One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a working mom is how I keep our life organised
How do we get through the door in the morning in one piece, sane and on time? How do you juggle work time and family time? How do you keep it all balanced?
Well friends, allow me to be honest. I don’t really have a concrete answer to those questions because on any given day, life happens. The day care calls unexpectantly to ask me to pick up the sick kiddo. I get a flat tire. Starbucks is out of soya milk to make my chai tea latte (the horror!). You get the drift – life happens.
We’re all working moms
Whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, we’re all working moms and we all have the same number of hours in the day to work with. Having said that, I think the key for me in helping our lives run smoothly as a working mom outside the home has been establishing and keeping to routines and keeping a well-organised, day-to-day plan, aside from the looking-at-the-big-picture (months-down-the-road planning) types of things.
Maybe you’re someone who has the organisation thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organised with storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to colour and season.
Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, we’re all working moms and we all have the same amount of hours in the day to work with…
But what about your everyday organisation? How do you go about your day with an organised schedule and to-do list?
Here are my working-mom tips on helping to organise the everyday crazy:
Prep the night before
Nothing helps me to get my day going more than going to bed at night knowing that the details for the following day are handled. I wake up feeling far more refreshed and not so much in a panic.
- Put together and organise kid stuff – handle all of those pesky forms and paperwork and pull together day-care and school bags for the next day. Establish a ‘command centre’ where all of these items are placed. For me, that’s the bar in my kitchen. My purse, my daughter’s school bag and any other items for the next day are placed there, so that in the morning, it’s an easy grab and go.
- Do a quick pick-up around the house – bath time is at 7:30. Around 7:15, we do a quick clean up around the house. Toys are put away, the kitchen is cleaned up with the dishwasher going and all stray items are put away. We get our daughter involved by doing the ‘clean-up song’ (which is a perfect opportunity to teach helpfulness and responsibility) and I’ve started letting her pick out her outfit the night before to try and minimise morning meltdowns and tantrums.
- Make a to-do list for the next day – this habit does wonders for my productivity. Instead of waking up in a panic wondering what I have to get done for the day, I simply refer to my list to see what’s on the agenda. I usually break the list up into “Need to do”, “Want to do” and then list any appointments, events or special reminders like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays.
Nothing helps me to get my day going more than going to bed at night knowing that the details for the following day are handled
When I’ve finished the list, I place it on the bar in our kitchen because that’s where I go first thing in the morning for coffee. While I’m waiting for the kettle to do its magic, I can look over my list and get mentally prepared for the day ahead.
Get the most out of daily activities
Let’s be honest – no matter how much we plan ahead and organise, there’s no way to predict how the day will really unfold. I do believe however, that we can do our best to try and stay on track to keep things running smoothly.
Here are some of my tips:
- When you rise, put that cell phone away! I know that since most of us use our cell phones for an alarm clock, it’s only natural to want to get onto the phone and see what’s going on … but DON’T. Have a cup of coffee or fresh juice. Have some quiet time. Read over the amazing to-do list you planned the night before. If you’re a meditator, use those first few minutes of the morning to meditate. If you’re religious, use the time for devotion. Point being – put the phone down. Allow yourself some time to wake up and shake off the morning fuzzies. Don’t get sucked into the big, bright shiny screen and allow emails to run over and dictate your life from the get-go.
For me, I sip my coffee, go over my to-do list for the day, and read blogs. This usually takes around 15 to 20 minutes. THEN I get my phone. Trust me, you’ll feel far more refreshed and ready to tackle the day if you don’t get sucked into your phone first thing.
- Keep a good routine, that works for you and your family – No one in our family is a morning person, but I’ve come to learn that having a good routine in place helps to minimise the cray-cray. We all wake up knowing what to expect and how the morning will play out, so there are no surprises. Do we have meltdowns and tantrums? Yes. Do we have setbacks? Absolutely. But having an established foundation to start our day is half the battle.
Don’t get sucked into the big, bright shiny screen and allow emails to run over and dictate your life from the get-go!
This is especially true for small ones. Most toddlers and pre-schoolers crave routine. For us it goes as follows:
- Our daughter wakes up and immediately goes potty.
- I get her Cheerios and turn on her favourite cartoons. This allows me time to get ready.
- Next up, it’s time to get her ready. Clothes, hair and teeth are all done.
- Get shoes on and out the door!
Now don’t get me wrong. We have our struggles all through that little scenario, but that’s pretty much the foundation of our mornings Monday through to Friday.
- Take a break – I’m the type of person who can get very bored very quickly working on one thing. It’s hard for me to sit down and work on one project for a long time. I try to break up my day into manageable chunks with little breaks in between. For instance, if I’m working on a project for work, I’ll go hard for about an hour or so and then take a break and call and make appointments, schedule things for myself or follow up on house and life items that need to be taken care of. I get my work done but I’m able to handle personal things as well.
One last suggestion…
Find a planner system that works for you. Finding your perfect fit will be worth its weight in gold. I personally LOVE paper calendars and organising systems. I’m a writer and love putting pen to paper, and being able to write physically visible things in a planner is what works best for me.
Some people enjoy keeping electronic task lists and that’s great, too. Whatever works for you is what’s important. There was a time when I tried to go electronic and used Wunderlist and Evernote. Both are great products, each with their pros and cons. It’s just a process of finding what suits you, but do it, it will be worth it.
What tips do you have for keeping the day-to-day crazies at bay?