Moms, do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do? Feel pulled in five different directions sometimes? Wonder how you’re going to get the kids fed, the house clean, your work done, bills paid, school dropoff and pickup successfully completed, your kids’ homework done, lunches packed, and maybe – just maybe – get to the gym or read a book once in a while? It’s easy to feel sometimes like you’re a hamster on a wheel – you run all day and you drop into bed exhausted, maybe still thinking of what you didn’t get done.
Moms, your work matters. Your daily sacrifices are not always seen by your family, but I know they are seen by your Heavenly Father, who loves you. There’s a lot of work in keeping your life running smoothly, and I promise that you are blessing your family daily whether you check everything off your list or not.
Today I want to offer a few tips for keeping your sanity when there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
- Give yourself some grace. Maybe you hear people say, “We all have the same 24 hours in the day!” We do, but we don’t all have the same pressures and responsibilities in the day. Try to speak words of kindness to yourself – not every day is going to be perfectly productive. It’s okay.
- Decide what really has to get done and what you can really let go. When I went back to work, my daughter was three years old, and I developed an elaborate housekeeping routine and exercise schedule and menu every week – and then felt defeated when I couldn’t get it all done in a day. Moms, don’t do this to yourselves! Make yourself a to-do list, use it to help you keep track of your “must-do” items, but don’t become a slave to it. If today what you really need to do is take out the trash, sweep the kitchen, and rest a bit – don’t put “rake the backyard” and “overhaul the linen closet” on today’s list. Create margin in your to-do list; what you can’t get done today you can do on the weekend or next week or some other time. Your children will not realize if you didn’t vacuum today. It’s okay.
- Simplify. When you just don’t have enough time in the day, simplify your plan. Use the Crock-Pot so dinner cooks while you work. Simplify your kids’ lunches. Simplify your workout plan or your chore list. Buy the store-bought Valentines. Let go of those Pinterest perfect visions of your days. It will be just fine if you skip the dinner that takes an hour to make and dirties up four pans and all your knives – make spaghetti with frozen meatballs and salad from a bag. Relieve yourself of the pressure to have a perfect meal on a perfect table with your kids behaving perfectly having perfectly meaningful conversation. Say “no” sometimes – give yourself permission to protect your calendar and not add to it when that feels like pressure.
- Simplify some more. When you do have some spare time, however, consider simplifying your wardrobe, decluttering your kids’ toys a bit, cutting back on the pile of books “to be read someday”. When you’re stretched thin, sometimes having fewer possessions to care for makes it easier to take care of what you do keep. We’ll talk more about decluttering with your kids in a later blog post. But for now: Give yourself permission to simplify where you can.
- Tell your family what you need. So many moms try to do it all on their own, without delegating to their family. Teach your children to fold their laundry; make a daily game plan for everyone to do a quick chore after dinner; ask your spouse to run the kids’ baths tonight or help you pack lunches for tomorrow to make your morning go easier. This is for stay-at-home moms and moms with full-time jobs and every mom in between: if your must-do’s are overwhelming you, then share the load and ask your family to help you keep up with what must get done. Post a list on the fridge so everyone knows what their jobs are. You are teaching your children how to contribute to the household. Now there are some mommies who don’t have the ability to share the load too much – single moms, moms whose spouses travel for work, moms with kids with special needs. If you are parenting and you have special pressures in your life, I want to cheer you on right now – I’ve been there, and my advice to you is to go back to #3 and simplify even more. Ask another mom for help with pickup, have pizza when you’re beyond cooking, and find help where you can; find a neighborhood teenager who will help with your kids or rake your yard, a sympathetic Scout mom who will run the Scout taxi, even just another mom who wants to help you succeed – which brings me to my last piece of advice.
- Connect with other moms. Easier said than done sometimes – especially if you, and your neighbors, work outside the house all day. Truro Anglican has a group called Where Moms Connect, and it’s meant for this purpose. If you’re not local to the Fairfax area, look for groups like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), parenting groups at the library, even Meetup groups for moms. I connected with some moms on Meetup and through MOPS while my daughter was small, and to this day those are some of the moms I reach out to when I need support. We’ve watched each other’s kids, had impromptu playdates to give everyone some breathing room, brought each other meals when someone’s been sick, and supported one another through some rough days and cheered each other on through some really great days. Perhaps even when you are stretched too thin, sometimes investing in relationships pays off in the long term with additional help and support that you might not have had otherwise. There are moms out there who want to see you succeed.
I can’t give you more hours in a day, and I can’t give you more energy to get through all your tasks. What I can do is tell you that it’s okay to rearrange things to make it work for you. You are only one person. Take a breath, relax, try to enjoy your kids today, be kind to yourself.
When I asked my fellow working moms for input on how to fit it all in, most of them stared at me for a minute and said, “I can get it all done in a day, but only if you clone me and hire me a maid and someone to drive my kids around.” So if you feel that way, you’re not alone.
Maybe YOU have tips to share with us! How do you get everything done in the day? Share your ideas with me!