In today’s world, everyone is busy. People always seem to be rushing from one activity to the next and trying to do several things at once in an effort to save time. Working mothers understand “busy”- they’re basically working two full time jobs, and it’s no wonder why working mothers often find it difficult to balance everything in a neat and organized fashion!
Time management and organization have become popular topics of discussion. Everyone seems to understand that they are the key ingredients to living a life with less stress, and the solution to finding the time to fit everything into jam-packed schedules.
Time management for working mothers is in a category by itself! Strategies and tips designed for the single working professional aren’t going to be as effective for the working mother, so here are some tips geared for women who are dedicated to raising their families and to moving up the corporate ladder.
Make Friends With Dawn
Dawn – as in the early morning hours, that is! Getting up early for most people is a challenge, but getting up before the kids wake up can be the difference between a stressed out, psychotic mother and a sane one!
If the household tends to wake up between 6 and 7am, set your own alarm for one to two hours earlier. Use this time to have a quiet cup of coffee or tea, check your email, exercise, read the paper or if you have a big day ahead of you, prepare for your workday.
What you don’t want to use this extra quiet time for is housework! It can be tempting to throw in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher, but that would defeat the purpose of having some time each morning for yourself.
Prepare for the Morning Rush the Night Before
Almost every time management and organizational article will recommend that you select your clothing and set them all out the night before you plan to wear them. Have you ever placed professional clothing on the back of a chair? No matter how careful you are, you’ll wake up to wrinkled clothing most mornings and have to pick out something else, anyway! What may work better for you is to look through your clothing and decide what you are going to wear mentally- but leave it all hanging in your closet or folded neatly in your drawers.
Group Similar Activities Together
When making dinner, also prepare the next day’s lunches for your children, and prepare baby bottles for the sitter’s if need be. If possible, gather everything for the next morning’s breakfast, as well. It seems like such small, trivial tasks but if you make it habit to do all of this while you’re already in the kitchen preparing dinner, you’ll save precious minutes in the morning.
Another tip is to cook or prepare several meals at once. Some people spend a couple hours on Sunday afternoon preparing meals that can be reheated or taken out of the freezer during the week and other people simply cook two meals each time they cook so they can skip a day or two of cooking in between (don’t forget to eat leftovers!)
For example, if you’re having chicken parmesan and pasta on Monday night, bake or fry additional boneless chicken to be used in a Chinese-style stir fry for later in the week. You can freeze the pre-cooked chicken and simply add it to your vegetables in the frying pan when you’re ready to eat it.
Don’t Clean so Much
If you do a few things each day, you’ll never have to spend an entire day cleaning the house from top to bottom. Get your children to help you to help you – children as young as 2 can be taught to do simple chores. (Yes, it can be a struggle in the beginning for children of any age, but if you are persistent that they do their share, it will just become part of their routine.)
A good tip for a family with children is to do a load of laundry every day, from start to finish. Don’t take it out of the dryer and let it sit in the laundry basket, either! Wash, dry, fold and put away- one load each day. This will avoid the dreaded laundry day- when you spend hours and have to fold 7 baskets of clothes on a Saturday.
Use baby wipes or Clorox wipes to keep your bathrooms clean. It’s amazing how quick you can wipe out the sink, or little boy toilet “misses” with these wipes! Keep a sponge in the shower and give it a quick once over every few days while you’re taking your shower and it will stay clean.
Multi-tasking Super Moms
Working mothers are notorious for their ability to do several things at once. If you get a lunch break at work, you might want to use it once or twice a week to do some household tasks. For example, you can eat a sandwich at your desk and pay your bills, fill out school forms or schedule personal appointments.
On the days you don’t need to do household activities, take a walk on your lunch hour to rejuvenate for the afternoon.
You can also effectively fit in exercise while working, in most situations.
If you’re on a phone call, who would know if you’re doing standing leg lifts or tightening your abdominal muscles? Every little bit of exercise counts. You can also fit in exercise when playing with the kids after work or on weekends. Run around the playground with them, or dance around the house like a crazy person!
Keep Your Sense of Humour
If you take a moment to take pleasure in each of your daily activities, and remind yourself you’re doing exactly what you want to do with your life (raising your beautiful children and working in a career), it’s hard to be overwhelmed or grumpy with the occasional difficult day. Laugh. Laugh often, and laugh loud- you’d be amazed at the benefits!
Ley-Ann Clarke ins a certified life coach.