Why do you need a system?
Mother’s life is unpredictable. What worked on Monday will not work on Tuesday and might be completely inappropriate next week. So you need a base. Some plan that is quite universal and will be a safe haven you can come back to after big waves. (In-laws visit? Big garden party? Vacation?).
It’s a bit like damage control. All that absolutely need to be done must be easily organized and prepared so that there is no damage when there is little to no control.
How to build a system?
Easy peasy 😉 You probably heard a story about a professor that came to the lecture with a big jar and a bag of stones, pebbles and sand. That is an illustration of Stephen Covey’s prioritization system. It’s all about setting priorities. You can take some time and watch/read about Covey’s methods and his time matrix (things urgent and/or important), that is all smart stuff. But I’m going to tell you something – in the real life, everything seems to be urgent and important.
I would rather recommend dividing what you need to do into three categories: necessary, useful and enjoyable. It’s no brainer – you need to do the necessary things first, then whatever is useful and… you probably will have no time for fun. Unless you create some balance. And that is quite unique to your situation. I believe possibilities are endless.
- Grab the schedule from the first part of this post and analyze your own situation. How much time do you have for your projects and when exactly you can be really focused on those. Prepare a major to-do list – no details, just projects that need to be done.
- Next step – use the printable I made for you to help categorize those projects- what is necessary, what is helpful when done and what could you do for and with pleasure.
Examples: necessary-dinner, useful-clean bedroom, enjoyable – family hike in the park.
- Now the personalization comes in. What is the time unit you like to work with? Is it a day, a week, a month? How far are you able to plan for and still be in control?
As an example let’s take a week. Start with the most important things and plan to do them first. Are you able to finish by Wednesday? If so, spend Thursday through Saturday on useful projects and leave Sunday for something nice and rewarding.
If you choose a day as a unit you can handle, start your day with necessary duties and as a day goes by and your patience wears off shift to less demanding tasks. Either way: make your necessary assignments your rocks, useful- your pebbles and fun stuff – your sand!
Routines. Organized time is good.
Many moms have morning and evening routines. That is great. Really helpful in not going crazy. Also, our kids like regular activities in regular times. It makes them feel safe to know what will happen next. The time that regularly appears on your calendar as a time to do something is your base. What you do with it really depends on what your projects are.
For me, 6 am to 7 am and often couple of hours after 9 pm is blog time. And every other free chunk of time is for house chores. It’s my base. After 3 weeks of vacation with extended family, it was easier to come back from spontaneous what adventure waits for us today into I need to secure our household life organized decisions when I knew I can plan everything around basic stuff.
Blogging, dinner making, picking up kids routines had its tested and proven to be best places already.
Probably you can divide bigger tasks into smaller chunks and then work step by step. I mean the situation when you have a quite important thing to do, but it’s going to take a month to complete it. You postpone it all the time because now you don’t have the whole month to work on it. Guess what? You will never have a free month! It’s better to start now, work on that thing bit by bit every other day for half an hour. Maybe it will take you three months, but it will be done, not pushed off and hanging over your head.
I’m a fan of to-do lists, so after I do my major list I go deeper and do another, the more detailed list corresponding with every task from the general list. Then I try to plan my weeks. I somehow cannot plan in months, also planning in days doesn’t work for me, it’s too strict. What I do most often is one big project a week. For me, a big project would be for example decluttering kitchen cupboards. If you saw how small my kitchen is you would laugh – how come it’s a big project?! Well, have you seen how much time do I have for everything? (if not – it’s in Part 1)
That’s the thing – you need to accept the conditions you are working in.
Always remember what is the most important
Every stage of your lifetime has some advantages and some obstacles. The key is to understand that you have to draw whatever you can from every stage. Whatever you can. Now you have small kids, no time for yourself and the mess is overwhelming. I get that. I’m in a similar place. But time flies while we do dishes, declutter and organize.
In 5 years your kids will be in school, you will gain some time (yay!). But in 10 years your kids may not want to spend with you as much time as you would like them to (booo!). In 20 years, they will move out and visit you only once in a while. Personally, I am afraid that in reality, twenty years is not as long as I see it at the moment.
So, you know what? Screw that mess. Hug your kids. Show middle finger to all the overwhelm and frustration. Plan what you can plan, analyze and optimize what you can, do your best and never give up, but don’t let the reality and chaos around you take away the clear vision of who you are. You are a mom. Your kids probably won’t remember toys on the floor, messy bedroom or take out dinner but what they never forget is the fun they have with you, all the cuddles, playing outside, pillow forts and so on.
You are the queen of your 24 hours a day. Use them wisely. Are you doing baby steps forward? Good! Keep doing that. At some point, you will finally get where you want to be.