Posted on Apr 27th, 2006

One of the things I really enjoy as a therapist is helping people learn how to handle stress. I often ask clients what a typical day is like for them, so I can understand what they are up against.

"Take me from getting up to going to bed" is one way I usually ask the question.

I’ve heard about some horrendous schedules. After listening to some people, the question changes from "How could you feel so stressed-out?" to "How could you not feel so stressedout’?"

Of all the schedules I have heard about, I truly think the most stressful are those of women who have the dual careers of "professional outside the home" and "professional mom" at home.

Notice that I haven’t used the popular term "working mom." All mothers work.

Consider the words of Amy Grant from her song "Hats!"

"One day I’m a lover, one day I’m a mother. What am I supposed to do? Working for a livin,’ all because I’m driven, to be the very best for you."

She seems to have captured some of the angst and pressure of the typical dual-career woman.

What a schedule!

Follow along with me as I describe the typical daily schedule of one dual-career mom.

• 5:30 a.m. Alarm goes off. Get up and get ready for work. • 6 a.m. Make kids’ lunches and fix breakfasts.

• 6:30 a.m. Wake up kids, make sure they get bathed, dressed, fed and ready for school. Make sure oldest is at bus stop by 6:45 a.m.

• 7:15 a.m. Leave house, drop one kid off at school and the youngest at day care. Listen to the day-care worker tell about problem with your child yesterday.

• 8 a.m. Arrive at work.

• Noon. Do errands on lunch hour.

• 3 p.m. Leave work to take one child to doctor’s appointment.

• 4 p.m. Return to work.

• 4:15 p.m. Take call from oldest child who just got home and is checking in. Work until 6 p.m. to make up for time off in afternoon.

• 6:15 p.m. Pick up kids at day care.

• 6:45 p.m. Arrive home, fix dinner, give baths, help with homework, get ready for the next day, get kids in bed.

• 9:30 p.m. Time for self and to be with husband.

• 9:45 p.m. Fall asleep. Next morning get up and do it all over again.

Whew! It wears me out just to think about that schedule. In my conversations with dual-career women, several themes have emerged. Let’s take a look at what is most stressful followed by some suggested solutions.

What is most stressful

• Juggling multiple schedules

• Finding quality time for everyone, including oneself

• Spending the weekend catching up instead of relaxing

• Coming home to cranky, hungry kids

• Exhaustion - physical, mental, emotional

• Worrying if kids are well cared for while you are at your job

Solutions we have found together

• Get your partner to help.

• Make lists. This was one of the most common suggestions. Make lists of all the to-dos and appointments and commitments. Having them on paper not only organizes you, it can clear your head as well. One crucial key is to make sure your own needs get on the list.

• Plan ahead. Cook several meals and freeze them. Plan outfits for a week, etc.

• Hire someone to help with cleaning. If you can’t afford it, hire someone anyway, even if it’s only once a year.

• Keep just one room of your home clean. Many people say this makes them feel less pressured.

• Get out your schedule book and make two appointments. One is for time completely to yourself. The second is with your spouse or partner. Protect these times as you would a business appointment or job interview. I learned this technique from my wife when she wrote her name down in my appointment book a few years ago. I got the message.

• Once a month, or with a similar regularity, pamper and indulge yourself in some way.

• Create realistic expectations and priorities for yourself. Consider what’s more important, a clean house or time with your family. Well, that’s what I’ve learned from the dual-career moms I know. I invite your comments, experiences and suggestions.

Visit SecretsofGreatRelationships.com for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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