Before I had kids I was able to accomplish several major tasks in one day. I was able to work on my websites, juggle house renovations, have a side business, and frankly, … I got a lot done.
When I became a mother, I suddenly realized why my “mother friends” just couldn’t keep up with anything.
The Lord has a way of reminding me how I judged others for things, that I find myself dealing with years later.
I remember I had a playdate with a mom friend of mine before I had kids of my own. She had two boys. If you have a boy, you realize they are much different than girls. We were at her house for a cup of coffee, and I went so far as to wonder why her house had toys scattered everywhere. I even sent her pictures of toy organization ideas after I got home. Hopefully she reminded herself that I HAD NO KIDS and women like that have a very narrow perspective on mothering.
Later on, after having two kids, a single man came to our house and suddenly started picking up all of our toys. I said… “no, just leave them”…. but I was reminded. – He doesn’t have children. ha ha! I had to laugh, and say, – go ahead and clean my house.
I remember a time I went to another playdate to find the table had marker remnants all over it, and food in the corners of the wood furniture. I would judge the floors to the dirt on the walls.
You know, today I find myself in the same situation. I have refinished my kitchen table twice now, and I have thrown in the towel on that one. The table also has food in the corners, stains down the legs, and lets not forget under the table. Its the last place on my cleaning list.
My floors never are clean, and the only time the walls look nice, is a fresh coat of paint. ha ha!
You have got to laugh over the toys, because it’s every moms battle. Toys are everywhere, and I suspect you will find small legos hiding all the way up to the teenage years.
My kids are getting older, and I am still trying to find ways to accomplish more with my time, while being a mom.
So, this is the inspiration to this article.
I wrote it back when my kids were small because I struggled with it, but fast forward 4 years and this post is still sitting in the drafts, I am in a slightly different situation with a different perspective.
When you have babies, you are operating on absolutely no sleep. During this period, many women draw the conclusion… you have to give yourself some grace. Frankly, so does your husband. Your house is going to be a disaster, and there is no way you are going to have time for things you had once before.
Here are a couple tips I found online that might help you out, if this is a challenge you face.
1 – Plan Out Nap Times ( A tip for smaller kids )
One mom told me she takes it a step further. She has a calendar of exactly what she hopes to accomplish through the week. Don’t you wish you could be that organized?
She carefully plans out what materials she needs in advance, and lays out exactly what she is hoping to accomplish through that time frame.
Do you have a plan for your time frame? Try writing things out. It seems to be a suggestion most moms give when trying to complete a task on a very limited amount of time. The key here is plan it out wisely.
Another angle – from another mom’s advice:
Have your child on a schedule that is planned out to the hour. The child learns to anticipate sleeping and eating at a certain time. They then know that meal comes on clock-schedule. Your scheduling may become easier than operating on random sleep times.
2 – Consider Stations In Your House
Area or Location Stations – This concept may be as easy as moving from space to space, or room to room. I notice that because our basement rarely gets used, that our kids keep busy down there because it is a space they don’t see regularly. A location change becomes interesting for children.
Perhaps you start off in the morning in the living room, have reading time in a bedroom, and then playtime somewhere else. Shuffling kids around can work out well when they are smaller.
Have furniture that can be changed up. –
- Water tables in the summer. Google “water tables” . You can design a table that works with a particular size of tote. Have a handful of totes ( the kind with lids ) with different activities. Water, for some reason is an activity that every child somehow can be enamored for hours with.
- Lego tables have been popular in recent years.
Have a list of activities that the kids can do on the fridge. When you get stuck, just refer to your list.
Little kid bins – picture credit – littlebinsforlittlehands.com
Pile in there magazine cut outs, construction paper, glue, buttons. Find it at yardsales and let their imaginations create something beautiful.
Older kid bins – picture credit – abrightcorner.com
Older Boys: building toys. A box of vintage mechano, wood scraps.
3 – Storage Bins Can Be Cycled In And Out
Consider putting toys in bins and letting them work out of one bin at a time. Cycle the bins out through the week. Some moms cycle their bins once a month. Find something that works for you, and roll with it. I think the object here is to not give them all the bins at once.
4 – Position your desk in a location that allows you to work, BUT watch in that new location.
My desk is positioned in my house where the kids can run on deck, and I can listen to them.
Perhaps you have a desk outside where you can work on your laptop while the kids run around. Your outside, they get their fill of the outside, and you still get to work.
Some people have a room in their house where there is a door to the outside area. Why not fence in an area and simply open the door? Have a desk in that room to operate for work.
5 – Undivided Attention First – Work Second
Undivided attention for a certain period of time will gain you more time to work later on. They all need their mommy or daddy time to be “ filled up”. If they are pawing at you, likely this will work the best.
6 – Chores Or Tasks With Some Wiggle Room
Kids don’t want to do their homework and chores. Be creative. Give them some say on how it gets done, and you may have more cooperation.
Allowing them to set the framework may be the easiest way for them to cooperate.
When will it be accomplished?
Homework, outside on the patio table instead of at the kitchen table today.
A pick of chores, instead of you telling them which one to do. They choose the order in which things are done.
7 – Aim For Firm Bedtimes
Do you let bedtimes drag on and on?
Growing up, my mom worked, so our bedtimes were strict. She taped her shows on the vcr, ( back in the day) and it was her time for a cup of tea and her soap operas when we went to bed.
If you are working on the computer, don’t give them an audience. Put on your headphones “mommy cannot hear you, she has her headphones on”… or go do your work in another room. Taking away the “play” of an audience. Get busy doing your own thing, and the kids realize they have nothing else to do but go to bed.
If the kids aren’t tired, allow them to play in their rooms, but the lights have to be out. I work this model in our house with small flashlights that allow them to read books. Eventually they tire themselves out. My mom gives her grandkids 2 toys, but they have to stay in their beds. I think that is a smart idea.
Keeping kids in their bedrooms is one of the hardest tasks. Its something we still struggle with. If you have bedtimes down, congratulations!
8 – Don’t collapse after supper.
I find that around the supper time of the day, I find myself collapsing. I am wiped out, but usually when I do take a rest at this time of day, I get behind.
If I take a sit down, I actually should use a timer. 15 minutes rolls into 2 hours and my whole schedule gets thrown off.
When you are on the move after supper, keep that rhythm going until you have the kid’s routines completed, then sit.
If you do it the other way around, you may just sink into that couch and not want to get up.
Get the kids bathed and the dishes done, even get the bedtime stories read, then collapse. They can still get into their beds at their regular time, but on your end, you have completed your tasks.
9 – Team Up With Another Mom Or Hire A Sitter.
Moms everywhere are in the same position. We all need help. Look around your network. Is there another mom that you can team up with? Maybe she takes your kids for a couple hours, and it functions like a playdate. You then take hers, and she is able to accomplish what she needs to for a few hours.
10 – Figure Out Your Peak Hours
Is it the morning, afternoon, evening or night? When do you operate the best? For some moms, they can think clearly first thing in the morning. For other moms, its later at night when the kids go to bed. What ever that time period it is for you, schedule around it.
11 – Kids Pawing At You? Get Up And Do Something Different.
I found this tip especially helpful when my kids were quite small. I would be working on my computer, and all their needs were met, but they needed to ask me endless questions, or needed something trivial. A simple trick I learned was to get up out of my spot, and do something for a bit, which would turn their attention on to something else. Sometimes shuffling around even for a few moments breaks up their line of sight of you working in that SAME spot for a period of time.
12 – Capitalize in their currency
Every child has an interest, a love and a desire. Figure out what their currency is, and create incentives to make your schedule work with rewards.
13. – Remove Online Distractions.
Do you have pinterest, facebook or instagram bookmarked where you can click on it in 2 seconds? Those three websites are known to suck hours from you.
They are calculated to show you interesting stories, or graphics that keep you on their websites. Put away your phone, close your email, and stay away from Pinterest and Facebook.
Easier said than done right?
Here are two firefox extensions to try.
“Disable Facebook Newsfeed” removes your feed all together. All you have left are the groups and your messenger. You can search like normal, but you have no more feed to consume hours of your day.
“Facebook seen blocker” – removes the automatic notification that facebook sends the other person when YOU have read their email. The other person is not offended if you don’t respond right away. In fact, it shows you have not read their email. People give you a lot more grace when they see you haven’t got to their message.
14. Break Up Your Project.
I have a set of chairs I have been upholstering in my garage now for 6 months! Oh my goodness, when am I going to finish them? – Eventually.
I removed the fabric from these chairs in one segment (weeks), then I painted the chairs (weeks), and now I am on to stapling the fabric on…. ( in progress) and next I have to finish the trim with my sewing machine ( final step ).
Some projects are like that with kids.
You eat off a bit of a time.
It depends on how fast you need a project done. Some projects….well, just sit there. Its how life is at this stage.
15. Stay Up At Night.
This is honestly how many moms just get things done.
For me, it worked out well. I simply planned out the days I would stay up, and I would do it before the weekend, where I had time to rest afterwards.
I wiped myself out, but it was necessary for some projects. There was no way I was going to paint my basement with toddlers. It also makes sense with projects that are dangerous. Wood working and building projects sometimes happened at night for me.
Coffea Crude, ( an all natural sleep aid ) was my saving grace when I was breast feeding through the night.
Coffea crude puts your mind to rest, but you are also able to wake up instantly, and completely alert -without a drugged feeling.
For years if I was woken up through the night, I could not go back to sleep. A friend suggested Coffea, and it was a miracle for me at that stage of my life. Even today, it works so well when I need a solid night’s sleep.
I liked that it was natural and not addictive.
Coffea Crude – Amazon
16. Trade A Time Slot With Your Husband.
If you have a husband, work together on a plan that works for the both of you. In our household, Friday afternoons are my time to work on projects. I can leave the house, stay on my computer and work, or use it for crafting. I could even watch a movie ALL BY MY SELF. My husband gets Saturday morning to do what he wants. Maybe you come up with an arrangement that your kids are taken care of, not by a babysitter, but by the both of you. Sometimes just a block of time that is yours is spectacular!
17. Involve The Kids In Your Chores.
When you are having to set the table, get the kids to participate. If you are putting away dishes, hand them a stack of tupperware. Pet chores? , – get them to come along side you. You are involving them in the activity, and most kids ( up to a certain age, really like it! )
As they get older, they realize it is chores. Perhaps during this younger “training time”, a routine is laid out showing them what is expected.
18. Get Up Early.
Having time by yourself can happen in the morning before the kids wake up, or at night after they go to bed. Are you a morning person? Getting up a solid 2 hours before your kids might be the answer.
I found this strategy backfired for me because I would sleep in some days, and get up early other days. If you are like me, you might need an alarm clock for this strategy.
19. Remember Your Most Important Ministry
Sometimes we don’t get the laundry done, or the dishes stack up on the counter, at the end of the day, remind yourself that your children are your greatest and most important ministry that you have been given by God.
When you look at your life this way, you will be reminded that some things are not that important to complete compared to the needs of your children.
This is one of the things I reminded myself of through the years. Our kids are only with us for a brief period of time. Remember your ministry, and the values and lessons you are instilling into them.
20. Let Go Of The House
Often times if I want to complete a task, I let go of a few other things I do on a daily basis. I throw the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or I take that extra guest bed, and the clean clothes just build and build and build sometimes for days at a time. Washing laundry and drying it is nothing for me, but sorting it is a time consuming. I do the rest of the laundry on another day. Put a pizza in the oven.
So, the house becomes an utter disaster zone. Who really cares! Just let it go for the task you are wanting to complete. You trade a few house chores, for one project you finally want to complete.
21. Write Down Your Next Day The Night Before
Having a plan the night before might give you an action plan for the next day. Keep it short and to the point. Some days you might have 1 thing, other times, 3 things. This might give you the mental strategy that you are not making it up, but you have an objective or a goal to complete.
22. Use A Dry Erase Calendar
Many moms use dry erase calendars for scheduling. It allows them to visually map out important commitments other than their own tasks. This comes into play as children get older, and you are adding in soccer practices, appointments, after school activities, homeschooling meet ups, and your own list is pieced in around other commitments.
23. Freezer Meals
For many moms, this strategy involves one day, that pays off for the entire month. You set one day aside to make a months worth of food. You buy a load of tupperware that fits into your freezer, and suddenly planning dinner becomes a lot simpler. Insta- pot has been such a success for most people, it was even a hit with my in laws. Your jaw will drop with how much time you save in the kitchen. I have yet to try one, but I gave them for gifts this year because its the talk of every mom I know.
24. Put On Shoes In Your House
Say what? Well, try it. It has worked for me.
The logic goes like this. When you put on your velvet robe, you feel so comfortable your mind isn’t in the mode for thinking but lounging. Its in the mode of resting.
I used to be a strict “take off your shoes” girl for years. I am finding that I get a lot more done when I have my shoes on.
It changes my mindset from comfort and relaxation to “work” . Try it. Its like shifting gears.
25. Get The Ugly Tasks Done First
Cross off your list the chores that need to get done at the beginning of the week, and it leaves you more room for the other things that you are looking forward to working on. Maybe there is a mental reward with this strategy. Does your mind become happier?
26. Make Your Bed
I remember watching a Dr Phil or Oprah episode with a frazzled mom that needed help. A coach came in and re-ordered her day. The one tip I got from the episode is to make your bed, and it some how gives you a “win” first thing in the morning.
27. Take Advantage Of Pick Up Groceries
When covid hit, our grocery stores started offering online ordering and pick up. If you have this option, it may shave off hours from your day.
- There is a physical exertion getting kids out of a vehicle, into the store.
- There is a physical exertion looking and locating items.
- There is a physical exertion loading groceries.
- There is a physical exertion getting kids buckled back in.
Skip all that, and let the stores do it for you.
Often times you will get everything on your list, and have enough energy for the other tasks in your day.
28. Say No To Everything
I came across this tip, and gosh, this was so revolutionary to me, it was the topic of my conversation with my husband last night.
” I simply say, “no, I’m sorry, I can’t commit to that right now.” Then the pressure is off to think about it, pray about it, and change my mind if I want to”
In the scriptures, we are instructed to say either yes or no. There is wisdom in that. Both parties are not dangling by a hook. I find when I say yes to something, I go over it in my mind endlessly. Saying no gives me the mental ability to not have to do mental gymnastics of how I can fit in another project on my plate. Later on, if I change my mind, I can make a phone call.
29. Use Technology – And Don’t Feel Bad About It.
My kids learned how to read from ABC Mouse.com. Starfall is the best place to learn math. Adventure Academy is the next step from ABC mouse, for older kids. The same concept applies. The child learns, and then is rewarded for that learning. In fact, ABC Mouse has 5000 different learning activities the last time I checked.
30. Pair It Down, prioritize what’s really important.
I found homeschooling my children and teaching them about God comes first. If I can get those two core elements in my day, then the rest is gravy to me.
I shuffle things in and out of my day, and I work towards getting one task done, beyond that. Sometimes it is working on my website, or finishing a photography edit, – or maybe… some time soon it will be upholstering those chairs in the garage.
Keep it simple and realistic.
At the end of the day, you can feel proud that you gave to God and your kids first, and what ever else you were able to accomplish is the icing on top.
I also remind myself, – life takes place in seasons.
Your life is going to change in the months and years ahead. Your struggles will be different, as everything lasts for just a season.
This season happens to be what grandmothers, and retired moms say was the best time of their lives. Really soak that bit of truth in…