the proper strategy, and kids in the house, that money can disappear in the blink of an eye with nothing to show for it. It’s also necessary to carve out time for the kids because they depend on mom for support, guidance, and love.
Don’t worry you bread-winning moms, there are easy ways to balance the big three and keep a little extra sanity saved up for when you really need it. Do this: prioritize. Keeping the kids involved with your strategies can make your day easier and provide excellent family time.
Make a budget and look at how much you spend per month. Starting with utilities and ending with credit cards, find ways to eliminate frill spending. Practice energy efficiency with the kids by having them turn lights out when they leave a room or showing them ways to conserve water. Make a game of it. If you see too many card statements from Chuck E. Cheese’s, have fun helping your kids make their own customized pizzas from
fresh ingredients found at your local supermarket. Work on keeping a savings account stocked with the equivalent of at least six-months salary on hand for emergencies.
There are hundreds of little ways to stretch a dollar that do not require too much time or effort. Clipping coupons and reading the sale papers could earn you huge savings on big-ticket items. Have the children help. Look for budget brands like Great Value, Kroger, and other store-based brands compared to name-brands. It’s not easy telling the kids that they can’t have their favorite snacks, so find what they like in the cheaper
Go bargain shopping at Goodwill, army surplus stores and yard sales. The kids will find treasures to keep forever and you’ll save big on clothes and accessories.
Save Through Teamwork
Kids like helping mom. After a long day at work, the last thing a mom wants to do is clean up the house and do a sink-full of old dishes. Make games of the chores—it will save time and money. Let them know you appreciate their hard work, but try not to use the “w” word. Instead, sing songs about drying the dishes and putting things in their place and the kids will never know they’re actually contributing.
Find Child-Care That Works for You
Working moms can’t be there all the time, so finding the right kind of child-care is crucial. It is in your best interest to know your work’s sick-care policy for those unexpected illnesses—they can and will happen when it’s least convenient. Ask your boss up front about flexibility in your schedule. It never hurts to know where you stand.
Let your extended family help out with babysitting if that’s a possibility. Also, there are baby-sitting co-ops and rotating child-care communities that will often pool together resources and provide free child care. Some states offer child-care jobs. West Virginia’s wvtreasury.com mentions:
A child in the 8-to-12 year old range may be able to volunteer or get a job as a “mother’s helper” for a stay-at-home or work-at-home parent who would be glad for the break. This will ensure they are being cared for after school while learning valuable skills. Children 13 years or older may want to take a local Red Cross babysitting course and get an after-school babysitting job for younger children, or work as a counselor in an after school program or daycare. They’ll earn extra money and get valuable experience.
Finally, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs offer inexpensive and sometimes free child care programs ranging from infant care to after school care.
Take a Breather
You should never stretch yourself too thin—you’ll burn out and lose focus. Budget in a monthly pamper session for yourself, and be sure to schedule a sitter and hit the town (or throw a garden party) with the girls. A little recharge is important.
Get the kids involved with physical fitness, encourage the kids to get fit with you and make healthy life choices. For console game-friendly homes, break out the WiiSports and play some tennis, bowling, or boxing with the kids. You’ll have fun and exercise at the same time.
Finally, don’t compare yourself to other moms—carve your own path and find what works best for your kids, your budget, and your life. Just slow down and live in the moment every now and then. Balancing work and kids can get overwhelming, so pace yourself.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a website dedicated to helping working moms alleviate debt with the best balance transfer cards .