The ultimate Mother's Day

Leadership expert and author Jamie Woolf says this is the year for Mother's Day makeover of sorts. She suggests that by using Mother's Day to make a few changes to the "way things are done around here," families everywhere can make things easier on Mom everyday, not just the second Sunday in May.

"The 'thanks for all you do' sentiment via Mother's Day cards and gifts are lovely," says Woolf, author of Mom-in-Chief: How Wisdom From the Workplace Can Save Your Family From Chaos. "But what if this Mother's Day, you got what you really want: kids who take out the garbage without being asked, school day mornings that don't end in utter chaos, and laundry that find its way to the hamper instead of bedroom floors?"

A mother herself, Woolf worries that most moms take on too much responsibility within the family and at too high a cost. She says that by applying a few simple tactics from the workplace, moms can easily transition their family's willingness to help out on Mother's Day into year round habits that make her life a lot easier.

Tell your family what a successful mother's day looks like to YOU.
When you begin a new project at the office, you wouldn't dare let your team set to work without first communicating to them your expectations for the outcome. Great leaders define what success looks like before a project starts so that everyone knows what's expected of them and so that the end result is satisfactory to all parties involved. Your tactics at home shouldn't be any different. Tell your family what you want for a change and not just on Mother's Day but the whole year round.

"Explain to your family that to be the best mom you can be you need a little help from them. See you if you can't elicit a Mother's Day promise from everyone about one thing they can improve on-maybe your son promises to make the garbage his responsibility or your daughter promises to keep a tidier room. And then use the week following Mother's Day to turn those promises into habits.

Don't be afraid to delegate. (It'll pay off in the long run.)
It's happened to you at some point or another. You're working on a project at work and your team isn't working fast enough, or the presentation they create isn't quite what you had in mind. Though you may have been tempted to take over the project yourself, you knew that a good leader should coach her employees on what should happen and then stand back as they steer the project to completion and develop their skills and learn to perform at a higher level in the process. Woolf says that we should apply this same tactic with our children.

"Sure, you can do a better job of emptying the dishwasher or setting the table," says Woolf. "But consider the big picture parenting goals. Is it more important to have a perfectly set table or every dish in its designated place or to help your child be a contributing member of the family and to teach them the importance of teamwork?

"By holding firm to chores and setting higher expectations for your child, you instill the values of respect and reciprocity and help them develop critical life skills," she adds. "Once you've stuck to it long enough you'll see that you've created a great helper and turned your child into a contributing member of the family. So if your kids want to cook you breakfast this Mother's Day, let them. Just make sure that they do the dishes too!"

Take time to relax and rejuvenate. It makes you a better Mom.
It's impossible to remain purposeful and creative when the relentless press of responsibility zaps all your energy. Imagine a work week that didn't include weekends. Or imagine not taking a week to recharge on the beach each summer. You know that taking some time to step away from your responsibilities at work and recharge your batteries makes you a better employee and a much better leader…so why should motherhood be any different?

"Most Moms can think of a million reasons not to take some time away for themselves," explains Woolf, "Busy schedules, looming housework, and guilt are all high on the list. But what most moms ignore is the one reason they should take some time for themselves: It makes them a better mom. So, use Mother's Day as the starting point for some daily downtime for Mom. Choose one activity you'd love to stop doing and introduce your child and/or spouse to the joys of that chore."

Let yourself off the hook.
The annual arrival of Mother's Day tends to make many women introspective-and sometimes a bit critical of the job we're doing. This year, impose a moratorium on nagging worries that perhaps you're spending too much time at work or too little money on trendy clothes or kid-centric vacations. If your big-picture goal is to provide a happy, healthy home for your children, does it really matter that you can't send them to the finest summer camp?

"The fact is, we're in a recession and few parents can afford to cut back on work hours or spend excess money on non-necessities," says Woolf. "You're doing the best you can. Jettison the guilt and cut yourself some slack. In fact, give yourself a pat on the back for the fantastic job you've done raising your kids. It's the best Mother's Day gift you could ever give yourself.

Jamie Woolf is a regular contributor to Working Mother magazine and founder of The Parent Leader and Pinehurst Consulting, an organization development consulting firm. In her book, Mom-in-Chief: How Wisdom from the Workplace Can Save Your Family from Chaos, Woolf addresses real-life quandaries and covers everything that career-oriented women need to know to unleash their parenting potential and navigate challenges with skill and grace.

Mom-in-Chief: How Wisdom from the Workplace Can Save Your Family from Chaos is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

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