The Modern Challenge for a Modern Working Mom
Every mom knows the challenge of working, whether it’s inside or outside the home, raising children and running a household. It always seems like there is never enough time in the day. However, taking the time to be intentional about the time you have can be a great way to make the most of the time you do have.
When you know what you want to accomplish, it’s much easier to work towards that goal or end-state. By being intentional about how you spend your time, you are able to spend your time on what matters and use your day in a way that maximizes productivity.
Intentionality is also about being aware of how or when time gets away from you – Social media being one of the biggest culprits.
Avoid Today’s Biggest Time Thief
Isn’t it funny how it feels like some days we have no extra time and no idea who we’re going to find time to get to the gym, or fit in some self-care, but suddenly, we find ourselves scrolling through Facebook or Instagram without realizing how long we’ve been attached to the screen or where the time went. (Tip: If you have an iPhone, check out the Screen Time Tracker feature to see how much time you spend each day and which apps are taking most of your time. It’s a little frightening!)
As you look to make time for your personal and professional goals, time with family and of course, the tasks that come with motherhood, know that intentionality and prioritization will go a long way in ensuring you are spending time in a way that aligns with your values. Here are five simple ways to find time in the working mom’s busy schedule.
5 Ways to Get Your Time Back When You’re a Working Mom
1. Plan it out.
This is the one tip that applies to pretty much every situation, but a bit of planning goes a long way to ensuring success, no matter what you need to get done. From fitting in physical fitness to cleaning up your diet or making time for a date night, taking time to plan will ensure you have time set aside for what matters.
Here’s an example – I have always struggled with meal planning but this week, I knew something needed to change as our family’s routine changed and the school year is right around the corner. I took 20 minutes to outline lunch and dinner ideas for the week, made a comprehensive grocery list and went to Target. As a result, we have a full fridge and a plan in place to ensure my family is fed.
I’m even trying out a new-to-me meal service. This means I get to pick up a hot-and-ready dinner on Wednesday evening and we can eat immediately. Those 20 minutes of planning have taken the stress out of feeding my family this week and allowed me to focus my evenings on other priorities.
If finding time to meal plan and make fresh and healthy meals is a challenge for you, check to see if you have any businesses in your area that will make them for you. Some of them even deliver to your home or a local business, so pick up is easy!
2. Identify your most productive time of the day and take advantage.
Today, we hear a lot about morning routines and waking before the children to start your day right.
For those people who are most productive in the morning hours, starting your day with intentionality will help you plan and prioritize the day ahead, while also providing some alone time to just be.
For those who tend to be night owls, you can use the evening hours after bedtime to tackle the to-do list.
Maybe you want to plan out the next day, finish up some work projects when your mind is clear or take time to focus on yourself, with a bit of gratitude, reading and reflection. No matter how you use the time, being aware of when you are at your best and using that time to do your best work is key to maximizing your time throughout the day.
3. Frontload the day and week.
One of my favorite quotes is a military saying that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Despite our best attempts at planning, something will always change. The ability to be nimble and flexible is a key to success in motherhood.
When possible, it can be helpful to frontload the activities or tasks that are most important.
For example, if you really want to make sure you’re active and get your workouts in during the week, you might benefit from working out first thing on Monday. That way, you can front load your workouts at the beginning of the week so that if something comes up later, you might be less likely to feel guilty about not being able to fit it in.
Likewise, try to frontload the most important tasks at the beginning of the day when you are freshest. This means knocking out the most urgent priorities and likely the projects that require the most time and effort. Then, you’re left with the tasks and projects that can wait for later. And at the end of the day, you can feel good about knowing you completed the work that matters most and moved the needle forward.
4. Outsource when and what you can.
We all have a never-ending to-do list both at work and at home. As the list grows, with it comes stress and anxiety. A feeling that you are failing in every aspect of life.
This is when it’s important to ask for help.
I know that in the future I will not look back on these years with young children and remember a sink full of dishes or toys scattering the floor, but I do know that in this current stage, clutter and chaos add to my stress and anxiety.
A bit of help with household tasks allows me to focus on time and energy on my priorities, both at work and at home. So if you are looking to outsource, consider finding a housecleaner, someone to help with yard work, or use a meal service to allow you to better manage both the household and your work.
Also, don’t forget about your partner! If you feel like you’re still taking on the majority of the household chores, it might be time to delegate some additional responsibilities to them. Be clear in your communication with your partner about what you need from them in order to eliminate any confusion.
If outsourcing housework doesn’t fit in the budget right now, think about ways you might be able to get creative. Maybe that’s trading time watching the kids and having playdates with a friend who also needs some time for work or other priorities. Or, a neighbor kid who is interested in earning a little extra money and can help with mowing or pulling weeds.
If you know you have to outsource something, but budget is a concern, start taking a closer look at the budget and see if there is anything you can move around to make your life a little easier.
Are daily specialty coffee drinks something you could give up on for a while to have a cleaner come to the house? Maybe packing lunch to bring to work instead of eating out is a compromise so you can have the neighbor boy mow your lawn for the summer.
When it comes to outsourcing tasks at home, there’s usually some creative ways to find a solution.
5. Multitask like a mom.
You might think that I’m suggesting you try to do three things at once and do them all well. I realize that while most working moms are adept at multitasking, it often comes with a bit of sacrifice.
In this situation, I’m suggesting you multitask in a way that allows you to complete two priorities simultaneously. For example, the lawn needs to be mowed and you want to find time to workout. Skip a trip to the gym and get your exercise in the old fashion way. There is nothing more satisfying that a freshly mowed lawn and it smells good too.
This is also a great way to fit in self-care. Listening to your favorite podcast or current book while commuting to work or preparing dinner. Fold a load of laundry while catching up with your significant other.
There are so many ways to be productive, while also taking care of yourself and others. And I love the feeling of going to bed knowing I crossed a few more tasks off the mental to-do list.