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Working Mothers; Organizing Your Life

Task-sharing at home

As a working mother you'll be juggling two jobs: your duties at home and at your job. That's a demanding schedule even when you have emotional and financial support from others. Typically, it's inflexible job schedules that create much of the pressure on two-career families. The mutual support so necessary to a good marriage and family becomes more difficult when each partner is overextended. Because everyone has needs, they can be met successfully only by striking the right balance. The best way to deal with the stress you're under is for both of you to learn how to share the responsibilities of your busy life.

Tips for Successful Task-Sharing at Home

1. Identify priorities—First and foremost, you need to identify what tasks take priority and where potential sources of conflict lie. This requires both of you to know the other's schedule by using a family calendar. The keys to success lie in keeping focused and in maintaining a balance between work life and home life.

2. Be organized—For working couples, organization means the difference between function and dysfunction. When you have a system, you avoid wasting precious time and energy. You accomplish more, are more effective, and live an easier life because you're more in control.

3. Keep communication open—Try to keep a constant flow of communication between you, even when busy schedules make that very difficult. Communication is a learned skill. Practice it until it becomes second nature.

4. Negotiate solutions—Discuss how all the duties, baby care, and household chores will be divided. Approach the search for solutions with an open mind. Smooth negotiations are bound to lead to happy outcomes. They may not be the solutions you had expected, but the best interests of your family have been served.

5. Be adaptable—Not only do you need to rearrange priorities now that you're a mother, but you also need to be more adaptable than every before. For example, you both need a short period of relaxation at the end of the workday. Then the pressure of baby care and preparing dinner won't seem as great. You can't do it together, though, when a small, demanding child is around. So take turns on alternate days to read a newspaper or catch forty winks. At least one of you will feel more relaxed every other day. Contentment will be yours when you share the load. You will have broken away from stereotyped roles and will have negotiated new ones.

6. Remember that the tasks you're so busy "getting through" (e.g., eating, bathing, bedtime) are what memories are made of—Become more mindful of the passing moment, instead of trying to push your kids through their days.

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