I thought I could have it all.

When I met the love of my life in my late 20’s, I cherished the idea of being a woman with a career and a loving mother to the kids my husband and I would raise together. Soon enough, that idea became a reality and I now have two adorable kids in addition to a career I’ve spent over a decade working in.

However, it’s not everything I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong. The truth is, I do have it all. I wouldn’t trade being a career mom for being a stay-at-home-mom. They have the hardest jobs in the world, and anyone who doesn’t agree with me needs to try it and tell me what you think then.

But I’ve gotta tell you – this “career mom” thing isn’t all glitter and glamour either. For many of us, it’s a long drive in each direction. Its picking up the kids at daycare later than you wish you had to, and getting home to rush through making, eating and cleaning up from dinner along with the rushed baths before you even have a chance to truly enjoy their time.

So what can you do to save yourself from trading your sanity for the demands your career puts on you? Here is what I do. And most days, it works:

Plan ahead

Whether you spend part of your Sunday laying out a week’s worth of outfits for your children, or cooking a few days’ worth of meals so you can dodge the bullet of being stuck for dinner ideas… planning Monday through Friday is the biggest sanity saver I have put in to action thus far. I make a point of prepping daycare lunch bags and other items the night before, so I have little to do in the morning besides getting my kids, cats and – oh yeah, myself – ready in good time for the day ahead.

Enlist help

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have family close by to help with cooking, cleaning and caring for the kids. With my parents an hour and a half away, the only person I have to lean on is my husband, and he only has me. Which is usually fine because we make one heck of a team… but let’s say one half of that team is sick, or out of town for work, then what?

Build a small network of people (paid and unpaid) to consistently help you. Don’t hesitate to carve out some cash from your household budget for a cleaning service once a week to spare you scrubbing bathtubs and the kitchen floor on a Saturday morning. If you can order groceries online and have them delivered to your front door – do it! And of course, if you can’t get your parents or in-laws to come watch the kids for an evening so you and your spouse can finally have a date night, then get to know a local babysitter or childcare provider that you can trust with your children and to be in your home (daycare teachers are ideal for this… we adore ours!).

Use your lunch breaks wisely

You work. Therefore, you have a lunch break. Both of you (I’m looking at you, Dads!). Which means that there are 10 opportunities a week between the two of you to get out and about to fill up your tanks with gas, run small errands like taking clothes to the dry cleaner and buying a present for your child’s classmate’s birthday party this upcoming Saturday. Sure, none of these things are as fun as getting a manicure, or going to your fav pub for a leisurely burger while you watch a game. But if it helps make your life after work and on weekends more free and easy, bite the bullet. It’s so worth it.

Having it all is no easy task, and certainly not what I thought it would be when I added my two bundles of joy to my life. But these strategies I’ve adopted allow me to keep my sanity (or at least part of it) while handling my duties at work and as a mother.

Do you have some great sanity-saving working parent tips of your own to share? Email us at info@lrgmarketing.com or tweet @LRGMarketing.