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It’s true. You cannot have it all. There really are only 24 hours in a day. I do not possess a time machine, nor am I crazy. Thus it is necessary to have some working mom trade-offs for survival, sanity, and thriving in this crazy environment. Many of these tips will apply to stay at home moms as well, but since I work outside the home, I’ll approach this topic from that perspective.7 Working Mom Trade-Offs for Survival and Sanity 1

1. Choose your children’s activities carefully. They should be meaningful and have a purpose. They should keep the end goal in mind, which for many families is college or a career. I am especially fond of activities that teach a skill, foster and enhance leadership, or encourage healthy physical activity. I also am very fond of community service. Double bonus points if it is close to my home and several children can go at the same time. Some examples that come to mind are Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, TaeKwonDo, and church activities such as choirs. Girl Scouts is one of the largest programs for girl leadership out there.

7 Working Mom Trade-Offs for Survival and Sanity 22. Your house does not have to be perfect. It probably never will be perfect. Mine certainly is not perfect. Trash is taken out, dishes are clean, and laundry is done, but shelves are covered in dust. Killing yourself, and depriving yourself of sleep to try to achieve perfection serves no end goal.

3. Sometimes fast food is your friend. This is especially true, if you choose fruit or salads for the side. The key here is moderation.

4. Keep snacks in your office, and consider trying to eat a snack around 3-4 PM so that you do not arrive home with low blood sugar, cranky, irritable, and ready to rip off the nearest person’s head. I find that if I don’t eat something – animal crackers, goldfish, anything – at that witching hour, I am a regular bitch for at least as long as it takes to get dinner on the table, and get my blood sugar level back up. Thus, I try to avoid that charming state of mind by eating a small snack.

5. Just say no.  Maybe this should be the first one. You do not have to be everything to everyone, and do not have to prove anything. Do those things which you do very well. Do not do those things which you do not do. The corollary to this is to know your limits.

6. Sometimes just enough is good enough. Store bought treats, cards, you name it. They work just fine. Yes, I am perfectly capable of making nearly everything from scratch, and crafting nearly anything known to mankind. That does not mean that I will choose to do so in every instance. Sometimes the glue gun needs to stay in its drawer.

7 Working Mom Trade-Offs for Survival and Sanity 37. Cut yourself some slack. You are awesome. I think that we as women tend to undersell our awesomeness. When all else is going haywire, just stop and remind yourself – you are awesome. You are you – and that makes you special.

So, remember, don’t let ’em get you down. Choose your battles wisely, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Next: This Working Mom’s Secret Weapon: My Au-Pair