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Rule 24: Plan a Power Lunch

Aug 21, 2008
Christina Johnson Polk is mom to Max, two, and wife to Kevin. She lives in Lafayette, CA, and works full time as a Construction Manager.

Forget taking that all-important client to the newest bistro to schmooze and impress - the idea of a "power lunch" takes on a whole new meaning for working moms. You've got a lot to do to balance your career, your household and your personal time. So get creative with your lunch hour and use the time to tackle things that take time away from your family and friends after work.

Can't find time to exercise? Find a gym within walking distance of the office (or with easy parking). Walk around the block or find an enjoyable destination like an inner city park or a hillside with a view. I know you might be thinking "easier said-than-done," but try it. I've been happily surprised by how refreshing it is to get out of the office and get some exercise.

If you are socially inclined like I am, invite your co-workers (like other working moms). If you want more privacy and "alone time" take your "lunch" a little earlier or later than normal. If you don't want to sweat (or have a "bad hair day") do some weight-lifting, thoughtful meditation or a few relaxing yoga poses.

Do you feel disconnected from your girlfriends? Schedule a gossip session. Send out an Outlook appointment with a free conference call in number to your social circle. When several women in my Mom's club went back to work, we really missed each other and hearing about all the kids. Now we call in once a month to reconnect and hear what's up with our clamoring toddlers.

You can catch up with family, too; call your sister in Cleveland or your dad in Detroit. If you work in cubicle-land and are self conscious about your conversations, reserve a rarely-used conference room or take your cell phone for a walk (and kill two birds with one stone).

Errands taking up your weekend? Get them out of the way during lunch. Hit the grocery store to pick up a sandwich and get your shopping done, too. Keep a cooler in the car for cold stuff, so it will keep through the afternoon. Find a dry cleaner close to work so you can easily fit this activity into your day instead of on the way home. Most dry cleaners also do small repairs like replacing buttons and fixing hems, and the small cost is worth it. Go to the local toy store (and support local businesses) and stock up on kids' birthday gifts. You won't have to make a late night trip to the "big box" toy store for your son's best friend's birthday party that you just remembered the night before.

Can't remember the last time you did something for yourself? Take some time to regroup, refresh and relax. Head out to a local cafe with a trashy magazine or a lighthearted novella. Find a discreet salon and get a pedicure - skip the polish if you get anxious about getting back to work. Some salons offer a lower leg massage as part of the package - great if you have a lot of standing to do, or just want a little treat. Do a little shopping for you. Browse a chic boutique for a new purse or try on new shoes. Just don't lose track of time!

Whatever you do, don't feel guilty about using this time to get your stuff done. There are times when we need to use our lunch hour to catch up on all our job-related action items. There are other times when we need to use this time to catch up on our personal action items.

You might need to be discreet if your work environment suffers from an overzealous work ethic. Not everyone will understand what it takes to be Superwoman. We need every minute of every day, so make lunch your power hour.

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008.
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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