Organization and delegation see working moms through hectic life


November 06, 1994|By Susan Hipsley | Susan Hipsley,Special to The Sun

It's time to update an old saying: Nothing's certain except death, taxes and that working mothers are the busiest people in America.

Show me a woman with a full-time job, a baby and/or two or more children -- with or without a spouse -- and I'll show you a

time magician, or someone who's determined to learn the art when she has time.

Angela Levy, an Owings Mills mother of three small children, a wife and a pharmacist at Union Memorial Hospital, is in the second category. With Nicole, 6, Brent, 4, and Garrett, 2, she's at the stage when she has to repeat often the Mother's Mantra, "It will get better."

"Just doing the daily maintenance, the things that have to be done every day, takes so much time," she says. "The house is in a constant state of disarray. Toys are all over the place, and mail and especially junk mail gets piled up before it ever gets looked at."

Cleaning up and paperwork fall to low-priority status when three kids have to be transported to and from three different places five days a week, lunches and dinners must be made, clothes and bodies must be cleaned and Mom spends 10 hours a day working and commuting.

The unpacked boxes in the basement from the Levys' move two years ago will just have to wait.

"After the birth of our first child, it was OK. After the second, things were still pretty manageable. But then we had our third baby and moved five months later," Ms. Levy says. That put her into continual overdrive.

Now she's looking for ways to maximize her time: She takes her mail to work and reads it during her lunch break. The family has take-out pizza and fast-food burgers a couple nights a week. "So my husband and I have time to take showers," she jokes. She tries to make lunches and lay out clothes at night for the next day.

Her goal now is to sort and discard all the outgrown baby clothes and paraphernalia cluttering her house. "I need to make some room first, so I can see through this mess."

Life will, indeed, get better for those who learn a few time-management tricks along the way. Mariale Hardiman, mother of Tara, 12, and Krysta, 9, a wife and principal of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School is a good example, although she vTC insists, "I struggle like everybody else. You just try to do as much as you can at home. You have to be really organized like clockwork, and you try to delegate as much as you can."

Even after delegating, Ms. Hardiman has a full day. Workdays can sometimes stretch to 10 p.m. when she has evening meetings at school. To make sure her own kids get to school on time, she makes lunches and lays out school clothes for the next day "religiously." With a small sigh of relief, she notes, "The 12-year-old lays out her own stuff now."

It might sound like a small thing, but each task someone else does puts a few more precious minutes back into her personal time bank. They've added up to a bonus for her just this fall. She's finally able to take a yoga class once a week.

And the principal is still learning. "What's helped me this year is that I'm using an organizer, a three-ring binder situation, that I wasn't using before," she explains.

Her daily organizer accommodates 8 1/2 -by-11-inch paper and contains a daily calendar with tabbed sections behind it, each labeled according to activity (such as meetings, notes, objectives, projects). For Ms. Hardiman, the three-ring binder offers much-needed portable storage for the many memos she prepares for meetings.

"Whether it's at school or if I'm being a parent, now I know where I'm supposed to be and when."


Do you feel harried, overwhelmed? Call Time Saver. Our panel of time-management experts and people who have just plain been there might be able to help. In future columns, we'll offer some solutions to your professional, home or leisure time-management problems. Please leave your name, city of residence and daytime phone number when you call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6220 after you hear the greeting.

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