Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Working Mom Hacks for Everyone

I've always been into self-care and self help. Having my daughter was the ultimate motivator to work on myself and be as healthy as possible, to be able to care for her and set an example. Just months after Liv's birth when I was struggling to leave her for a workday or even an errand, I felt compelled to attend a writing workshop. I felt a sense of urgency to better myself and pursue my passions. Ironically, this is of course a period in my life in which I have the least amount of time to focus on myself. Before having Liv I heard the notion "moms get sh*t done." It didn't make any sense. Now I get it. While I have to write myself post-it's basically every night to remember the simplest things the following morning like grabbing my breakfast from the fridge, I'm doing my best and getting the necessities done. Here are some mom (or really anyone pressed for time and with a burning desire to "do it all") time hacks I've incorporated lately:

Make the most of your commute.
While it is tempting to watch 20 mins of Something Navy Instagram stories on the bus ride to work I instead close my eyes and listen to Joseph Goldstein guide me through a meditation.
A friend at work recommended the 10% Happier app and I use it almost daily for meditating. For years I'd been interested in, but intimated by, meditation. 10% Happier app creator Dan Harris and his coaches break it down and make it less scary and approachable. I also like Dan Harris's podcasts.

Make the most of your lunch break.
Again, I would love to settle into my desk with a sushi roll from Whole Foods and feast on social media, but I soldier on and do one of the following:
- Errands - There is literally no other time unless I want to sacrifice a sacred Saturday or Sunday, and I don't.
- Exercise - My lunch break allows enough time for a quick jog or yoga class; it's not all that muscle making but it's better than nothing and gets the endorphins flowing.
- Meet a friend for lunch - Sometimes you've got to squeeze in a quick catchup.
- Shop for groceries - This isn't ideal as I have to then bring my haul home with me to Hoboken from Manhattan, but I'm strong and I suck it up. 

Use apps for coffee and food.
- Starbucks
I'm a sucker for Starbucks; my decaf dopio over ice in a venti cup gives me life ;) I order my beverage as my bus pulls into Port Authority. Actually retrieving my coffee en route to work adds maybe 30 seconds to my walk to the office. 
- Chop't
On days I need to pick up a wrap en route back to the office from said errands or other activities I can place my Chop't order on my phone rather than wait on a line snaking out the door.

Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking. When I'm at work I split up my time into chunks to focus on making calls, replying to emails and various projects. When I'm at home with Liv in the evening I rarely take a call or even look at my phone. I take that time to focus on my daughter, look her in the eyes, take her in, color on the floor or read her stories. Even though I'm spent I muster energy to get some mama daughter time in, distractions be damned. 

Self-care and socialize in small bites.
Before becoming a mom I used to do everything in the evenings: acupuncture, dinner with friends, exercise. Now that's not realistic, but I do want to maintain my relationships and also nurture myself. Therefore I allow myself one night of plans during the week every one to two weeks. I don't see Liv in the morning before work so missing even one evening brings me to tears, but I rarely regret taking that time to focus on myself and my friendships. That being said, if I'm feeling particularly homesick for my little love bug, I'll skip said plans. Make boundaries for yourself but also be kind to yourself and flexible.

On that note - be flexible in all areas of life.
I wrote this blog post while walking through Times Square. As a fast walker and generally impatient person I am strongly against walking and looking down at your device - but sometimes you have to make exceptions for your art or sanity or whatever.

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.
I'd love to spend time editing my writing with painstaking detail. But again, real life. If I keep waiting for the perfect time to be able to spend hours on my creative pursuits, my life will pass me by and I'll have produced nothing but an email log of Liv's sweetest moments (if and when I remember to record them.) Putting yourself, your work, anything you're into, out into the world is scary. Do it anyway. To paraphrase the wise Megan Draper, you're an artist because you say you are. This can be applied to just about any creative pursuit or job. Pretty much everyone is winging it.

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