I’m a single (divorced) working mum,
My children are currently 12 and 14 now, I went back to work when my son was 6 months old and worked pretty much up to when I went into labour with my second.
I have been an entrepreneur since I was 19, – I’ve been divorced 2 years and came back from living abroad for 6 years in France with my ex-husband in 2011. I had to reinvent myself on my return and I now have 3 companies
- www.marvel.plumbing (NW London Jewish Princess who has a plumbing company – 9 plumbers, 4 apprentices and 2 full time office staff – Who’d have thunk it!)
- www.thebackoffice.eu helping small businesses grow with systems, automation and marketing
- www.maddapps.io a software company that was born from the Back Office – Infusionsoft scripts/plugins.
When returned to work when my first born was 6 months old, and I was still married I had a nanny that would take my son 3 days a week. When my second was born, I had an au pair.
I don’t have any childcare now and no family support either. I find that the key to being able to juggle everything is ….. organisation (course it is!).
Now I’m not a ‘naturally’ organised person and I have the memory of a goldfish – a baby brain that never recovered, (some would say I had always suffered from it – baby’s irrelevant.) But I’m terribly good at organising other people and seeing what would work for them. So, I spent a little thought time, looking at what I do and what I should be doing – and what I would consider the optimum solutions.
My top tips:
- Systems, which if I don’t religiously stick to, it pretty much all goes pear shaped – shared diaries with my ex-husband, children and colleagues. Everything from my school pickup times, parent’s evenings, days the kids have swimming and dog walks go in here.
- Planning & Routine putting proper quality time in for my kids so that they can have my undivided attention rather than ‘I’ll be there in a minute’
Planning meals and including the children in what they want, saves a lot of grief at meal times and means that when I do the shopping I get exactly what I need.
Planning outings together and sticking to them, everyone having their turn.
Routine Knowing which nights we have late pickup after drama – that’s takeaway night!
- Preparation – ensure that as much stuff is done in advance as possible. The school uniform, sports kits, homework – all packed and ready the night before. Show the children how they can be responsible without it being too much of a chore. If they want clean sports kit, they are responsible for putting it in the basket, and I’ll take it from there.
- Participation – get the kids doing helpful stuff, emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, taking out the rubbish, feeding the dogs.
- Setting Expectations and communication- Make sure that my kids know what’s going on, keeping them in the know means that they know what to expect and when.
- Support, I have a cleaner and a dog walker and make sure in my business that I’m using my time as effectively as possible, with support and (you guessed it) systems. Asking other parents to pick up occasionally if work is going to run over is essential.
- Online shopping!! Shopping outings are reserved as activities with the kids rather than schlepping round the supermarket for essentials. Amazon is my best friend!
- Reminders – having my alarm go off on my phone for appointments or that thing I swear I will remember ……. I don’t take that risk (as I know I always forget). Weekly reminders to top up the kids oyster cards or lunch cards. Monthly reminders ….. etc.
- Invest in yourself. Whether it be cinema, gym lunch/coffee with a friend, getting your nails done or a cheesecake.
- Learn to say NO – Don’t overwhelm yourself – don’t push yourself too far that you’re a wreck – Don’t be such a super hero that you turn down help because you must shoulder it all , don’t over compensate with the children because you feel you’re not a full time mum and say yes to their every demand.Being an expert in automation helps to make sure that I’m not repeatedly doing the same tasks over and over. Finding the right systems that work for me is essential too. My office manager swears by writing out his list and drawing his own little check boxes – I just end up with scraps of paper all over the place and about 6 notebooks on the go and never find the one with the notes in it I need!! For me it’s all digital, I have it wherever I go on whatever device I have with me. Having been a geek for 25 years helps I think
Now the above are tips, and I by no means manage to achieve all of them all the time, but without them as a guide lines I wouldn’t stand a chance!
(no children or animals were harmed in the writing of this blog)