Mom life is busy by nature. There are appointments and shopping and activities and meals and chores. Being a working mom just adds a whole new level of busyness. Plus add in family obligations, business trips, a shred of a social life and maybe the odd exercise class and suddenly you’re in desperate need of a 36-hour day! Since most of us can’t afford to hire the nanny/housekeeper/cook/personal trainer superwoman combo that we dream of, we have to make do with the time we’ve got to accomplish all the things ourselves. So here are 6 helpful time management tips for busy moms to try to tame the chaos.
The first step is to take a critical look at your day to day and make some cuts. There will come a season in our lives when the kids aren’t so little, and we have more time and energy to devote to extra-curricular activities, either theirs or ours. Now is not that season.
If you’ve volunteered for some task that is stressing you out, try to get out of it. I had volunteered to do the bookkeeping at my church, and although I enjoyed it, I was finding it stressful. I felt bad letting it go, but it HAD to go.
Don’t over-schedule the kids. This can be tough because as moms we want to expose our children to every activity and interest and sport otherwise we’ll feel like we’re depriving them of something.
In reality it’s just a big game of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.
Kids don’t NEED to be in every sport and play every instrument. They DO need time to relax and have free play where their imaginations are in charge.
And do yourself a big huge favour, don’t accept every birthday invitation the kids get. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ll have 3 parties in one weekend all requiring time to shop for a gift. It’s too much. Sometimes for the sake of everyone’s sanity, you gotta say no.
Identify the tasks that you really resent doing and find a way to outsource them. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself what the hardest part of your day is and find a way to make it easier.
For me, the dinnertime hour was always a nightmare. Everyone was hungry and cranky, and I had to come up with a decent meal that everyone might like, all the while I DESPISE cooking. Inevitably my husband was coming home to a house in chaos and a super irritated wife. (Not my finest moments.) So, we decided to subscribe to a food box delivery service. We decided it was well worth the cost for the amount of stress it reduced. Now I don’t need to worry about what’s for dinner, and since all the ingredients are pre-measured for each meal it’s easy for my husband to do the cooking instead.
At the end of the day, I have saved the hour of time I would have spent stressing out about dinner and trying to figure out what to make.
Determine what causes you the most anxiety during your day and try to find a way to either outsource it, get your partner’s help or eliminate it all together.
Don’t Procrastinate or Make Excuses
One good way to stay on top of the housekeeping is to create a weekly schedule and stick to it. It prevents you from wondering when you’re going to find the time to do certain chores. Mondays you vacuum, Tuesdays is laundry, etc.
My current system is to do the work when I see it. If I notice the floors are crumby, I vacuum. If the laundry basket is overflowing, it’s laundry time. If there’s dust on the bookcase, I wipe everything down. Immediately.
The key to both systems is to not make excuses or procrastinate the task. If it’s scheduled, it must be done. If you see the mess, clean it up. This way you’re saving the time you would have spent fretting about when you would find the time to keep up with the housework.
You are better than your excuses. Yes, you’re tired. Yes, the kids are needy. Yes, the dishes still need to be done. Putting them off till later or ignoring the schedule is NOT going to make your life any easier.
Most of these time-management tips involve freeing up brain space. A big hindrance to my productivity is when there are so many things I need to accomplish that I end up overwhelmed and paralyzed. That’s a time waster for sure.
When my brain can’t stop thinking about all the things, I stop what I’m doing, and I jot down everything that’s taking up brain space. I get it out of my head and onto some paper and it gives me room to breathe and a chance to prioritize.
Don’t get paralyzed by your to-do list. Give your peace of mind a helping hand and write things down so your brain can stop running in circles.
Make A Plan
Take a few minutes every Sunday night to make a plan for the week ahead. Make sure you and your partner are both up to date on any meetings, appointments or soccer games. Write things out on a calendar that hangs where everyone will see it. (Ours lives in our kitchen.)
Take a good hard look at your week, be honest with yourself and decide if you’re going to need some help. Maybe a grandparent or a baby sitter can help you out and make things easier.
Plan out your errands, shopping trips and chores. And schedule in some fun time too! Like a game night or much needed date with your mister!
Having a realistic plan will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Last but certainly not least, cut yourself some slack. As moms we can be so hard on ourselves, we are our worst critics.
You are doing your very best but sometimes the day still doesn’t go as planned. That’s ok. Be kind to yourself. You haven’t failed just because you didn’t accomplish everything on the list.
As long as the kids are happy and healthy, and the house is still standing, everything else is gravy. Remember that life is short and the only person judging your daily accomplishments is you.
And you’re doing great.
Bio: Laura Nightingale is a busy work at home mom of 2 spunky boys ages 4 & 6. She spends her days making felt flowers, blogging about motherhood and wondering where the heck all the laundry came from. She is regularly trying to fit 36 hours worth of work into a 24 hour day in her seaside home in Nova Scotia. You can find her online at The Yellow Bird House or on Pinterest.