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It is a bit ironic that I am writing about time management today… I woke up this morning with a plan and schedule of what my day was going to look like only to find out that schools were on a 2-hour delay. So instead of my 4yo going to school from 9am to noon, it was 11am to 2pm. That is right smack in the middle of lunch time and nap time… needless to say it was a huge wrench! BUT even with that wrench thrown into my plans, I still got a TON done! It wasn’t easy and I didn’t cross everything off of my to-do list but I am pleased at how much I actually got done. I went to the gym, got a few orders out, made B-man lunch, got him down for a nap, dropped off and picked up Z from school, and still played play-doh with the kiddos for a while!
Now you may be sitting there thinking “I’m a WAHM… there is no such thing as a schedule”… trust me, I. GET. IT. Even the work-five-minutes-here-and-there-between-requests-from-the-kiddos is way more productive if you have a schedule for the day. Bottom line, time management is still possible for us WAHMs! How?! You ask… here is what I do to help myself manage the time I have most efficiently.
TIP # 1: Don’t try to schedule every second of the day! I made this mistake in the beginning, thinking the more structured the day was, the more it would work out. I couldn’t have been more off. As a WAHM, your biggest time drain (and I mean that in the nicest of ways) is your kids. They are unpredictable. One day, they will play on their own and behave beautifully and you will feel super accomplished with all you got done. But then those days where they are fighting with each other or want to be held ALL DAY LONG or wait for you to sit back down at your desk to ask for a cup of water… there is just no way to predict with kids how they will act on any given day. So plan for the chaos. Assume every day is going to be like that second one and make a schedule that fits in the crazy. Schedule activities for the kids that they can do solo or with minimal supervision for while you want to be working. Let them help you with chores so they feel they are getting your attention and you are spending time with them. However it works, make it routine (to a point) and make a general schedule with how you want your day to flow. I found this amazing clock for kids that we use ALL the time to help keep my kiddos from asking if quiet time is over or if it is snack time yet. It is called My Tot Clock* and it is AMAZING! It changes colors when bedtime is over (the original reason I purchased it) but it also has settings on there for activities. So I just change the light to green when we start an activity and my kids know that we are sticking with it until it changes. Otherwise we would do playdoh for 2 minutes and they would be done and want to color and then they would want to play with blocks and before you know it the house is a disaster. The clock is life changing!
TIP # 2: To-Do Lists are your BFF! Along with my general schedule for the day, I keep a running to-do list. I keep it in a spiral notebook so I can add things whenever they come up or pop into my brain. I have daily to-do worksheets that I print out to write what I want to accomplish each day so I transfer the important ones to there each morning (or the night before if I am feeling extra productive). But my running list is always front and center on my desk. It is key for two reasons. If I get everything I planned to get done for the day done, I can start work on other items that need to get done. OR if we have a crazy day (like today) and I don’t cross off everything, I still have my master list to look back on and add them to my daily list for the following day. I don’t know about you, but school supplies are my jam! I get so excited even though I am no longer in school and don’t have school-aged kids yet (preschool doesn’t really count) when it is that time of year where all the new school supplies come out and are SUPER CHEAP. I stock up on notebooks, binders, pens and more to have just for this reason. I would be lost without my to-do list because I would never remember everything I want to get done and would lose those things that pop up throughout the day too. Seriously, MUST. HAVE.
TIP # 3: Get yourself a planner! I am NOT one of those people who can put everything into my google calendar (or my phone) and still get it all accomplished. I like and need to see it all in front of me in black and white. I feel like it is WAY more time consuming to create an event in my calendar than it is to just jot it down. ESPECIALLY when things change… like they do ALL. THE. TIME. as a WAHM! I either erase and re-write it or cross it out (if I was feeling confident and wrote in pen). Planners are also a huge asset because I like to sit down in the beginning of the month and make a general plan for the month. If I don’t make a plan for where I want to be by the end of the month, how am I supposed to get there?! I am sure you are noticing a theme if you read my “New Year, New Goals” post since that was pretty much the whole point. I can’t make a schedule for my day if I don’t know what I want to accomplish. I won’t know that if I don’t plan out my month. Again, don’t go crazy. Keep it general so you can add/subtract when necessary. I personally love my Happy Planner* because it is pretty and comes with lots of fun extras that make planning more fun (because lets be real, who actually likes to plan?!). They have extensions you can buy (I got the paper filler because… lists) for all sorts of things like home budgeting, fitness, and more! Plus there are other companies who put out additional resources that are made to fit the Happy Planners. It doesn’t matter whether you buy a Happy Planner or a $5 planner from Walmart, both will help you plan out your year/month/day and help keep you on track!
TL;DR: Don’t go crazy with scheduling, to-do lists will keep you sane(ish because kids), and planners are essential. Don’t stress the days when your plans go up in smoke and capitalize on the days where everything falls into place.