It’s my first week flying solo with a new baby. Three under four years can be a daunting task, especially since I hold myself to some standards. Yesterday went well, and so far today is going smoothly too. Some people would say I’m writing this to brag, and maybe I am a bit, but mostly I want others to know how I survive motherhood, so they can do the same things.
I learned a long time ago that it’s very easy to waste away days in a row if I don’t have some goals each day. In high school I started writing down 3 simple goals each night, that I wanted to complete the next day. It might have been “finish 2 chapters in XYZ book, take the dog for a run, and start studying for the history test.” Or it might have been something bigger. Regardless, I wrote down 3 goals each night, and the next night I would write down three things I had accomplished. Many nights the accomplishments were the same as the goals. Some nights I hadn’t completed the goals but I had done 3 other things. If you are struggling to get a grip on housework, paying bills, laundry, and all the other mom-tasks; this may be just the trick you need to get all those things done.
I don’t write down goals and accomplishments anymore (though some weeks it would help if I did.) Now, I work on a loose time schedule. I say loose, because with toddlers nothing is written in stone. My typical day looks something like this:
- 6-7:30am get up with the kids, and eat breakfast. Cereal, moms. We have survived on a daily ration of cereal for a couple of years. It really hasn’t killed us.
- 8-9am get everybody dressed. Make it a non-negotiable that you will put on real clothes everyday. I say skip the yoga pants or sweats and go with jeans or something instead. Look good, feel good. I’m not saying make up everyday (or even ever) but wear real clothes.
- 9-10:30am start laundry on laundry days. Do laundry regularly. Waiting for it to pile up only makes the task worse. I wash shirts, pants, and white things (socks, towels, etc) every Monday, sheets get washed on Wednesday, and on Friday I do shirts and pants again.
- 11-11:30am feed the kids and put them down for naps. Do what works best for you. Maybe leftovers are easy, or sandwiches. I fix lunch meat and cheese, yogurt and fruit, or something else equally simple. My kids just don’t eat much at lunch time so there is no point in creating stress.
- 11:30-12pm ME TIME. This is another nonnegotiable. I’d love to say I read, do a Bible study and pray, or something else productive, but that would be a lie. I use this time to eat my lunch (alone, in peace) and play solitaire on the computer. Maybe that sounds awful to you, but it makes a good break for me. After a few games my brain has reset and then I can go read or something while the kids sleep… or I can nap too.
- 1:30-3pm kids get up from nap. Some days we get a snack, or read a book together as the kids get moving again. Often we go outside to play if the weather is nice.
- 4:30-5pm start supper to have it ready by 6pm. Notice all the free time in the afternoons? This is when I can do things like pay bills, play with the kids, or work on projects for myself.
- 6pm supper.
- 7pm start directing kids to clean up toys.
- 7:30pm kids into PJs and read some books.
- 8pm bedtime for the kids.
- 10-10:30pm bedtime for me. Notice how the schedule gets tighter closer to bedtime. This keeps the kids on routine and makes tings go more smoothly at the end of the day, when we are all tired and cranky.
Your schedule may look NOTHING like mine, because all families are different, and especially if you have older children in school, or you work outside the home you will have other things to do. But figure out a routine so that you know what is expected when.
I’m no expert at parenting, or time management. But I have learned I can fake it until I make it. If I write down a schedule and stick to it religiously for a few weeks, then it becomes habit and I can get things done more easily. I can set some simple goals and aim to get things done. Sure enough, I get more done than if I had no plan. I encourage you to try the same. Plan your work, and your time; before it just gets away.