I have been interviewing people for a job opening we have at Hudson Valley Parent. Many are parents and some are parents of young children.

I remember those days when my kids were young and I was going to school.

When I first mentioned to my husband that I wanted to go back to school full-time, he looked at me like I had two heads. “Back to school? Are you crazy?” he said. At that point I had two kids…one in kindergarten, which was full time at that point and the other was two.

So I held off thinking that I would do full-time school when my youngest started kindergarten. Wouldn’t you know, it the district instituted half-day programs.  Eliot was going to kindergarten fewer hours than when he went to nursery school.

Another year past and now both my kids are going to school full-time and I am in school too getting my bachelor’s degree. 

The next years become trickier.  I am working and trying to coordinate school drop-offs, after school programs, dinner and then fit in whatever plans my husband had. Needless to say those first six months on the job were hell and nothing seemed to go right.

Needed a job-kids-husband solution. Here’s what I did. (It may not be right for you, but it helped me survive.)

1. I gave up housecleaning. I kept things somewhat neat and that’s about it. My husband didn’t even notice, and you can be sure the kids didn’t care.

2.  I didn’t cook most meals. Simple take out was fine for us for that first year. Each of my sons “cooked” a meal of their choice. My six-year-old did pigs –in-the-blanket in the toaster oven with Mac and cheese as a side for his first meal. You can laugh all you want, but both my kids have turned out to be very good cooks.

3.  For emergencies my kids came first. That was the rule I lived by. So if someone forgot his homework, so what? If they missed the bus, they took a cab. But if someone was sick I was there with no questions about what came first.

4.  My kids could play after school activities if they could find a way to get there. I worked 45-minutes from the house. There was no way I could take them, but I was always willing to take them and their friends home after the program. If they could find a way there, I would drive everyone home. My kids became very resourceful, and they only picked the after school activities that were important to them.

Those are my four rules. Do you have rules that you live by to balance work and family life?