As a working mom, the mountain of to-dos and responsibilities can seem ever growing, and as you probably know by now, time is one of the hardest things to manage. This is true even for the average working person so tack on unpredictable illnesses, picky little eaters, school functions and you get the picture.
Planning ahead is one of the most useful strategies when it comes to managing your time but even planning requires precious time and it’s not as cut and dry as it should be (Sigh!).
The key here is simplifying and prioritizing. It may feel good to do a brain dump – writing down all the things you need to get done from top to bottom (try this if you’ve haven’t before!). But once you’ve done this, staring at a laundry list of to-dos can be quite overwhelming, so to make your weekly planning productive and actionable you should focus on these three things:
1. Weekly meal planning
If you find yourself in a frenzy midweek or feeling guilty about pulling up to that drive-thru window, it may be time to give meal planning a try. You’ve got nothing to lose other than stress, so why not? You may even end up saving money by being a more efficient grocery shopper and eating out less. Planning your meals will save you a whole lot of stress once the week gets started.
Who has time though? We get it! Here’s how to make meal planning work for you:
- Block out a certain amount of time to devote to planning and a specific time to go shopping. 15-30 minutes is all you need to put your plan together!
Pro Tip: It doesn’t have to be on the same day/all at once. Multi-task while watching TV or at your kid’s practice using a meal plan template to jot down your meals for the week. Be sure to include snacks on your grocery list). Then plan your shopping trip for the top of the week!
- Search for recipes online! Don’t rack your brain trying to be creative – someone has already done it for you! Pinterest.com is great resource for healthy family meals and Noom also offers delicious recipes!
- Think about your schedule when planning! Don’t pick meals that take lots of prep or attention on days that you know will be super busy. Simplify with instant pot or crockpot meals on those busier days.
- Repeat the good stuff! If there are meals that your family enjoys (or that are easy for you to make) then make those weekly staples!
2. Restorative time
As much as “me” time can feel like a far off dream or something you just don’t have time for, it is important on all levels that you make time for it. Restorative time doesn’t have to be in the form of a long spa day away from your responsibilities (although that would be nice, right!?). This personal time could be a five minute meditation first thing in the morning, evening stretches while you watch your favorite show, workouts every other day, etc. The idea is that whatever time you decide to give to yourself needs to have hard boundaries. Just like a deadline for work or an appointment, this time needs to be planned for and prioritized. Because remember, you can’t pour into others from an empty cup! Gone are the days where motherhood means putting yourself last. More and more research shows that happier moms make better moms.
3. Realistic to-dos
Set reasonable and attainable expectations for yourself: you can get it all done as long as you plan it out! Instead of listing every-single-thing that needs to get done in life, realistically prioritize the things you can day by day. Thinking about all of them at once will only keep you up at night feeling unsettled and unaccomplished. Still need to ship that card off from two weeks ago? Big project due for work? Huge potluck for the kiddos school this Friday? Choose specific days and times to concentrate on getting these tasks done. Checking these tasks off at the end of the day can do wonders for your psyche!
Pro Tip: Break large projects down into smaller chunks! Have a project due on Friday? Break it into smaller tasks to work on each day versus trying to tackle it all at once.
Author: Briana Myrie