I am a working mom. I am one of those who decided that I want to have a career and my family. In truth, I have always known that I was not made to be a stay-at-home parent. My husband asked me if I wanted to stay right before I went back to work from maternity leave, and I did not hesitate to answer no.
I see the moms who do crafts, visit the park every day, and do all the things. That is not in my wheelhouse. I admire the classroom moms and the PTO parents. You are awesome; I honestly could not do what you do.
Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a working one, we are all busy. Running here, running there, filling out this form, picking up this classroom snack; we don’t stop. Often times though, other moms will ask me, “How do you do it all?” To be honest, I don’t. Yes, I am organized, I plan everything, and my lists have lists, but I do have some hacks and habits that help life run a bit more smoothly in our house.
With the school year on deck and crazy season gearing up, I’m going to share some of the things I’ve figured out work best to help keep my sanity and make it appear (on the outside) like I have it together:
Some Helpful Ideas and Suggestions
Find Your Planning Strategy and Stick With It
If you don’t have a communal family calendar, you need one. This is especially important with school-aged children. I super love all of the cute and fun planners available now. These systems have great ways to help keep you organized and everyone in the right place at the right time. But, they do not work for me. A number of years ago I realized carrying one more thing was just too much, and I embraced Google Calendars. I am able to color code everything, so there are colors for work, personal, my husband, and each child. I am also able to share all of the events I add with my husband, so he can see our family calendar, as well.
Schedules and Routines
We do our best to keep everyone on a schedule in our house. Bed times are consistent, dinner is around 6:30-7:00 p.m., pajamas are put on right after dinner, and homework is typically done in mornings before school since evenings are packed with activities. Bed time is no later than 8:30 p.m.
Routines are important and help keep your sanity. My kids know that when they come home, all of their things have a place and are put there right away; folders, specifically, are put on the counter for me to go through. When everything has a place, it not only helps keep the house tidy but also yields a smoother morning when you don’t have to hunt for the missing backpack or sneaker.
This is huge. I have meal planned for years. This is one of those things that once you get it down, you never stop. I have a dry erase board that hangs on the fridge, itemizing the meal for each day of the week. For us, I run our week Saturday through Friday. Friday night I sit down (with a glass or two of wine) and write out the meal plan utilizing recipes or ideas I’ve saved on Pinterest or magazine clippings. If there are nights that I know we will be late (thanks to my calendar), I plan that we will get takeout that night. This helps save from spending money on groceries that will spoil and also enables me to prep ahead, if needed.
While I’m sitting down writing our meal plan for the week, I am simultaneously completing my grocery pickup for Saturday. It took me a while to embrace grocery pickup or delivery service, but once I did, I didn’t go back. It is not only a huge time saver but also a huge money saver! I saw our grocery bill go down at least $50 a week because I wasn’t picking up impulse buys or giving in to things the kids wanted just to keep them quiet as we try to get through the tedious chore of grocery shopping.
I Don’t Clean
About three years ago I made the decision to hire a cleaning person. I absolutely understand that not all are able to do this. I cannot tell you, though, what this did for my life. I realized that I was spending my nights or weekends cleaning instead of spending precious time with my children. Embrace that we cannot do it all.
While I have made the decision to work, I still do want to spend time with my kids when I am home, not scrubbing a toilet. A cleaning person every other week has freed up my weekends to spend with my children and family.
I must admit that carving out 5-10 minutes a day to organize the house is still essential. Everything has a place, and if I spend a few minutes each day putting things in those places, all is well. I don’t let the mail or forms that need to be completed pile up. I take care of everything as soon as I can get to it; that way, it’s done, and I’m moving on to the next task.
My children also have ownership to keep their play room and bedroom clean. When it gets out of hand, it is their responsibility to clean up their mess.
My Lists Have Lists
There are a ton of list apps available, and I encourage you to embrace them. I personally love Any List. I have a list for everything on this app. Shopping, to-do, projects, work to-do, packing, movies I want to see…you name it! Best thing about Any List is that it syncs with Amazon Alexa devices, so if I’m in the kitchen or a room that has a device, I simply tell Alexa to add it to whichever list. As soon as I think of something, I add it to its appropriate list. This way, I don’t forget things, and my mind is clear to focus on all the other things.