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How to Cram a Life into Your Crazy Schedule

How do you give enough to your job and your kids (without cutting out important stuff like, say, sleep)? Steal some ideas from REDBOOK reader Debbie Mielewski.

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

As told to Lindsey Palmer Redbook Magazine Logo

This is it? My baby's so small and I have to go back to work already?!

Amazingly, it was actually through my job that I discovered ways to prioritize my family. Ford offers various flexible work arrangements, so over the years I've been able to pick the best options for me as a mother. And I've found my strongest source of support at work too: I lead a team of five researchers developing sustainable plastics, and not only are we all women, but we're also all moms! Because we all understand what it's like to feel pulled in 10 different directions, we're there for each other in ways that go way beyond our job descriptions.

Now that I'm back to working full time, I know I can manage a demanding career and also have a great family life — but I realize that it requires a whole lot of helping hands and inventive scheduling. Here's how I make it happen.

I've created an amazing support network — at work.

Having a team of moms on the job makes for a great work environment: We all cover for one another as needed, so if someone has to be out with a sick kid, the rest of us pick up the slack. Or we'll split up the work at an evening auto show based on the availability of everyone's husbands and sitters. As supervisor, I encourage this flexible setting. It works because we're all super-efficient and communicative, which I think are qualities that come naturally to moms. I figure, as long as everyone is getting their work done, why worry about the details?

Not only are we a compatible work team, but the five of us are also like a moms' support group. We talk about all sorts of child-raising issues, and it's so helpful to be able to lean on these other moms who can offer advice or a sympathetic ear. We're a tight group, and we even get together outside of work: We'll see the latest Twilight flick or take our kids to the apple orchard. It makes my life easier — and richer — to be part of such a great team.

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