Momma, how does your typical day go? If it’s anything like mine, we rise before sunrise to “get ready”. Really, it’s just a frantic shower after I see my daughter stir through her monitor. Then, it’s breakfast, pack up, whisk away to “work” (In my case, my parents house so my mom can watch my toddler). Then, 10 hours of work, plus juggling spending time with my daughter, making lunch and dinner. By the time bedtime rolls around, I have some time to clean up from the morning frenzy. Then, crash in bed to rest up to do it all over again the next day. It’s tough, but worth the payoff for my family. I know everyone’s mom-day doesn’t look like it, but I’m sure you have your own version of frenzy and scramble. So, how do we juggle all of this and maintain efficiency in crazy mom life?
In the first 18 months as a mom, I’ve learned a few lessons about efficiency or the lack there of. Some lessons I’ve learned the easy way and some the hard way. By sharing my lessons, I hope that you can find something valuable that you can add to your mom-day. Ultimately, I hope that I can help you avoid learning lessons the hard way. A luxury I didn’t have in some cases, but am so thankful for what I’ve learned nonetheless.
Keep in mind, I probably should reread this post every week to remind myself of my own lessons. I’m always surprised at how quickly I can get caught up in the frenzy and forget. We’re not all perfect, but here are a few ways I’m trying to grow in my mom-fficiency.
Prioritize what is really important to maintain efficiency
What is the next most impactful thing? At the end of the day, what really needs to happen? That’s really where all of our energy and time should go.
There are so many expectations on moms. There’s Pinterest ideas we MUST try. And, so many opportunities to let our perfectionism or over-commitment shine through. However, what the family really wants is a happy mom. The kids just want to have fun with mommy. So, the next time you start to stress about the growing to do list for the birthday party, consider… “what really matters?”
Then, make sure what really matters gets done. With this laser focused perspective, we can be completely efficient with our time, because we won’t get overwhelmed and will see success quite quickly. Plus, our family will greatly appreciate it as well.
Write out lists
Let’s face it. Mom life isn’t getting any easier. We are not getting any additional rest. So, why would we expect ourselves to remember all of the little minutia of the day. It’s absurd. Get it out of your head and onto paper. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider: what can I get out of my head to let my notes, calendar, sticky notes, children’s chalkboard, etc. think for me. Ok. Maybe don’t use your children’s chalkboard in the case that they take creative liberties, but that’s the idea. Just get it out of your head.
I typically used to use a sticky note or scrap paper of some kind. However, after losing those notes multiple times, I’ve started using the Trello App, and it’s been a game changer. On this app, you can create lists and tiles, which are the to do’s. My favorite part is the fact that you can save lists and reuse them. I’ve saved travel packing lists and birthday party to do’s for the next time they’re needed. If you’re interested in trying it out, here is the link to Trello.
This is one of my favorite tips for efficiency in crazy mom life. I recommend having three kinds of lists to help with priorities and focus on what really matters.
1) The MUST do’s
On this list, only include the “life or death” items. The kids must eat. The husband must get to work. The family must remain healthy. These are the items that, at the end of the day, MUST be done. This is the only list that probably doesn’t have to get written out, but if you’re feeling overly stressed, I still might. There is a biological response when an item gets checked off a list. It’s a way of saying “good job me” and validating your effort or sacrifice. The more wins on our scorecard, the better we feel. So, even though it may seem silly, go ahead and write out your MUST do’s. See if it makes you feel more productive because you are giving yourself credit for what you already do. If not, this list can probably be skipped.
2) The NEED to do’s
This list should be reserved for family priorities and items that help make the household function. This looks different for every family. However, every family should have these. This would be the list that comes out of the first tip for efficiency in crazy mom life.
To give an example, right now, my husband is working full time and attending university more than full time. I work a full time job and keep my daughter at home with me. I do get the help of my mom to watch my daughter, but she works a full time job too. Here’s my NEED to do items from today:
- give baby a bath
- Shower and get dressed
- Make dinner
- Pay the bills
Notice how I included just “make” dinner. Not make a healthy dinner. Our priorities were literally just to make sure that we are fed and fed with food from home. With all that was going on in life (I.e. getting off at 7pm, coordinating childcare between my husband and mom, having to wrap up admin work after bedtime, etc.) we just needed to eat dinner. I’ll leave healthy eating choices for my like to do list, for when my husband graduates, or my full time job is reduced to part time. Until then, I’ll give myself the grace and leave healthy meals as extra credit in my books.
QUICK TIP: Ever get to a grocery store and wander the aisles hoping to find what you need. Leave a sticky note that you leave somewhere accessible in the kitchen. When an item runs out, add it to the list.
3) The LIKE to do’s
This is where most of what “mom life” is made up of. All the things moms say they need to do or get stressed about are many times not necessary. This is the mom-life that is perceived from Pinterest or social media. So, let’s maintain perspective. This list would be wonderful if it was completed and I’ll do everything that I can to get it done, but I’m not going to base my self-worth on whether or not it gets done.
Creating a felt diy quiet book will not ruin my evening as I slave to complete it. Unless I want to. Mopping the floors will not take away time from my kids. Planting a garden will not cause undue stress on my family. However, I’ll do my best to include these in my day to day schedule because I like the accomplishment and it adds life and excitement to my family.
If we let items such as these rule our lives, we’ll start to neglect the real priority. Often times, our children just want our quality time. Much of the time, our husband’s don’t care if the party turned out exactly as if Joanna Gaines organized it. Therefore, prioritize what is really important, keep everything else on a list, and enjoy the process of mom-life as it unfolds.
Simplify, simplify, simplify when it comes to momma life
The role of mom is unlike any other. The job will never be done, no matter how much you prep, plan, and work. In fact, when we as moms are on top of things, we still feel behind. It’s just part of the territory of being the keeper and organizer of all life residing in your home.
That’s why it’s crucial to simplify as much as possible. Remove distractions. Clear out clutter. Don’t waste time on tasks that don’t produce a necessary outcome. In some situations, you just have to be okay with okay. That’s not the easiest thing to do, but consider your typical day and see if you’d be okay with losing some of the quality or perfectionism of that task.
For example, I tend to over commit myself. I mean look at me… I’m a full time university faculty, mom of a busy toddler, and I run a blog for fun. So, if I look at my week and I feel overwhelmed, I need to do something about it. If I don’t, then, well guess what, nothing I do will get done well.
Typically, the first things to go are the mundane tasks. If I can do a pick-up order instead of grocery shop, that simplifies shopping. If I can pull out a previously cooked freezer meal instead of cooking something from scratch, that saves 30 minutes to an hour there. Both simple versions still accomplish the goal of each task. 1) stock the pantry and fridge; 2) feed the family. But, each option frees up brain space, time, energy that will increase efficiency in all of the other tasks. If you’re interested in additional tips for simplifying grocery shopping, check out my tips for streamlining your grocery shopping.
Create a schedule then go with the flow
Notice the keyword “then”. I’ll come back to that. In order to make the most of each day and live to the greatest mom-fficiency, you NEED a schedule. Otherwise, the pesky little wind will blow you all over the place all day. The result, absolutely nothing gets done. However, here’s where the key is. Once the schedule has been created and the day is maximized to the best of your ability, THEN, you sit back and let the plan unfold (or not). With a rigid structure, stress is imminent. With a carefree attitude, structure won’t paralyze with stress, but actually propel productive and stuff actually gets done.
One way that I create a schedule is with my household chores. I create a task list that I put on a rotation. I start with the most impactful task and work my way down the list until I get to the bottom. Once I’ve completed the list, the first item on the list must be redone. Then, I start the cycle all over again.
As I go through my week, if I have a busy day, I may only tackle one item off the list. If it’s a clear day, I might take on five! Regardless, it’s the schedule that flexes. It’s structured enough to make sure the house is clean, yet, free flowing enough to ensure I never feel the pressure. The main trick is to make sure that at least one item gets tackled at least every other day to keep the list rotating. Ultimately, you just have to plan as much as you can and be okay with whatever goes array. Easier said than done.
One major tip for efficiency in crazy mom life is a piece of advice that is commonly circulated and oftentimes overlooked. As super-mom as you are, and I have no doubt that you are in fact super, we all are human. Meaning, there’s only so much that we’ve got to give.
What better way to maximize your mom-fficiency then by devoting your time to whatever you’re actually trying to be efficient about. Needing to stain the fence. Well, you could spend days painting during nap times and frantically cleaning up as you hear your baby stir. Or, your parents, friends, even neighbors could come over to enjoy baby snuggles while you power through your task. I find that people who aren’t commonly a part of a baby’s life are generally more prone to be excited about some uninterrupted play time. It’s a win-win for everyone. Just ask!
Sometimes when we get overwhelmed, we procrastinate [raises hand]. I call it the ostrich approach. If I don’t know how to handle a situation, my natural instinct is to hide from the problem. In these cases, not being able to plan, paralyzes me and actually takes away what little efficiency and productivity that I have in those moments.
So, in these cases, just do something. Start small. Have an overly messy house? Pick up a sweater off the floor as you walk to the bedroom. Wash one dish. Take one 26 minute nap. Start small and watch those small actions grow.
One of the norms that I’m trying to instill in my household is to grab one item every time we leave a room. So, if we are headed from the kitchen to the bedroom, I may grab a piece of clothing or a book that has been left out. If I’m headed from the bedroom to the kitchen, I’ll grab a water glass or maybe some trash that had been left from the night before.
When things get tough, overwhelming, or straight up messed up, get on your knees and pray. Nothing kills productivity like anxiety, worry, or fear.
If this whole COVID-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to not waste time on the uncontrollable. When there are situations that are uncontrollable, pray. It’s the only control we have. Prayer activates faith. And, faith activates God. Once God is involved, no mountain can stand in our way. In God’s eyes, we are “more than conquerors” and “can do all things”. The faster God is activated in tough situations, the faster we move towards our goals. Even if something miraculous doesn’t happen right then and there, with enough faith, just knowing that the responsibility doesn’t rely on you anymore may just be what you need to get going. This is a big way to start small.
Take time for yourself
A car running on empty will eventually sputter out and not be able to get to its destination. An electronic operating on a low battery, won’t run properly. Similarly, a mom who has given everything she has and not taken time to cherish herself, will not be equipped to give fully of herself to her children. She will have no self left to give.
In order to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself first. Just like they always say with the oxygen masks in a plane.
So, how can you take time for yourself? Maybe the hubby can give you an hour or even a half an hour when he gets home for work. Or, the time after bedtime a couple times a week can be spent solely for mom-time. Take a bubble bath; do a craft for YOU. Allow yourself some time to catch up on your favorite shows. It seems counterintuitive to take time away to get more done. But, all of these things and more allow mom to recharge, thus increasing productivity and efficiency in busy mom life!
This goes along with taking time for mom-time. Literally recharging is so important. With the proper amount of sleep, your brain functions faster, clearer, and with less errors. That faster function, clearer thought process, and less errors increases mom-fficiancy because you simply spend less time doing more things. You double back less. And, if you’re anything like me, you stare at your to-do list a lot less and actually get moving.
Communicate with your significant other
This is a big one. God gave us a forever partner, companion, and teammate. NOT child. Your husband is capable, smart, and in the right situation, willing to help.
Having a clear open communication path with your husband is what it takes to accomplish what hasn’t been previously possible on your own. As mentioned earlier, you-time is vital. Communicate your needs. Is your rotating chore list falling behind? Share your struggles.
Over time, your husband will pick up on trends and may even intervene before you have to talk. Nothing gets things done faster than simply having more people in place working with you.
Reflection is often times one of the more difficult tasks to do as a mom. First off, we’re always right, so why reflect. Yeah… I truly struggle with this often, because there’s this weird gray area between optimistic and clueless. The faster we can differentiate from the two, the better off we’ll be.
If tasks build up in the house, reflect on the real reason why. If it’s something that can be controlled, be ready and willing to act on it.
Know that you love your husband and your kids and would do everything for them. Which means that you were the best mom and wife today! A clean house isn’t the sign of a good wife. Highly active and creative kids aren’t a sign of a good mom. Happy husbands and happy kids are a sign that the woman of their house loves them. Your care shines though. And, no matter how far behind you feel in life or how much didn’t go as planned, keep in mind that you love those closest to you and that’s all that matters. That is the greatest efficiency lesson of them all. It’s what really matters. You are amazing momma! Keep your head up and let’s grow together.
What helps you navigate crazy mom life? Leave it in the comments and be sure to subscribe for future tips and strategies as we work to live life to the fullest. Also, if you are feeling that sleep is one of your biggest hurdles standing between you and mom-fficiency, then be sure to check out my Baby Sleep Hacks that Every Tired Mom Should Know.
The Mama behind Momma Life 2 the Fullest
Hi Mama! I’m so glad that you are here! My name is Ashlyn and I am a wife, full-time mom and full-time university faculty among other less important titles, such as coffee junkie, outdoor lover, craft and Pinterest enthusiast, energetic traveler, activities planner, and to-do list master. I find that my day sometimes feels like a swirl of diapers, meals, meetings, chores, etc. And, I created this blog as a landing spot to share my experiences and purpose to live this crazy mom life to the absolute fullest.
I was born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I was homeschooled for the majority of my childhood, which offered me some unique traveling and cultural opportunities. I earned my degree in English and my Masters degree Instructional Design. Before landing my current, work-from-home job, I also taught in the classroom as a 9th grade English-Language Arts teacher.
When we had our daughter, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to be as present as possible for my little one, so that’s when I found my current flexible-schedule, work-from-home job at an online university.
Mom life is a true gift from God. We were selected to be our little humans mommies, and that is a tremendous blessing and a huge responsibility. This life isn’t meant to just get by. This life is meant to live to the fullest, and our children deserve the most present, life-breathing versions of us.
As moms, we are superhumans! Why not share in that amazing community of strong, capable tiny-human wranglers? Join today so that you can get the latest in living momma life 2 the fullest by subscribing below.