Do you ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day? Are you late to engagements often or cancel plans because you just can’t keep your commitments? Having children can add extra time on to everything you do and if you were not great with time management before, you may find yourself struggling to stay above water with everything that needs to get taken care of. Below are some tips to help you re-organize your time and hopefully manage your schedule and make it look like you’ve got it all together!
Meal Planning and Prep
One of the biggest time savers is to plan your food for the week. Not only can this save you some coin, but it can even help you lose some lb’s! Many grocery stores offer an app that allows you to build your list in advance and gives you an estimated total for your purchases. If technology is not your thing, a dry erase board or large note pad does the job. Members of your family can also add things to your list to help!
- Pick one day a week to go grocery shopping. People who go to the store more frequently are more likely to buy more things! This will save you time, too.
- Plan a healthy family meal for each night. By choosing what you will have in advance, it lessens the chance of making unhealthy decisions!
- Plan your family lunches for the week. Buying lunch out adds up. If you work, pack your lunch. If your kiddos are in school, you can pack their lunch often to help ensure that they eat a balanced meal and not always cafeteria food of pizza and french fries!
- Write down your plan somewhere for reference throughout the week. This way you if you have an event Tuesday, you will know to make an easy meal and you will not have to do too much thinking.
- If something is on sale that week, swap it out to take advantage! Many recipes can be altered easily.
- Do meal prep in advance. If you’re using chicken two nights during the week, buy a large pack and cook it all at once to use when you need it.
Make Repeat Plans with Friends and Family
There is a core group of people that are involved in your life. Scheduling time with them can help you enjoy each other’s company and provide fun plans that you are more likely to keep and not bail out of. For instance, you could decide that one Sunday a month, you will have a lunch date with a friend and her family and take turns hosting. Communicate each month to set a date. You may want to pick one or two nights a month to have “family dinners” and invite your parents/in-laws over or meet up with them at a restaurant. Another idea is seeing if friends with children your kids ages are interested in signing up for a class that meets regularly. Having things on your calendar in advance and making sure you are giving time to the important relationships in your life will help you enjoy the activities more instead of always scrambling to come up with an idea or fit something in last minute. (Tip- this will help with your meal planning, too!)
** Caveat** Don’t over-book yourself! Sometimes we try to please too many people at once or fit too many things in. You and your family need downtime as well and time together. Be sure to have a weekend or days in your schedule that you don’t have anything planned!
Create a Cleaning Rotation
There are a ton of free online templates and calendars that you can download. If that is too stringent for you, try picking certain days a week and designate activities to do on each. A basic example is below! (I budgeted in time for wine, of course.)
If you have children that are old enough to help, set aside an activity/day for them to complete a chore and consider an allowance or reward to sweeten the deal!
Pick One Volunteer Activity
It may seem like some parents are super-human in the way that they juggle all the activities and responsibilities in their lives. PTA, Soccer, Girl/Boy Scout Leader, Field Trip Chaperone…. You’re positive that they must have at least 20 Pinterest Boards with hundreds of crafty little things pinned up. Some people need to be busy and find comfort and joy in being involved in as much as possible. For the remainder of people, the goal is to be helpful and choose activities you can participate in. The key is in identifying what works for YOU. If you have five kids with two working parents, chances are you will not be “coach” for your children’s teams. You can however, probably manage to throw together a snack for after a game once a month. Or, volunteer in a classroom once a month. It is far better to do a few things well than to try to do many things poorly. There are other ways you can give back too that can be family activities like volunteering at an animal shelter or making meals for the homeless.
There are days where we feel like we are going to explode from the inside out. If we hear “mommy/daddy” called ONE MORE TIME, we may consider changing our names. If we get one more letter from school about an upcoming event where your child must have a homemade costume, a 10-page report, and a baked good brought in, we might also consider getting in our cars and driving away. There is an ebb and a flow with these times and you must remind yourself that nothing is forever. Take control of the things you have control over and understand that what works for someone else and their family may not work for you. Staying mentally and emotionally healthy will allow you to accomplish more and be more productive overall. Be sure to find some “me time” amidst all the craziness and don’t forget to breathe!