Before I had Owen, I remember thinking that I’d be able to be productive and get work done while being at home with him. “I’ll just do it while he naps,” I thought to myself. I quickly learned that naps are not a guarantee, and even when your baby does nap, there’s things like laundry, dishes, tidying, or heck, just taking a shower that also need to get done.
Now, throw a job into the mix. Sure, you could quit your job, but most of us aren’t in the position to do that, and plenty of us don’t want to anyway. As much as I admire my mom for staying at home with the three of us girls, I’m not sure I’m cut out for it. Whether you’re a working mother or stay-at-home mom, they’re both filled with lots of challenges and never enough time. Often times I wonder—how do I get anything done? Some how or another, things manage to get done, and I think it’s because I’ve created some habits for good time management.
I won’t lie though—most days, it’s a juggling act and things almost never go to plan. I’ve learned to be so much more flexible and care free. Good time management can help us busy moms turn into productive moms every day. All it takes is a little forward planning!
Moms Are Busy
If you’re a mom, this is a fact you already know. Being a mom is a huge responsibility. We have to make sure everyone’s clean, fed, diapered, entertained and loved. It is most definitely a full-time job within itself, and one that doesn’t come with a paycheck or benefits (unless you count baby snuggles as benefits!). When you layer in full-time, or even part-time jobs into that, it can feel so overwhelming.
These days, it seems that more and more of us are working moms. According to this website, 2/3 of moms work these days, and a 1/3 of them are the breadwinners in their family.
Even though a lot more of us are working, it doesn’t mean we feel less inclined to take on our motherly duties. According to this site, 8 out of 10 moms say that motherhood is exhausting (duh), but also fun. I have to agree with that stat!
Working mothers are even more likely to end up stressed and exhausted, so read on for these handy time management tips to help keep things as balanced as possible.
Time Management Tips For Working Moms
Get on a Family Schedule
Having a schedule of sorts can make everything run so much smoother. As Owen gets older, this one will only become more important. Especially when there’s more kids in the picture. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy and rigid, but a general outline of what happens throughout the day will make everything run smoother.
Plus, kids thrive off of routine! When they know what to expect, they’re less likely to be surprised and get upset. Before you know it, they’ll be the ones keeping you on schedule because they’ll remember which things come next.
When your kids are older and actually have real activities like soccer games, homework, chores, birthday parties, etc. A physical schedule would be ideal. Place it somewhere that your family spends a lot of time, like in the kitchen, where it’s easily visible. You can do it by week, or by family member. This is a great way to make sure that everything is covered and if kids need rides to places, the adults have it figured out.
I’d also pencil in things like laundry, vacuuming and grocery shopping because they’re essential. But things I typically forget about until the floor is covered in dog hair, there’s no more underwear or the fridge is totally empty!
Family Schedule Ideas
• Chalkboard Wall: I love the idea of a chalkboard wall, but honestly I can’t stand the sound of chalk on the board, but if that doesn’t bother you, go for it. These are fun—how cute is this one?
• Dry Erase Board: Because life changes and dry erase markers are super easy to update. If you don’t like the way they look (I feel ya), try an acrylic one instead that looks more modern! I love this one!
• Color Coordinate: Make it fun! And color also helps break up the different activities on the wall. Green for chores, blue for sports, orange for appointments, etc.
• Chore Charts: We had these when we were younger and it really taught me to responsible. I took ownership of my room and my stuff and felt proud when everything looked good. Honestly, I think instilling ideas like this at a young age is such a smart idea and helps to build confidence and self-esteem. Also, I had a little chart in my room and I’d go through and check everything off before I came down for breakfast in the morning. We got a small allowance at the end of the week too which definitely made it more motivating! Check out these good ideas for age appropriate chores.
• Physical Planner: For me, there’s something about writing things down and crossing them off that I absolutely love! My mom was this way and I think it grew on me. It might not be as easy for the whole family to see. But you can bring it with you, so when you’re out, you still have your schedule. This floral one is the one I have (but for 2018).
Create Household Chores for Kids
Owen’s still far too young for this, but when he’s old enough, he will definitely have some chores! My parents gave us chores at a young age and looking back on it, I’m so glad they did. It taught us that everyone helps out, and that things don’t just get done on their own. It also taught us to be responsible, tidy and gave us a sense of ownership and pride over the things in our room.
Our chores were always age appropriate too. For example, I’m the oldest, so after dinner it was my job to load our dishes into the dishwasher. My middle sister was to bring all the dishes from the table to me. And my youngest sister was to clean up the napkins from the table and throw them in the trash.
It made the whole night more manageable for my mom too. She’d already cooked dinner and wrangled us all day long. So this was her moment to get a little bit of a break!
Working Mama Style
Develop a Routine
Routine is so important if I want to stay sane and actually get things done. We have different things going on everyday, but we have some aspects of our day. Mornings and evenings that almost never change. We wake up, have a bottle, then breakfast, play and then Owen takes a nap.
After Owen goes down for his first nap I do one of two things. Leave the house because the nanny is there, or make coffee or matcha and do some work while Owen is napping. On days where I don’t have much work, I’ll start by meditating in the morning after he goes down.
The middle of our days is a little bit more open-ended, but our nights are very routine! Dinner, bath, bottle, story time and bed! It’s a simple routine, but Rob and I both know which responsibilities are ours and it makes our nights run seamlessly! That means more time for us to spend together.
Plan Your Week in Advance
Starting each day with a general outline of what you plan to accomplish makes it possible to actually get work done. If I sit down at my computer in the morning, but don’t have a plan of attack, I end up scrolling Instagram or checking emails. Before I know it, Owen is awake again and I haven’t gotten anything done.
When I do it on the weekend, I’m less stressed, which makes my planning more realistic and efficient. I’m able to look at the big picture and put items on my agenda that don’t only keep my business running day to day, but actually move it forward.
It’s easy for me to get stuck in “maintenance mode” where I’m just barely keeping up. The projects that I’m super excited to work on, rarely get to see the light of day because I’m too busy making sure I’m keeping my business afloat. Planning my weeks in advance allows me to schedule chunks of time to work on bigger picture items and projects that don’t necessarily have hard deadlines. Otherwise, they just get put on the back burner.
If you don’t have time to do this on the weekend, do it the night before to save time the next day.
I find this especially hard as a mama! There’s always so many things to be done at once and I’m easily distracted by things like laundry or a messy living room. I also get distracted by text messages, Instagram and my email.
The key to getting work done is to eliminate distractions. I find that tidying our house at the end of the day sets my next day up to be more productive because it’s already a bit cleaner. When the house is clean, I can focus so much better.
I also like to close the email tab on my computer and turn my phone on silent or do not disturb so I can knock some stuff out! It’s crazy how much more productive you are when you aren’t trying to multitask!
Manage Work Expectations
This has been one of the hardest things for me to adjust to since having Owen. I’m used to being able to work all day, into the night without stopping, but I no longer have that luxury anymore. And, honestly, I’m not sure that was a luxury! Having Owen has put so many things into perspective for me. Yes, I love what I do, but it’s not earth-shattering. No one is going to die if I don’t get a post up tomorrow.
Being a working mom, you have to be okay with letting things go. You’re probably not going to get to everything you wanted to that day. Put less on your schedule if this is something that bothers you. If you work with other people, be honest and upfront about what you can take on. Sure, it might tick them off at first, but it’s better to be honest than to end up disappointing them.
My job has lots of different moving parts. There’s writing, answering emails, SEO, shooting photos, editing photos, and more! It’s nearly impossible to start a post and complete it in one day.
For me, batching tasks makes my job and life so much easier. I’ll set aside an hour one morning to shoot photos for 5 posts. Later that day while Owen naps, I’ll edit them. The next day, I’ll sit down and actually write those posts.
It allows me to get big chunks of stuff done more efficiently so I can stay on top of my content and also work on those bigger projects I mentioned earlier that often get pushed to the back.
Whether it’s hired help, or a family member, having someone that helps out on a regular basis is amazing. We have a nanny that comes 3x a week, and while it only totals 15 hours, I’m able to get so much of the big stuff that requires my full attention completed while she’s there. Then I save the maintenance work that doesn’t require as much brain power for the days that I’m home with Owen. I’ll check emails and schedule any phone calls between naps, and throw in a load of laundry while he plays.
Don’t Feel Bad for Saying “No”
This is one I thankfully learned already, but learning to say no can be so liberating! It’s an essential skill if you want to keep a healthy work life balance. Don’t say yes to things you know you don’t have enough time for, or things that you’re not really excited about.
As my mama always said, saying no, is really saying yes to yourself!
Take Care of Yourself
This is my last tip, but should probably be the first because it’s just that important. Make sure you’re eating well, drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest. We’re so busy taking care of everyone else that it’s easy to forget about ourselves. But, you know that saying—”if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? That is so true.
Make sure you set aside time to do something for yourself—even if it’s just 30 minutes of alone time while your husband, mom or babysitter takes the kids to the park. Those little moments of self-care will go a long way in making you feel more like yourself and more likely to be able to tackle that never-ending list!
Are you a working mama? What time management tips have saved you? What areas are still tough? I’d love to hear from you guys!