How Working Moms Make Evenings Less Stressful
After a long day of work, all that we want to do is relax and wind down. But women, esp mothers irrespective of whether working outside of the home or not experience the evening madness of juggling dinner time, kids and household chores. Working mothers find this time even more stressful as we have our “second shift” of work waiting for us.
Women are stressed at this time, especially if they are coming from work. They see these (evening) hours as the brunt of their infamous second shift of housework and care-taking.– Bruce Feiler
When my twins were toddlers, I had to pick them up from daycare. My heart would break to see their sad face eagerly waiting for me to pick them up. Our boys would complain that they didn’t like to be picked up late and their irritation would eventually transform into dinner time struggles.
I always dreaded the 6 pm evening stress and wondered what was in store for the evening. After a few months of struggling to do it all, I slowed down and took one day at a time.
We consistently followed a simple routine as a family and it greatly helped me tackle the evening-time madness. Truth be told, kids are resilient and adjust to their working mommy schedule sooner than expected.
Here are a few tips that I followed to make my workday evenings less stressful and found quality time to enjoy with family.
Do I have bad days?
Yes, I do. Some days are extremely stressful. Life happens and plans don’t work, things do not go as expected. But I have come to understand that is ok to have both stressful and relaxing kind of evenings. We can learn from our mistakes when things go wrong. And be grateful for the relaxing, calm days.
Mentally disassociate from work
Unlike moms that work from home, those that work outside have this privilege of physical dissociation from work. The moment you step into your home or get to the daycare to pick up your child make sure to pause your work-related thoughts until you are ready to respond after tucking kids to bed.
This tip is helpful for both parents and not just to mothers alone. If possible let your boss and co-workers know that you will be unavailable to answer emails or calls from 6 pm till 9 pm. Also, say no to social media and put away your phone or any other devices during this time of the day.
Come up with an evening routine
Simple and easy to follow routines that involve the entire family is very essential. There are many posts on the internet talking about evening routines. I always suggest that you come up with a routine that will help your family.
Here is the routine that we follow at our home.
- Pick up kids from after-school care.
- Kids get to play (outside if weather is good)/ or read books, while I prepare dinner. No TV at this time.
- Family Dinner. This was the MOST tiresome task until a year ago. Here comes the consistency part. I have been serving small amounts of veggies every day for the last few years that now my boys eat most of the vegetables. This is a totally different topic to blog but what am trying to convey is that being consistent in having family dinner together has helped our kids become better eaters. Which according to me is a great blessing!
- Homework and TV time. Evenings are when everybody is “Hangry”. So, we fill in our tummies before pulling our hair with the homework drama 🙂
- Bath and Bedtime for kids. My husband puts kids to bed while I prepare for the next working day.
- I pack lunches, lay out clothes for the next morning, make sure to sign homework/papers, load dishwasher, and clean kitchen before retiring for the day.
This routine may or not work for your family. All I want to say is make a routine and stick with it. Agreed that routines change with each season but knowing what to do next is better than deciding on the fly. Remember that kids thrive on routines.
Avoid trying anything new on a weekday evening
Do not try a new meal for dinner or take your kids to a new class or activity. Reserve all these to the weekends. If there is something which your kids don’t like or appreciate, avoid it as much as possible.
My twins as toddlers would scream their lungs out if we wash their hair. It was quite a pain back then. So we avoided hair washing on weekdays. Of course, this behavior changed after our boys started their swim lessons.
This goes without saying. Accept the help that your spouse offers. In some families, dads share equal loads of household chores without being asked to. However, this spontaneity in sharing housework is still a rarity. Ask for help without shame or guilt.
In our family, I love to cook and clean so I prefer that my husband take care of bathing kids and putting them to bed. I would be the one to pack lunches and clean kitchen while my husband would patiently deal with our kids as they monkey around him.
List all the chores and decide who gets to do what based on efficiency or interests. I do not believe in equal work share. Sometimes it complicates the relationship. Decide what works for you based on your family values.
Bring your mind and body to the present. Kill all the threads (sorry for being geeky here) running in your mind about work, family, appointments and the like. Become aware of the chaos around you without getting involved in it. Breathe. Slow down and concentrate on the task at hand.
If things go wrong, remember that there always tomorrow. Meditate, eat healthy food, move your body and get enough sleep. As a working mother, we wear multiple hats throughout the day. We need to make time for self-care as well. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Nourish your mind and body to help you balance motherhood and career.
Are you a busy mom? How do you make your evenings stress-free? Please share with us in the comments below.