The title of "working mom" could be applied to any mother -- as we all know, raising children is a full-time job in itself. For those who also work outside the home, the tug of war between mommyhood and a 9-to-5 job can be downright exhausting.
If you want to succeed in everything you do, it's important you have the working mom's survival kit. Here are 20 (tangible and intangible) essentials that every woman needs.
1. Sustenance - if you're still breastfeeding, been up since dawn, working late or maybe all three, you're going to need energy. Find a place in your office (a drawer, basket, shelf in a storage closet) to store some instant energy. Stock up on granola bars, bottled water, canned soup and instant coffee to keep you going throughout the day. Having a back-up is also great for those times when you forget to pack your lunch.
2. A calendar or organizer - whether it's electronic or the good old paper kind, you need to keep an organizer. With so many obligations, it can be easy to let a meeting or ballet recital slip by. Be extra-efficient by syncing calendars with your husband or partner and setting lots of reminders and alarms.
3. Support groups - having a strong emotional support system empathetic to your needs and struggles is essential for a working mom. There are many online and in-person working mom support/networking groups that can keep you happy and feeling balanced.
4. Reliable childcare - this one might seem like a no-brainer, but having a babysitter, child care facility or school you can trust is not only essential to your child, but also can give you peace of mind throughout the day. It's important to have "backups" in place if something unexpected happens.
5. A treat for yourself - a pedicure, a cupcake after dinner or a movie night - it doesn't matter what is it, as long is it brings you happiness. It's important to reward ourselves for small milestones and "just because" to avoid burnout.
6. Online shopping - online retailers have made it easier than ever to shop for clothes, appliances and even food online. Take advantage of online grocery delivery services, discount clothing and appliance sites like Overstock and Amazon, plus daily coupon emails to get the things you need without having to leave your desk and lug the kids along.
7. Versatile clothing - wrinkle-free and washer-friendly pieces will be your best bet as a working mom. Also, picking clothes that can transition easily from day to night or work to weekend will give you more bang for your buck.
8. Ready-to-go meals - long gone are the days of the unhealthy frozen pizza or Chinese takeout for working moms who also have to worry about dinner. There are many new healthy frozen meals on the market that are easy to heat up and require little cleanup. Healthy meal delivery services are also popping up in many cities. A quick Internet search will lead you to what's available in your area.
9. A sex life - making time for your partner not only strengthens your relationship, but sex also can provide exercise and act as a stress reliever after a particularly rough day or week.
10. Boundaries - make yourself accessible to business contacts only during working hours. This gives your mind a break from job-related stress and allows you to focus on time with your family. Consider forwarding calls to voicemail and leaving an out-of-office message on e-mails during "home time."
11. An after-hours doctor or clinic - whether it's you or a little one waking up with a fever or runny nose, having a doctor's office with extended hours can help you get healthy faster without having to miss work to recover or provide childcare.
12. Vitamins - it's easy to get sick if you're running low on sleep or sharing a cramped office 40 hours a week. A daily vitamin can help you cut down on the number of colds you contract and bring into your home.
13. A good haircut - while a trendy cut may be tempting, stick with classic styles that don't take a lot of tools or products to achieve, and you'll have more time in the morning.
14. A trusted mechanic - nothing can create a terrible snowball effect on a busy day quite like car troubles. Having a reasonable and trusted mechanic or garage on speed dial can save you time and trouble when your vehicle experiences issues.
15. A goal outside of work - training for a marathon, completing a painting class or something as simple as finishing a book are great ways to give you something to look forward to outside of work and accomplishments that aren't all business-related.
16. A dishwasher - pay the extra money to have one installed if you haven't yet. After a long meeting, cooking dinner and working on homework, do you really want to spend another 30 minutes elbow-deep in dishwater?
17. Reminders of home - framed pictures, children's artwork and a cozy throw blanket on the back of your chair all can help you feel more at home throughout the day until you can leave.
18. Video chatting - stuck working late on a proposal or budget due the next day? Take a 10-minute break to Skype or Facetime with your kids before bedtime. It will lessen your guilt, boost your productivity and give you an update on their activities.
19. Exercise - it doesn't matter if it's a 20-minute walk around the parking lot during your lunch break or weekly sessions with a trainer - get moving! You'll feel better and deal with stress more easily...not to mention fitting into those pre-baby jeans.
20. Knowing your rights - if you're applying for maternity leave, adopting a baby or caring for a terminally ill child, your state has certain laws and rights that your employer must adhere to. If you are unsure about what your rights are as a pregnant or working mother, contact your local department of labor.
Of course, any mom - working or not - can use these tips, but moms on the job with limited time (and often limited patience) can use this list of essentials to ensure an easier and more enjoyable experience at work, home and play.