Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Homemaking Routines and Schedules for the Working Mom

Guest post from Lucky of Making My Own Luck

I used to see templates for homemaking routines or daily to-do lists, and think they didn’t apply to me as a working mom. But eventually, I realized if I didn’t want to spend the weekend cleaning and running errands, I would have to implement some routines and schedules.

My goal became clear: to figure out a system so all weekly chores and errands would be done by Saturday at 2 p.m., when my husband comes home from work. We began to notice a difference right away. Sticking to our plan gave us so much more time as a family!

Here’s what we did:

Meal Plans and Freezer Cooking

The first thing I implemented was a meal plan. I plan my meals a month at a time based on what I have in the freezer, what’s in season, and what I think will be on sale. While I’m making my menu, I jot down anything that will need to be made ahead for our weekday meals. I also add staples like bread and granola to the list. I tackle these projects as I have time, and cross them off as I go.

Cleaning Schedule

During the week, I used to tell myself that I already worked hard all day, so I should just sit down and watch TV. But then we would never have any clean socks, and our house was in a state of chaos. So, I started implementing a simple daily housekeeping routine and we’re all better off for it.

Morning and Evening Routines

My son would get up at 3 a.m. if we let him, and he’s often the last to get ready in the morning. Our new rule is: my son can wake up whenever he wants, but he can’t come out of his room until 6:30 a.m. We have clear expectations about when he’ll finish his breakfast, and when he’ll get dressed. My daughter is a late sleeper so we don’t get her up until 7 a.m..

I get up at 4:30 or 5 a.n. so I’ll have time to write. Getting a head start on the day means when the kids get up it can be all about them.

My husband is not a morning person, so I do the mornings and he mostly handles the evening routine. This includes washing the sippy cups for day care, and giving the kids baths or showers.

Exercise Routines

Those first few months were such a blur after going back to work. I knew I had to get some exercise in to wake me up just a little. I found a like-minded friend at work who didn’t mind skipping lunches out for walks around the neighborhood. When I started working from home once a week I added in swimming.

I didn’t implement all of these routines at once, but over a period of time. It may sound like a lot of work when it’s all written down, but in reality these routines gives our family precious time to do the things we enjoy.

What are your best tips for staying organized and sane as a working mom?

Lucky is the mother of two young kids and a carb-intolerant kitty. Read about her adventures of balancing kids, work and life with making her own bread at Making My Own Luck.


Want some practical help with setting up your day for success? It all starts the night before! Be sure to grab a copy of my brand-new online course, Make Over Your Evenings.

This 14-day online course includes videos, a workbook, and step-by-step projects and is designed to help you maximize your evenings in order to experience more success in your life, more order in your home, and more joy in your soul.

It’s time to stop sleep-walking through life and wake up to the amazing excitement and fulfillment that comes when you follow my simple plan to Make Over Your Evenings.

Find out more about it here.

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • When I went to work full-time after 15 years at home, I discovered immediately I had to lower my standards a bit. I had to use my time better and become an avid “clean as you goer”. I also established routines. One thing I did to help in the morning was plan my clothes in advance. I found I didn’t like planning exactly what I would wear the next day – I didn’t always want to wear that. But I prepared several outfits in advance and then picked the one that suited me that morning. I also made my lunch the night before.

    I planned simple meals that could be prepared in 15 minutes or less or used my crock pot. I did a time map and discovered I actually only had about an hour each evening to work on things. So I started planning accordingly – my to do list was about an hour’s worth of stuff. I did write down some of the regular stuff I had to do but the extras were only an hour.

    I learned I couldn’t do as much as I did before and that was okay.

    • TeamMom says:

      I had a few reactions to the post – the first is men don’t think about all this, the second is the potential for neurosis/to be trapped by The Schedule, and the third is it never ends, so don’t privilege chores over life. I certainly can’t get all these things done in a day/week and spend time with family and do things that enrich my soul. it always seems like mom needs to take charge or things don’t get done though. make sure you’re delegating most of these tasks to the rest of the family – you are a team, and work should be shared evenly. what I do like is being intentional with my time, making conscious decisions about what is most important in the moment. think about what your most authentic life looks like and try to live it. acts of kindness and beauty? health and intellect? life is too short to perpetually satisfy self imposed obligations. #1 deathbed regret: “I should have done the dishes right after dinner!”. not so much- keep it in perspective. a routine is a tool, make sure YOU employ it and it doesn’t enslave you.

  • flybigd says:

    My husband leaves for work long before my son and I leave for work/daycare, so I’m on my own in the mornings. Setting our clothes out the night before does help a lot; surprisingly so for such a small thing. I tend to put things out in the car the night before as well. As for cleaning? I have a lady who comes every two weeks to clean the house, and my 4-year-old likes to use my electric sweeper, so that’s my routine ;-). And my husband, who has Fridays off, does most of the laundry that day, bless him!

  • LisaS says:

    1. Prioritize. Everyone has ONE thing that has to be done or they feel like a slob. For me, it’s that the dishes have to be done/out of sight and the countertops have to be sterile. Everything else is negotiable.

    2. Make other people responsible for what’s important to them. It’s no skin off my nose if the kids get dressed in the laundry room, so I don’t put away their clothes. I only clean their bathroom and/or vacuum their floors when company is coming – and only for my company, not theirs. The Husband cooks and does the grocery shopping because he hates my cooking. Surprisingly, they get to a point where they do clean the sink/tub/toilet or put their clothes away, but there’s no nagging or angst on my part because they chose it.

    3. This one is most important: accept imperfection. If you expect your house to be as clean as an OCD 1950s housewife’s, you are doomed to a life of anxiety – not just for you, but everyone in your household. Let go and live.

    • Amie says:

      LOL. I am the same way with letting my husband be responsible for what is important to him. Often that is cooking or doing the dishes. We used to have a lot of financial problems because he wasn’t very responsible with paying bills on time (and still has issues with this) so I let him pay for groceries, cell phones, cable, and utilities. I take care of the mortgage and anything that could affect my credit. It works for me.

      • Emily says:

        I love this idea! I did want to let you know (you may already know, so I apologize if I’m not saying anything new), but some payments, like cable can harm your credit when not paid on time, as they are paid prior to receiving the service. I am a compliance officer at a bank, and we see this often on credit reports. Anything that is paid based on usage doesn’t effect it to the same extent (electricity, water, etc.)

        • Amie says:

          I didn’t know that cable can harm credit, but I’m not too worried about that one. He has it as a direct payment every month. Thanks for letting me know because I was unaware of that.

    • Angela says:

      “It’s no skin off my nose if the kids get dressed in the laundry room, so I don’t put away their clothes.” LOL! I love this!

    • I struggle with #3 (but trying to improve). I think in a past life, I was an OCD 1950’s housewife LOL!

      Mary Ellen
      The Working Home Keeper

    • Sarah says:

      My hubby does the cooking (and grocery shopping) for the same reason: it’s the chores he’s chosen. (My part is keeping kiddos out of the kitchen while he cooks, since he gets cranky if even I’m in the kitchen while he’s cooking.) Laundry and dishes are a hybrid, each of us doing the part the other adamantly hates (I hate washing pots & pans so he usually ends up washing them right before he cooks with them and we only have a few pots anyway, he hates emptying the dishwasher and I find this super-easy, I hate lugging baskets of laundry up 2 stories from the basement to the bedrooms – especially while pregnant!, and he hates putting away clothes and while I don’t like hanging clothes up so much it’s no sweat to sort underwear and socks and dump them into their respective drawers!).

      Hubby and I also try to help the other with *their* chores whenever possible. Grocery shopping often gets done as a family on Saturday morning. Hubby will empty the dishwasher if the dishes are piling up and I have had a crazy week and didn’t get to it yet (and we use paper plates and plastic cups A LOT). We have two hampers in our room (only 1 hamper in our son’s room, but sorting doesn’t matter with his clothes), so the laundry is all pre-sorted into whites and colors when we put the clothes into the hamper, so it’s not a big issue for either of us to start a load whenever we have time, or move the laundry to the dryer if we’re already in the basement for some reason.

      And our bathrooms often get cleaned just for company, too. I laughed so hard at the New Girl TV show a week or so ago when one of the guys told his roommates “why would I wash the shower? It gets wet every time I use it!” or something to that effect (he also argued that towels didn’t need to be washed either, but we’re not THAT bad!).

      I try to “clean as I go”, too, but I’m still training hubby on this one, and I can’t keep up with the both of us doing “clean as you go”.

    • Carollynn says:

      To #2 I say “Amen, amen and amen!” Can’t tell you how many mornings in a row my 14 year old son will have to come to the laundry room for underwear before he FINALLY remembers to fold and put away his clothes! I just chuckle and he says “I know, Iknow….” Lucky for him, I hang his school uniforms and jeans as they come out of the dryer or he’d really have it bad! 😉

  • holly says:

    I have found I need to get up an hour and a half before everyone else. In that time, I unload the dishwasher (ran overnight), put dinner in the crockpot(s), put a load of laundry on time delay so it’s ready for the dryer when I get home and try to clean a room. 30 mins before I need to be out the door I wake my only child and get her ready. My husband takes care of himself in the mornings.

    Then, we I get home I finish my daily load of laundry, serve dinner and do any other household items that need done.

    Overall, my new washer with the time delay and the crockpot are by far my best time savers.

  • Mommy Going Back to Work says:

    Thanks. The article is good but left me needing a lot MORE details & specifics.

    I’m returning to work soon for the first time in over 5 years and my kids are starting daycare for the first time. I’ll be part time but I’m struggling a lot with how things will work out schedule-wise.

    We already do kid outfits the night before and just this week I tried on all my clothes and photographed possible work outfits (hey, 5 years in jeans killed my closet options). I have 4 professional outfits hung together in my closet. Lunches will be made the night before. I also use a time delay on my washer & cook in my crockpot. Haven’t done freezer meals (yet).

    The above commenters are giving me the SPECIFICS I need.


    • LisaS says:

      Getting out of the house is really the most stressful part for most people. The key is, think of yourself as a manager. Everyone has to do his/her job and be as responsible for him/herself as possible – even the PreK set. There will be some weird outfits, but that’s part of the learning process. You organize, troubleshoot, and do QA.

      The best tip I have is something I just figured out this year – my kids are 10 & 12!! I set an alarm on my cell phone for 20 minutes before time to go that I snooze twice. It has a distinctive ring so there’s no mistaking why the phone is making so much noise. My kids know that the first alarm means it’s time wrap up getting dressed/brushing teeth/etc., and that the second alarm (T-minus 10 minutes) is time to put on shoes, locate stuff and get to the door. When the last alarm rings we are headed out.

      BTW, this helps me get it together too. Why it took me so long to figure out, I have no idea.

      • Carollynn says:

        That count down timer is the most amazing idea I’ve heard in a while. No yelling, no arguing, just a cell phone ringing and everyone’s on board. Love it!

      • Lindsey says:

        This is so smart! I am back to work after 7.5 years at home and really want to get the routines down pat so the school year starts off well. This idea is genius. Thanks for sharing! ?

    • It was so hard to limit myself to 500 words! I have years of meal plans and freezer cooking ideas on my blog, and also have a post about returning to work after maternity leave. It’s not your situation exactly, but maybe it will help.

      Going back to work was a huge adjustment for me, almost like having the kids in the first place. I think you’re off to a good start though.

    • Anna says:

      I used to teach early childhood and I can tell you that if you bring in cookies, or bagels and cream cheese, or just something to show the staff at the new daycare that you thought of them (do it on the first day!) and you’re a thoughtful parent, they will work much harder for you than for the parent who comes in and complains. And when you do have an issue they will take you to heart if they perceive you as a thoughtful person. Best wishes!

  • Missy June says:

    I am a single working mother and like you I find that keeping up with a bit each day allows me larger patches of free time during the weekends to really feel like I have some time “off.”

    • Kathy says:

      Missy June: I’d like to tell you how awesome it is that you can pull it together as a single working mom! You and others holding down the fort solo deserve oodles of respect and support.

  • Melanie says:

    This is such a great post! I hate dedicating my whole day Saturday to tasks I can do throughout the week. Great ideas!

  • Meredith says:

    I can’t say enough about having everything ready the night before. My kids pick out their clothes, the clothes are laid out, lunches are made, backpacks ready…. A morning routine is huge for getting kids out the door. I, too, like to be up and ready for a few minutes before the kids need to be up.
    As for household chores… split them up with your spouse. I still would like to be better about getting things done during the week. Menu planning has been a huge plus for us.

  • Amie says:

    I needed this post. I am at home with a sick child (and a healthy one) and was going to veg online after lunch. I came across this post and was motivated to finish the dishes and get my dough going in the bread machine. I had planned to do my baking over the weekend, but I should just do it while I’ve got the chance. I need posts like this. I am a teacher with a long commute and I end up staying late at work and bringing work home. I need to get better at managing my time so I can have my weekends off. I’d love to be done most things by 2:oo on Saturday. 🙂

  • Thanks! What great advice Lucky. I’ve been following your blog for a long time. 🙂 Love the advice.

    This year I just switched from working outside the house full-time to being a stay at home Mom and working part-time at home. It is a completely different job. 🙂 I never realized until it happened that I had to do “on the job training”. It’s like a new JOB or position. I’m now CEO of the house.

    I will say that I’ve implemented MORE scheduling now that I’m a stay at home then when I worked full time. Similar to you I would convince myself after the basics like morning and evening routines we were done to sit down and watch TV. I really should have done more planning. We should have done meal planning and a laundry schedule.

    I’m becoming successful with the meal planning next is to get the laundry schedule on track. 🙂 That is one of my goals for 2012.

  • Amy @ Gabriel's Good Tidings says:

    I’m a full time working mom who works at night. It’s terribly tough, and takes hard work and strict discipline (as do all things that are difficult). What helps me most is saying no to things that I can’t do (due to time constraints) and having an outlet through my blog. I love to sew and craft, and really grieved that I couldn’t do that as much when I first went back to work. Now that we’ve established a routine, I’ve found great encouragement through blogging and sharing with others. The support of the blogging community is tremendous.

    Thanks for this encouraging reminder, crystal.

  • Tricia says:

    Awesome post!
    I needed this today. When I first returned back to work after my son turned 1, I had a bit of a routine in place but then over time I became lazy with it. Often I would be late for work trying to get ready, and get my son ready. My husband leaves for work early (before my son wakes up) and I’m on my own for getting us out the door – which has its challenges some days. I am going to implement some of these tips again. I must get up a lot earlier than my son, and I must get organized the night before. I believe that having those little things in place will make things a lot smoother. I also need to go back to a cleaning schedule again. That’s been a challenge. Baby steps will get me to my goal. Thanks for this post. Very timely 🙂

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Tricia,
      My husband is usually out the door before my kids and I leave in the morning. It’s hard in the beginning, but with a routine, it becomes a lot easier and more manageable. My kids are 4 and almost 6 and they know at 6:40, it’s time to get dressed. My son (the 6 year old) goes up and brushes his teeth and uses the bathroom, then gets dressed. I help my daughter with the same things and they know we leave the house by 6:55. Again, clothes have already been picked out the night before, lunches ready, back packs ready, etc…It’s hard, but does get easier!
      It’s also important to know what your child’s personality is like in the mornings. My kids need to veg out a bit and eat, so I need to wake them up a bit earlier. Good luck!

  • Sarah says:

    Thanks for this post it’s encouraging to me to hear other peoples stories & how they get it all done. I’m new to the working world also after being a SAHM for 13 years. Im exhausted by working, having quality time with my kids, trying to clean, and falling into bed.
    We’ve been trying the do ahead stuff. And trying To simplify. It’s still exhausting. But I’m trying. 🙂 so anxious to read mode moms’ stories!

    • Momof5 says:

      Just had to respond to your “exhausted by working” – I can so relate! But I can also tell you – it gets better. I’ve been back to work for exactly one year after staying at home nearly a decade, and I can’t figure out now what it was that was so exhausting. Do we have a perfect routine? No. Am I getting in enough exercise? Ha! But that basic, bone-crushing exhaustion does get better as the whole family adjusts to the new routine. I promise!

  • Kristen C says:

    Laundry used to be my worst nightmare. I’m definitely a morning person. I figured out I can do a load of laundry before I leave in the morning. I wake up at 6:30 and take the clothes from the night before downstairs to sort. I start a load washing and go get myself ready. By the time our son is up (around 7), the wash is done and is ready to dry. We leave for school shortly after 8, so that gives the laundry plenty of time to be dried and folded.

  • Amy says:

    I’m a full time working mom who works at night. It’s terribly tough, and takes hard work and strict discipline (as do all things that are difficult). What helps me most is saying no to things that I can’t do (due to time constraints) and having an outlet through my blog. I love to sew and craft, and really grieved that I couldn’t do that as much when I first went back to work. Now that we’ve established a routine, I’ve found great encouragement through blogging and sharing with others. The support of the blogging community is tremendous.

    Thanks for this encouraging reminder, crystal.

  • jennifer says:

    Any tips for moms that do or may work nights? I’m interviewing soon for a nursing job that is 3-1130. It will include every other weekend and my husband currently works every other weekend.

    My husband goes to school FT and we have a 5 year old that goes to half day kindergarten right now, but will be full time K in the fall.

  • Jody says:

    Thank you for sharing these great tips for the working mom. Some of these I have already implemented; others I am excited to try. I love the idea of having everything done by 2pm on Saturday (or a set time that works for my family’s schedule). As a working mom I find that I often scramble all weekend to get things done when I should be enjoying the down time with my family. This post has inspired me to implement more of a routine during my work week so I can truly enjoy the weekend. Thanks!

  • Mel says:

    I have to schedule in weekend errands and housework. I am too tired during the week since I get home at 6 pm or later and from there I have to prepare dinner and give my daugher a bath and get her ready for bed.

  • Patty says:

    I’m a single, full-time WOHM. My approach is similar to another poster in that I try to get all my housework done during the week so I have weekends relatively free for family activities, church, etc. A few things I do:
    –from the time DD and I get home until she goes to bed, she has my full attention; we eat dinner together, do homework, read, goof around, etc.
    –every night I clean up the kitchen and the day’s dishes; I pack our lunches and snacks for the next day and prep breakfast
    –I meal plan on Friday for the next week; I grocery shop on Sat or Sun; I do the cooking for the week on Sunday
    –each week night has its assigned 1 hour activity: Mon declutter, Tues vacuum, Wed clean bathrooms and put out garbage, Thurs paperwork, Fri change and wash bed linens and towels, Sat/Sun wash laundry and put away and plan outfits for next week; if something doesn’t get done, it usually waits for the next week
    –give myself small motivating treats; examples: when I have time to sit down with a cup of coffee, I can get the dishwasher emptied while I’m waiting for the coffee to brew; I set up my “laundry station” near the upstairs TV so I can catch up on Hulu shows while I’m fluffing and folding; keep and book in the car and grab a few minutes to read when waiting to pick DD up from her activities

    And most importantly remembering that people and relationships are a zillion times more important than any household chore, pile of laundry, unmowed yard, etc.

  • Great advice! I’m a wife and mother of 3, working full-time outside of the home. Planning simple meals for the week, preparing for the next day the night before and doing a little cleaning each day (even if it’s only 15 minutes in the evening), helps me to maintain our household. One area I do need to improve on as a “working home keeper” is allowing my husband and children to help. I have a tendency to try and do everything myself!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

    • Yes, that’s so true! I didn’t really get into it here, but my DS has the job of mopping the kitchen and bathrooms. He’s 3 and got a kid sized mop for Christmas — he is so excited to mop with real water. It’s not perfect, but who cares? The floor is mopped!

  • Carrie says:

    I’m a working single mom of five boys. I really liked this post. One thing I remember reading early in my mothering days was that once you have kids you can still do things you want, just not everything. I used to be a super neat freak. Everything had to be perfect. Now I say good enough is good enough. I try to keep up on the dishes and I still can’t stand the carpet not vacuumed, but the laundry can keep until the weekend. The bedroom doors can be closed. It is more important that I am not so overwhelmed and stressed out that I can’t be a good mom. I still read several books a week. I knit. I watch movies and tv. And I really enjoy reading blogs at night and feeling connected to such a bunch of positive, loving women.

    • Sarah says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Carrie! The most important mothering skills I’ve learned it to PRIORITIZE! If dishes and vaccuuming are high priority and clean bedrooms are low priority, that’s what works for your family. My SAHM friends have to prioritize, too, but it’s even more important for a working mom.

      Hubby and I are both TV addicts, so we have this in our schedule as a priority. For us, watching a show or two each night to destress after a long worth day is worth the cost of paper plates to minimize dishwashing time after kiddo goes to bed and leaves a little TV time. But playtime with kiddo is prioritized above TV and other things. Simple dinners that are easy and quick to make help make that possible.

  • Marianne says:

    I have just started back at work about 8 hours a week and still have a lot of extra personal work that I have to do at home (I teach piano etc.). I am working on figuring out some good routines to make everything a little less stressful. So far the best thing that I’ve done is to make sure that everything is laid out and ready to go in the morning. I am not a morning person so by doing everything at night I can just pick up and go and it doesn’t take very long. I also don’t have to stress about what to wear etc. because I’ve already decided (and no surprises that it’s in the laundry or anything).

  • Jenelle says:

    I’m with all the rest of you… going back to work full-time was incredibly difficult in my home life. After accepting a different level of “clean” and “organized” it became easier. I took a day when I was home sick, and created a 2 month menu (I left a few holes for impulse & new recipes). It now rotates, so I’m pretty much done with creating menus for a good long time. I try to batch cook on the weekends so I can throw the extras in the freezer. I also use “morphing” cooking to my advantage. I cook a large batch of a protein and then use is for 2-3 meals for the week. Creative repurposing leftovers dramatically cuts down on kitchen time.

    I use my lunch hour to run errands/grocery shop/scheduling. That way when I’m home I don’t have to leave.

    The biggest difference is when we started cleaning as a family. We all have jobs to do and when we work together we can knock most things out in a couple of hours other than laundry. I save my TV time for folding the never ending process of laundry.

    It’s gotten easier, but life is what it is – crazy. Might as well enjoy the ride.

    • Patty says:

      I second your use of your lunch hour to run an errand or 2. It’s amazing how quickly you can move with no little people in tow!

  • Amanda says:

    When I do laundry I go ahead and hang up our clothes in outfits. That way all I can tell DS (3) and DD (2) to go get dressed and I don’t have to worry about what they concoctions they put on. It also saves me from looking for ” that certain pair of black pants”

  • Becky says:

    My husband gets up at 6:15 to get ready for work. He wakes up, gets our daughter out of bed (shes 16 months) and brings her into bed with me. We cuddle and I use the 10 to 15 minutes of time to try to teach her a new word every day- that is one of the best parts of the day for me. I then get dressed and my daughter dressed, teeth brushed and am still able to leave the house by 6:55 (breakfast at daycare for my daughter and a bagel or eggs at work!) Daycare is a 3 min drive- then off to work.
    After work is over and I pick up my daughter, the first thing I do after taking off our coat and shoes is give her a snack. She eats and I do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. My husbands first task is to come home and make sure the living room is picked up from the night before. On Tues/Thurs he also starts a load of laundry. After this, we watch TV and hang out as a family. We take turns making dinner and try to enjoy the night as a family.

    On Tues/Thurs we do 2 loads of laundry and while I fold he hangs. It works for us. Then we spend an hour or two together, doing paperwork, etc until its time for bed. We leave the big cleaning projects until Saturday. My daughter loves to help and follow behind me as I sweep and use the steam mop to clean the floors and do the rest of the laundry including bedding. My husband works outside or in the basement (we are working on finishing it slowly)- and we are normally done by noon.

    I am not sure if this would work for everyone- but it works well for us. We pick at least one Sunday a month to organize and clean something- this month was the guest bedroom that is full of the ‘extras’ since we moved. We got piles for Garage Sale, etc made and are just waiting for the weather to warm up to actually have the sale.

    We try to do as much of the chores together as possible.

  • Emily says:

    As a full-time working mom with two kids under the age of three, I have found a strict schedule is VERY important. That includes wake-up and bed times. My kids are both in bed by 7:30, which leaves the next three hours for me to clean up dinner, do the dishes, get everything (and I mean everything) ready for the next morning, and prep anything for dinner the next day.

    I have found that preparing everyone’s lunches and bottles, extra clothes, diapers, etc. before I go to bed is my one sanity-saving thing. I do one or two chores a night, which keeps my weekends relatively free. I run a load of laundry while I’m doing the dishes, or I clean the bathroom while my daughter is taking a bath. I run the vacuum every other day right after dinner while my husband plays with the kids.

    My biggest piece of advise is don’t save things for later — because “later” will have its own list of things to do. You might fall in bed exhausted every night, but you can wake up in the morning knowing you can get out the door relatively stress free and dinner will be ready when you get home.

    The crock pot is my best friend. I have a permanent spot on my counter for it. It gets used all of the time.

    I also walk at work. It’s amazing how much energy it gives me in the evenings. And the fresh air helps me concentrate at work. Everyone needs a break now and then.

    The most important piece of advice I can give to working moms is never EVER sacrifice time with your kids to clean a messy house or prepare things for another time. You spend so little time with your kids as it is, don’t give that up. A messy house can be cleaned later. But you can’t ever get that hour back spent playing with your little ones.

  • Amanda says:

    Thanks for this post and all of the replies! I will be heading back to work next week after maternity leave and am a little worried about how to get everything done now that there’s a baby in the mix. My son (6) can do a lot for himself, but it is tough to get him out the door on time in the mornings because he likes to go at his own pace (which varies from day to day). I’d like to get up earlier, but I have trouble getting to bed early because I feel like the only time I get to relax and reconnect with my husband is after the kids are in bed. I’d like to start doing more in the evenings to get ready for the next day and this post encouraged me to try it! Also a word of advice for some of the others out there: the smartest thing we did was hire a woman to clean our house a few years ago. She comes every two weeks and does vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, mops the floor, etc.—all the stuff I really hate to do and spent every weekend freaking out about. Even as we have been trying to cut back on expenses (ala Dave Ramsey), she is the “luxury” that I will hang on to because it means I can enjoy the weekends with my family instead of worrying about the house!

    • Jessica says:

      I agree with you there! I told my husband I would happily never eat out again or buy new shoes if we could just keep the cleaning lady! It gives me more joy to come home to a sparkling clean house! And in all seriousness, the idea of having to spend a huge chunk of my free time cleaning was really depressing me. I really am not that efficient and it takes a long time. If I had to cut back, I think I would just have her come to the kitchen and baths.

  • Samantha says:

    These are great guidelines. My youngest would also get up at 3 am if I let him. (He knows I get up early and he likes to have that special time with mom.) We came up with the same solution: He can wake up whenever he wants but he can’t get up until 6. That gives me a little time with him before the rest of the family wakes up…but it lets me get something done, too!

  • Rachael says:

    I teach two night classes a week, and I find that for us, it is actually better if I sleep a little later in the morning and do more of a morning routine for housework than an evening routine. When I get home, the kids are so ready to see me, and we all stay up a little too late hanging out and catching up on the day. I find that my children are much better behaved in the morning and can generally play independently or watch good shows on PBS kids while I get caught up with things.

    I have just adjusted my schedule so I don’t come in until about 10 and stay later. I really should get up before them, but with the age of my children (1 and 3), we’re still a bit in survival mode around here 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Does survival mode EVER end?? Even with a 6 year-old (before the new baby arrived) we were still in survival mode! Hang in there and glad you found a routine that works for your family. 🙂

  • Rachael says:

    For exercise, which can be hard, I do a pilates class offered by my workplace twice a week during lunch and try to squeeze in one walk during lunch. Thankfully the weather has been great this winter! Then I try to work out once on the weekend.

  • Susannah says:

    I am a working mom of 3. I second all those tips mentioned above. Another thing I have just started doing is making not only a weekly meal plan (all three meals plus snacks and desserts) but also, on Sunday afternoons, all the spaghetti sauce, casserole, cookies/cakes, veggies prepped, meat marinating, or whatever for all the dinners that week. That has been a huge time saver in the afternoons.

    I also practice the “work at home, home at work” principal. This means that I DO spend some amount of time at work (early morning, lunchtime, and after 3:00 — I teach) doing “home” chores such as grocery lists/coupon matchups, meal planning, filling out forms for kids, clothes shopping online, making appointment phone calls, etc. BUT I also do “work” at home — lesson plans, phone calls, ordering supplies, unit planning, etc. You have to be disciplined to make it work without feeling guilty, but it works for me.

  • Libby says:

    I set alarms on my phone for EVERYTHING! my husband and I work opposite shifts so not having him to help with the kids can be hard and the same goes for him. We have two kids under

  • Rachel says:

    I am just curious….what is your cleaning schedule. I am a working mom and I struggle with trying to get bath rooms cleaned on monday night, vacuuming on tuesday night, changing beds on wednesday night, etc. I am wondering what your routine cleaning schedule is so I to maybe able to get the cleaning done before the weekend.

  • Libby says:

    I set alarms on my phone for EVERYTHING! my husband and I work opposite shifts so not having him to help with the kids can be hard and the same goes for him. We have two kids under school age. A typical day for us is: I get up at 5(alarm) get ready for work I’m done around 6. I make my lunch or sometimes its made the night before. Pick up the living room and kitchen. About 6:30 its time to breast Feed my son. I turn sesame street on for my daughter and am out the door by 7:20(alarm) so my son is now sleeping again and daughter gets to watch about an hour of cartoons before dad wakes up. Each morning I leave a list of about 3 things for him to do such as 1. Vacuum all rooms 2. Put dishes away 3. Dust ceiling fans. He may not get everything done but a little help goes a long way. I get home from work at 2:15 husband leaves at 2:30. This is when alarms come in handy. Feed my son at 230. 330 I do a load of laundry 2 sometimes 3 days a week. I put dishes in dishwasher. 430 (alarm) I start making dinner. I never spend more than 45 min on it and that includes cook time. We eat. My daughter is in charge of wiping down table when we’re done. Leftovers immediately get put up for lunch the next day. By this time I need some fresh air. 645(alarm) go for a walk. Daughter cleans her room and bathroom I clean mine. Most of the time we help each other but there are days I need her to give me 10 minute break of her hyperness. 8:15(alarm) daughter takes shower I bathe baby. She brushes teeth and puts on pajamas. I read a book And we’re all in bed by 9.
    There are days we stray from schedule and its nice the house isn’t always perfect but my (alarms) are a life saver when we have places to go or we have company coming over the place is usually presentable. And my daughter who is 4 loves to help with chores, She likes being a responsible big sister. Oh and I substitute cleaning my room 3 days a week with exercise.

  • Lorelei says:

    I was so glad to see this post here. For some reason I tend to think that mostly SAHMs read and reply on these blogs, so it’s good to see it ain’t so! I do a cleaning plan similar, and would LOVE to have a lady come once a month or so, but DH doesn’t like having “people in my house”. Anyone else run into issues that like that? What about DH not helping routinely? That’s what I struggle with most. I read in the comments above that a lot of DH’s help out and not to try it all yourself. I’d love for some help! My DH does the occasional dishwasher unload/load or clothes swap/fold assist. For the last 6 years he’s been working on side home renovation projects at 2 other houses we own, and claims that as his reason for not helping at home. I understand he has those other projects, but he’s not there every single day! He’s sitting on the couch while I do dishes! I’d love some help getting some fire under his rear. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      We have thousands of work-outside-the-home women who read here! You’re not alone!

    • Kassandra Wood says:

      Hi! I just wanted to say that I am the woman that comes once a month to help out. I LOVE to clean and I make an income doing so. I think having someone help you keep up with your home would be a blessing to you if you are able to fit it into your budget. Of course, there are always those that are untrustworthy, but most of us just want to work hard and earn an income. Ask for references, do a meet and greet and don’t be afraid to ask for a background check. I know mine is squeaky clean and I am never offended when people ask for my history! 🙂 Good luck to you!

    • This is a hard situation. In my experience having a calm discussion with my DH have worked muched better than venting my frustrations in a “Why did I marry such a lazy person?” type of way.

      1) I have to realize that DH isn’t able to unwind by baking bread or a really good ironing session like I am. He needs to read or watch TV after work or he feels really grumpy and deprived. Just because he’s not doing things at the same time or pace that I am doesn’t mean he’s not doing anything at all.
      2) I’ve tried to find things for DH to help me with while he’s watching tv. He doesn’t mind paying the bills, making tedious phone calls or folding laundry if he can do it from the couch.

      Also, I am kind of like your DH in that I don’t like to “have people in my house”. But then I tried having a cleaner once using a groupon and it was AWESOME! Maybe you could get him to agree to just try it, and he’ll change his mind? It’s not in our budget right now, but once was all it took to show me that’s it was worth it to get over the weirdness I was feeling about having a stranger clean my toilet.

  • Carrie says:

    I am a 2nd grade teacher and mother of 3 young children who are five and under. I have started coming straight home after work instead of picking my kids up first. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish in 3o minutes of kid-free time! Then I can spend quality time with my kids when they come home.

  • Kassandra Wood says:

    One of the biggest realizations as a working mom is the difference between money that is earned and money that makes it into the bank account. My husband and I call this “actual earnings”. The main way I stay focused, organized and sane as a working mom is to stay in touch with what a beautiful balance looks like. For instance. I may be able to work a 40-hour a week job and earn $30,000 per year. We have two children, ages 10 and 8 who would require full-time childcare. I think many times, we as parents are guilty of not recognizing the costs associated with being a working parent. Our children would need after-school care, holiday care, fall break, winter break and summer break care. This doesn’t take into consideration missed time for illness, etc. When it is all said and done, childcare expenses for our children would be around $6,400 a year. Add to that job expenses such as lunch, gas, mileage, uniform, etc. For our family, the best decision was for me to find ways to creatively earn money around our children’s school schedules and to work a couple nights a week at a restaurant. Right now, I clean a few houses per week, still have time to coupon at 5 stores, I am a member of the PTA board, I continue to be a home-maker. I work my schedules around those of my husband and children. We don’t have a need to utilize childcare, there is no need for me to get up earlier than my family in the morning or stay up late at night. I am at every special event our children participate in as well as I have time to myself and alone time with my husband. I’ve given up a traditional career to balance home and the need to contribute financially. I work about 15 hours per week and I earn $20+k a year. Not too shabby for very part-time work. I know that what my family does is not the most suitable for other families. Of course, this is just an example of what WE do to balance and keep sane. Sometimes it is best to work smarter, not harder. Sometimes my time at home, time couponing, deal-grabbing and saving is more valuable than my hourly wage as an employee. Of course, this wouldn’t be the most beneficial for someone in an amazing career… but for those of us who work to contribute a little something, it is a good compromise. 🙂

    • That’s so true. You need to do the math, and see if what you’re doing makes sense. There’s childcare & commuting costs to take into account, and on the other side of the coin there’s additional benefits such as health care and 401(k) contributions. For the first year after my son was born, the health care offered to us through my employer was almost as valuable as my salary.

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you for this post and the excellent comments! Our first child is due in May and I am fortunate enough to be able to take 12 weeks of maternity leave. One of my biggest fears is the return to work, not because I want to stay home, but because much of the time I feel like I’m barely holding it together as a working wife – what on earth will it be like when I’m a working mom?! I’ve gleaned some good tips here, though, and just jotted down a simple list of 4 things I think my husband and I can work on together to hopefully make things somewhat saner and smoother. It’s also really, really good to know I’m not alone. Much of the time I feel like I’m in the minority as a working Christian wife/mother-to-be. So thanks for the encouragement and tips!

  • Jennifer says:

    I try to be VERY disciplined with my routines. I am lucky that I have someone who cleans my house every week. I would honestly give up just about everything else (eating out, clothes, cable, etc.) to keep her. 🙂

    Here are my other routines:
    Morning routine: short because I’m not a morning person. Up at 5:45am Put clothes in dryer. Feed dog. Breakfast. Get ready. Get 1 child ready. Hubby gets the other one ready.
    Evening routine: Girls (3 and 21 months) are in bed by 7:30 so until then, I spend time with them. Hubby gets our very simple dinner ready. Hubby will usually bathe them while I fold their clothes and change their sheets (any kind of cleaning that needs to be done in their room). After their bed :Clean kitchen, go through mail, fix milk and lunches for next day, lay out all clothes (me and girls), prepare dinner for next night (notice – very very simple – crockpot, spaghetti, etc.), put load of clothes in, fold one load of clothes, declutter one thing, put away things (toys etc.). Hubby will usually empty dishwasher. I then try to read the rest of the night. I have 2 TV shows that I watch. My quiet/prayer time is right before bed. Bed by 10pm! On Tuesdays and Fridays, I try to spend dedicated time with hubby. On Wednesdays and Sundays, I call my Mom for a 1 hour chat. 🙂 On Thursday, I do meal planning for next week.

    Saturdays are errands and family time. Saturday night, I prepare my Sunday School lesson.
    Sundays are church and naps!

    I used to try to do a lot of chores during the week, but I have found it just doesn’t work for me. I really want to just sit down, talk to my husband, or read.

    I’m working on 1. When to exercise? 2. When to scrapbook? (note: I don’t really enjoy this, I’m just doing it so I can read back about my girls’ childhood one day 3. When to organize budget/bills. I generally pay bills during my lunch hour.

    Whew, I’m tired…

  • Eli says:

    For the working moms trying to fit exercise into their day, try , most of the exercises are ONLY 12 minutes, and I do mine first thing in the morning, works like a charm 🙂

  • I just started the freezer meals and wow, what an incredible time saver! I also plan on getting everything in my house done by 2 so I can relax. I work overnights, so I need wind down time in the afternoons. Thanks for the fantastic ideas here. I plan on implementing all of them! 🙂

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *