Tips from the Fast Track

Cathy Arnst

It sometimes sounds to me like there is a steady drumbeat in this country of news reports, magazine articles, blogs etc encouraging mothers to drop out of the work force. It's not happening of course--79% of woemn with children under age 18 work, according to census data. And plenty of them are determined to do as well in their careers as with their families. Ivanhoe, a useful web site for medical news and information, recently put together a group of these women to gather some tips on how they manage the work/life balance. There's lots of good ideas here; I've excerpted just a few of them:

--Think out-of-the box with your babysitters. For one, single teachers make great babysitters. Also, don't "nickel and dime" them. If you're generous with their pay -- even an extra 10 bucks, which might not make a big difference to you but will to them -- they'll be more likely to be at your beck and call and do whatever they can to find you a substitute if they can't make it. Orlando TV news anchor Martie Salt hired a senior citizen to watch her son and paid her the same weekly rate, even when the family was out-of-town on vacation. Even though it cost a little more, the loyalty she got from the sitter was priceless!

--Daycare is not a dirty word. The Smart Women we talked to say their kids love daycare. Kids are very adaptable -- especially if you start them in it when they're babies. If they don't like it, you may just need to find a different place. There's often a waiting list for daycare -- even as long as a year -- so get on it as soon as you get pregnant.

---As your kids age, have them help out with household chores. They can make their own lunches and do their own laundry and will gain a sense of responsibility in the process.

Check out the rest of these suggestions. And if you have any tips of your own, please, share!

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