I recently read a blog post about a mom with 3 or 4 kids encouraging moms to make time for themselves…getting to the gym, seeing a movie, a night out with friends. I completely agree, but found myself amazed that this mom with multiple kids could still find this time for herself.
My mind has been swirling with everything I want and NEED to do. Laundry, cleaning the house, marketing my Motherhood book, writing the two kids books I’m in the middle of, spending time with my daughter/taking care of her, time for me and hubby, buying birthday gifts, paying bills, and then comes taking care of me. For me, thinking about all this is crippling, and I find I can’t do anything when I feel so overwhelmed. So, what do I do? I make lists. For me, when I get something down on paper, it releases from my mind (like Harry Potter and his pensieve.) Seeing what I need to do on paper means I no longer have to think about it, and I can focus exclusively on what I’m doing in the moment. My daughter can tell when I’m playing with her, but am really thinking about a dozen other things I could be doing. I love being able to focus just on her, knowing I can and will get to everything else at some point.
- Categorize. Right now I have two lists: One for my book work, and one for everything else. From my teaching days, I set a goal (marketing the book) and the list consists of the action plan to reach that goal (stores to contact, event ideas, etc.). The other list is more simple: Pay bill, buy gift (with a date needed by), etc. Other ways to categorize could be by action…a list for everything you need to buy, one for cleaning or things to do around the house. Figure out what works best for you.
- I would love to be able to do it all at once, but I had to make the decision to market my Motherhood book now, and put writing the new books on the back burner. To avoid getting depressed about this, I set an end date. Wherever I am with Motherhood by that date, I’ll put it aside and focus on the new work.
- When I find myself with some time (a grandparent is coming over, etc.), I scan the list and pick out a few things I think I can do that day. I circle or star them as my goals for the afternoon.
- Schedulize. For things I want to make sure I keep up with, I find I am more likely to make the commitment if they are part of my weekly schedule. My gym day now is Wednesday. It’s part of the routine. I drop my daughter off at preschool in the morning already in my gym clothes and go right to the gym. Right now, once a week is all I can manage on the schedule, but when I can get a bonus workout in, I do. Speaking of heading to the gym, check out this recent post from Baby got chat about making that happen (with an offer for a free class if you act soon): New Year, New Mommy
Is there an app for this?
When my daughter was born, I made the leap to using the calendar on my phone instead of my old pocket planner, but when it comes to my lists, I still go the old-fashioned route. I’m sure there are lots of scheduling apps, but there’s just something about physically crossing things off that list that I find can’t be matched with an app. Of course there are advantages to using an app, or notepad, etc. For one, it’s easier to change priorities (as we all know we have to from time to time.) With my paper list, this involves drawing arrows. And then there are those items that are far in the future that are on the list, but don’t get crossed off by the time everything else does. So, whenever a list gets mostly crossed off and I have to start a new piece of paper, there are always items that have to get carried over. I really should at least type the list and print it out so I don’t have to physically rewrite things, but old habits are hard to break.
This will all work best if you think about what works for you. Should you have a scheduled day to do laundry? For my mom that was always Friday. Or should that be something that just happens when the last pair of clean underwear goes on? It’s all up to you.
You may be thinking these lists cause more stress as you see things building up and not getting crossed off. That does happen sometimes; there are plenty of days where nothing gets crossed off, but I try not to stress about it. Crossing things off feels great, but so does taking a day to just play with my daughter or even enjoy some time in front of the tv after she goes to bed. For me, having it in writing means it will get done (eventually), and I don’t need to constantly think about it. And we all know, there are plenty of other things to think about than chores.