How failing to plan is causing us stress.
As a working mother I know full well what it’s like to be hanging laundry on the line in the dark, putting my makeup on in the car just before walking in to work and racing to the store on the way home to buy something for dinner. There have been many times I have felt overwhelmed by the quantity of tasks that need to be completed and wondered how I would have time to do them all.
It took me a while, but I finally realised that since I was never going to have a housekeeper, nanny and cleaner to do all of my work for me, I was going to have to find a better way to do it myself.
The biggest mistake I was making was that I was failing to plan. I wasn’t planning meals, my morning routine, the housework, time to care for myself or time for my husband and as a result I was doing these things haphazardly or not at all.
One of my greatest stress relievers has been meal planning. Once a week I sit down for a few minutes (it takes much less time than you think) to plan out our meals for that week. I write them on the calendar and make my shopping list. This greatly reduces the last minute panic about what to eat for dinner and the mindless purchasing of junk food because the children are hungry. Because I have written a list and bought everything I need for the meals I wish to cook, I know that I will have all of the ingredients available. As long as I have consulted the calendar and gotten the meat out to defrost before I go to work, there is very little to stop me getting the meal on the table quickly once I get home.
One of my greatest obstacles to getting out of the house on time in the morning was my failure to have everything organised and ready to go. Planning and preparing have solved this problem too. No longer do I stand in the wardrobe looking for something to wear, spend time making everyone’s lunches or hunt around looking for my car keys. All of these things are taken care of the night before. My outfit is chosen and hung on the door, the lunches are made and in the fridge and my keys are with my handbag on the bedside table. I try to put as many things as possible on autopilot the night before so that the morning is a much calmer time of day for us all.
I used to be one of those people who would do the housework in one giant burst of activity once a week. This worked well before children but not so much after. Children are not going to leave you alone long enough to dust, vacuum, mop, wipe and scrub until the house is spotless. They need constant attention and while you are working at one end of the house they will likely be making a mess at the other. I have streamlined my cleaning by scheduling my tasks out in small bursts across the week. This keeps the house much more under control, I can fit things in between the children’s needs and I don’t need to find a large chunk of time to devote to it in one go.
I never used to make time to look after my health. Instead I would hope that I could find the time. Of course you know that very rarely ever happened. Unless I specifically schedule time in to my day for exercise. relaxation and personal hobbies, I never seem to find it. One important thing to keep in mind here is that it is not a failing on your behalf to ask for help. Every mother needs a few minutes to herself to recharge the batteries so that she can continue the important work of raising her children. This will require the assistance of someone else so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Time for personal relationships
When children come along it is very easy to become so wrapped up in their needs that parents can allow their own relationships to suffer. Of course it is important that the children have all of their needs met, but one thing they also need is for their parents to have time for friends, family members and each other. Children learn a great deal by watching how their parents interact with others and it is not healthy for them to believe that their parents lives are devoted solely to them. A parent without a social outlet will quickly become burnt out and will not be able to care for their children as well as they would like. Adding catch up time with friends, family and each other to the calendar each week will help to maintain these important relationships.
It may feel as if you are so busy that you don’t have the time to plan out any of these things. I believe that you don’t have the time not to. When we are constantly rushing from one task to the next, it’s hard to see any way we can improve our situation. It’s time to step back and have a think about some systems and processes you can put in place to make your life less about rushing from one activity to another and more about enjoying each moment. You will be glad you did.
For assistance in getting your week planned so that you can free up time for the fun stuff, download my free planning sheet today.