Almost Guilt Free Tips for Working Moms
I'm a career woman. That's who I was before kids, and that is who I'm after kids. I have nothing to apologize for, not to my spouse, and not to my children. I am also from the generation of "helicopter moms". Nonetheless, I'm not a Tiger Mom. I hover over my children, for now, because they are young. It's a tough role to be in. Everyday, I'm grateful that my husband works from home, thus gives me the opportunity to leave early and come home late. Part of being a helicopter mom is also keeping an eye on the husband (Ladies, tell me I'm not the only one feeling this way). He told me one day that my 2 year old loved the icing on Starbucks' lemon pound cake. Who wouldn't? It's 200% sugar! The employees at a local burger joint know her, and she came home w/ one of their hats one day. I also found her able to sing the theme song to "Overhaulin'". I then realized that I need to overhaul my family while balancing my work. I have learned from my mistakes, and at the same time gathered some good tips that I thought can help other professional moms to go a little easy on themselves.
Little White Lie + Switcheroo = Creative Thinking
Holidays and birthdays give children a taste of heaven and parents a taste of hell. You can do your best, one way or another your children will discover candy, soda, and all the goodies that make them "high", I mean "happy.", and you cry. If other kids have kid's meal w/ toys and cookies, having them share a plate w/ you, even though they only take 2 bites, simply won't do. Creative Thinking:
- When getting a children's meal at fast food, slow food, or theater, ask them to put ice water or milk in the same kid's "special cup" rather than soda or juice. Or ask them to dilute the juice. I have done it many times, no complaints. My kid actually loves to drink her "special" water out of the soda cup.
- If you know the meal comes with cookies or candies ahead of time, bring something healthier with you. Switch it out before your children see it. Enjoy the cookie later, after they go to bed. You deserve to reward yourself.
- ALL foods expire, including Halloween and Easter Candies. All candies have a shelve life of 2 weeks. Tell all your friend, families, and neighbors the same thing. This is the story EVERYONE is sticking with.
Divide and Conquer
My older kid loves baked goods, hence Starbucks. She got that from me. Growing up in a rice dominated country, my love towards bread was almost considered sac-religious. My mother was called to school one time because the teachers saw me eating bread and sandwiches one too many times rather than rice. Store bought baked goods simply have too much sugar. So I took on baking...(I would delegate to my husband, but I just can't put my family through that kind of torture.) 12-hour work day makes baking really challenging. If I do it at night, I'll have to wait for it to cool off before storing it away from the very hungry and overweight cat. If I do it in the morning, it'll take too much time and wake everybody up. Divide and Conquer:
- Choose recipes that takes less than 30 minutes to bake. If a bread recipe calls out for 1 hour, make muffins out of them. It will take less time.
- Prepare and measure the dry ingredients the night before. Cover with plastic wrap. If making scones, cut in the butter the night before and then store in the refrigerator.
- Be sure to cut the amount of sugar calls out on any recipe, unless it's a foreign recipe. American recipes call out way too much sugar. With the exception of frosting, you can safely reduce the amount of sugar by 1/3 or even 1/2 and still produce quality baked goods. If you want to reduce the amount of sugar off a frosting recipe, you'd need to add corn starch to get the correct consistency.
- If you can, measure out the liquids and store it in the refrigerator, except the eggs.
- If making muffins, line the muffin tin w/ paper cups and store in oven. Remember to remove them when preheating the oven.
- Next morning, preheat the oven. Mix the wet and the dry. Put it in the oven.
- While they bake, get ready for work.
- Once you're all dressed, take the baked goods out of the oven. Let it cool. By the time the kids wake up, they're be ready to eat.
Don't Create More Work for Yourself
I'm a very particular eater. I eat almost everything, but I want them prepared a certain way. I don't like skins of fruits. I think they collect pesticides, even though I buy organic fruits. Personally, I peel apples, pears, peaches for myself. Consequently, I do the same for my children. Big mistake. Once I didn't cut peel the skin off the nectarine (because it didn't bother me. Peaches yes, nectarines no.) My daughter looked at me as if I was feeding her poison. Back to the kitchen I went. Minimize Workload:
- Many parents cut the crust off the sliced bread for their children. Honestly, will a toddler choke on the sliced bread crust? No. Once you start cutting off the crust, you'll be cutting the crust off for the rest of your lives.
- Peeling the casing off hot dogs. The most dangerous part about a hot dog is the shape. The cylindrical shape fits perfectly in kids' throats. So, butterfly the hot dogs, not peeling the casing.
- If you buy organic fruits, no need to peel the skin. A toddler won't choke on that. It's too late for me. But you still have a shot at this.
I'm a mother. My sanity is very important to me and to the well being of my family. I need my caffeine and occasionally a little wine for self medication. Do I want or allow my children to try either? Absolutely not! Here is how you can stealthily Self Medicate:
- Children love to copy the adults. If you drink juice, they want juice. If you drink coffee, they want coffee. Have a cup of decaf black coffee ready. Give them a taste.
- After a few tries and confirm that they do NOT like coffee, you can now drink anything of similar color to black coffee in a coffee mug with ease.
- Go ahead, pour that can of Coke or a little wine into that coffee mug. They won't be bugging you for a sip, and you get to enjoy your "medication" and keep your sanity.
Part of being a professional woman is to dress professionally. Before going back to work from maternity leave, I dressed in sweats that have food stains on them. Pony tail or baseball cap will do for days. Can't do that at a work environment and still expect a promotion. A few tips on looking Vogue without spending a lot of time:
- Hair - Buy a TempurPedic or similar type of memory foam pillow. Because the memory foam pillow doesn't have pressure points, it is more merciful to your hair style. You can maintain your styled hair for a little longer. In the morning, your "bed hair" won't look like Medusa. You can re-style easier or simply brush and go.
- Make up - Simple goes a long way. You don't need to look glamorous, unless your job demands it, but professional. Simple pressed powder foundation, eye-liner plus lip stick will pop your face. If you have even complexion, you can skip the powder. Lucky you!
- Clothes - Dry clean, dry clean, dry clean. Dry clean clothes will last longer. It will also save you time from washing and ironing. Pick out your outfit the night before. So you won't make a lot of noise in the morning and wake up the kids.
Food for Thoughts
Parenthood is not an easy task. We try very hard not to repeat the same mistakes that our parents made, and yet, we create new ones for ourselves. Cut ourselves a little slack. Nobody is perfect. I once lamented to my colleague, "...But other parents seem to know what they're doing!" He kindly replied, "you're right, seem to is the key here". Once in a while, give them their sugar icing on the pound cake, and you, that glass of wine before 10 a.m.!