For most families, two salaries are better than one. But making a dual-income household with a baby—or two or three or more—run smoothly can be difficult.
If you're a working mom, here are some things to keep in mind.
Give your monthly budget a makeover.
Child care is not cheap. Actually, kids in general aren't cheap. Go over your monthly budget to see where you can cut costs. For instance, could you survive with a simpler cell phone plan? Are you willing to go without HBO and Showtime? Do you really need that gym membership? Could you cut back on eating out?
Create a support system of family and friends.
There will be days when your child care falls through. Have a list of 5 to 10 friends or family members you can call in case you need backup. It's also a good idea to have a backup sitter you trust who is OK with last-minute SOS calls.
Assume you'll always be at least 30 minutes late.
When coordinating drop-offs or pickups, give yourself a stress-free window. If you're always rushing out the door or sprinting to get home, you'll be miserable. If leaving or arriving somewhere early is the worst that can happen, you're already ahead of the game.
Tell your boss what you need.
If your boss doesn't understand that there are times you will need to tweak your schedule, it's time to find a new job. Have this conversation ahead of time so your expectations are clear. Some options you could present to your employer: Work from home part-time; work a compressed workweek—where you squeeze a full week's worth of work into three or four days; or work part-time for a certain number of months or years. If you want to propose an unconventional schedule, be prepared to demonstrate to your employer how the arrangement could benefit the organization.
Tell your partner what you need.
If your job isn't flexible, and it's just too great of a position to leave, consider asking your partner to make scheduling adjustments to be home more and take on a greater share of child-raising duties.