Do you ever feel as if you don’t have enough hours in the day? I feel that way all the time, or I did for a long time.
I have four kids, homeschool, homestead, work online, write a blog, and somehow have time to eat and crochet. My days are busy.
I’m often asked – how do you do it? Are you a superwoman? Unfortunately, no I’m not. Do you ever sleep? Yes, I love sleep almost as much as I love coffee.
Now, to all the moms out there, I want to let you in on some of my secret time management tips.
I use most of these on a regular basis, and, together, I find that I have time on a regular basis for things that I enjoy and also things I need to do.
10 Effective Time Management Tips for Moms
Keep Track of Your Times
Before you do anything else, I suggest you take a few days to track how you spend your time.
No, this isn’t a list of activities or chores. Those are deceiving because it shows tasks but not what you actually completed nor how long you took to complete them.
Take a log sheet and start to write down what you did and the times. Be honest with yourself. It won’t work otherwise.
Don’t try to be impressive and do anything extra to look good on your time log sheet. This is for your eyes only.
After a few days, take a look at the sheets and see what you notice.
- Cross off the times that are non-negotiable tasks, such as going to work, grocery shopping, cooking, etc.
- What time did you waste?
- Where did you spend the majority of your time?
- Are you trying to do too much and perhaps need to cut back?
- Did you take time for yourself?
Look for Your Pockets
Now that you can look realistically at your times, you can find pockets of time that are open. You might watch the news more times than one (does it really change that fast?).
Can you wake up a bit earlier to have 30 minutes of alone time?
You will notice habits you might not have noticed before. For example, I noticed that after our homeschool day, I tend to sit down for an hour and watch a TV show or crochet.
Sometimes, that’s okay, but I could’ve used that time elsewhere.
- Mornings are the most frequently found pockets. Try waking 30 minutes before your kids.
- Nights are also open pockets, but don’t let the pocket take away your sleep!
Reduce Screen Time
I used to wonder how Ma Ingalls and so many amazing women before us accomplished so much throughout the day. One of the answers is they didn’t have screens to distract them.
Screens, especially the smartphone that you’re probably using to read this, have addictive qualities.
Most smartphones have trackers that let you know the average amount of time you spend on the screen.
One day, I spent five hours – HOURS – on my phone. I have no idea how, but that’s five hours that I needed elsewhere.
Try to set limits for yourself. You can use apps that shut down programs if you spend too long on them. I used to keep my phone with me when I was homeschooling my kids.
Now, I turn the ringer on in case someone calls but I stick it away. My kids need my attention.
- Look at how much time you spend on the screens.
- Reduce that time. Create a schedule for it. Put it away more often.
- Reclaim your time from the screens.
Some people are pro-multitasking and some say multitasking isn’t good for you. I say – why do we have to pick sides? Multitasking CAN and DOES work for me if I use it correctly.
The tasks cannot both require mental power and focus. For example, I can’t write an article and chat with my mom on the phone. Both need my attention because both require mental focus.
Think about how you can multitask in your day!
Some examples that I use are:
- Go over spelling words while folding laundry
- Sweeping the kitchen floor while talking on the phone
- Making the bed while listening to a child read
- Put away clothes while listening to a podcast
Meal Plan and Batch Prep
I feed six people every single day for three meals a day plus snacks. That’s a lot of food. My secret is meal planning and batch prepping.
I need to make my life easier without buying a ton of convenience food. I wish I had a huge grocery budget, but I don’t!
Each week, I look at our days ahead. Do we have practices, classes, or activities we need to work around?
I may have to note that I need to pack some lunches if we have plans. If we have soccer in the evening, that might be an early dinner or a day we use the Instant Pot.
I create a list of meals for the week, then I look at how I could batch prep. For example, my kids LOVE homemade pancakes.
They’re pretty good if you ask me. So, I make a huge batch on Sunday and freeze the leftovers. The kids can use the toaster to reheat them.
If I have biscuits several times that week, I can make a mega batch and freeze them until it’s time for them. I can prepare smoothie mixes in gallon baggies.
Other options include cooking batches of meat ahead of time and freezing them. Ground beef freezes well when cooked. It eliminates time in the future and only takes a few moments of my time.
Take Time for Sleep
Nothing matters in this list unless you sleep. Mama, you need to rest. I understand how hard that can be when you know the dishes aren’t finished and your living room looks like a nuclear bomb dropped.
You need sleep. It’s a biological fact. Put the appropriate amount of sleep into your schedule – at least 8 hours.
Without good sleep, your brain doesn’t have the right amount of time to process what happened that day and to repair itself. Sleep is regenerative, and we all need a bit of that each day!
Create a Cleaning Schedule
I struggled to keep my house clean until I had a cleaning schedule. Right now, I let my cleaning schedule fall behind because I’ve had four sick kids.
Catching up is never a task I like, and it’s so much easier to keep a house clean if you have a schedule that you use diligently.
I took inspiration from Ma Ingalls who had a task for a day. Let me show you my general cleaning schedule. This doesn’t have the regular tasks.
My daily tasks include:
- Wash dishes after each meal
- Vacuum the living room
- Sweep the kitchen
- Wipe the bathroom sink
- Wash cloth diapers – as needed
Now, I set a task for each day. I follow this as much as I can, and I find the task only takes 15 minutes per day plus the time to fold and put away clothes.
The hardest part is getting caught up to this point.
- Monday – Deep clean the bathroom and wash towels
- Tuesday – Clean master bedroom, wash sheets and wash my husband and I’s clothing
- Wednesday – Clean the kids’ rooms and wash the boys’ clothing
- Thursday – Deep clean the kitchen and dining room and wash girls’ clothing
- Friday – Deep clean the living room and wash blankets
- Saturday – Outside clean up & check to see if any laundry needs to be done
- Sunday – Church and relax day – do bills and meal plan
Learn to Say NO!
At one time, I used to agree to do everything no matter if it caused problems for my schedule or homelife. Then, I realized I was doing myself no favors because I felt so run down.
It’s okay to say NO. I’m giving you permission right now that you CAN say NO to whomever you want. Their intentions are rarely bad.
If the Girl Scout leader wants you to run a craft event for the kids but you can’t commit to that, be honest. No one will advocate for your well-being aside from you!
Use To-Do Lists
Aside from my cleaning schedule, I have to-do lists in a notebook that help me stay organized.
I write down appointments, things I need to do like to call the dentist for appointments, and tasks I want to finish. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to cross off those tasks.
You can also have a to-do list on the fridge for the family to see. My husband requested this so that he could see what needed to be done each day and where he could help the best.
Foster Good Habits
Believe it or not, half of your problems tend to be bad habits that compound together. Kids leave trash or clothes leaving around.
You might not rinse your dishes after you eat, leaving them to pile up until its Mount Dishmore.
Keep your bills put in the same place every time. Have 2 or 3 five-minute pickup times for the kids throughout the day to keep the toys at bay.
Wipe down the bathroom sink after you use it. Make your bed as soon as you get up in the morning.
Finding these good habits will make you feel as if you’re really using all of the time you have wisely because you aren’t going back to fix your mistakes!
As for your kids, trust me, it’s easier to start good habits early rather than trying to fix bad habits later.
Finding Your Time Margin
The goal of all of this is to use your time as effectively as possible so that you have time for yourself.
Put these steps into action to help find some extra time in your day for yourself. That might be a drink with friends, reading a good book, or taking extra cuddling time with your spouse.
Remember – you are worthy of self-care, and using time management makes self-care easier.