5 Tips for Working Moms to Survive the Back-to-School Hustle

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Yinz. Last week was a complete whirlwind for this working mom. I was away at a work training and came back to realize all the things need to be done to get into the back-to-school hustle. Ava and Isla will be starting next week and the Bigs go back after Labor Day. Time has flown this summer!

Luckily, after reading these tips for working moms to survive the back-to-school hustle, I feel like I am ahead of my mom game. For instance, we already ordered all the clothes online, they just need to make it to the dressers (or the laundry pile in our guest room). And I’m learning to stop saying sorry (at work, too) and know that I won’t be able to be everything to everyone (which yes does sometimes include my kids).

One thing I’m working on in the last few days of summer break is preparing for some moments now by writing my kids notes ahead of time. My hope is that I can just drop them in their backpacks when appropriate.

Check out the guest post below for a few more tips for more on how you can survive the back-to-school hustle then comment which is your favorite OR share your tips!

5 Tips for Working Moms to Survive the Back-to-School Hustle

back-to-school hustle

from Holly Caplan, author

From the moment my daughter got out of school in May to the end of July, was a complete blur. It was a blur of summer camp, work, travel, deadlines, proposals and pool parties.  The fact that she was going back to school in three weeks had not occurred to me. When it did, I panicked. Where did the time go? I frantically realized I had no idea what day school started and had to ask another mom. I got a brisk answer of  “August 20th,” which I like to call the “working mom fail” response. The guilt of not knowing when my child starts 2nd grade and feeling completely overwhelmed set in. Where do I begin? I’ve got to sign her up for fall activities, get a new backpack, lunchbox, some new clothes and also manage my job, meetings, travel and various work expectations. As working moms I think we feel there is no easy way to do all of this and keep a clear head and stay on task, but I have found five great tips for surviving back to school as a working mom:

1.    Order Online:
Spare yourself the hustle of shopping. No need to throw everyone in the car in 100-degree heat to head to your favorite retail super store, fend off the kiddos requests for toys and candy while back-to-school shopping. It is not worth it. Modern technology allows us the ability to order online for backpacks, clothing and supplies. Think of the time and energy you will save by sitting on your couch and checking some boxes and swiping “check out”. This also applies to grocery shopping too, which is becoming more and more common. Download the app for Shipt or Amazon Prime and let them do the grocery shopping for you. Do it a day or two before school starts. The kids can make their requests so they get to put some creativity into their lunchbox choices.  Other positives are that it isn’t expensive to shop online and it saves money because you avoid over-buying in a store.

(Bonus ‘lil Burghers tip? Check out Instacart to save $ and hours on local grocery delivery! Join here and get $10 off your first delivery.)

2.    Let the Laundry Lie:
Where does your laundry lie? Mine sits on a bed in the guest room.
Clean, yet unfolded. But clean. The point here is, let your laundry lie. It is okay to let some things slip during back -to -school time. You will have so much on your plate as it is, don’t let the mundane domestic stuff get to you. Not having every thing completed or accomplished around the house is okay. You will not get a ticket or a fine for letting some things in the household fall behind. Give yourself permission to know that it is okay if you don’t get everything done. It is completely normal, and you will eventually catch up.

Truth: This is what the ‘lil Burghers’ laundry looks like as of today!

3.    Get Your Routine Back:
In the summer our routines are typically off. As I mentioned, it can feel like a complete blur when so much is going on.  Activities, camp and work will run you, instead of you running them. No shock there. Bringing structure and school back into your life can be a struggle, but welcome it because it brings the return of normalcy.  Give yourself a cushion returning to the routine by practicing earlier bedtimes and waking times week before school starts. This will get us parents and kids back on schedule. Also, create a family calendar with upcoming school activities and your work schedule to make sure that all planets are aligned, and if not, this gives you time to create a family management strategy.

Guess that means no more “sleepovers” and flashlight story-reading at 10:00!

4.    Be Guilt Free:
I think the hardest thing about being a working mom during back -to -school is missing school events.  The hallmarks of the beginning of the school year like Fall Festival or Meet the Teacher are big events for the kids. Missing them can make you feel disconnected from their little lives and the guilt can take over. This is also difficult because you miss the chance to meet other parents and classmates at these events. You start to feel like a constant outsider because you are the mom who isn’t around enough. Don’t beat yourself up or hold yourself to an impossible standard. Know that you are doing everything that you can to accommodate both school and work and that you are still present in your kids lives, even when you can’t physically be with them.

5.    Connect with other working moms:
I have a lot of wonderful friends who are stay- at -home moms. They tend to keep me grounded and I rely on them a lot for my sanity.  Working mom friends can be super supportive too because they are most likely experiencing the same emotions and situations. For overall complaining, coping and time management ideas your working mom friends will happily listen and help you.  In addition, their schedules will most likely parallel yours, so for all of those 2:30 play dates you have missed, you can now do play dates on schedules that accommodate the work day. The silver lining here is that you get to solidify strong relationships with other women who will stand by you when you need support.

Managing back-to-school time will never be perfect or fool proof, but working outside of the home can bring on some added stress. It is a balancing act that can cause disruption as you get adjusted to the new school year and schedules. Know that you are not alone, and we are all muddling through it together.

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Holly Caplan is a mom, workplace issues expert, career coach and author. For more information, please visit her website and connect with her on Twitter, @hollymcaplan.

7 Years 4 Months 8 Days

…and it is time to start a new chapter in my life. After 7 years, 4 months, and 8 days, my last day with my (current) employer is tomorrow.

I think you can tell I (currently) work for a major grocery retailer here in Pittsburgh. What you might not know is that in my time there in the IT Department, I have done (and learned) so many things…

Retail Support Inventory
Quality Assurance
Process Improvement
Measurement and Reporting
Chargeback
Salesforce Administration
Technology Service Desk
Business Analysis
Project Server
Service Now

And through all that, I learned what I liked about each role. Somewhere in the middle, my heart went and fell hard for Salesforce. Over the past few years, I’ve continued to support the tool while taking on what felt like three more jobs. I didn’t realize how this made me feel until another opportunity to admin the tool for another company came around.

It’s bittersweet, leaving something I’ve known for so long, but I will be just fine in my new role at my new employer. I did it before…leaving teaching and starting this path.

It’s exciting and motivating…and time to start focusing on my growth and health again, too. I’ve missed this girl…but I know she’s hiding in there with a big smile. What’s more…my kids have missed her…and two didn’t even know that version of me.

Happy. Healthy. Hungry for success. That girl.

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What have you started new lately? How did it feel? How did it turn out?

Mother Tucker

Caught your attention, huh? Mother Tucker.

My recent weight-struggles have kind of made me curse similar words lately. As a mom who is still in her 4th Trimester (shh, I know it’s been 6 months, but this trimester’s going to last awhile for me), my “new body” has a habit of catching attention. My butt’s back. And my chest. But then in between, there’s a saggy tummy with a lovely hernia sag.

As you can tell, there’s tons of reasons why baby five is out of the question if you get my drift.

Ok, enough self-hate and let’s get some self-love going on around here. I’ve found a way to sort of tame my tummy and thighs when I’m wearing the skirts and dresses to hide all my lovely lady lumps. Hello to the Mother Tucker Shorties from Belly Bandit.

The Mother Tucker Shorties aren’t the fat sucking contraptions I used to wear as a teen. They are comfortable. They stay put and don’t roll up (or down). They don’t require wiggling and waggling and rolling on my bed to pull up. And they haven’t been tucked in my purse midday because they feel good all day long. (Admit it. We’ve all done this, ladies.)

Have they done much to skinny down my thighs? Not yet, but they sure do contain all the wiggly parts that I am most self-conscious about post-babies. They’ve upped my confidence, and that in itself is a win.

I’d caution you that if you pair the Shorties with a shorter skirt, you might catch yourself sitting un-ladylike because you feel like you have shorts on. You can’t tell me that I am the only “lady” who didn’t practice crossing her legs growing up because it was too uncomfortable, right? (Now the keep ’em together and sweep to the side of my ankles? Yeah, I’ve got that.) Oops. At least as far as I know I haven’t flashed anyone yet.

Mother Tucker Shorties
Photo From: BellyBandit.com

I wanted to show you the shorties, but I’m still working hard at looking good like that ^ again! 😉 

If you are a new mom (heck, aren’t all moms really “new” at this motherhood stuff because it’s all new every day?), what makes you most frantic about getting back into your routine? Is it trading in the yoga pants for skirts (like me)? Leaving baby with a caregiver? Making and keeping friends post-baby? Let’s be sure we’re connected on social media (TwitterFacebook) and talking about how we can tackle this motherhood thing together.

And if that means me asking you if my butt looks too big in a skirt, I am perfectly fine with you saying ‘Yes, honey. Go put on your Mother Tucker Shorties.’ (You can get your own pair at www.bellybandit.com)

 

mothertucker

 

*articles may contain affiliate links*

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Monday Momday

Yeah. It’s a Monday Momday. I didn’t mistype. And it was a well played one, too.

After a mini hiatus from social media to recharge and enjoy some time with my family over the weekend, I had grand plans to take Monday by the horns.

I woke up early and fed the girls then went back to sleep until 7:15. My coffee was piping hot and my computer ready to go. (I’ve been working from home more often to help with the girls’ weight gain.) Things went beautifully as I checked lots off my to do list (probably because my Outlook is broken and I had to rely on the Web app).

Lunchtime came and went before I knew it, so I took an early afternoon bike ride instead of eating. Things went downhill from here.

While on my bike ride, a passenger in a van yelled that my “fat ass is making the tires go flat”. And? They were. I was about a mile from my house and could have walked the bike down the hill and used my mom’s van to go back home but I didn’t. I rode those going flat tires back home with burning tears in my eyes.

Have I gained weight? Yes. I had twins and was on no extra activity for a year. That’s not easy on one’s body. I’m slowly starting back, but cautious for the girls’ nutrition. But that hurt.

So I got home and told Greg about it. He told me to shake it off (maybe even sang a little T Swizzle) and that I am beautiful. I went to change out of my sweaty clothes and couldn’t get out of them because they were too tight. Pretty much broke me there.

But, I had to finish working, so I did. And when I was done? Put the 4 kids to a nap (shhh, it was 530!) and had a good cry in the shower shower. Isla, of course, woke as I was dressing. This was the signal to enjoy the evening with the kids.

And enjoy I did, until Arianna decided to cut the top and bottom off ice pops and the twins both had an exploded diaper (all over their seats in the man loft) while I was on work phone calls. Greg’s working…and was impacted by the reason I was on the calls…so he missed out on this fun end (so far) to my Monday Momday.

#MondayMomfession? Sometimes I wonder how on earth I handle it all without crying…and then I remember my showers. What’s your honest mom truth?

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Good thing she's cute.

Welcome Back, Working Mom

It’s been just over four weeks (including a few vacation days and a holiday) since I went back to work after having the girls. There is a whole new reality, going back to work as a mom of 4. On top of going back to work, I changed teams (and got a new, to the company too, boss). Things are going good, but I often find myself thinking thoughts and wanting to share them to give the perspective. Welcome back, working mom.
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That look of relief on your face when we’re in our first meeting together since I had my babies? The look that’s full of so glad you are back and I will finally get that thing that would make my work life so much easier? That’s the same look that my babies greet me with when I finally come through the door after I’ve spent my day making your life easier.

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My son fell on the sidewalk and was left with a scraped cheek, a black eye, and a knot on his forehead while I was at work. I was relieved that I was not there because I’m not wired to deal with these things at all. Oh, I deal with them. By crying with my babies. By cuddling them, letting them sleep in my bed, and checking on them every minute to be sure they are ok.

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Everything is an emergency when you wait until last minute. I’m balancing a tight rope of what’s best for me (and my family) versus what is best for my job. I don’t want to show weakness as a woman, especially as a working mom, so I often find myself digging in my heels, praying my milk won’t leak everywhere, and dropping everything for someone else. Then I rush home and give my all to the kids. Admittedly, the big kids are missing out on mama because I have to focus on the ‘lil birdies first. We’re making it work, but at what cost?

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It’s insanely hard to schedule a life of meetings around pumping, but I am doing it. I have to. My pump doesn’t sound like a printer, though. People don’t have dot-matrix printers anymore. When your 4-year-old calls you out for pumping while calling home to check on them, you realize that conference calls and pumping won’t work at the same time in this day and age. Guess I’ll be sticking to answering emails or writing documentation while I pump.

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Living life in snippets really isn’t that bad. It gives me time to focus on the now. I’ve become reliant on lists – paper lists – to get through each day. Printing my calendar has become a huge help because I decided not to get email on my phone on my return. Work stays at work when it can. Home stays at home, except when I am walking in between buildings. Snippets of hellos from friends gets me through, too. We’re all in this together.

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There was a fire alarm, a real-life bring the fire trucks out alarm. I had to think about my safety versus saving my milk and my pump. It was really difficult to wait out the firemen checking out the building and not think about my liquid gold or the fact that I really needed to pump, but I did it. I went straight to my pump and hightailed it out of there just as the alarm rang again. Perhaps I should start thinking about carrying the milk with me? Oh, just one more of the many things I have to carry around!

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People keep asking if I miss the kids. Of course I do. But I missed work, too. I was made to be a working mom, a mom who works outside the home, for my own sanity and worth. I think working makes the time I do have with my kids that much more precious.

Back to Work

Today was the day I was supposed to be going back to work. Spoiler, I didn’t.

What happened?

Not sure if I’ve shared in this space, but I had a complication after my c-section delivery of the twins. Ten days after I delivered, I spent about six hours in the ER being seen for my incision opening and tunneling, as well as sky-high blood pressure. It was the first time Greg and I were away from the girls and it was super scary. They ended up having to re-open my incision 13 centimeters long, 2 centimeters deep and about an inch wide. It was horrible and painful.

In the time since then, I saw a home health nurse every day for the first 4 weeks of healing and now am on an every other day regimen with them. The wound is pretty much surface level, but it’s still a gaping hole in my body.

What does this mean? 

Well, for now, I am not supposed to be lifting the twins two at a time or anything heavier than one of them. This is hard to do because Greg has been back to work for six weeks and I am stubborn as all get out. Just last week I was cleared to drive if I am not in pain / on my pain medicines (which I am choosing not to take so that I can handle my responsibilities around here). My first big drive was on Monday to our family Memorial Day picnic and I was so ready for bed when I got home.

So what about work? 

As you know, I am a work-a-holic. With Arianna and Evan, I was ready to go back at four weeks. Today, week eight, is the first day I have wished I was at work versus at home. But this time is different due to this complication in my healing process. If I wasn’t in pain / had to change a gross packing on a wound every single day in the last 6 and a half weeks, I would’ve been ready around week five based on my emotions that week.

The girls are growing strong, but because I am pretty much limited to the couch (and a few walks around town that I’ve had to take because STIR CRAZY), they are super attached to me. Like I can’t leave the room without them crying. This is presenting problems for Greg. He’s used to the big kids being attached to him, and the girls aren’t quite there at this time. When I do go back to work, he’s going to be their morning caregiver. They’ll learn, but for now we are working hard to get them independent of me and reliant on whomever can soothe them.

This has been hard. And when I do go back to work, I am really lucky. My employer has flexible work arrangements in case my full-time return to the office is not possible. I am confident that things will go smoothly as soon as I am back on my feet. It’s just been a struggle. After gaining 60 pounds, I’ve lost almost 50 of it, but my body has changed. I want to be back on a schedule and away from the temptations of kiddo snacks and ice cream, too. There’s so much that’s been rough about this, not just physically, and I cannot wait to be back.

What’s next? I see the doctor on Tuesday and from there he’ll let me know if I can head back to work next week or if I need some more healing. The wound looks good, but until I can sit at a desk for hours at a time / carry more than 8 pounds, it’s going to be tough. We keep praying for my recovery and are so thankful for those of you who’ve done the same.

8 weeks (and an hour) ♡ #twins #babies #snuggles #milestones #lilburghers
The girls’ 8 weeks photo

 

Take Me To Work

Today is Take Your Child to Work Day and for several reasons…

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...here are two of them!

…plus Arianna not being 9, she won’t be participating this year. But if I could take her to work, these are the things I’d love for her to know:

* Mom doesn’t love being away from you and not being able to volunteer in your class or take you to the bus stop.

* Mom does love helping her co-workers resolve their problems. That’s why I push you so hard to think about how to fix the things in your life that trip you up.

* Your art is on my desk…but I need updated pictures of you. That’s partially why I ask you to look at the camera all the time.

* When I work late, it’s not because I don’t want to get home to you. It’s because other people need mommy to meet deadlines or help them. I am going to try to get better at finding a balance when I go back, but I like helping people so much that sometimes I forget my other priorities. Forgive me.

* If wiping bums and spit-up, not showering, and eating lean pockets on the go could pay me what my office job does, I’d be home with you to make all the crafts you’d ever want. It doesn’t, and while money isn’t everything, it does make for our time together quite nice. And let’s be for real. Daddy is so much better at the stay at home parent thing. I couldn’t last…and not because of you kids…because I get bored in the quiet times (like when you are at school and your sisters are sleeping).

* Work can be fun for adults, but don’t rush this growing up thing. You’ve been asking questions since you could talk, so I am sure you’d make a great Business Analyst; however, leave the big time stuff to us adults for at least another 12 years. Enjoy being a kid.

* Do what you love. I still don’t know what exactly I want to be when I grow up, I just know that I’ve found a job and company that keeps me motivated and happy 98% of time. This is super important for your future happiness. Don’t do it for the money or fame.

If I could take you to work, I am sure you’d see why I like what I do but why I like being your mom, too. Help me remember that every day here forward. Be my motivation and my reason to work harder and be the best me…and I will do the same in return.

Never Easy to Leave

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As I sat in the car this morning, tears streamed down my cheeks. It didn’t matter that my day was off to a late start or that it was pouring rain–this working mom was not about to pull away until she captured this moment.

The kids have a routine to say goodbye to me from the porch, making sure I get safely on my way. Today, however, their usual routine was a ‘lil off, so I was extra emotional. 

Being a working mom isn’t the easiest thing on my (our) tender heart(s), so it makes sense that saying bye for now is not always rainbows. Sometimes it is rain.