Being a working mother can be a lot to juggle at times, but it’s crucial to demonstrate how to execute time management, organization and leadership skills to our children. That’s especially true if you’re committed to raising kids who are smart, strong and independent—a lot easier said than done!
As the founders of a fitness franchise and leaders in our communities, we’ve learned a lot about this whole working motherhood gig along the way. By pulling from our experience as “mompreneurs,” we’ve managed to steer our pre-teens in the right direction to help them learn and grow in their own unique way. We wanted to share a few tips with other busy moms out there working to achieve the same goal.
Because when your kids are independent, it also means you have more time to pursue your own passions—be it work, fitness or just a little hard-earned R&R.
1. Make Chores Meaningful
Chores serve an important purpose by teaching responsibility. However, we try to think about assigning tasks that serve a larger purpose. For example, we have been working with our middle schoolers to learn how to do their own laundry, a skill they’ll need to have mastered by the time they move out of the house. We also love teaching our pre-teens how to make simple meals, and we leave them in charge of dinner for the family once a month (at the very least, they’ll be able to feed themselves on nights we can’t be home by dinnertime!) We encourage our older children to help their younger siblings with homework to help foster emotional development, which we hope will teach patience, understanding and encouragement.
These chores teach small life lessons, and we have found a sense of independence seems to develop naturally.
2. Teach Through Example
Scheduling is a vital part of our lives—we live by our calendars to help keep us organized and on task. We try to share this habit with our kids by sitting down with them on a weekly basis to go over their own calendars. We help them make sure they’re prepared for all upcoming projects, tests, games, practices, etc. for that week. We also schedule in family time throughout our busy week. The kids actually love having their own personal calendars and it definitely has kept them more organized.
Our kids can be just as busy as we are between school, sports and extracurricular activities. While we love how involved and active they are, we want to make sure their schoolwork doesn’t suffer because of it. After school, we always carve out time post-dinner for homework. All phones and TVs are shut off, and we sit around the table together to get our work done—moms included. We hope that by showing our kids how we focus on getting our to-do list checked off, it will help them build discipline and strong study habits. This “work time” also affords us quiet, technology-free time with our kids, a luxury many working moms can relate to.
If your child has the opportunity to watch you focus on your work and stay organized, they’re more likely to develop a similarly strong work ethic. We are hoping to help them become independent and organized learners.
3. Encourage Experiential Learning
Learning in the classroom is important—but learning outside the classroom is also incredibly impactful. Creating memories and sharing new experiences is an invaluable source of knowledge, and teaches kids to think outside of their “bubble.” When we travel, we love to go skiing or to jet off for a quick beach escape, but we also try to plan some of our vacations to cities with rich historical ties and great learning opportunities. In Chicago, where we live, or when we are on vacation, we try to visit different museums and parks or a new restaurant with cuisine from a different culture than our own—we love showing the kids how fun it can be to try new things!
We hope that real-world experience enhances our children’s education. To help encourage this and guide our kids toward finding their passion, we try to introduce them to various events and volunteer opportunities. A few years ago, our company, Shred415, volunteered together at a local Chicago-area soup kitchen. All of our children joined us and it gave us a great opportunity to talk about the value and importance of giving back to your community. The trip has become a yearly tradition that we all look forward to, and we hope they continue to volunteer on their own as they get older.
We know that an independent spirit can lead kids to new adventures and help them navigate the world as they find what they love to do and who they want to be. As entrepreneurs who have experienced the real benefit and joy that comes from taking those brave first steps, we want to make sure our kids are as prepared as possible to handle life’s curveballs on their own—whatever they may be!
Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer are the founders of Chicago-based Shred415, a dynamic 60-minute fitness concept that’s broken down into four 15-minute intervals, alternating between cardio work on the treadmill and strength training exercises on the floor. Tracy, who has three kids, and Bonnie, mother of two, recently announced plans to expand their concept nationwide through franchising.