Working Moms and “Me Time”: Mornings or Evenings?

working moms and me-timeHere’s a fun little question for today, ladies: if you could only choose one, which would you prefer for yourself: mornings or evenings? If you’ve successfully claimed one for your “me-time”, what are your tips? For example, I know of one mom who could get up and work on big projects from 4-6 but had to leave the house to do it; I know of another friend who trades off different nights to stay late at the office with her partner so one of them gets at least an evening to themselves. I even know of an entrepreneur who’s said the secret to her productivity is her divorce — her ex has the kids for at least three nights a week, which gives her both mornings and evenings and the freedom to work until 3:00 in the morning if she wants to.

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How to Work After Your Kids Go to Bed

how to work after your kids go to bedHere’s a great question for working moms that we’ve never discussed: How do you get more stuff done or otherwise work after your kids go to bed? Have you been able to regularly summon a second wind to be productive at night? 

Even if putting your kids to bed is a relatively painless affair and not a Go the F*** to Sleep situation, you may often wonder how you can possibly work after your kids go to bed when you feel ready for bed yourself. (Still, even if you’re not at your best post-bedtime, make sure to enjoy the kid-free time now, because one day it will be gone — when your kids become teenagers, they’ll probably stay up even later than you do.)

Maybe working after your kids go to bed is unavoidable because you work a shorter schedule during the day and finish your workday from home, or maybe you’ve decided you’d much rather do laundry, clean, etc., on weeknights rather than weekends. Here are some ways to be productive and work after your kids go to bed:

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Productivity… and Family Time

productivity and family timeHave you found that your best, most productive hours sometimes conflict with family times that you try to hold sacred, such as family dinner? Have you had success shifting your schedule so you can be productive at other times of the day? Did you find an early bedtime (9:30?) to be helpful, or have you found another way to recharge so you can eke out a few more hours of productivity after putting the kids down for the night?

I don’t know why the other day, but I was really, really missing the days when I could work late at the office (8:00 or 10:00ish usually — sometimes 12:00ish in my younger years!) and get stuff done. I was also missing the days when I could get up “early” at, say, 5 and get a ton of work done before I had to be presentable at work at 9:30 or 10. Because maybe it’s me and my situation, but it seems like those days are gone, at least for the foreseeable future — even if I do work in an office, either for myself or someone else, I’m going to want to be home for family dinner — if not every night, then certainly 99% of the time. “Family dinner is sacred” is the advice I keep reading, and I love that idea — the idea of us all sitting around the table, phones and other devices put away, TV off, to reconnect and tell each other about our days. But… a kid-friendly dinner time is usually in the midst of my most productive time, late afternoon/early evening. Similarly, “getting up early” means something different to parents, am I right? My four year old, at least, laughs at the idea of 5 AM as being “early” — it’s the best time to get up, Mommy! In fact, if you’re up earlier, why shouldn’t I be up also? I feel like if I were really to make an attempt to get up early, I would have to get up around 3 or 4 — and even then I’d only have an hour or two at most to get work done, unlike those long, luxurious mornings where I could get up at 5 and get four solid hours of work done before I had to be at work. Of course, you can always put your partner on “parent in charge” duty, or schedule another caregiver for that time in the morning — so maybe I should try that. (If you do get up, do you work in the house — or leave entirely, like to go to a coffee shop?) As for the evenings… my husband and I often feel like from 5pm to 9pm we go into the family tunnel of dinner, bath, and bedtime (with at least one incident each night of a meltdown, a water-soaked bathroom, or some other bedtime fight) — and when we emerge we’re too wired to sleep and too exhausted to do anything of substance.

I don’t know, ladies, maybe you’ve found The Way — have you managed to shift your productive times to another time of day? Do you swap “sacred times” with your partner so one of you gets a weeknight or early morning spot to yourself?  Or do you think it’s all mental, the way I convinced myself in high school and college that my most productive hours were from 12AM to 3 AM?