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As a slightly older than average, full-time working parent of a demanding eight-year-old girl, I’m always on the lookout for ‘low hanging, easy cheats’ that give me more quality time with my family and help me feel less guilty that I work.
I attended a breakfast seminar where leading females in business were talking about how they have succeeded. One in particular made a lot of sense. She stated that when a business looks at becoming more efficient and requires certain regular processes to be performed, they often look at outsourcing as a solution so she decided to look at what she could outsource for her personal efficiency.
She also said that she had found that women often don’t like to acknowledge that they do ‘outsource’ as it is seen as not being able to manage work and family life so she had started to share her ’personal outsources’ with other women in her business and this led to a far more open culture of sharing tips and tricks and, even in a couple of cases, a cleaner!
It’s all about permission!
It is OK not to be super woman or superman but to know where you are best to channel your energy, skills and focus.
Over the last few weeks I have been speaking to working parents within my organisation as well as whilst at various roundtable events to start the conversations and open up this area of life hacks.
So far this is what I have collected and, yes, it’s OK to admit that you use these to manage the balance. Some are more around thinking ahead rather than outsourcing, but none are meant to patronise!
Let’s start with outsourcing:
My own personal coup was finding someone who taught my daughter how to ride her bike. I didn’t shout once and I didn’t have to run alongside her or even break into a sweat…Have I missed out on a lifetime experience? I don’t think so! What we have now is a lovely memory of how she learnt to ride her bike and we even made a friend we didn’t have out of the ‘bike’ teacher who now pops in for a chat and bike ride when he can!
These next two are a little indulgent, but if it makes you feel good and, after all, you are working hard, you can allow yourself the odd luxury
Now some thoughts around efficiencies:
When cooking, cook in bulk and freeze, most homemade dinners are healthier and more cost-effective than take away and ready meals! The usual suspects for this are:
But you can also do the same with homemade chicken escalope and fish cakes etc.
I was talking to a colleague about the volume of washing that her family generates and I asked her how many times a week the washing machine goes on. She said it’s on everyday so we started to speak about why that was. It became clear that by simply buying double the amount of underwear for the kids that she would feel she could wash less often. It sounds crazy but she has done that and now feels that she can relax a little in the evenings as the ‘underwear’ washing can now wait for the weekends and if, by chance, she doesn’t get round it to it’s not the end of the world as she knows it!
With school uniforms, I personally find that three of the key items is the best …. One on, one off and one in the wash!
Nothing I have mentioned here is rocket science and I do understand that not all working parents are on the same salaries, but what I’m trying to get across is that, regardless of what level you are or how much you earn, it is absolutely ok not to do everything and you should give yourself permission to use some tips and tricks without feeling guilty.
*Michaela Poust is Head of Recruitment at Costain. All views here are her personal ones.