Before I had my son I was the epitome of being on time. I scheduled our vacations by the hour and printed off itineraries to make sure they went according to plan. I had endless dates scheduled with my girlfriends and was able to easily fit in working out, hobbies, clubs and a full-time job as well. Enter my newborn.
I was running late to a new mother’s group of all things. This was our first meeting and I was eager to make a good first impression. I hadn’t anticipated how long showering, packing a diaper bag and changing said newborn would take.
I arrived at the meeting 30 minutes late swearing under my breath, a profuse sweat glistening off my rushed makeup job and walking into a room where everyone else somehow managed to get to on time. It was in that moment that I knew I had to take control of my schedule and plan my life better.
Have you ever tried maintaining a strict schedule with kids? Hope you got a good laugh out of that one instead of the tears I have shed trying. These days we are all “so busy” and stressed and have too much on our plates. Finding the time to simply shower and eat most days can seem like an impossible task.
It took almost 2 years since that first late arrival for me to finally get a breather and start focusing on managing my time better. This is one of the most common parenting and lifestyle problems moms can run into. Not only are you managing your own schedule, but one or more kids who put my social life to shame most weeks. Here are some tips that have helped me reclaim some time on my side.
Identify black holes. These are the unnecessary and unimportant things that can suck hours of our day without even realizing it. Scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook or Instagram feed throughout the day adds up. Some people can reclaim hours of their day by setting limits such as only checking once in the morning and once at night. Other examples might be watching TV (your guilty pleasure doesn’t count) or feeling the need to text back immediately even if you’re in the middle of something.
Make a To-Do List. Draw up three columns: Red, Yellow, and Green. Red are items that are of the utmost importance and must get done today. Yellow are things that should get done soon but not necessarily by the end of the day, perhaps by the end of the week. Green are items that would be nice to have done in the near future but not critical. You can also do this on a weekly basis if that is easier. Sometimes having a list of items you can cross off can take some anxiety out of your head and onto the paper. Plus crossing things off is so cathartic!
Plan Realistically. Sometimes us moms can’t stick to a set in stone plan. Illness, days off, last minute projects always come up. But it can help you feel more in control if you have a rough idea of what your day is going to look like. Some people buy fancy paper planners, others use their phone/email calendars and some have an actual whiteboard calendar hanging in their house. Find what method works best for you and put it to work.
Just Say No. You and your little family should be a priority. Don’t feel guilted into doing something that isn’t serving you and getting you where you want to be. Its ok to skip out on a party if you want to stay home. It’s also ok to say you can’t take on an additional responsibility that you don’t have time for right now.
Schedule time for yourself. A frazzled mom is of no use to anyone. Make sure you are doing something fun or relaxing for yourself at least monthly. Hire a sitter or ask a friend to swap childcare for a few hours. She can do the same thing when it’s your turn to return the favor.
Ferris Bueller said it best, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Isn’t this so true for moms? Lets make the best with our time we have here.