Trying hard to keep up with it all? Do you imagine yourself like a chicken with its head cut off? Girl, I’ve been there, I still go there. But not as often anymore. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to hacking motherhood. Here are some good tips I have learned through the school of hard knocks to help you find energy to handle a thing or two motherhood is sure to throw at even the most patient mom! (not that I would know, patience is unknown to me.)
Before I dive into this, let me put in a disclaimer, just because I have more kids than your average mom, does NOT… I repeat… does NOT mean I am busier than you! We all have the same 24 hours in our day, and as moms, we have a tendency to overfill our schedules whether we have 1 kid or 10. It’s a thing. Ok. Moving on.
Number 1) Write Down All of the Things.
Seriously. You are going to konmari your life right now. Write down absolutely everything you have on your plate. The giant to-do list, the honey-do list, the volunteering, the appointments, parent teacher conferences, field trips, meetings. All of it.
Think you’re done? Now, rack your brain, and write some more. What are you forgetting? What are you not counting? Is it something you don’t want to count because it seems unproductive? Girl, if it is taking your time to do it, it goes on this list. Now, write it! *cough*laundry*cough*house cleaning*cough*
Number 2) Prioritize the Things.
Ok, so now that you have your master list. I want you to take that list and prioritize it.
Brian Tracy says it well,
“You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue your lower-value activities.”
So, if it isn’t serving you, or helping anyone in your family. Get rid of it. Do this first! Get rid of the random things that are just not worth any more time or energy. The things that don’t spark joy for you or anyone in your family. (except we do need a clean house… sooo)
Like the one time I stopped taking my kids to gymnastics, piano, and everything else. They didn’t have any extra-curricular activities for 2 years because I told them that if they weren’t begging me to take them, I wasn’t paying for it. Yup, I did that. Guess what, the world kept spinning and my kids survived, and so did our bank accounts.
How do you know what to put first? Well, Brian Tracy also said,
“If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”
That’s your A list. The one or two things that HAS/HAVE to be done. (Not to be confused with emergencies. Those are just emergencies. Things like plumbing leaks, AC blows out, or your car broke down. Life moves aside for those things. They don’t belong on your A list.)
Think, time-sensitive: school projects, costume for the school play, bake sale (that you probably shouldn’t have signed up for anyway), or getting a babysitter lined up for date night on Friday.
Once you pick your must-do’s, then you go through and pick your need-to-do-this-week-sometime or “B” list. These are the things that just sit there for a while, but the world doesn’t burn down when they don’t get done. They need to be done this week some time. Things like picking up the dry-cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping (unless your cupboards are empty – then this is an A), or planning your son’s birthday party next month.
Finally, there is your would-be-nice-to-get-to-eventually or “C” list. This is the longest list. This can have anything ranging from refinishing the dining table to cleaning out the garage… or building one (don’t ever buy a house without a garage). This is the list that almost always gets in the way of everything productive. We make these things a priority when they really just aren’t.
This is the list you tackle ONLY when you are done with the things on your other lists, or they move onto another list out of necessity. Like when soccer season is starting, and all soccer items are tucked under a nice pile of junk in the garage, and/or the neighborhood garage sale is on Saturday, or your kid spilled milk in the car… who let them bring it in the car anyway?! I digress…
Number 3) Create a Morning Routine That Sets You Up for an Intentional Day
You have your life prioritized, and now you need to be intentional. We are using big words now, cuz this just got serious. You can’t just make the list, admire it for a bit, and then go back to your over-committed ways. That’s what everyone else does.
Here is my ‘ideal’ morning routine for my more productive days, and I have a morning routine for my ‘mental health’ days.
Ideal Morning Routine: (‘Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod Life SAVERS)
Silence for 5 minutes (or a guided meditation and a prayer)
Affirmations for 5 minutes (I have these written down kind of like SMART goals)
Vision for 5 minutes (What do I envision in the next 3-5 years)
Exercise (Hal says 10 minutes, I just do my workout, 30-50 minutes)
Reading for 10-20 minutes (I use this for my scripture/devotional time)
Scribing/Journaling for 10-20 minutes. (If I slept in, this is the first to go)
I am a mom, my kids end up joining me or I will be nursing a baby during part of this, but something is better than nothing, and sometimes I only get 1-2 minutes of each thing. Adaptability and flexibility go a long way as a mom. So if I sleep in, or fall asleep reading, no big, I just put my big girl pants on and get back to work.
Mental Health Day Morning Routine:
Sleep in a little later
10-minute guided meditation
Write 5 things I am grateful for
Snuggle my babies in bed until they complain about being hungry.
Feed the babies.
Mental Health Days are days where there are no time constraints, no appointments, no play dates (unless they are last minute, with my bestie, and she comes to my house). We are just home and we just let the day unfold.
We still start school by 9, and do our chores, but we don’t look at the clock, and sometimes we close our books and watch a movie. It is a day that I learned we needed WEEKLY after my mental breakdown 2.5 years ago, a few months after our 6th was born and I suffered the worst post-partum depression and anxiety I have ever experienced in my life. Right now, this is Wednesday (Tuesday is back-up).
Number 4) Respect Your Time, Value Your Time, Defend Your Time!
Time is your most valuable resource. Don’t treat it like your bank account. Don’t drain it until there is nothing left, and then you have no choice but to stop spending it. Set intentions, save up for the future, and guard every minute. Leave room for flexible ‘spending,’ and only let people that add value take it from you in their moment of need. I’m talking about a spouse or a friend that is having a bad day and needs more from you.
This means that you have to learn how to say “no” respectfully. This is also when you learn to say, “We aren’t going to make it today,” because you realize that you planned too many things in one day and instead of overwork yourself and try and keep up with every social commitment, you pause, take a moment, and cancel. That’s right. I said it. You’re going to be that person. TRUST ME.
When you cancel a few times you will start thinking harder before committing and start saying “no, thank you” or “let me check my schedule and get back to you” in the first place. People who say this have already learned how to protect their time boundaries, learn from them.
Number 5) Create Healthy Lifestyle Habits!
Don’t go on a diet, just fill your home with healthy food, cook it, eat it, and let the magic happen. Amazing things happen when we follow Michael Pollan’s sound advice,
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Do yourself a favor and figure out how to eat your veggies. You will become a new person, you will add years to your life, and you will set your kids up for success!
Get your body moving daily! You don’t have to dust off all those workout DVD’s, but you do need to move! The goal is to be able to move your body however you need to without pain. You should be able to carry a baby on your hip for more than ten minutes without back pain. If you are struggling with your core post baby, I will do another post about exercises and moves all moms must do after pregnancy!
MOST importantly, you need to practice mindfulness. Incorporate activities that allow you to tap into your own mind intentionally. Finding peace amongst the chaos. Be of sound mind enough to take a deep breath or know when you need a time out from the kids. My kids have seen me do this. I will just tell them, “mama needs a time out.” I know it is working when my 6 yr old says she is sorry for stressing me out.
Find an image or phrase that brings you to a grounded place. I love how my nephew takes his deep breaths, so whenever I am feeling like I am on the edge, I will say, “take deep breaths, Jeremy,” and imagine this cute 5 year old taking deep breaths and it makes me smile and calm down.
There you have it! Life in the Hall house is anything but calm and stress free, but this is how I am managing the busyness and keeping up with it all. I made the “all” more manageable. This is how I am homeschooling, taking care of a newborn (who is super easy, so I don’t know if I should count it), taking a full course load, and finding time for blogging and doing things I love!
It is all about taking your life in your hands and being responsible for all of the things on your plate. A good rule of thumb when adding or taking away from your list is this:
If no one will remember this one year from now, 5 yrs from now, etc., don’t get worked up about it!
Easier said than done, I know. But trust me, it is worth the effort.
So, in a nutshell, you find energy by freeing it up from unnecessary ‘busy work’ of our lives. First you have to find out what the ‘real work’ is and what the ‘busy work’ is.
If you have any tips on how to manage busy mom life, post them in the comments below! What works for you? I want to hear about it!
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