In Career, Discussions, Discussions, Life, Parenting, Women

The Struggle is Real: Working Mothers & How we get it done

You know what is really lacking in the internet space? The perspective of mothers who work full-time outside of the home, in jobs that they were in before.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of moms who work full-time but a lot of them who have time to blog and shoot the breeze about what it is like, are the ones who work at home, blog for a living and/or otherwise have quite flexible schedules that don’t let you know what it is REALLY like unless you take a similar career path.

I would say I’m probably a rarity in that sense that not only am I a mother, I also work outside full-time in a job I’ve been in for years (as a freelancer), and also blog pretty dang regularly when WordPress doesn’t skip my scheduled posts (grrrrr!!).

Oh and I don’t have a nanny or any hired help behind the scenes. Just me and my partner trying to survive.

So, how do working mothers like me do it then?

Cassie touched a little upon this subject and I found myself nodding along.

MORE THAN ONE, BUT ONLY WHAT WE NEED

We are die hard minimalists with a capital M.

..but we’re not sadists. I’m not going to impale myself on an M-cross just for the sake of being proud that I own nothing. 😛

If you take a peek here, my living room pretty much always looks like this.

https://www.savespendsplurge.com/parts-of-my-minimalist-home-the-living-room-and-kitchen/


No one could tell there was a little boy living here were it not for the little step stool for the sink in the bathroom and the little miniature-sized table and chairs we bought for him from Ikea.

Except now we have fancy $2000 handmade chairs instead of folding ones:

That said, we bought more than one of a thing to save on having to do laundry or wash up so often.

What’s the list to get extras of?

Cloth diapers — like a TON of them when he was a baby so I would only do diaper laundry once every week and a half or so

Underwear — I bought 4 packs and while he pretty much keeps his underwear dry these days (omg finally, my experience with potty training can be summed up here), I still find myself doing underwear laundry often-ish because he changes into night underwear (pull-ups) at night, so his daytime underwear gets stuck in the laundry basket. A waste? Perhaps we could reuse it the next day but I haven’t really bothered as we have so many pairs.

Baby bottles — My partner was on bottle duty and still is, because I’m not as thorough in getting the milk out as he is. We initially bought 4 bottles and ramped it up to 14. Seven little 6 oz bottles for his afternoon milk and seven large 12 oz bottles for his morning milk. A bottle or two has broken here and there, but this has saved us a ton of time in washing

Napkins — we use cloth handkerchiefs which Little Bun calls “napkins”, and I bought a ton of them. Unless it is the season where we are ALL sick and in need of a napkin every 5 minutes to blow our nose, it is more than enough.

Kitchen towels — ditto. We have 16 of them and even so, I do laundry every week and a half or so because my partner and I love using a “fresh” dry towel to do things. Guilty pleasure.

Some things we have NOT doubled up on?

Bath towels — still have 4 each, laundry every 2 weeks or so

Bed linens — we have 2 sets. One gets washed and dried while the new one goes on

All I’m trying to say is: find a laundry balance. If you’re washing more than once a week or find it very hard to keep up with the laundry then BUY MORE so you can do less.

SWAPPING TASKS

I do a lot of Little Bun care and management. My partner to his credit, does his fair share as well but not as much as I do because he has to also take care of the apartment and cars and I do zero in this area.

That said, we swap tasks when we need to. If he needs to do something, I pick up the slack and vice versa. For instance, pickup and drop off these days are ALL ME and only me.

On the rare work night where I have something he comes and gets him.

Little Bun also stays home at least one day a week with his father and that gives me a mental break with pickup and drop off.

I STEAL SNIPPETS OF MOMMY TIME

When I’m home at the same time as Little Bun, you can be SURE he is on me 99% of the time. Suddenly, Daddy doesn’t exist.

(If you read my Weeks of Money, this is pretty evident)

Therefore, on the days Little Bun is at home with his father, I stay put later and come back at 6-ish instead of 5-ish. I go to the library, read a book, take a walk.


I also take EVERY Saturday off for a few hours to get things done like bring my coat in to have the lining replaced and so on.

My partner has his own free time — when I’m home, he is free to do as he wants. When he gets groceries or does errands, he can do it any time he wants, and come home late on the days I have Little Bun pickup / dropoff. He is more “free” in that sense, than I am.

SATURDAY SHOP, SUNDAY CHOP

(I loved this saying so much from Cassie’s Post that I’m stealing it)

My partner does Saturday errands for food and shopping and Sunday mornings he cooks the meals for ALL of us for the week. All of our lunches are made, and dinners are “open” based on whatever he brings home or if we have leftovers to finish at the start of the week.

This takes immense pressure off him and us to produce a meal on the fly. It is efficient and I highly recommend getting organized and making food ahead of time.

(My partner is on a salad kick these days)

He also takes advantage of the summer for instance by buying 50 pounds of fresh field tomatoes we picked, peeling, seeding, and chopping them all to boil down into little pots of tomato paste which he then freezes and uses during the rest of the seasons to get maximum flavour.

You don’t need to go as far as him but do consider making extra large portions, then portioning it out and freezing them for quick dinners for the week or whatever. Just remember to eat them.

You could technically do weeks of meal planning ahead of time like making more portions of different meals each week and then alternating them so it isn’t the same meal each day, in a waterfall effect:

  • Week 1 — Extra meat sauce frozen
  • Week 2 — Lasagna extras
  • Week 3 — Pot pie extras
  • Week 4 — Stirfry extras

Then..

Week 5 — Defrost some of that meat sauce and make fresh spaghetti and pour it on there. DONE. Add some fresh basil and you’ve made a meal in 20 minutes.

Week 6 — defrost that lasagna and eat it

Week 7 — eat that frozen pot pie now

Week 8 — cook some rice and toss some defrosted stirfry on there and eat.

See what I mean?

You could make extras the weeks before and then alternate the meals as the following weeks happen so that the meals feel different and new.

Of course, as you do this, you will need to keep a list of what is there and keep replenishing the stock of frozen dinners so you don’t run out.

If you want to be super lazy, eat your entire stock of frozen meals in one week and do zero cooking. LOL but then you need to re-stock again…

Take shortcuts too. I like that Cassie stocks up on pizzas because they are meals in a pinch. I remember eating a lot of frozen pizza as a child… :-p

DON’T SWEAT THE HOUSEWORK

Place is filthy? Are people getting malaria from it? No? Leave it then.

At any given day, my house is full of little dust bunnies. I vacuum and they’re procreating in the corners at night. I can’t seem to get rid of them so I just ignore them until they get really big and Little Bun starts naming his favourite dust bunnies.

My shower has not been properly scrubbed in at least 3 months. I will do it tomorrow but is it killing anyone? NO.

Leave that stuff. Do other things like food and laundry instead. Play with your kid. Leave it alone

Or, like Cassie said — hire help!! Pay someone to clean every 2 weeks.

What do you do to stay sane as a parent?


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. GYM

    I’m on mat leave right now and I’m worried about what will happen when I go full time with a toddler! It’s going to be busy. I better start prep cooking now haha.

    How much time do you spend blogging per week? My husband is noticing that since I re-started my blog I’m spending a lot of time on it (of course I expected this to happen).

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Prep cooking, prep freezing… get a stock going you can lean on.

      Right now? As of late? I spend about 2 hours a day on blog-related stuff, so about 14 hours a week, closer to 20 if I am honest because I am also writing posts on the weekend. TIME SUCK.

      I am not spending as much time as I did before when I was off with Little Bun. That, was like.. 9 hours a day 😛

      Reply
  2. Jeannie

    Honestly, so much respect for mothers of young children. I am pretty much exhausted when I go home from my day job, I can’t even imagine throwing a toddler in the mix. It’s nice to read about how others are managing though, brings my life into perspective.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Enjoy your child-free life. Truly. I envy you.

      Reply
  3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    When do you plan to phase out bottles? We both were so sick of bottle washing that we transitioned JB at 13-15 months and it was such a relief. Small things but weird how they make such a difference. It was like when I stopped breastfeeding and pumping. So much time back!

    What containers do you use to portion your meals and do you freeze them too? We make do with plastic containers from take out but I’m wondering what we should replace them with when they finally wear out. I’m sure it’ll be a while but I’m hopeful that maybe we can use the same containers for JB’s lunch boxes as well when the time comes. I’m not enthused about daycare switching to providing hot lunches next year… it will be easier for us not to pack but I don’t believe their definition of “nutritious”. And they’re raising the price to compensate. Ugh.

    I was just browsing on target for sheets on sale so we can have an extra set per bed too. We just added a bed to the house so now there are three beds total to keep sheets on, that new one stole our secondary set 😝

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I have no idea when we plan on phasing out the bottles. My partner washes them, so it’s up to him to decide when it isn’t time. I think once Little Bun stops asking for and drinking milk in bed, the bottle will disappear. Maybe NEVER. 😛

      We use Glasslock Food Storage Containers, and they work beautifully. Plastic is not our thing, and thus far our glass ones have lasted us a long time.

      Reply
  4. Virginia

    I do a lot of the things already covered in your and Cassie’s posts. Basically, if I can throw money at a problem to make it go away, I start hurling wads of cash. The exception to this is that we don’t pay for a nanny or any sort of help.

    We do a bi-weekly cleaning service, a meal delivery plan (a local one that doesn’t require any prep), and a yard service. I’ve also bought an extra breast pump because I kept leaving mine at home or work, extra bottles so I don’t have to wash them, and extra shoes because I lost mine (it is easier than tearing about the house).

    As I write this, I sound downright lazy but I am pretty much working 14 hours a day which is more than enough. If I am given an opportunity to slack a little, I’m going to take it.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      LOL!! “I start hurling wads of cash”… when you’re tired, anything goes. JUST TAKE MY MONEY.

      We don’t do cleaning services or anything only because I cannot reconcile it. My upbringing, I just can’t. I can’t bring myself to even take a taxi. It feels so luxurious, and yet paradoxically, I will blow $5 on some hot milk mixed with syrup at Starbucks. 😛 It’s .. just so weird in my head but I just can’t do certain things.

      Reply

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