It’s been a long road for families this year, with plenty of change and chaos. With schools announcing their remote and hybrid learning plans, mothers everywhere are wondering how to balance schooling, meal planning, their careers, the household, and everyone’s sanity. Life seemed busy and hectic before, but the fall of 2020 brings a new set of challenges.
We all seemed to be in survival mode this spring, but survival mode isn’t sustainable in the long term. And it’s certainly not helpful for our mental or physical health. Is there a better way to plan for the fall season to get out of the cycle of survival mode?
There is, says Mia Moran of Plan Simple, who has made a whole career out of helping mothers balance their lives with fulfilling work, health, and parenting…even in the time of disruption and change.
The key? Having a plan. Not just a “to do” list, but a meaningful plan that prioritizes what’s important.
Get it out of your head and down on paper
“As women, we keep everything in our heads. We are good at holding all the things in our heads. But eventually, there is no space anymore!” says Mia.
Instead, set a timer for 20 minutes and get it all down on paper. This will be a brain dump of everything you want and need to do. Some things will be huge projects – like create a new office nook for yourself or the kids or re-arrange your work schedule so that you can support your children during remote learning. Other items will be smaller – like “keep toilet paper in stock” and “buy headphones for video calls.”
Now make sure that self-care is included!
After the 20 minutes is up, review the list and make sure there are items that take care of you. If your list is solely about cleaning the house, meal planning, meetings, and your children’s education, then fill in the missing gaps.
What do you need to keep your mental and emotional energy up? Be sure that those are on the list. “Self-care isn’t selfish,” says Mia. In fact, it’s necessary. You’ll serve your family better as a guide and a role model if you are balanced and also taken care of.
Take a break from the list and recenter yourself
Once you’ve done this raw brain dump, walk away for a few minutes. Do whatever activity relaxes and grounds you. Whether it’s taking a walk, doing some yoga, or reading a book, it’s important to bring yourself to center before you proceed.
Now imagine the mental and emotional priorities for the fall
This is the most important step, according to Mia, but it’s often the one that we as women overlook. If you could wave your magic wand, how do you want to feel this fall? Relaxed? Connected with your family? Productive? Abundant? Energized instead of exhausted?
Use this opportunity to plan around what really matters
Use these internal goals as your guide when you prioritize your plan for the fall, not the externally imposed goals. If connecting with your family over dinner is important, then maybe you need to stop work at 4:30 pm to wind down the day and start dinner prep.
Remember, you won’t be able to get everything done from your brain dump “to do” list. We never can! But this method creates a more meaningful “to do” list and helps you prioritize what fills your soul, and postpone or eliminate what doesn’t align with your family goals.
Planning in advance makes it easier to say no to activities and obligations that don’t fulfill us. As with anything – meal planning, holiday shopping, financial planning – it’s much easier to make good decisions if we’ve identified ahead of time what’s in alignment and what can be discarded as noise.
Choose your season
Women tend to live by seasons, whether it’s the start of the school season, the holiday season, or summer vacation. Mia advises choosing the season or time frame and planning for your goals within that time frame. If planning for only September makes you feel the most grounded, then plan only for September. If you’d like to tackle the entire fall, then go for it.
You’ll actually get more done with an aligned plan
The extra bonus is that you’d be surprised how much you can actually get done with this method, says Mia. We tend to spend so much time thinking about our “to do” list that we can’t actually make progress. With a clear plan, you can spend that “thinking” energy on actually “doing.”
It seems like a simple process, but when we are in the midst of chaos, it’s harder to identify what’s truly important and what is just noise. Use this easy process to gain clarity around what truly matters – so, at the end of the day, the family’s most important needs are met.
Ready to take control of your life this fall with Mia’s FLOW Planning Method? You can grab her FLOW Planner at Mia Moran’s Plan Simple website: www.plansimple.com.
All photos courtesy of Jenny Moloney.