People often ask me how I squeeze so many things into my day.
I shower and make myself look semi-presentable every morning, I prepare 99% of our meals myself, I go to the gym 3 times a week, I post on my blog 3-5 times a week, I run a bunch of errands with my 3-year-old in tow (even though she refuses to sit in her stroller), and I try really hard to be the kind of mother I want my child to remember.
Of course, I don’t do all of these things WELL (particularly the ‘make myself look semi-presentable’ part), but I still do them all, and at this stage in my life, that’s the only thing that really matters to me.
Want to know my best time management tips for busy moms?
Then keep reading…
1. GET UP 30 MINUTES EARLY
Okay, let’s get one thing straight here: I am NOT a morning person. At all. But about 6 months ago, I realized that waking up before the rest of my family does WONDERS for getting my day off to a positive start. Not only can I shower in peace, but I can also prep breakfast, unload the dishwasher, check my Facebook feed, and pin a few things to Pinterest without someone tugging at my leg, which goes a surprisingly long way in helping me be more present and patient with my daughter during the morning rush.
In fact, this little trick has made such a difference, I set an alarm on weekends to make sure our Saturdays and Sundays get off to a good start as well.
(Which really annoys my husband, by the way.)
2. WRITE A LIST
Prior to becoming a SAHM, I worked as a Marketing Manager for a huge insurance corporation, and before I left the office each night, I would write down a list of all of the things I needed to accomplish the following day. This only took about 5 minutes, but it always helped put things into perspective, and I was often surprised to find I didn’t have as much on my plate as my blood pressure suggested I did.
Of course, motherhood isn’t nearly as organized or clear-cut, but I still find I am not only more productive, but also a lot less stressed and strung out if I start my mornings with a clear action plan for the day.
(Temper tantrums aside, of course…)
3. SET A TIMER
When I’m really strapped for time, I often designate a certain amount of time to each task I need to accomplish in a given day, and then I set a timer (or closely watch the clock) to make sure I don’t fall off schedule.
This may sound really restrictive and ridiculous, but you’d be amazed at how much more productive you are if you know you only have 30 minutes to weed through the stack of bills on your desk, prepare dinner, send out those ‘thank you’ notes from your daughter’s 3rd birthday party (shoot, I totally forgot to do that…), or write the first draft of that blog post you’ve been tossing around in your head.
4. LEARN HOW TO SAY ‘NO’
I have always been a People Pleasure, but about a year and a half ago, when my husband came home from work and found me in a heap of tears and snot on our kitchen floor because I simply couldn’t keep up with everything, he decided to teach me the art of gracefully saying, ‘no.’
And you know what?
It has done WONDERS for me.
Not only am I no longer agreeing to do things I know I simply do not have the time (or energy) to do, but I’m able to say ‘no’ to people in an open, honest way that doesn’t leave me feeling like the crappiest friend on earth.
You should try it sometime!
One thing I learned during my 8+ years in the corporate world is that delegating tasks to other people is extremely difficult, but once you learn how to do it, it will change your life forever.
And the same holds true when it comes to motherhood.
Once I learned it’s completely acceptable to ask for help, my life became SO MUCH EASIER.
For me, this meant sending my husband’s shirts to the dry-cleaners and hiring a cleaning lady, but if you’re lucky enough to have a husband who works less than 14 hours a day and family that lives close by (spoiler alert: I don’t have either of those things), it may be as easy as having your husband handle the bedtime routine 3 nights a week, or your asking your mom or sister to babysit 2 times a week so you can do the grocery shopping on your own.
6. SQUEEZE IN A WORKOUT
I know. I know. Finding the time to go to the gym seems next to impossible when you’ve got kids, especially when they’re not in school full time, but one of the first things I do when I start to feel overwhelmed is find the time to go for a run. I find it gives me the energy boost I need to get through my day, the added patience I need to handle The Trying Threes, and the focus I need to put things into perspective and figure out which of the tasks on my ever-growing ‘to do’ list can be pushed to a later time or (better yet!) delegated to someone else.
7. GO TO BED EARLY
Admittedly, my husband and I are night owls, and very rarely go to bed before 11 pm, which makes my 5:30 am trips to the gym feel pretty painful most mornings. But every once in a while, when we have simply run out of steam (or had one too many glasses of wine) we hit the hay 60-90 minutes earlier than normal, and we are always surprised at how much more alert and refreshed we feel in the morning.
8. PREP FOR YOUR DAY BEFORE YOU GO TO BED
I lay my gym clothes out before I go to bed each night, and if we have a particularly early start to our day, I also lay out our clothes and breakfast dishes, pack our bags, and put our shoes and coats by the front door. It seems like such a small task, but it goes a long way when you’re rushing around trying to get a 3-year-old out the door before 8:30 am.
9. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
During the first 6+ months of my daughter’s life, I treated every second my daughter was sleeping like it was my last so I could make sure I didn’t fall behind on all of the mundane tasks I thought would make me the perfect mother and wife.
I vacuumed every other day, I scrubbed our toilets 2 times a week, I ironed all of our clothes, I sent my husband to work with a packed lunch every morning…
And then one day I realized that those things were only important to ME, and that my daughter and husband were suffering as a result of how run-down and miserable I was feeling by trying to squeeze all of that stuff into my already-busy day. So, even though I hate the dust on our dark hardwood floors, wish our toilets were cleaner, don’t love the way our dry-cleaner irons my husband’s shirts, and worry my husband skips lunch most days, I have finally realized that none of that stuff means anything, and all that matters is that the 3 of us are healthy and happy.
And if you have a problem with the dust bunnies under our bed, I’m more than willing to show you were the vacuum is…
10. TAKE A BREAK
Between being a mom and wife, keeping our household in order, finding the time to go to the gym and make myself look presentable, and doing the million other things on my ‘to do’ list each day, I often feel like I’m running on autopilot.
And that’s cool.
Those are my choices and they work for me.
But once the weekend hits, I draw the line. I know I simply cannot endure the craziness I experience on a daily basis without a break, so I designate Friday and Saturday nights as my time to unwind with my husband. Sometimes we watch TV, other times we hire a babysitter and go out for dinner, and at least 2 times in the last couple of years, we have been unconscious with exhaustion by 9 pm.
I know this may not sound overly exciting, but it’s enough for the 2 of us, and it does wonders in helping us feel recharged and ready to get back at it once Monday morning rolls around.
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