Parenting a tiny human can be a time management nightmare in itself. When you add house management, working full time, attempting to maintain a friendship or two, and keeping up with church commitments, a mom’s time management can seem, well, unmanageable. In my spare time (Hahah!) I put together a quick list of tips that have prevented me from living in squalor and not killing anyone (on accident or on purpose) in the past couple of years.
I hope that these will help you earn your Gold Star in full plate adulting, too!
1. Get a life planner. In the iPhone world everyone loves their electronic calendars. I personally despise mine. I have found that I do so much better keeping track of work schedules, doctors’ appointments, meal planning, church meetings, and on and on and on…since going back to my roots with a paper planner. My current favorite is the Erin Condren Life Planner. These things are amazing, but beware; they can be expensive with all of the add-ons (not necessary but totally cute). I’ve also used planners from Plum Paper Designs and Kings on Toast. These two are a bit less expensive but equally as pleasing to the eye and functional!
2. Make lists. This is another great use for your paper planner. I make to do lists on an almost daily basis for two reasons: first they keep me task oriented, and second I really enjoy marking complete items off the list. I find no greater joy than gazing at a long list of to dos that has been marked off at the end of the day!
3. Use meal planning and grocery services. If your family struggles with what to eat for virtually every meal of the day like ours, I suggest trying a meal delivery (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Freshly, and The Chef and his Wife) or meal planning service (E-Meals). Using these services in rotation along with Shipt grocery delivery service has saved our family tons of time. For us, this outweighs the extra cost by a long shot. If these services aren’t in your budget, however, I’d suggest taking 30 minutes a week and at least planning the dinner menu for the week. This cuts down significantly on frustration of scrambling for dinner ideas and repeat trips to the grocery store.
4. Set a timer and enlist the kids for “help.” When it comes to chores around the house, I prefer to see how many items I can check off of my list in 15-30 minute increments. Mostly because this is how long I can get away with tricking my toddler into thinking that it’s a game before the jig is up. We started acting like picking up toys and unloading the silverware (sans knives, obviously) was the MOST. FUN. EVER. Sometimes it makes a little more work for me, but usually it’s actually helpful. Cleaning in short bursts seems to be the most productive method for me, and as a bonus it prevents things from piling up, causing that overwhelming “OMG everything is a disaster!” feeling.
5. Do what is necessary, add what’s enjoyable. Of course there are obligations that we don’t enjoy and still have to keep up with (bills and bath time suck, and I’m not sorry I said it), but committing to unnecessary additions to our already busy schedules that aren’t enjoyable is a recipe for misery. I’ve always been someone who functions better with a carefully planned and mostly packed schedule, but I try to be careful about planning for only enjoyable things outside of the necessary adulthood obligations. If you hate crafting and creating, don’t sign up to plan your little one’s school parties. If you love music and singing, sign up for Kindermusik or plan to attend Toddler Time at the local library. Thriving with a full plate is all about balancing the necessary and the enjoyable.