The baby is napping so the mom has a few minutes. She’ll take a shower, but she thinks she should run the laundry first.
While she changes the laundry, she’ll clean the lint filter. She will throw away the lint but the trash needs to be taken out.
She’ll throw out the bag and get a new one. While she’s getting a new bag, she notices the bottles need to be washed.
While she washes the bottles, she loads the dishwasher.
The dishes are done and she notices the counters need to be cleaned.
She wipes down the counters and decides to have a snack.
As she’s eating her snack, she hears the laundry chime.
She decides to get the laundry out and folded. Halfway through the basket, the baby wakes up. Mom still hasn’t showered or eaten her snack.
If this has been you, please raise your hand. How many times have you kept crossing things off your to-do list when you just need a few minutes alone? In this age of encouraging self-care, how do you let go of the to-do and actually take care of yourself? I always get stuck in this rabbit hole of housework and at the end of the day, my house is half clean with tomorrow’s to-do list getting longer and I’m exhausted.
How can you manage work, kids, housework, social life, finances, and get enough sleep? I don’t have all the answers but here are a few that have helped me in the last couple of months.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Minutes
Set a list of what you want to accomplish
Focus on an area in your home or life and do that. Choose something that will help you feel like you got something done and will take something off that mile-long to-do list. Make Monday laundry night, Tuesday you clean the bathrooms, Thursday catch up on work projects, Friday balance your checking account and pay bills. Try spreading out your responsibilities throughout the week and leave one full day of family time and rest. That rest day will help you relax and know that the other work can be taken care of on the specific day you’ve planned it. It takes time to get in a routine or set habits, but it’ll help in the long run.
Set timer to know when to stop
Don’t stay up until midnight cleaning. This may seem obvious but I’ve hit the wee morning hours more than I’d like to admit. Try to do 20-30 minutes at the end of every day to maintain the workload. Wash the bottles, pack up for the next day, and fold the laundry. When that time is up, I stop (most of the time). I wake up in a better mood knowing I don’t need to run around in the morning or wake up to last night’s dishes.
Look a week or two in advance. Have a late night at work or will your partner not be home on time? Make your meal plan so it takes the guessing game out of what you’ll make for dinner. Have a girls night? Set out the bath items and PJs for the kids so when you get home it saves a step. This way you’re less likely to cancel your night out and put off bathtime which might throw off the rest of your week.
Ask for Help
This is where I struggle most – it is easier said than done! Housework, baby laundry, packing the diaper bag, work projects. With everything I’m adding to my plate as the week goes by, my self-care gets slowly inched off and ultimately ends up on the floor, forgotten like a dropped binky. I feel like I need to do it all to be successful, but asking for help not only gives you a break but also lets other people feel good for knowing how to ease your burden.
Your time is valuable and limited, so you need to save that resource. Try a grocery pick up. Hire a house cleaner. Sometimes outsourcing your chores is worth the cost to save your sanity. If you have a big day at work the next day, ask your partner to vacuum so you can prepare. There is no shame for sharing responsibilities.
So whether you’re freeing up time to take a bubble bath, catch up on Instagram, or just sit on the couch in silence, it is your time and you should spend it however you want. It’s more important to have a happy mind and happy mom so you can keep your focus on being you with your family.