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Making It Work

That Time of the Day

From New Beginnings, Vol. 31 No. 2, 2010, pp. 26-27

"Making It Work" is a regular feature of the magazine New Beginnings, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of New Beginnings to help mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding and working. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.

Mother's Situation

The most hectic part of my day is coming home to a messy kitchen sink with breakfast dishes still on the table and no ideas for dinner. How do other employed mothers make the most of this short but important part of the day with their babies when housework and meals demand their time and attention?

Response

Sitting down to nurse my baby after the day's separation is my top priority on arriving home. While I’m doing that, I can chat to my school-aged children about their day or listen to them read or recite spellings, for instance. We eat very simply to save precious time that we need to reconnect. Meals that can be put together in five minutes are the sort I favor! We also eat a lot of raw vegetables and bread and cheese. I can tackle more elaborate dishes on the weekend.

We have had to lower our standards of household order since I went back to work although spending less time in the house means it doesn't get quite as messy as it used to!

I try to remember to put the dishwasher and washing machine on before going to bed and unload both first thing in the morning before breakfast. Being organized about doing the little jobs means that things don't get unmanageable.

My husband helps by putting out the garbage, picking up groceries on his way home, and putting the children to bed while I nurse our baby. It isn't easy when there don't seem to be enough hours in the day, but I find it helps to remind myself that my family comes first and that my children would rather have cuddles and plain food than watch me spend hours in the kitchen or cleaning the house.

Susan Long
Chicago, IL, USA

Response

I think that it really helps to plan your meals before you do the shopping. Always decide in the morning what you are going to cook for dinner. Perhaps alternate some responsibility with your husband. If you are picking up your child and he is going to be home first can your husband do the dishes? If he has a real aversion to dishes or housework can he cook? If he can do none of those can he go to get your child instead so you can cook? We do all of these. We plan our meals and my husband helps in the kitchen. We also alternate who is going to pick up our son.

Shelly Alvarez
Oakland, CA, USA

Response

Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!

Seriously, one approach you could take is to prioritize tasks and delegate some, just as you might be used to doing at work. And this is where being a breastfeeding mother really pays off-- since breastfeeding and reconnecting with your baby must take priority, and you are the only one who can breastfeed, the other tasks will have to be delegated.

You can justifiably put your feet up and have a breather while your partner and any older children tackle the chores. Then, once you are revived, and your baby is either settled or revived, you can rejoin the fray, at which point the others can, if necessary, take over care of the baby or have a break themselves. If your baby is awake and alert, you could pop him/her in a sling while you go about the various chores.

To make the situation easier on everyone, you could also try the following.

  • Getting up a little earlier in the morning to give yourself time to clear the breakfast table before leaving for work.
  • Keeping housework to a minimum and once again delegating as much of it as possible -- if you have older children, give them set tasks to do in return for pocket money.
  • Planning your dinner menus for the week in advance (when you have a quiet moment), so that there is no last-minute panic at a time when you are tired and unlikely to have much inspiration.
  • Taking short-cuts with meals, cooking double quantities so that you can freeze a portion for another day; opting for simpler dishes mid-week (soups and stews that just involve throwing everything into one pot, or "no-cook" salads in summer); even the occasional ready meal or "take-away."

Good luck with "making it work" for you!

Gwyneth Little
East Lothian, UK

Response

I am a fairly creative person when it comes to food. I work full time out of the home and I make homemade meals, every single day of the week.

I have made a deal with my husband: he empties the dishwasher and I fill it as I go about my food prep.

When I get home, I will look over what food we have in the house and then I'll choose a meat, a vegetable, and noodles or rice. If I'm really tired, I will just throw some cooked ground meat or sausage into a pot with a can of mixed vegetables, a can of broth, and one can of water. Depending on flavor, I'll add a can of diced tomatoes, a can of white beans, or a handful of elbow macaroni. Then I'll leave it to cook, stir it occasionally and voilà supper with very little effort.

Cyndie
Oklahoma, USA

Response

When I was faced with a similar dilemma, I decided I simply could no longer cope with working outside the home. I was fortunate enough to be able to change my hours and work part time. Now my home is a bit more organized and I have a little more time for my children. This may well not be an option you have. A friend of mine is able to do some of her work from home a few days a week, which frees up the time she would otherwise spend traveling to and from her office.

Other mothers I know have started their own businesses out of their homes in order to spend more time with their families.

Good luck finding your way. There is never one right solution!

Geraldine P.
New York, NY, USA

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