Moms talk about what helps them maintain the delicate work/family balance.
"I didn't resume my at-home business until my baby was 8 months old, and then only to take on small projects. This way I stay in touch with my contacts and keep some income coming in."
"I take part in a job share where a co-worker works Monday through Wednesday and I work Wednesday through Friday. That helps me focus on family when I'm at home, and on work when I'm at work."
"To get home from work earlier, I take a half-hour lunch instead of an hour. This way I can get started on dinner before my husband and son get home."
"I like to work five days a week for just a few hours each day because it keeps my son on a consistent schedule. We get ready at the same time every morning and have snacks, meals, and naps at the same time, and he doesn't have to wonder if he is going to daycare or staying home with me."
"I leave work early so I can spend some time with my baby before she goes to sleep. Then I put in another couple of hours at my computer at home. It's not ideal, but it's better than arriving home after the nanny has put her to bed."
Parents discuss their choice to work or stay at home.
"Be firm in your needs when negotiating with your employer. My family comes first, and when I returned to work after both my maternity leaves, I was very clear about my needs: no evenings, shorter work hours, and breaks for pumping."
"We had to make sacrifices so I could work part-time rather than full-time, but we're doing it! I work in the evenings, so I have all day with the kids. My husband watches them while I'm at work. They get one-on-one time with both of us. On the weekends, all of us get to be together."
"I do not allow myself to feel guilty for taking 'sick' days anymore. Sometimes I take days off to take my baby to the doctor, cover for a babysitter who can't work that day, or just because I want to spend time with my little one."
"Be prepared to change your mind about your work goals. It is OK to not want to chase that next promotion right away."
"Find a childcare situation that makes both you and your child happy. It makes it so much easier to drop off my daughter knowing that she is well cared for and happy."
"Our babysitter comes to our home, which works out great. Our daughter naps in her own bed and sticks to her daily routine. During naptime, the sitter does light cleaning or laundry. I come home to a clean house and a happy baby. Now I don't spend my weekends doing laundry or scrubbing toilets!"
"I picked a daycare near my office and nursed my son at lunch until 9 months of age."
"I realized very soon after my daughter's birth that I would not be able to work from home without some childcare. A nanny comes in for three hours in the morning, then I continue to work as my child naps for two hours. We then get to spend the afternoons together."
"My husband and I both work part-time on different days so that we don't need childcare. We both keep our careers going, each parent gets out of the house each week, and the kids get alone time with each parent."
"I work 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and my daughter goes to daycare from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. That gives me two hours for doing errands, cleaning the house, going to appointments, or just taking time for myself."
Taking care of chores
"My one splurge is to have a cleaning service come in every other week. That way I'm not spending every spare moment cleaning, and can spend that time with my kids instead."
"I've become much better at doing a little cleaning or some laundry each night instead of saving it up and tackling it all on the weekends. I need my weekend time with my son!"
"I outsource: My nanny does the shopping while I spend quality time with the kids."
"I've gotten my school-age kids involved in helping around the house. I tell them that if we all chip in, we'll have more time to play together. I also try to run errands at lunchtime or after work on the way home, so I don't spend my weekend running around."
"I make two to-do lists in the morning. The first contains goals I know I can get done – taking care of these gives me a feeling of accomplishment. The second list is 'things I would like to do but it's not a big deal if they don't get done today.' Even crossing one or two of those items off helps me feel like I'm moving forward in life."
"My advice is do everything you can the night before – pack the diaper bag, your work bag, lunch, breast pump, and load the car. Spend a few minutes before bed picking up the mess and doing the dishes, and set out everything you need for breakfast."
"If you have any hope whatsoever of having dinner together as a family, I have two words for you: slow cooker. Without it, we'd eat takeout every night."
Making quality time for yourself and your baby
"The number one thing I've done to help with my work-life balance is to set an early bedtime for my children. My 2-year-old goes to bed at 7:30 and my 6-month-old goes to bed at 6:30. Yes, I only see them for a couple of hours after work, but I have the weekends to make up for it. This gives me time in the evening to relax, prepare for the next day, and get to bed early myself."
"I run in the early morning so I get my exercise in before work and before the rest of the family wakes up. It's the 'me' time I need, and exercise also helps me manage work stress."
"I use part of my lunch break to take a nap in my car. It's key to my energy level and sanity!"
"My job is to be at home with the kids and take care of the household. Last year, when I was feeling very depressed, I was invited to go golfing with some other women. I had never golfed before, but I went, and from that point on, I played golf every week. It was a huge release for me – and I was good at it! I started to feel better, got more housework done, and felt more at ease with the kids."
"Both my husband and I kept our interests alive by scheduling regular times for our hobbies. Every once in a while, we review our schedules and decide if there's enough alone time, enough couple time, and enough family time, and figure out ways to increase whatever is lacking."
"Finding a workout club with daycare gives you some 'you' time. Plus, you can take a shower in peace and build your muscles as well as your self-esteem."
"In the beginning, I would get up as late as possible, but I found that I wasn't able to spend any time with my daughter before she went to daycare. Now I get up early, and by the time my daughter is waking up, I've finished getting ready for work and can spend at least an hour with her. It is so worth it."
"Keep weekends as free as possible. After spending very little time with my baby during the week, I love to be able to relax with her all weekend. I never make plans, and only attend the weddings, birthdays, and other get-togethers of my closest friends and family."
"When I get home from work, the television stays off. Instead my husband and I get down on the floor and play with our daughter until it's time for her to go to bed."
"The biggest trick for keeping it all together is to relax, which sounds counterintuitive. Everything always works out – maybe not the way I want it to, but it always does. Stressing out over little things is never productive."
"There is no such thing as perfect balance, so don't add pressure to your life by trying to meet an unrealistic goal. Realize that you can only give so much, and decide where you are going to expend your energy most effectively and happily."
"Something is going to have to slide at one time or another. Some days work slides so I can take care of myself (get a massage or pedicure). Some days the kids end up playing without me or watching TV because I need to do something for work. I'm a much better parent because I have accepted this!"
"I thought I could 'bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let him forget he's a man,' and be a great mom. Boy, did I ever get that wrong! I've learned to relax and stop trying to do everything. It's OK if there are toys on the floor and dishes in the sink."