Friday, January 7, 2011

The World’s Next Superhero!

The Juggler—The World’s Next Superhero! 
By Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Telling people I am a time management expert sounds so boring. Wouldn’t it be more exciting if I told people I was a superhero? Superheroes have cool names. I would be The Juggler—faster than a speeding seven-year-old, more powerful than a mainframe computer, able to leap enormous laundry piles in a single bound…

Okay, now that I have all the sillies out, let’s get serious for a moment. This is a topic that is close to the heart of many women. I’ve honestly never heard a bunch of guys huddled around the water cooler chatting about how hard it is to balance their personal lives and their careers. I think it’s that whole guilt thing. We women feel guilty when we spend time working instead of making Martha Stewart type treats and creating Currier and Ives picture perfect holidays.

The only way I’ve found any kind of balance is to admit that I’ll never be Martha Stewart and to allow the edges of my picture perfect holidays to be a little ragged. 

Now that both of my girls are in school, I have more time to work than I used to. Once the girls are home, however, I stay off the computer until they go to bed. Then I put in another couple of hours. 

Here are a few tips that you might find helpful in balancing your career and your family’s needs:

1.   Write a to-do list every week. I write up new goals every January, which I break down into quarterly goals. Then I take my goals and write out a to-do list each week to help keep me focused. It’s also a great motivator when I write “done” next to an item I’ve completed. 

2.   Plan meals ahead of time. Homemade meals are a must in our house. Our family spends this time together each day, so the one thing I won’t compromise on is cooking. I usually have my meals planned out for the week by Sunday. I occasionally use the crock-pot so food can cook while I work. Planning ahead allows me to write out the grocery list early so I can purchase everything I need for the week.

3.   Speaking of grocery lists, I have mine typed up on the PC. It is set up by aisle the way the grocery store is laid out. This way I can just print off a copy, hang it on the fridge, and check off things as I remember what we need. This also makes it available to family members who might want something special that week. 

4.   Get ready the night before. During school, I have to make three lunches several days a week. I put them together the night before and tuck them in the refrigerator. The next morning, all I have to do is pull them out and stuff them in backpacks. It’s also a good idea to get your kids in the habit of choosing their clothes for the next school before they go to bed. 

5.   Sick and tired of having to run downstairs for supplies before you can clean the upstairs bathroom. Have two sets of cleaning supplies, one for upstairs and one for downstairs so that quick clean ups become a breeze.

The balance isn’t always perfect. Some days I have to dedicate more time to my family and less to my writing or vice versa. The most important thing to remember is that you need to find a balance you can live with—not your mother, not your mother-in-law, not the neighbor down the street, or your best friend. No one is walking in your shoes, so make sure they fit your style and juggle away.

Bio: Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.   

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at  

In addition, you can listen to BlogTalk Radio’s Robin Falls Kids show: Stories for Children  with hosts VS Grenier, D.M. Cunningham and Tiffany Strelitz Haber who chatted with CherylMalandrions about her book, writing, the publishing industry, and herexperiences with virtual tours on January 3rd. You can tune in atthe RRRadio’s site at

To learn more about Cheryl Malandrions visit

Cheryl Malandrinos's next stop is January 9th at the Utah Writer's Blog


  1. Wonderful ideas, Cheryl. I wish I was even that
    organized. :D


  2. Thanks for having me here today, Virginia. I love this blog. There are so many writer mamas out there.

    Jan, so glad you found my ideas helpful. I have to admit being organized comes easy to me. It's disorganization I can't cope with.

    I'll be popping in and out through the day, so feel free to ask any questions you have on the issues of time management and organization. I'm always glad to help.

    Thanks again Virgnia!


  3. Great ideas. I am and alway have been a list maker, but I'm no way as organized as you. Of course my kids are grown and out of the house. I was a bit more organized (lunches the night before, clothes laid out etc.) when I worked outside the home and kids were little. I love that you still make homemade meals and you eat together as a family. That was another thing I did. Well, actually, still do. I've never been one to plan out the meals a week before tho. I was more spontaneous.

  4. Hi Roseanne,

    Thanks for stopping by. I find that if I don't plan out my menus for the week then each day I am standing in front of my family asking what they want to eat and they all respond, "I don't know." I get too frustrated. It's really more to make my life easier than anything else.


  5. I used to make grocery lists - saved time and money. Now I just try to avoid the store altogether and save even more money. LOL. One thing you said near the very very top was that we as women try hard to create that Currier and Ives picture perfect holiday. No matter how many times anyone tells me there is no perfect anything, I still fall in that trap and you know's never perfect. I've spent way too much money and the satisfaction isn't quite what I expected I guess. My question to you is how do you get out of that habit of trying to have everything perfect?

  6. Hey I've got another question. Cheryl, can you give us an example of what a typical Mon - Sun menu looks like in your home?

  7. Hey Dot,

    Thanks for chiming in. As for getting out of the habit of trying to making everything perfect, it will help to focus on people, not things. Sounds way too simple, but here's the thing, I went from 10 trees inside the house last year to 4 this year, and I only received one tiny complaint--and that was from my hubby. The kids don't care if I decorate to the hilt or not.

    The weekend before Christmas we took them to NYC, and since I wasn't home, the girls had my full attention. It was a great weekend for all of us.

    Volunteering is another way to get your mind off of perfect because you'e focusing on someone other than you and your shopping list or all the cookies you need to bake.

    You also need to listen to your body. Even though I did much better this year, I spent a lot of time feeling wiped out. Take some time to goof off every once in a while and make sure you go to bed early at least a few nights a week--I usually manage at least one. I spent the whole week between Christmas and New Year's doing things I wanted to do, not work-related things. I didn't even really blog. I felt much more refreshed going back to my schedule after the first of the year.

    As for my menus, we always have pasta one night a week, fish another night, pork one night, and chicken in some form most other nights. I'll substitute beef twice a month, but we don't eat a lot of red meat because we want to keep our cholestrol at a good level. During the winter I'll make tortellini soup or chicken and rice soup during the week instead of a big meal. For a treat maybe once a month I make waffles or pancakes.

    I have a cookbook for my Slow-cooker, and two other cookbooks I use a lot. Because we eat so much chicken, I try to make it different ways. Stir-fry is popular in our house, as is honey chicken. I'm also known to just throw together a bunch of ingredients with some oil or salad dressing to make a marinade. A couple of them weren't great, but if you use ingredients your family likes it usually turns out okay.

    Hope this helps.


  8. Great idea about keeping cleaning supplies on both floors. Or, just don't clean the other floor. (g)

    Morgan Mandel

  9. Great tips Cheryl. I use YadaHome for my to-do & grocery lists on my phone which syncs with the online site. The one thing I have a hard time doing is staying off the computer when the kiddies are around instead of waiting until they go to bed. Then their dad wants my attention! Seems like the only time is when EVERYONE is asleep and since everyone is a night owl around here, that'd be SUPER EARLY in the morning! I need super cape that freezes time around me so I can work then play with them all without losing time!

  10. I love the idea you mentioned about taking the family to NY the weekend before Christmas

  11. Very funny beginning, and great tips. My husband would love if I used #3; my shopping lists are a mess.

  12. You're too funny, Morgan. My top floor doesn't get cleaned as often as the rest because not a lot of people see it.

    Thanks for chiming in Farrah. It sounds like you're a gadget person. That's so cool. I'm not really, but I post my to-do list at my writers forum, so that I don't have a piece of paper to lose. LOL!

    The one thing I would like to say, and it will probably make me sound like a villain, is that you need to train your family to give you some time. Dad has to understand that you need your time too. Even if you only make a point to write 3 days a week and give Dad the other 4, that's more than you're doing now.

    Karen, it's come to the point that I can barely shop without my list done that way.

    Thanks for stopping by everyone.