From power lunches to Power Rangers; How executive moms juggle the daily grind

By Wendy Burt

How is it that you've managed to climb your way to the top of the corporate ladder and yet still can't maneuver your living room without tripping over toys? Sure, you're the only woman in town who can boast an equal knowledge of trading stocks and Pokemon cards, but with an 18-hour work day, sleep is currently your hottest commodity.

Unlike the June Cleavers of yesteryear, today's executive moms often carry the double burden of maintaining a house and working full-time outside the home. (Not to mention that with the divorce rate higher than ever, many of these double-duty moms jump to virtual Superwoman status without the help of Superman.)

The fact that you and other executive moms exist is proof that it can be done, however draining and stressful. Whether single or married, you and your female counterparts demonstrate that you can have your cake and eat it too. The question now is, "How do you find time to bake the cake?"

"Raising two kids and working full-time is as close to impossible as it gets, but it can be done." says Penny Boyd, Regional Procedures and Reporting Coordinator for Arch Communications. Boyd's strategies for success? "It helps that I have a husband who works from home, but there are times when he can't take the kids to the dentist or pick them up after school. Since I know in advance, I'll plan my meetings through the lunch hour and take my lunch at 3:00 p.m. so I can pick up the kids."

"I'm also very careful to communicate with my supervisor and employees. They know that my family comes first, and I let them know in advance, whenever possible, if I have commitments with my children - a softball game, a doctor's appointment, choir practice- this helps everyone know when I'll be out of the office."

Let's say you're the executive of a huge company. You've got piles of work on your desk and meetings scheduled all day. The phone is ringing off the hook and the postman just delivered a stack of mail the size of a small European country. The rugs are filthy, the garbage is overflowing and the break room smells like rotten eggs. What would you do?

You'd get some help, of course! You'd march into your boss's office, explain your situation and demand the money to hire a receptionist and/or cleaning person. (Hey, you didn't get to the top by keeping your mouth shut!) By presenting your case with the facts - "Here's what I need," "Here's why I need it" and "Here's what it will help me accomplish" - your boss would be hard-pressed to say no.

That said, what's keeping you from doing the same thing at home? If there are more clothes on the floor than groceries in the fridge and you can swear you saw your dirty dishes move all by themselves, it's time to call in the cavalry. "Sit down with your family and tell them what you need," says Jancy Beuckers, C.E.O. of Earhart Productions, a Texas-based antique automobile company. "Whether it's asking your husband to wash the laundry or having your five-year-old pick up her toys in the living room, you need to be specific."

"Both my 12-year-old and my 14-year-old have their own responsibilities around the house," says Boyd. "I'm pretty lucky in the fact that if they come home and see the dishes need to be done, they do them."

If you're single, your husband works as much as you do or your kids are too young to help out, take the plunge to hire some help. "Bringing in a cleaning person just one day a week may be all it takes to make you feel in control of your home life again," says Bueckers, who often works from 4:00am until 8:00am while her daughter is asleep at home. "Or, if you've already got a nanny, offer to pay her a little extra to cook, shop or clean. Chances are it'll be worth the extra money for both of you - and if it's not, you can always change your mind later."

Part two: Learn to Prioritize