How to Get Everything Done as a Mom
As mothers, we are often faced with dozens of impossible questions before breakfast: do the laundry or the dishes first; which child to wake up first; how to get all the groceries from the car to the fridge in as little effort as possible.
Today, I’d like to share some of my personal tips and experiences with you, and hopefully you’ll feel a little bit less alone if you are also struggling to keep up with an incredibly long to do list.
To give you a bit of background, I’m a mom of two girls (7 and 9), also the mom of two dogs, the wife of one husband and the owner of one very small business (which currently consist of me trying to grow and expand).
Here is how I try to get everything done as a mom:
Working from home – how to get actual work done
When I first decided to work for myself, I thought having the freedom to organize my day any way that felt comfortable would be an improvement on the 8-to-6 working hours I previously had.
I was very wrong.
While I can certainly pace my day how it best suits me, I now have to factor in what suits all the other members of my family as well.
The first valuable piece of advice I can give you here is to do two things: start bulking tasks and create chunks of time for work.
I try to do the same kind of work in different chunks: I start with anything creative that needs to be done (I’m a writer, so this is usually planning, research or actual writing), then I move on to emails or calls, and I do all the mindless work (invoices, charts, etc.) at the very end. Start with the most important bulk first, and work your way up to the less important things later.
The time chunks are there to enable you to ensure the kids don’t need you while you are at work. If they go to school or kindergarten, try to get most of the work work done then, and leave housework for when they come home (as they may be able to help or at least keep you company). If you are homeschooling, try to get work in while they are working on their own tasks on their own or having some quiet time.
My second important tip is to accept and get comfortable with the fact that things will never go as planned. You’ll feel more tired than usual, one of the kids will have a toothache, things will just not go according to schedule. As long as you are okay with this and don’t lose your temper over the disruptions (which is what makes them so stressful), you will be okay.
Schoolwork – how to be there for them
While we have all gone through a bit of homeschooling recently, I realize now, in hindsight, that the same general rules apply in our household whether the kids are going to school or learning from home. Here is what we have found works best for us:
- Set aside time for school and time for play – I understand the draw of having a flexible schedule, especially when you are trying to get hundreds of things done in the space of a day, but having set times for learning and playing (and everything else) usually work better. Kids love routines and it will help them prepare for what is to come, especially in terms of school.
- Designate a learning and a play area – while we have certainly tried doing homework on the sofa, I find it’s always better to do schoolwork at the same spot every time. For us, this is the kitchen table, as we don’t have space for two separate desks in our home. It feels a bit like school too, as the three of us sit down together and are able to discuss the work we are doing if we need to.
- Use extra materials – schoolwork can get pretty dull sometimes, so adding something fun and extra into the mix can often be a great way to reduce their sated minds and introduce a new but beneficial activity. We’ve recently started working with reading comprehension worksheets that provide plenty of talking points and seem to be going down well. Try to find something similar that helps your kids engage with what they are learning in a different way.
Housework – a family effort
When it comes to housework, try to remember that while all of those chores like ironing and washing up do need to get done, they are not the end of the world, and if the dishes end up sitting in a sink a couple of hours longer than usual, you are not doing anything wrong.
The thing I find with housework is that we all put too much emphasis on it. Of course we need to do it, but it does not have to take over our lives and stress us out.
Try to get the entire family involved, especially the kids. You’ll find they actually love doing some of the chores, especially if you turn it into a game or a competition, and not a boring activity that needs to get done. It’s all about the way you present the activity to your kids.
We have a chore wheel in the kitchen that gets spun every day, and we have a limit of 2 chores per person per day. That way, nearly everything (or actually everything) does get done every day.
When the kids are not old enough to get involved, make sure they are still present in some way. Iron while they are playing with their blocks or cook while they are sitting at the desk – you don’t have to work only when they are napping.
Working on yourself – and why it’s so important
Finally, let’s add one more thing to our list of “everything” that needs to get done – self-care.
Everyone always tells mothers how important it is to take care of themselves, and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s just the way you practice self-care that I have a bone to pick with.
Self-care does not have to mean meditating with a candle, doing skincare in the bathtub, going to get a massage – self-care is what you make of it, so if you like to cook, don’t not think of it as time for yourself.
The important thing is to do something you really enjoy every day. If that’s skincare and meditation, that’s amazing! But if it’s listening to an audiobook while you are ironing, or if it’s teaching your kids how to write – enjoy that too!
The less pressure we put on self-care and the more we start enjoying ourselves in our daily lives, the better care we will be taking of ourselves.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you get everything done – and remember that everything is what you make of it, and not what anyone else thinks you as a mom need to get done in a day.