I’m a firm believer that being a working mom does not make you any less of an employee or a mom. However, it does take a skill set ripe with organization and efficiency and is not for the faint of heart. As a working mom, I have a super full week but still manage to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep most nights and do things I enjoy. Here are the steps I take for organizing my week to do it all. Make sure you are doing these things when organizing your week.
If you want more working mom tips, check out this post!
1. Plan Your Meals
As a busy mom, the last thing you want is to be trying to figure out meals. Designate a couple hours one day a week to plan what the entire family is going to eat for each meal and snacks for the next week and go to the store. When you get home, prepare what you can ahead of time. Put your ingredients for crockpot meals into gallon freezer bags so you can just thaw and dump. Wash and cut fruits and veggies for snacks. Prepack bulk snacks into single serving bags. Pre-make lunch sandwiches, just leaving off the condiments. These things make many of your meals grab and go. By doing it all at once, it also reduces your dishes. Instead of dirtying a knife and cutting board every morning when preparing lunches, you only dirty one on your meal-planning day.
2. Have a Weekly Family Planning Time
If your family is anything like mine, you have a million things going on each week with people going every which way. Take time (I think it works well when meal planning) to have a quick family meeting. Discuss and write down all events going on during the week. Include who needs to be where and when and how they are getting there. You can then take this into consideration when planning meals. By planning the week as a family, you decrease the number of forgotten events and can mentally prepare for what to expect.
3. Cut Down on Your Store Trips
By planning your meals and activities for the entire week, you can make a shopping list that really covers everything that is needed. If you only go to the store once during the week versus 3 times, you will save a ton of time.
4. Make To-Do Lists with Priorities
If you want to get enough sleep, you don’t have time to lay awake thinking of everything you need to do tomorrow. I use the Wanderlist app to keep track of what I need to do which allows me to have lists for work, my blog, stuff at home and a shopping list. I then share all relevant lists with my husband, so he can view and add/delete things from the lists. Despite this, I still really like a hard copy planner, but having an app for my to-do lists means that I have access to it whenever I have my cell phone handy. That way I can add things as soon as I think of them (mom-brain is real!). Within these lists I prioritize. I order things in which I plan to do them(the app lets me rearrange). I take 5 to10 minutes on Sundays (our meal/family planning day) to determine what must get done during the upcoming week and what extra things I plan to accomplish in my free time. Because we have just done our family planning, I have a decent idea of how much time I will have to work on various things. At the end of each day during the week, I spend about 5 minutes planning what I’m going to accomplish the next day. If I have a plan in place, I can go to sleep feeling ready for the next day and hit the ground running in the morning (after coffee).
5. Write Down Due Dates and Commitments in Lots of Places
I love my paper planner, but I’m not looking at it every second. A cell phone calendar can provide helpful reminders, but if technology fails for some reason, you are out of luck. Never rely on just one place to write down everything. Write things lots of places. I put things in my cell-phone and outlook calendars, my paper calendar and on my whiteboard calendar on my office wall. This way I am sure to see where I need to be and when so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
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6. Identify Activities Likely to Have Downtime and Put that Time to Work
You can’t add any more hours to the day, but you can make the most of everyone. Think about things you will be doing that will have downtime. Do you sit in traffic during your commute? Use that time to listen to an audio version of the book you need to read for a book club or catch up on the news through Podcasts/radio. Do you drive your son to and from practice every day? Have a whiteboard and dry-erase markers in the car for your son and use the time to quiz him on his spelling words or multiplication tables. Use your lunch break to run errands or go fora walk. You get the idea – now get creative on how you can use the time that otherwise would be wasted on activities you don’t care about.
7. Work Efficiently
This is ideally a byproduct of the above tips. If you have a plan for your day and make a habit of identifying and utilizing your downtime, you should be able to work more efficiently. However, it’s so important, so I wanted to give it its own point. You need to have the habit to maximize your efficiency. Cut down on your social trips to the water cooler or your social media time in favor of getting more done. This may seem like a sacrifice if you enjoy those breaks. However, you can look at it as working efficiently now, so you can do what you want later instead of worrying about what you didn’t get done.
If you are just getting ready to head back to work after maternity leave, make sure to grab the tips in this post.
8. Do Not Welcome Boredom
I get a lot of different projects done at work and am consistently product. However, I don’t put in a lot of extra time outside of work. Instead, I fill downtime with something I need to do. If I have 10 minutes between meetings, I’ll spend it answering emails or brainstorming a project.
9. Determine How You Are Spending Your Time
If you are still feeling like you don’t have nearly enough time or find that time keeps getting away from you, take a look at what you are filling the time with. Often the culprit is social media. The new iPhone update tracks your phone usage by categories, so if you regularly use social media on your phone versus other devices, you can see how much time is devoted to that. Another culprit is getting sucked into a TV show someone else turned on. I don’t turn the TV on very often, but if someone else in the house has it on, I can easily lose 30 minutes watching something that I never would have put on myself.
10. Keep a Schedule
You can find plenty of resources talking about why kids do well with schedules. However, they can be beneficial to everyone in the house. For example, my son goes to bed at 7pm every night. During the week I get home from work around 6:20. Therefore, I know from the time I walk in the door until I put my son to bed, I’ll spend it with him. Once he goes to bed, I have a solid 2.5 to 3 hours to do everything I need/want to do before going to bed. By giving myself a bedtime of 9:30 – 10, I ensure that I’m not getting lost in TV or social media instead of getting the sleep I need. If you don’t have a schedule in place, it may take a little trial and error. However, once you find one that works for your family, it will have huge benefits.
My last tip is to recognize that you won’t be able to do everything, and you shouldn’t be expected to. Ask your partner to cook dinner a
As a working mom, I’m sure you are overwhelmed with a to-do list that is impossible to complete in the 24 hours each day allows. However, skipping rest and relaxation in favor of trying to do as much as possible is a recipe for burnout. I definitely struggle with this because I like to constantly feel productive. However, I find that scheduling time into my week where I give myself permission to just forget my to-do list is a lifesaver. Sometimes this is reading a book, relaxing with my husband or just going to be early. I do sometimes struggle with getting my mind to shut off though. There are days when I try to sit relax and I spend the entire time overthinking things for myself and everyone else. If this sounds familiar, here are some awesome tips that help to quiet your mind.
What are your tips for organizing your week? Let me know in the comments!
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Mom, wife, veterinary pharmacist, equestrian, ice cream lover and occasional hot mess