I was late in the game with technology. While my friends and family were readily downloading apps and taking adorable vintage photos with Instagram, it took me years to embrace the smartphone. I also was slow to get excited by the DVR I nowadays swear by. How else can I have Elmo on hand for my 3-year-old and Modern Family ready and waiting for me when I have a free 30 minutes to spare?
I held firm to my stance that I wasn’t a tech girl and would much prefer to write down my schedule and leave email at work. . . blah, blah, blah. That changed the day I actually succumbed and decided on a smartphone when upgrade time rolled around. I declared my choice was solely based on the ability to take cute pictures of my daughters but secretly I wanted in on the club and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I told my husband a week later that the iPhone changed my life. He smirked and had an “I told you so” look.
I am now leaning on technology more and more because as a working mom of 2 toddlers I will take all the help I can get. Here are a few reasons why I encourage all of my mom clients to jump on the tech train and never look back:
- Branding: Get involved online and build your presence this way by participating in LinkedIn, tweeting great articles and writing engaging blog posts. Nothing will shave time off of in-person networking like a great online presence.
- Ease Workday Load: Family dinner is important to me. I leave at 4:45 unless I have a class to teach. Period. The only way this is possible for me is because I can pull out my laptop and get 2 hours of work done after my girls are cozily sleeping in bed.
- Scheduling: No need to waste time calling my husband to see if we can meet friends for dinner, volunteer with the youth group or schedule a play date on Saturday. I can simply check his calendar, compare it to mine and I have my answer. Total time saver. I have friends who take it a step further and register with an online family organizer and swear by it. Remember the Milk and Cozi are 2 highly recommended apps.
- Connecting/Sharing: My family lives in California. I live in the Midwest. Thank God for programs like Skype, Facebook and Instagram that enable me to quickly get a dose of home updates so I can then attend to my other responsibilities. The connect
ing aspect of technology is also helpful for moms who work at large corporations. Many Fortune 500 companies have “mom boards” where employees can share tips ranging from best nursing locations in the building to offering up used baby goods.
- Kid Friendly: Those of us who have waited for food to arrive at a restaurant with a toddler, spent 2 plus hours on a flight with an 18 month old, or taken a preschooler to the DMV for a license renewal – all while armed with a smart phone or iPad – know the value in technology. It allows us to get through a boring task without a tantrum while our child is entertained with an educational game. I’m not encouraging letting your iPad babysit your child, but I am the first to admit that it is useful in certain scenarios.
This list could go on with relevant tips and suggestions on how turning to technology can actually ease a mom’s to-do list. There is one caveat though:
Technology can be a time zapper and a great way to lose focus of your #1 priority – your kids.
Something I have found that works for me and prevents me from answering my email on my smartphone while playing Candyland with my preschooler (which makes her feel like my last priority when all she wants is my undivided attention as she nabs the Queen Frostine card) is to put my phone and computer away until the kids are in bed. I often leave my smartphone in my purse when I come home from work and don’t take it out until they are tucked away sleeping. This helps eliminate the chance of mom getting distracted and shows my girls that family time is first.
As with anything, balance is key but honestly, a life with technology and all the help it can provide, does ease many stressful situations and can make family planning much easier.
What types of technology do you find helps with your work/life balance?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara, and Brooks Institute, where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR and Job Dig.
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