Let’s face it, if you’re a mom, YOU ARE BUSY. It’s just a fact of modern life.
And, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you: The bad news is you’ll always be busy (at least until you’re empty-nesters, I’m afraid!). But, the good news is there are definitely ways you can simplify and streamline your beautifully chaotic, messy, imperfect life.
And because you’re so busy, I’m going to get right down to it.
Here are my top 10 tips for taming your busy-ness:
1. Use Technology to Your Advantage.
How do you make sure to get everything into your schedule? If you’re a pen and paper type of planner, you don’t necessarily need to break your habits if you already have good ones in place. But you do need a way to synchronize all the important details of your life, otherwise you’re wasting precious time. That’s where tech comes in. There are many different calendar apps and software systems out there, but Google Calendars is my favorite because it’s so easy to use and it syncs seamlessly with everything else I use, not to mention Google is pretty universal--everyone is familiar with it to some degree. Give Google Calendar a try if you haven’t already. You can simplify things by using the repeat appointment feature for recurring events, set up mobile or email alerts, add meeting locations (which syncs with the map app in your phone), and more. (I plan to do a more in-depth blog post on how to use Google Calendars in the near future--so stay tuned for that!)
2. Use Shared Calendars with Your Partner.
When you schedule an event that you want your partner to have on their radar (whether it requires their presence or not), invite them to it. Ask your partner to do the same. That way, you’ll always know who has what when. Now you can avoid the frustration of missed calls when someone is in the middle of a meeting or a baby-n-me yoga class because you’ll already know when you both have breaks in the day.
3. Check In with Your Partner.
Google calendars do a lot to keep our scheduling straight, but don’t mistake that to mean that you don’t need to have a conversation about it. Review your schedule with your partner at least once a week to go over what’s coming up and how you can best help each other out.
4. Choose your priorities wisely.
Make a list of all your priorities, then determine which are the top priorities for the week or month – time with kids, date nights, any important appointments (i.e. dr visits, school meetings, performance review). Routinely check in with yourself by asking, "What really matters right now?" That way you can make sure the important stuff gets done when you're short on time.
5. Pad Your Events.
When reviewing your week or month, ask yourself: Do any of these need extra prep time or decompression time? Schedule that in too. Remember to make sure you have breathing space in between each event. You are not a machine. If you know you won’t get home from your doctor’s appointment until 1:25, which is already cutting into your little one’s nap time, don’t schedule a phone meeting for 1:30. Give yourself some time to regroup.
6. Schedule time to do nothing in particular.
Maybe you opt to use this time to have coffee with a friend or go to a movie by yourself. Or maybe you use it to simply take a nap in your car at a Target parking lot. Don’t worry about figuring out what that time will be used for. Just make room for it and make it known that that is your time. Treat it as a non-negotiable. It's a lot easier to have space blocked out than to try to clear space for solo time later.
7. Get a weekly babysitter.
Book your favorite sitter, your parents or in-laws for a weekly play date with your littles. Use this time for date nights, time with friends or whatever you like. But do get someone booked for a consistent time each week so you don’t need to scramble to find someone at the last minute when you realize you and your partner haven’t had a minute alone in weeks. You could even do a babysitting trade with someone in your mom tribe, if you’re on a budget. Offer to watch their littles one evening a month so that they can have a date night and ask if they’ll do the same.
8. Be OK with saying NO.
Is there anything on your schedule that doesn’t need to be? What can you say no to? If it isn’t a top priority or doesn’t bring you joy, then does it need to take up your time? It’s always better to start out with as empty a calendar as you can, because it can always fill up later. Remember that it’s not your job to please everyone. If your events only feel like obligations, you’ll start resenting them and the people you’re trying to show up for. And if the tasks on your to-do lists aren’t absolutely imperative, they’ll only make you feel bad about yourself later when you didn’t get a chance to cross them off. Postpone, cancel or delegate what you can.
9. Make daily planning a habit.
Before you go to bed every night, review your schedule for the next day. Ask those questions all over again. Review your top three “must do’s”. Eliminate what you can off your task list. You’ll wake up feeling much more calm and focused knowing you’ve already got a game plan.
10. Make a Task Accomplished List.
Before you let yourself feel bad about how little you crossed off your to-do list, review your day and make a list of everything you actually DID do. (Yes, breastfeeding, cuddling a sick little one, or even taking a nap count as accomplishments!) This is a good opportunity to remind yourself that sometimes plans change and the unexpected happens. Sometimes just surviving the day is a heroic feat. And, often times, I think you’ll be amazed by what you actually get done in a day.
Does your schedule totally stress you out? Do wish you could be one of those calm, cool, collected, go-with-the-flow kinds of mamas? You totally can. Join my Calm Moms group that starts this Thursday!