Being a Mom is a demanding job. There never seem to be enough hours in the day and our attention is often divided into many fragments. Here are some tried and true tips to help you keep things moving smoothly throughout your day and save yourself some sanity while parenting.
This may sound counter intuitive. You are busy, you don’t have time to pare things down or to sort and clean out areas, right?! The truth is, the less you have, the easier life becomes! Think of how often you are frustrated from fighting clutter and mess. Lost shoes, assignments, piles of clothing that don’t fit, and just way too many socks to ever sort out. It happens to all of us. We just have too much stuff! Over a month of Saturdays, starting with the kitchen, clear countertops from clutter, get rid of duplicate or broken items. Then move on to the other most frequently used rooms of the house. Use the “give away, throw away, and put away principals”. Lastly move on to the bedrooms and bathrooms. Our bathrooms often have accumulated bottles of expired medicines, lotions we don’t use, styling products that don’t work, get rid of them ALL. Only keep what you use. Breaking this up over a month of Saturdays makes this a much less daunting task. Some other tips for decluttering are, try using the Kon Mari method (is it useful, does it bring you joy), try going on a shopping fast until you have accomplished your mission. Nothing new comes into the house other than life essentials until we have weeded everything out. Moving forward, live by the principals that nothing new comes in without getting rid of something that is worn out. Another helpful principal is using a capsule wardrobe for your entire family. It is a great way of minimizing clutter and excessive laundry from accumulating. Pinterest has innumerable ideas about decluttering and capsule wardrobes.
Establish A Routine
Not having a daily routine is another way we fritter away precious time. You don’t have to be so rigid that you are no fun and aren’t able to do anything spontaneous, but try to limit those time to a Friday or Saturday night. Children thrive on consistency, and to be honest, so do adults! A good place to start is establishing a morning and bedtime routine. If you can start and end your day right, you are more than 50% there! Routines are your life line. Work hard to keep them.
A command center where your children can stow away lunch boxes, shoes, backpacks, coats, hats, sporting equipment, and any other items that leaves the house with them daily is essential to regaining control of your busy life! An area for keys, sunglasses, purse, and mail also help keep Mom in control. Putting a dresser, or baskets, coat hooks, key rack, umbrella stand, and/or shelves by the door to control the chaos will dramatically help. Also don’t forget a garbage can and a mail in/out area at the door. Throw away junk the minute it comes into the house. The time/sanity saved from tracking down misplaced items is invaluable!
The kitchen is usually a great place to create a Command Center, since most of us do homework at the kitchen table. A place with a calendar, white board for notes to each other or To Do lists, shopping lists, chore charts, weekly menus, a bulletin board to pin papers you can’t lose, and odds and ends like (stapler, tape, scissors, paperclips, pens, and rubber bands). Keeping an area like this helps to keep the entire family organized. Make sure you spend time teaching the family how to use the command center. Consistent and patient reminders are how we get our children and to accept and establish new routines
Stocking our homes once a month is the most efficient way to shop and spend our time. Purchasing in bulk regularly used items such as paper goods, frozen chicken, froze vegetables, etc. Don’t forget to have lots of paper plates and disposable cups on hand for the times where you really need to eat and run! Also, utilizing online shopping can be tremendously helpful when you are very busy. Almost everything you need for your household can be purchased online. Think of using online shopping for things like, school clothing, school supplies, backpacks, books, shoes, groceries, cleaning supplies, skin care, makeup, birthday gifts, and even movie ticket. There already are plenty of services that will shop for you! There are apps such as Shipt, or Pea Pod, that allow you to shop, schedule a delivery, and the delivery person will even bring your groceries into the kitchen for you. Walmart, and many other stores have curbside pickup services which allow you to shop online and pick up your groceries at the time you have pre-arranged. This is a great service when you have sick kids that will make shopping a misery, or worse, when YOU are sick. Mom never gets a break from being Mom…. You will even find services that will send your furnace filters monthly, quarterly, or even bi annually. You will never need to worry about forgetting again! Chances are, if you need it done, you can probably get it done online. Browse your apps for grocery services or delivery services. When in doubt Google whatever you are looking for with the words “near me” at the end. Many hands make the load light, so utilize the services that allow others to help you.
Digital Declutter And Help
We live in the digital age, the amount of email we receive is daunting at times and we often miss important emails because of the amount of junk mail sent to our accounts. Creating an email that is ONLY for your children’s school and sports is a great way of never missing anything important. Once you set it up commit to only giving it to the schools, teachers, coaches, or anything else KID related. Teachers are using remind apps that send text messages for important information and homework reminders. Utilize these to your best ability. Ask your children if your teacher uses them, often they forget to give those important papers that keep us “in the know”. They are lifesavers for the busy Mom. If your child’s teacher doesn’t use a remind app, you might even want to suggest it to them, they keep everyone on the same page. Lastly, be sure to take that school calendar and immediately add important dates to your calendar. Starting at the beginning of the year using the district calendar, and adding to it as your teacher/coach/band directors, send more information home. Using tools like google calendar to add it to the entire family or your iPhone calendar is great too. Cozi is an app that also has an awesome family calendar. On all of these calendars you have the ability to set up alarms and reminders for other family members as well as yourself.
It’s beginning to seem that nothing will rob you of your time and joy as much as “social” media. Social media attacks us in two very destructive ways. It steals time and it enables us to compare ourselves to others far too easily, which in turn takes our joy. We as a society are not even sure what the full outcome of all of this social media presence will result in, but I can tell you that it is guaranteed to take more from you than it ever gives, and will waste more time than you have to spare. Try being very intentional with the amount of time spent on these platforms. A busy Mom’s most valuable asset is TIME. Not every moment needs to be shared, but every moment needs you to be present for you children. In truth that is all they really want from you is your time. In the end all you will wish you had was more time, so, put your phone down and look up!!
Laundry And Dishes
Forming a habit that gets the whole family involved is the solution to the work that NEVER ends. Establish a routine of placing your dishes into the dishwasher when they are dirty, run the dishwasher after breakfast, unload it while dinner is being made, then reload and run it after dinner, and be sure to unload it before bed, and repeat throughout the week. It truly is all about establishing a routine. Same goes with laundry. The biggest obstacle with laundry is the amount of time it takes to get caught up. I will be honest. I have gone to the laundromat just to get it all caught up before. The key is to not allow it to get out of hand. Start a load as soon as you wake up in the morning and switch it over before you leave. When you get home, start another load and fold or hang up the load you washed that morning. Keep the laundry going throughout the evening if need be. Be sure you enlist the help of children and spouses. Even the youngest children can put clothing away into drawers or assist putting their clothing in a hamper.
Have you ever heard the expression that ‘you can’t pour from an empty vessel'? It may seem cliché, but it is the truth! There is a reason when you are on an airplane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others. They tell you this because they know that you are no use to anyone, not even yourself, if you have passed out from oxygen depletion. They also know you will be tempted to help your children or loved ones first. With all this said, a tired, cranky, exhausted, uncared for Mom, is of no help to anyone. Self-Care doesn’t need to be grand or extravagant. It doesn’t need to take a ton of time or money either. It is extremely important though! Some very simple ways you can care for yourself are; get regular haircuts, take time to shower, be dressed appropriately every day, read a book, join a bible study, go for a walk by yourself, pray or meditate throughout the day, get a manicure, go for regular Doctor checkups, have coffee with a friend, go on a date with your spouse, drink your coffee outside and enjoy nature, consider the things that fill you up, and DO THEM! You will be a happier more contented Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, and Friend to all. Everything we are working toward comes along better when we are caring for ourselves first. It also sets a great example for our children so someday, they will do the same.
I’ve left the most important one until the end. Why is it so much easier to give grace to others and so difficult to give grace to ourselves? None of us are unique in this aspect. We all are way too hard on ourselves. We often speak to ourselves in a way that we would never allow another human being to speak to us. When you catch yourself doing this remind yourself to STOP IT! Take those negative thoughts captive and replace them with truth. Speak to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend. Stop yourself from beating yourself up all of the time and comparing yourself to others, or to a version of yourself that is unrealistic. The “others” you are comparing yourself to also have struggles, you just aren’t around to see them. Be KIND to yourself! There is no such thing as perfect, so stop aiming for it. Our homes are lived in, our lives will be chaotic at times, our cars will be messy often, but I promise you that when we get to the end of our lives our biggest regrets will not be things like, “ I should have done a better job with the dishes, laundry, or I should’ve vacuumed more”. There will always be laundry, dishes and cleaning, but there will not always be this time in your life. As taxing as it is at times, raising children is a short season. Eventually, all of these things will come to an end. So, enjoy them while you can, be present in the moment, claim each little victory, and rejoice over every new milestone!! Practice grace, you won’t regret it. Start today!