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Perfect Timing

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Time, there’s always too little of it! As moms, we are especially time-strapped. And if we’re working, time is at even more of a premium. Given all the demands placed on us, it can be easy to feel like we’re just going through the motions, fulfilling our responsibilities without truly enjoying them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips for balancing your needs with those of your family and your job:

Batch tasks – This is a great tip for increasing productivity in your work life as well as your personal life. For example, if you find that checking email distracts you while you’re working, spend an hour each morning cleaning out your inbox, then turn off your email notifications for a few hours and concentrate on the task at hand. If you have a bunch of errands to run, do them all at once. Spend a Sunday afternoon cooking a bunch of dishes to eat throughout the week.

Overestimate – When planning a complicated day with multiple drop-offs, pick-ups, and to-do items, it’s best to overestimate how long each item will take. Take everything into account, from traffic to how long it takes your little tyke to pick out socks.

Delegate – Guys hate asking for directions; we hate asking for help. But you can’t be in two places at once, so when your calendar gets insane, make sure to get help from your husband or your close family or friends. Remind yourself that it’s okay to give control to someone else you trust.

Quality Time All the Time – Even the most mundane tasks can become “quality time.” Try to make your daily tasks fun for your kids by allowing them to participate. For example, when you go grocery shopping, let them take an active role in picking out groceries. Cook dinner together and catch up in the car on the way to school. These little moments are the things your kids will remember when they get older. What are your most cherished childhood memories? Chances are they’re simple, everyday activities.

Take Care of Yourself – You don’t have to book an expensive massage to take care of yourself, although that’s a nice treat every now and then. Taking care of yourself is more about allocating time to do things that make you feel good: putting on your makeup in the morning, going for a jog in the evening (bonus points if you’re also pushing a stroller), or painting your toenails before the polish completely chips away.

It’s also about making healthy choices that are best for you. For example, going to bed early instead of staying up to answer emails will make you a much more productive person the next day. As they get older, your children will admire that their mother is someone who takes care of herself – after all, you are modeling behavior that you want them to emulate someday!

Remember to Breathe – As busy, multitasking women and moms, sometimes we overlook the simplest way to get through our day: taking a moment to breathe. Pausing to focus on your breath can help you to quell nerves and stress or simply clear your mind. Simple, but effective!

How do you balance it all? Share your time management tips in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Screenfinity

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  • Andrea

    I am a systems engineer for a large online back. I work 40-50 hours per week, and am on call working up to 60 hours per week during that time. I have an 11-month old son, and a husband who works late hours in commercial real estate, so in the evenings, I am pretty much a single parent. My time management comes in the form of scheduling everything. Keeping my son on a regulated schedule is not only helpful for my time management, but keeps him in a routine that he comes to expect. When we get home from work/daycare, he immediately has his dinner, then his bath, then 30 minutes of play-time with Mommy, then bed. He’s in bed by 7:00 every night. From that point forward, I can get stuff done for me, my husband, our dogs, and prepare for the next day. But that evening schedule is KEY!

    I try to do as much for the next day as possible. I prepare my son’s bottles and baby food for school the night before. I pack any additional items the daycare is asking for (diapers/wipes/baby food/extra clothes) as well. I put all my work-items by the door (laptop/iPad/purse/gym bag). In the mornings, I try to get up by 5:00am so that I can be at work by 7:00, in order to squeeze in a yoga session at lunch.

    It’s tough. And I have hella respect for single mamas out there. I really don’t know how you do it 100% of the time!

    But I find that having a regimented schedule for me, is definitely required to keep my sanity and hold it all together! And that yoga session in the middle of the day? It really makes all the difference. That’s truly MY time to decompress. If you don’t do something for yourself every day, you can easily go crazy. My advice is to figure out something you love and carve out some amount of time for it every single day. After all, you deserve it!

  • Jeanne Tutt

    I don’t have kids so my time management isn’t so bad, but I have fibromyalgia as well as a few other things that affect when I do daily. I tend to get everything together to run errands and plot out my route and writing it down so I stick to it and remember it. I don’t care how much time you are in the car NEVER have your cell phone on in the car, even over the radio. turn it off put it in your purse!

    I couldn’t imagine single mothers and how they handle all their time being pulled in so many directions. I applaud all mothers. It wasn’t in the cards for me both body wise and a decision actually made as a child. We are child free by choice but we do long our 4 nieces and all kids! We just like the fact we can give them back :) You never know, we might change our minds and we are open to it.

    Tori, how you doin?

  • Brooke Grey

    My biggest thing is not overcommitting myself. Also, when I hear myself getting “short,” with my husband or daughter I always just make an effort to go out during nap time and take a few moments to myself. Like Tori said, even if it is to go grocery shopping or run some sort of errand, I’ll grab a coffee as a treat on my way and just try and relax!

    I don’t think I’ve 100% figured it out yet, but I try to make myself aware of the balance daily!

  • Cristina LaRosa

    I am so guilty of not making time for myself. I work full-time and have four children (three of which are pre-schoolers). My husband and I work opposite shifts so most nights and weekends I am a single-parenting. I seldom get a break. Add to that my obsession with cleanliness… and I almost never sit down, when I do I fall asleep. I often joke that there is no reward for being the kind of woman that never takes a break and my tombstone will NOT read “Mother with Clean Floors.”

    I have fantastic in-laws that help a lot with the children but I feel guilty if I don’t use that time for something construtive like – you guessed it – cleaning, laundry or grocery shopping. I often feel like I am in the movie “Groundhog Day,” doing the same thing over and over and it makes me wonder if this is all there is. I guess I am not making time for myself becasue I feel there will be time for that when the children get older.

    I am really going to try some of the things suggested. Having the kids help with dinner is a great idea and I have done it in the past but they make a mess and I then spend more time cleaning. Do you see a pattern? I need to let go of the need to clean!

    Thanks Tori for once again reminding us we are not alone. Sometimes just looking at our lives with a little persepctive can make all the difference.

  • Natasha Baker

    Great advice here! Particularly love the tip about overestimating time. So true and I am SO bad at it. It really helps when you can try and plan ahead as much as possible. Thanks for the advice!

  • victoria silva

    Wonderful tips ladies…love them all.

    For me…connecting to my spirit…and beginning each day with a prayer of gratitude to be alive… morning yoga and meditation…and gardening…are my keys and daily practice for my well being and balanced energy.

    I am a small business owner…wife and mom…and taking care of myself on a spiritual level first…is a guide to taking care of myself on all other levels.

    Blessings to all

    Victoria Silva

  • Hey sugarSNAP

    I second what Tori said about asking for & receiving help:”Remind yourself that it’s okay to give control to someone else you trust.” I am a working Mom with twins, and a small business owner with another Mom of twins. It’s hard to let others step in and help, we feel the pressure to do it all. But once you let go of that pressure to be perfect, life runs much more smoothly. My business partner and I will text each other while running errands to see if the other needs anything, we’ll invite each other over for dinner when our husbands are gone. Trust me, four kids under four is CRAZY, but when we rely on each other the chaos is worth it!

    -Tarah

    http://www.heysugarsnap.com

  • Sarah Beckman

    These tips are excellent. Making lists is my time saver. And it’s so satisfying physically checking items off it!

    http://tulleandtrinkets.com/2011/11/07/pom-pom-yarn/

  • Lemon Meringue

    O my, when I read the first entry by Andrea and her working hours I thought “why am I complaining?” I work a third of the hours she does! Respect!!!

    Nevertheless, I struggled a lot in the past, balancing everything and most of all being a frequent flyer on the guilt-trip. But I learned the hard way that you cannot continue doing that for years. My wake-upcall came when one of my kids got seriously ill and the doctors feared for her life. The fears lasted for a month and we got extremely lucky that they did succeed in finding out what it was and she survived. That was the moment I decided to put my kids on top of my prioritylist, instead of a career. It is almost six years ago that this happened and I do not regret that decision for one single day! But there was only one thing that I forgot: myself! Three years ago I completely collapsed: I used to ran for a career without minding my boundaries and now I ran for my beloved babies! My boss (of all people!) ordered me to contact a good therapist and he discovered I suffered from a neglected PTSS. I got the right therapy (EMDR, the best!) and I learned again who I was, what I needed and what to do to get what I need in the right way.

    I am very happy where I am right now, in every aspect of my life: as a mom, a wife, careerwise, as friend, daughter and sister and so on. But most of all I do the things I like and love, make time for that and I am truly happy and in balance, Well, most of the time, I am still a woman! I’d like to say I’ve also accepted my weaker side ;)

    Mind you, I choose the above despite the pressure of society and politics: there is a persistent tendency in my country that women like me (highly educated but with a parttime job or stay-at-home-moms) are considered guilty of not living up to the expectations society had when they were in College and that we do not do what we are supposed to do: make a brilliant career. Talking about some extra pressure!

  • LauraLee

    My biggest tip for managing my time well is to MAKE LISTS! I make lists for EVERYTHING!! I have long-term lists, short-term lists, grocery lists – you name it! I have 3 kiddos and the PRIVILEGE of getting to stay home with them full-time. (I realize not every mommy has this luxury!) I home-school my older two, and there is NO WAY I could give them a quality education, keep up with house-work, volunteer work, church work, activities, doctor’s appointments, etc. if I didn’t make my daily lists. Thanks for your tips, Tori – I’m sure my biggest fault (as it is with most mommies) is not taking enough time for myself. Definitely will have to work on that one! :) (I’ll add it to my list! Lol!!)