We all know that landing a job and having a career as a MilSpouse is challenging. But a few weeks ago, I beat the odds and landed my dream job. And no, it wasn't as an errand runner or baby sitter. OK, I take that back. It's not exactly my dream job, but it's a job working in my desired field with opportunities for career advancement.
But, landing the job wasn't the end of the story. I then had to figure out how to find work life balance. This is a challenge for all working parents, but I think it poses even more challenges for military spouses. In addition to the usual stresses of being a working parent, you throw into the mix, a spouse who works long and unflexible hours, TDYs, deployments, and an extra dose of mom guilt (because not only do my kids have a dad who is already absent fairly often, but now they have a mom spending 10 hours a day away from them).
That said, things in our house are going very well. I am far from the perfect wife and mother. However, I have even been managing to still exercise almost daily, make home made meals most nights, and stave off the mommy guilt. Here's five ways I make shuffling parenting, working and the MilSpouse life work.
Get Organized This has been the most essential part of making our household run like a well oiled machine. We plan ahead for everything. We started out by setting up a daily routine which we have tweaked as the weeks have passed. Making lists has also been a key part of being organized. We have a checklist of what things must get done every night (packing the diaper bag for day care, making lunches, laying out clothes etc). I make a list every weekend of what tasks need to be accomplished during our off days. I also do weekly meal plans and grocery shopping. This way, I never have to figure out what to have for dinner and I always have all the ingredients I need on hand.
Get a crockpot This has been an absolute lifesaver for me. I make dinner in the crock pot almost every night. It makes evenings so much less hectic when I don't have to worry about preparing a meal. I find my recipes online and find ones that are easy to throw together in the morning. If I want to make a recipe that requires more prep time, I save those for Mondays and do the prep work on Sunday nights.
Find a great daycare We have been blessed with quite possibly the most wonderful daycare provider in history. This has made a huge difference for me emotionally. I cannot tell you how much better I feel knowing that if I can't be with my kids during the day, they are with the second best thing. My provider is also really good at sending me pictures of my kids through out the day which makes me feel closer to my girls when I am at work.
Start the transition early If you are a stay-at-home parent thinking about making the transition back to work, it might behoove you to find a daycare provider in advance and start sending your child(ren) for a few hours a week. Our older daughter had already been going to daycare a couple of days per week, but when I started job hunting I also started sending our baby, too. We did it to reserve her slot, however, it had additional benefits. When I started back to work on short notice, it was a smooth transition for my kids because they were already used to spending time with our daycare provider.
Make the most of your weekends When your household has two working parents, a lot of time on the weekends are spent playing catch up on the household tasks that get neglected during the week. But don't forget to take time to kick back and smell the roses. It's important to take some time to relax or you will get burnt out.