How important is it to you to have a little extra time to relax at the end of the day? For me, it’s pretty vital to my sanity. Without it, I get grumpy, and nobody likes to be around a grump. With so much to do in a day, how do you ever get any kind of time to relax? Our daily activities do not have to be so time consuming that we struggle to get them done. Let me share with you how I have found ways to add a little more free time to my daily routine.
First off, I plan out what I want to accomplish in a day. I think of what is absolutely essential that I really need to get done, and the most logical order to get things done in, and then start with one task at a time. I try not to overload myself with too much at once, which leads to my next suggestion:
Set small goals for yourself. Don’t boggle yourself down trying to clean the entire house from head to toe in one day, or build a garden and plant one, or do all five of the activities you’ve been saving to do with the kids… keep things simple and be realistic. An example of my daily goals would be this: get my laundry done and put away, do the girl’s laundry and put it away, vacuum upstairs, sweep downstairs, clean the kitchen. That’s it! That’s what I would set for myself for an entire day. Sometimes I get it done, and others I don’t, but is anything on that list so essential that I would just not be able to function if I didn’t accomplish it? No. For days where I have bigger tasks, I give myself less to do. Of course, there’s always other things that are done throughout the day, too, like prepping food, cooking, bathing the kids, feeding the pets, cleaning up throughout the day, the general things we do everyday typically.
It’s still hard to get even the everyday tasks done when we are DISTRACTED. Immediately when you think of this what comes to your mind? For me personally, it’s my phone, and sometimes even my kids. Let’s face it – you’re a mom, you may be stuck at home sometimes with the kids on your days off, trying so hard to get things done but also have a little bit of a social life. It isn’t a bad thing to be on facebook or instagram. I use them all the time to connect with my friends and outside world. They are great tools. Just use them with caution. Know that if you open up your app, especially on your phone, you will more than likely spend twice as long as you initially intended to, if not longer.
Instead of using your phone for these things, plan time when you can jump on an actual computer to check your accounts. This is a lot less time consuming and you will be less likely to allow it to interfere with getting the tasks at hand done. It’s all part of eliminating distractions. Of course, we are always going to have to stop what we are doing to help our children out. That should never be looked at as a burden, just part of being a parent. Try to find ways they can help you out with what you are doing. My oldest is turning 4 in a few weeks, and recently she has become more interested in helping me with folding some of the laundry, feeding the animals, and sweeping the floors. I actually got her a small broom and dust pan for Christmas because that’s what she loves to help me with so much. She is also great at helping me keep her baby sister entertained, who is turning 1 in a few weeks also. Sometimes I’m not able to keep the baby happy unless I’m holding her, so I vacuum with her on my hip. It slows me down, sure, but I keep going anyways. Eventually she’ll go down for a nap, right?! Do what you can to keep focused while you are trying to get done the tasks you most desire to that day. Use what would be a distraction as more of a reward once you’ve accomplished something off your list.
This leads me into the next step: planning for breaks. I think this is really important. Work towards getting something done, then (once it is actually done) give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to relax, check in on your kids, jump on facebook, then get back to it! I have to plan breaks in my day because, again, the baby just won’t let me go more than 20 or 30 minutes before she needs to be all over me. I just feel extra loved, that’s all!
I do what I can, when I can, and sometimes that’s all anyone can do. This keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. I can’t foresee the future: sometimes my day does NOT go how I planned. Let’s be real: most days don’t go 100% how we planned. That’s alright. If I realize half-way through my list that there is just no way I’m going to get everything done on it today, then I don’t stress over it. I’ll revisit it another time. Sometimes it’s helpful to wait until the kids are in bed to try to finish up a few things, when there is quiet time to yourself. I get a lot done in a little amount of time when it’s just me that I have to worry about.
Some days, I wake up and I can’t use my left wrist, or my right index finger, or bend my elbows, or it hurts to walk, because I get random flare-ups all over my body and never know when or where they will be. That blows my entire plan for the day before it’s even begun. In these situations I am grateful for a husband who never expects anything from me in a given day. If I keep our kids healthy and happy, I’ve done a good job. And I have learned that I can’t expect much from me on those days, and that’s ok. Trust me, over the past year and a half I have grown to be able to humble myself a LOT more. I can’t do it all, and I certainly can’t do it by myself. I am no longer afraid to accept help when it’s offered to me. I am grateful for it. Those who care enough about you to be willing to help you clean your house or help with dinner so you don’t have to will not be judging you for the condition of your home, I guarantee it. Don’t feel bad for needing help. We all do. Don’t you dare think less of yourself for it.
Throughout the day check to see how you are doing. Are you close to getting the things done that you wanted to for the day? Will you need more time than you thought? It’s alright to change your plan. Sometimes we add things to the list, and sometimes things need to be moved to another day. When trying to improve on your efficiency, you’ll find you need to play around with the amount of time you give yourself to do things. Evaluate your progress. In time it will pay off, I promise.
My dad always taught me to do things once, do it right the first time, as I’m sure practically all of our parents taught us to do. He’s totally right. When one of our most frequent complaints in our adult lives is “I don’t have time…”, we definitely don’t have any to waste on re-doing something that we could have done better the first time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wiped down the kitchen counters, and then when the sun reflects off of them I see all the stuff that I missed and have to go back over them again. Gross. I feel lame for missing it the first time (and yes, sometimes it’s hard to see that stuff), but still! Having to go back and repeat things is an unnecessary waste of time. Don’t do that! Take 5 extra minutes before you start vacuuming to actually pick up the floor first, and move all the crap out of your way so you don’t have to stop and do it in the middle of your task. This is something your kids can help you with if you let them. My daughter is awesome at this stuff, but because I’ve always had her doing it since she was old enough to put a ball in a bucket. Again, I’ll take all the help I can get.
Let’s recap on what we just talked about:
- Plan out your day
- Set small goals
- Eliminate distractions
- Plan for breaks
- Don’t get overwhelmed
- Evaluate your progress
- Do it once
You got this! You can do this. Set your mind to it, focus, and get it done. You NEED the free time at the end of your day! I know I do. If there is anything I can do to help you further so you can relax a little more, please let me know. I want to help. I’m just like you – trying to work, do a good job raising my kids, and keep an orderly house while having a little free time to do the things I truly love to do. I hope this can help you in some way. Again, keep on keepin’ on.