Mastering Time: A strategy guide for stay-at-home, homeschooling moms.
As a stay-at-home mom, it can be overwhelming to try and get all of the housework done while also taking care of your children. As a stay at home, homeschooling mom, feeling like you're going to explode in a quiet abandon of the to do list can become an everyday feeling. You want to be with the kids, really with them and present. If you're anything like me, however, you also want to be able to relax in a space that actually feels relaxing rather than chaotic and cluttered. There's many strategies to make this load feel a LOT lighter. One of them to make this task easier is to create a daily schedule or to-do list that prioritizes the most important tasks and breaks them down into smaller, manageable chunks.
After 10 years of being blessed with the opportunity to homeschool and stay with my children, I use a lined notebook and write out tasks. That's it. Sometimes I add homemade stickers and washi tape- but I take advantage of back-to-school sales by buying the ultimate cheap planner, a spiral notebook college ruled. You don't need expensive or fancy to plan time efficiently and well. I know. I have bought into the planner craze for awhile and the best ones require me to put pen to paper and really write.
All you need is yourself, and your abilities. It also helps me to use my notebook as a journaling center- because I can organize my thoughts, which aids tremendously in organizing my tasks. Each workload goes easier if I can get my thoughts about what is happening when put together. Juggling the schedule of a tween and a toddler is something that can be done, but acting as an anchor for it all can really be a lot to carry.
Time management is a crucial skill for anyone, but especially stay-at-home moms, as we often juggle multiple responsibilities, including taking care of our children, managing the household, and possibly even working from home or homeschooling (or both) on top of all of these tasks. Here are some tips and strategies to help you master time management and make the most of your day:
1.Create a daily schedule: Every weekend, I pull out my spiral bound notebook and make a daily list for each day of the week. I pull out my phone and look at the classes, appointments, work schedules for my husband, work schedules for me (to work on my blog) and any meetups we have that week. After that I pull out my homeschpool materials and write out what I should expect for each child that week. Then I read through the material that I need to teach. This takes about 2 hours and it helps the whole household run so efficiently. Every day of the week has a certain room that we clean, or at least a certain room that we focus on cleaning. Does it always get done? No. But does it always get done in during the week? Also no. BUT the kitchen and bathrooms are always prioritized- we have a happy home, and everything is cleaned WAY more than it used to be without a habit of creating a list for my week.
Doing this through the week, at least the night before hand will help you stay focused on what needs to be done and what to expect of yourself daily. You can't be cleaning the house all day on the day that the kids have plans to attend a circle time at the library, the zoo, then a park. Yet many moms place these expectations on ourselves because housework is multitude of 10–15-minute tasks. It is common and understandable why we think we can get it all done. Yet- it just leads to burnout. This is why a daily task list through the week can help you stay organized and focused and ensure that you're able to complete all of your important tasks.
2. Prioritize your tasks: Folding a load of laundry? 15 minutes. Washing the dishes? 20 minutes. Repairing the table? Ehhhhh.....Not all tasks are created equal, and it's important to prioritize the most important ones. For our home if we do not get to our goals for each room- we return to the kitchen and bathrooms. Which sometimes can get chaotic- but it keeps the most used and traveled rooms in the home cleanest which means there's less tripping over toys or sticky floors. Remember I'm saying less.
Consider using the Eisenhower matrix, which helps you categorize tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important and not urgent or important. This will help you to focus on what truly matters and minimize distractions. Involve your kids in your cleaning, let them be a part of the tasks. Understand that for a 3 year old to place the towel on top of a spill and then wipe it up halfway is developmentally appropriate. You got a little help and can pick it up for them once they go chill with their favorite toy or book. It feeds the "I want to help!" attitude that kids always have and gives you a chance to build a 10 year old that will not only see the spilled drink but know how to pick it up when they need to.
3.Break tasks down into smaller chunks: Large tasks can feel overwhelming, so try breaking them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. if the table needs to be fixed, set aside a few minutes to get out the supplies you need and put it together on a shelf near your working area. Then give time to the kids until your husband is home so you have help. This can make the task feel less daunting and help you to focus on one step at a time.
This also aids your husband in knowing what tasks he can help with and also where you can have help. For awhile I personally struggled with allowing my husband to help me on so many tasks because I was overwhelmed by all of the tasks. Each one is its own even if you do it daily, thanksgiving dishes are not daily everyday dishes. Fixing the table is not the same as cleaning the entire garage in springtime.
4.Eliminate distractions: Distractions can be a major time-waster, so it's important to eliminate as many of them as possible. This might mean turning off your phone, closing unnecessary tabs on your computer, or finding a quiet spot to work. I have taken social media OFF my phone, it is on my iPad, so I can load it up when I am being intentional about my use. This has done me a whole world of good when it comes to getting tasks done efficiently and timely.
5.Use technology to your advantage: While this is not an option that works for me as I am often working to put my phone down, for those out there with more self control from distractions there are many apps and tools available that can help you to manage your time more effectively.
1. Trello - a project management app that allows you to create boards and lists for different tasks and projects
2.Todoist - a to-do list app that lets you create tasks and set reminders
3.Cozi - a family calendar app that helps you keep track of everyone's schedules, all of which can help you to keep track of your schedule and manage your tasks more efficiently.
6.Take breaks: It's important to take regular breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. This can help you to stay focused and productive. One thing I like to do is something no one can take from me each day. One way this is often met is working out, but to me that is normal and regular self care- I fall back on this when time is tight and the cups of my children are full from events or classes.
When I make time each day that I can I like to draw or paint an educational resource, a picture, work on a creative project, or to hike and enjoy a few minutes to myself breathing and praying in complete silence. To me, silence is just so incredible when contrasted with the noise of my day. Not talking is blissful at times, just breathing and enjoying the woods around me with a hot tea and my dog. She's a good listener.
7.Learn to say no: One of the most challenging aspects of time management is learning to say no to requests and invitations that don't align with your priorities. There are so many ways we all want to support each other- yet when that clashes with our schedules or what we need to get done at home it helps to keep it in mind rather than overload our plates. Remember that you're the one in charge of your time and you are the one who should decide how to spend it.
In summary, instead of trying to clean the entire house in one day, focus on cleaning one room or area at a time. Know your priority areas and what are non-negotiable places to keep clean for your mental health to thrive. This can help you feel less overwhelmed and more in control. Another strategy is to divide household chores among family members. Assign age-appropriate tasks to children and negotiate with your partner to share responsibilities. Mastering time management is crucial for stay-at-home moms, and it is a combination of creating a daily schedule, prioritizing tasks, breaking tasks down into smaller chunks, eliminating distractions, using technology to your advantage, taking regular breaks and learning to say no. With the practiced strategies and mindset to grow and adapt, you can effectively manage your time and make the most of your day. You have GOT this!!