Do you spend your days as a stay at home mom putting out so many fires that you never seem to get anything done? Are you a work at home mom who just can’t seem to get any actual work done until your little ones are fast asleep, resulting in a lack of sleep for you? Being a stay at home mom is hard. Despite the popular stay at home mom vs. working mom debate, there’s no question that all moms struggle with time management at some point. What if I told you that I have developed effective strategies to help you manage your daily mom schedule?
Before I left the traditional working world, I worked in Human Resources. Every day, I looked for ways to maximize efficiency for myself, my team, and the company as a whole. I was so efficient in my role that, from what I hear, they had to hire multiple people to replace me after I left. (If only I had been paid multiple salaries when I was still there!) After a few months of adjusting to becoming a stay at home mom, I finally decided to implement the same time management strategies I practiced in Human Resources into my new role at home. Whether you are a stay at home mom or a work at home mom, these simple time management strategies outline my step by step tips for effectively managing your time.
Simple Time Management Strategies for Stay at Home Moms
Define the Problem
The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is a problem. Are your days getting away from you? Is your to-do list growing at a rate about ten times faster than your task completion rate? It’s time to make a change. More than likely, the fact that you aren’t getting anything done is affecting you in more ways than one. Learning how to manage your time can play a big role in stress reduction, resulting in a happier, more productive you!
You have to define the problem and map out the solution. You can’t just skim this post and then put a little bit more effort into organizing your daily schedule if you want to expect real results. I know, you’re a busy mom. What mom isn’t a busy mom? You’ve heard the phrase, “you have to spend money to make money”, right? Well, you have to spend time to make time too! Even if you feel like you don’t have time to analyze your life and revamp your schedule, you need to make it a priority to spend some real, genuine time figuring this out. Trust me, it will pay off.
How do you get started?
Before you can develop a time management strategy, you need to look at your current day-to-day. What are you able to get done every day? What do you need to be able to get done each day? Make note of the discrepancies. This is what you need to focus on most. If you are at a point where you can’t even get the bare necessities done each day, you aren’t ready to focus on bigger goals just yet. But don’t worry, goal setting comes in to play later.
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To make this process easier, I’ve created a free Stay at Home Mom Productivity Workbook to go along with this post. The workbook includes a daily productivity analysis and a priority list, among other things. You can use these printables to work through the steps in this post. Be honest with yourself when you are completing the productivity analysis. No one else has to know, but you won’t be doing yourself any favors if you fudge the numbers. Are you spending 3 hours watching TV each day? Just think about what you could get done in that time frame!
There’s nothing wrong with taking some downtime for yourself, in fact, you should definitely include some Mom Time on your priority list. But, if you want to be productive, you need to use your time strategically. More than likely 3 hours of TV watching is not the most effective way to meet your personal Mom Time needs anyway. There are absolutely better ways to recharge as a mom, and in far less time!
So, how can this analysis actually help you?
You’ve defined the problem and prioritized your tasks and needs. Hopefully analyzing everything that isn’t working didn’t depress you too much, because we’re about to get to the good part! It’s time to organize your tasks. This is where you will decide the exact steps you need to take to make this time management change. If you haven’t already downloaded the Stay at Home Mom Productivity Workbook, you’ll want to do that now. I’ve included a worksheet that is perfect for organizing your tasks. Here are some helpful categories to consider when determining where to place each task on your list:
- What are your goals for the month, year, or even further out? Use the Goals Worksheet to map these out. Then head back over to your Task Organization Worksheet and write down all the daily and weekly tasks that you need to complete to work toward those goals.
Utilizing your mornings
- What are the tasks that absolutely must get done each day? If you get them done before your household wakes up and demands your attention, you can get yourself off to a great start for the day. Trust me, you’ll feel way better. Write down the tasks you want to get done each morning.
Utilizing nap times
- What are the tasks that you just can’t get done with little ones running around? If you’re a work at home mom, this may be the only time that you can get any “real” work done. Write down the tasks that you want to reserve for nap times. Make sure you have a backup plan for when nap time doesn’t pan out.
- If you are already making dinner, why not clean the kitchen at the same time? Better yet, find a way to combine your tasks with your kids’ activities. If you need to clean something, see if there is a task you can assign to your kid(s) that goes along with it. I’ve been known to give my one-year-old a rag to “clean” whatever he wishes, while I am dusting the house. He loves doing what mommy is doing, and I’m able to get a fair amount done before he gets bored with the activity. Make note of the things you can combine. It will come in handy when you are making your new schedule.
Mapping out times when you have help
- Does your significant other like to give the kids their full attention for a bit when they get home from work? Use this time to wrap up whatever tasks you didn’t get done for the day or to prepare for tomorrow’s tasks. Do your parents keep telling you that they would love to spend more time with the kids? Plan out a set day and time each week where they watch the kids. This time is golden. Use it wisely. Write down the tasks that you plan to complete during your kid-free time.
Set aside time for yourself
- This is an important one. Make sure that you carve out time for yourself every day. Even if it means that you just take 15 minutes to drink your coffee in the peace and quiet every morning, you need to have a moment to think. Speaking from experience, a mom who doesn’t recharge daily is likely going to burnt out quick. Mom Burnout could very well be the biggest obstacle in being productive as a stay at home mom.
Why does this all matter?
Okay, so you wrote down all of this information, but why does it really matter? How is this going to change the fact that you don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done? Well, I can’t give you more time. But let me tell you why this time management strategy works.
- .You’ve just acknowledged everything that is not working. You’ve defined the problem. By doing this, you are so much more likely to avoid the problem moving forward. It’s amazing how big of an impact this one small step can have.
- You’ve personally come up with ways to work toward being more efficient in your day-to-day. You picked them, not me. These are custom built to fit your life and the fact that you wrote it all down means that you are holding yourself accountable.
- If you are reading this post, it’s because you are ready for a change. I’m not here to hold your hand, or give you the magic answers to all of life’s problems. I’m here to give you the tools you need to be successful on your own terms. If you succeed, you deserve all the credit – and you get to reap all the rewards of being a successful stay at home mom.
Before you complete your new stay at home mom time management strategy, there’s just one more thing…
Finding a work-life balance
With most jobs, you finish your workday and you can leave your work at the office until the next morning. Even with jobs where you have to bring your work home on occasion, you typically have the ability to take formal time off. When you’re a stay at home mom, your “work” is your family. You don’t get to shut your work brain off at 5pm. In fact, evenings can often be the most hectic part of your day. Regardless of how you map out your day, you should always have an ending time. More than likely this will be when the kids go to bed.
There are a lot of moms out there who advocate working when the kids go to bed. However, if you’re going to work when the kids are sleeping, I am a big promoter of placing an emphasis on working before they wake up in the morning for two reasons:
- Waiting until the kids go to bed to complete your work puts you at risk for being too wiped out from the day to put the right amount of focus into your tasks.
- Working at night can often result in less nightly sleep than getting up early to work in the morning. You may end up staying up later than you should once you really get going. Additionally, keeping your brain highly active right before bed can make it hard to fall asleep when you finally do go to bed.
Despite your desire to get that to-do list complete, there’s one thing that every mom needs…
I can’t emphasize this enough…
Set an end time for your day. Pick a time of day when you will no longer be “on duty”. Of course, if your little one needs you, you still need to be there. But at this set end time, you will be done performing your daily tasks. Didn’t get all the dishes done? Looks like you’ll need to finish the rest in the morning. Still have a load of laundry in the dryer? You can restart the dryer tomorrow. Unless it absolutely must be done, let it go for the night.
I set my end of day time for 8pm. This gives me time to get my son to bed and wrap up a couple of last-minute tasks. From 8pm until I go to bed I spend time relaxing with my husband. Sometimes, I will use this time to work on my blog, but only if it is a blogging task that I enjoy, Either way, I still try not to blog too close to bed time. Even when it’s something enjoyable, I will have a hard time falling asleep when my gears are still turning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a post right before bed and then spent an hour trying to fall asleep as I edited the post in my head over and over again.
That’s not all…
By now you should have a pretty good handle on what needs to change and how to change it. The only thing left is to put pen to paper and officially create your new stay at home mom time management strategy. Using your Stay at Home Mom Productivity Workbook, complete your new schedule. Slap that bad boy up on your refrigerator or somewhere where you will see it every morning, and stick to it! When you feel yourself getting off track, get up and go look at your schedule. Just reminding yourself what you need to get done can be enough to get you through moments of weakness.
There you have it! Time Management strategies made simple! It’s the first task you can cross off that never-ending to-do list.
Next Step: Download the free Stay at Home Mom Productivity Workbook and get started!
What would you do with an extra hour in your day? Let me know in the comments below!