Barbara Turner's mother would faint if she knew. But at age 49 -- after getting a divorce, custody of her six children and a full-time job -- Turner has managed to save her sanity by devising the following: Busy Women's Time Management Maxims Your Mother Never Taught You
1. They don't hand out medals for clean houses.
2. Walking is not hazardous to children's health.
3. You won't get warts if you say no.
4. Anything someone else cooks is delicious.
Developing these attitudes wasn't easy, admits Turner, who directs Baltimore's Center for Displaced Homemakers and spoke on time management at an employment opportunities conference sponsored by New Directions for Women, Inc.
About the oft-discussed problem of time and the working woman, Turner says, "We start out trying to do everything we used to -- maintain a spotless home, cook perfect meals -- in addition to holding a job."
To understand this compulsion, she suggests, "Look at our mothers. Mine will come over for a visit and start cleaning my oven before she takes off her hat. Women of my generation were brought up to keep a house like a museum and to serve others."
When Turner re-entered the work force seven years ago she "wasn't emotionally ready to give up taking care of my home the way my mother did." But after several months. "I realized something had to go . . . And I wasn't about to give up sleeping."
Her first step was assigning each of her six children one day a week to cook dinner and clean up the kitchen.
"My youngest was 7, and we had some terrible meals," she grimaces, followed by a laugh. "His favorite was fried baloney sandwiches and tomato soup. But when I came home I could sit and relax and not rush into the kitchen.
"It's a trade-off. The meals weren't always gourmet, but the kids had a relaxed, ungrouchy mother and gained some responsibility, independence and self-worth. Plus they learned to cook."
Although many of the mothers in her neighborhood drive their children to school, the young Turners walk. "They're all healthy," she says, "and they do fine."
With the children's help the house is kept "relatively clean, but not immaculate." Heavy cleaning chores -- like floour scrubbing -- are done right before her mother visits. "I still feel too guilty if I don't."
Any woman with children and a job who can't afford maid, chauffeur and cooking services, she says, "must learn to give up an unrealistic image of perfection.
"I had to give up a little corner of my image of myself as superwoman who can handle everything herself. Running the home is a family responsibility, not mine alone. Everyone contributes."
Make lists. "I keep lists of things to do at home and at work, and keep a pad and pencil by my bed to write down anything I think of while trying to get to sleep."
Say no. "Refuse to let other people impose on your time, or tell you how to live your life."
Learn to negotiate. Trade your child a lift to the roller rink for a clean room. If the boss hands you an assignment when you've already got your hands full, ask him or her to set a priority, so you can either drop what you're doing to start the new job when you're finished. Or ask that someone be assigned to help you.
Be realistic. "Don't plan to do more than humanly possible. Admit you're not superwoman and ask for help."
Hold family councils. Decide together what jobs needs to be done and allow each person to pick the chores they'd prefer doing.
Use organizing tools. Buy a desk calendar, memo pads, purse-size date book -- "whatever you need to get organized."
Follow your body rhythms. "Try to schedule the toughest assignments for times when you have the most energy. Save tasks that don't take a lot of thought -- like washing the dishes -- for when you're tired."
Take monthly planning breaks. "Our priorities can change according to the season or new life situations. Sit down once a month, look at what you're doing with your time and reorganize when appropriate. Ask yourself, 'If I could do just one think what would it be?' Add others in order of importance."
Take classes. Community colleges women's centers and adult education groups offer time-management classes. "If you're constantly time crunched, don't nuke your watch. Sign up for a course."