Want to avoid going into psycho mom mode? As a mom of a teen, with a home to support on my own, a full time job, and a blog, I know a bit about the struggles of being a working mom. From doing the grocery shopping during lunchtime, rushing home to feed the kids, to finding that extra time to work on side business, it seems us moms have so much going on, it’s as if we just never have enough time each week, let alone each day, to accomplish everything that needs to get done. That is why I decided to share with you some of my working mom life hacks that help me stay organized and away from going into psycho mom mode.
When creating your to-do list, keep it reasonable and simple. A fancy long list looks good on paper, but attempting to accomplish it only leaves you either disappointed or exhausted at the end of the day. Plan for no more than three to five things to do in a day. Today, for example, for myself, I have about three hours after work, after feeding my son, that I can utilize towards working on my blog. Number one on the list is to finish this blog post that you are now reading, which I’ve been writing for about a week now. Why one week? Because I am a grandma at writing blogs. I also responded to comments on my Facebook page, and my third goal for today is to work on my content for next week’s blog. That alone will take up the entire three hours. Key is to keep it simple; that way, anything over three things completed in a day is a happy bonus, instead of making you feel overwhelmed.
Use a calendar system
Before the week begins, list the things you have to complete for the week. Decide what calendar works best for you, a digital agenda or a planner. I currently use Google Calendar for myself, to list my monthly goals. I also sit down every Sunday before the week begins, to revise, and list any upcoming appointments and tasks. For my teen, I use a wall calendar that I purchased at Walmart for less than $20.00. On that calendar I list guitar lessons, school activities, family meetings, or any special occasions for him that month.
Declutter and minimize
Something that has worked for me is to make it part of the schedule, and for a couple of hours during the weekend, I go through the house looking for things that are no longer valid, or used. I also keep a bag of donations handy, and use it to get rid of all the things that are no longer in use. A fun rule I learned when teaching kids is to teach them to give everything a home. We have a home we return to every day, toys need to have a home too. If they are played with, they need to return to their home after they are played with. Your ability to put things back after you use them will keep your home cleaner and clutter-free.
Stop comparing yourself to other moms
When I look at other moms’ homes, and ask other moms how they stay organized, I honestly get tired of just thinking to try to keep up with them, or compare my home with theirs. Honestly, comparing our home to other stay-at-home moms, or the mom who has the extra money to pay for house cleaning, is just unfair. Listen, if your neighbor has an impeccably clean house, but you are a working mom, like myself, or a mom with small kids, then it is completely unfair to compare your home with hers. I keep a very simple rule for my home: my home has to look presentable, it does not have to look perfect.
Release the inner critic. No mother should ever compare herself to any other parent.
Get the kids involved! Make a list of chores and pay the kids for completing them. This does not necessarily have to be cash, it can be many other things. I honestly wish I had listened to other moms about starting a chore list, years ago. I would often come home after work to find a messy house, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a teen room that looked like a tornado had hit it. Create a chore list that works for you.
I currently use a points system for my teen, which includes a list of chores that must be completed every day by 6:00 p.m. Chores completed add points and uncompleted tasks deduct points. At the end of every week, points are added up, and can be exchanged for cash, movie tickets, etc. If the points are negative for the week, he has to give up one of his privileges, such as cell phone, PS4, etc.
Prepare the night before
I know, I know, you have probably read it a hundred times, but preparing your meals ahead of time, and laying out the clothes you will use the next day, just saves so much time, and it keeps you from rushing in the morning. Another trick I learned when having small children is to make it fun to get ready in the morning, by playing a who gets ready first game.
Embrace the power of “NO”
This might not be so much of a hack, but I want to make sure I still mention it. I am sure many moms like myself need to practice more the power of learning to say no, more often. For example, this weekend I was invited to a friend’s party, but I had already planned to work on my blog and other goals. Having to say no is uncomfortable, but often, with the guilt of letting friends and family down, we take on things – and responsibilities that we clearly know are not in our priority list. Even though I believe the habit of saying yes to everything might often seem to come from a good place of wanting to help others, I think many of us put aside our own goals we want to accomplish to do things for others. I just want to remind you to take care of “you”, stop trying to please everyone and embrace the power of saying no.
Let go of the idea of the perfectionist
If you are a working mom, or just a mom in general, understand that there is no such thing as running a home, being a mom, having a full-time job, looking decent in public, and thinking you can achieve it all to perfection. All successful moms understand that they cannot control it all. Instead, they create strategies that work. They prioritize the things that matter, and they understand that the key to having everything they want (or at least most of it) is to focus on improving day by day.
If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I would love to hear about your mom life hacks!