As a mom-preneur who works full-time and juggles the lives of four children and a husband, finding time for myself is a small challenge. Who am I kidding it's a HUGE challenge. I used to end every day feeling worn out, unproductive and overwhelmed. My to-do list was never ending. And even though I was always busy, I never felt like I accomplished as much as I needed to. I had to make decision to jump off the hamster wheel. I had to start reclaiming my time. You can too.
Here's my Top 3 Tips for finding some time for YOU!
Tip # 1 Give up on Perfect and Learn to Prioritize
I used to try to everything perfectly. I thought if I could serve perfectly executed gourmet meals to perfectly behaved children in perfectly decorated home, that my life would be well, perfect. I figured that a lot of the pressure I was feeling was coming from within. That all changed when I stopped competing with myself. I had to learn to prioritize. I don't mean just putting your to-do list in order. The first step to prioritizing is too figure out whats really important to you. Then write it down. Is it family time, couple time, growing your business going back to school, keeping in touch with old friends or volunteering for your favorite cause or a school? Whatever tops your list, those are your priorities! For me it's time with my husband and kids, my business, my physical and mental health, and spending time with family and friends. So anything that I'm asked to do that doesn't go towards one of these priorities, I say no. Should I play a game and spend a couple of hours laughing with my family or go to happy hour with co-workers I barely know because it's expected. For me, it's game time! Because the happy hour although nice, doesn't fit into my priority categories. Your categories will be different and that's perfectly okay. This is about doing what's right for you. Once you have a clear priority list, you feel much less guilty saying no to obligations or requests that don't fit your list. Protect your time by setting boundaries and keeping them by not answering emails or the telephone or texts during that time. I set aside a certain amount of time each week for my blog, my freelance work, my new company. And I protect it. I set aside time each week for a lunch date with my husband. I protect that. My teenager and I watch Teen Wolf every Monday night. I protect that.
Tip #2 Have a Plan (For EVERYTHING!)
I know this sounds yucky, kind of like have a budget (gasp!). But trust me it works. You don't have to have a full minute by minute plan, (although I kinda do) but a family routine of what time everyone gets up, goes to school, eats meals, goes to bed can save your sanity. Raising children can be a circus, a routine can help insert some structure the chaos. Children function better when they know what's happening next. Adults too for that matter.My trick to having a routine is that I plan almost everything. I use a meal planner and grocery list when I shop. I meal plan for two weeks at a time and I add the meals on my weekly calendar. This can seem like a daunting task at first, however a little extra prep time 2-3 times a month saves me time precious time in that after work rush hour of homework help, dinner, and baseball practice. I don't wonder what I have. I don't need to run to the store for potatoes . Because I have I always have a weeks worth of planned meals and all the ingredients ready. I also do this for packed lunches for hubby and I it saves time, my budget and waistline since i don't have to run out for expensive, unhealthy fast food because I didn't have anything to bring for lunch.
I also have a cleaning plan. I used to work full-time years ago and I never thought I had time for housekeeping and laundry on the weekdays, I waited until the weekend and we did ALL the chores then. Needless to say, I started all my weeks started just as exhausted as I ended them. I never had break and the kids were pouting. Who wants to spend all day Saturday scrubbing floors? This time as I went back into the workforce, I figured there had to be a better way. Now I have a cleaning schedule for instance instead of spending 8 hours on Sunday doing a weeks worth of laundry for 6 people. I put one load in for one person everyday before I leave for work. I put it in the dryer when I get home, then I give it to that kid to fold and put away. Everyone has an assigned laundry day. We all do one of of those "Saturday Chores" dusting, mopping, cleaning a bathroom, during a specific weekday, so by Saturday afternoon, I have time to play and my house is still clean! I also plan the fun stuff. Every other month or so I go shopping on sites like Groupon or Living Social for local outings in my area. I buy quite a few things at once, museum passes, brunches at a restaurant I've never been to, an art class. This way when that chore free Saturday rolls around or our weekly (okay maybe bi-weekly) date night rolls around we've always got something to do. It took some time to get plans together that worked for me, but the reward is more time to put towards things I love.
Tip #3 Make Appointments with Yourself and Keep Them
Now that your dinners are all planned and your household is running semi-smoothly. What are you going to do with all that free time on your hands? If you don't make an appointment with yourself, probably nothing. When you have a business meeting or a school conference or even a date with your spouse, you write it down, or put a reminder in your phone. You keep that appointment because it's important obviously I mean you wrote it PEN. You don't want to disappoint anyone, even if there's other things you could be doing, you keep that appointment. You should do the same for yourself. Figure out the things you enjoy doing that are all about you. for me it was working out, reading, and getting my nails done. But I tend to put these things that I love to aside for other people or events that seem more important. Once I started actually scheduling them on my calendar in PEN, I started keeping those appointments. If I want to read on Tuesday night from 9-10 on Thursday after work, I'm trying that new yoga class I write it down in my calendar and I keep it. Treat an appointment with yourself the same way you do your boss or your doctor. You're just as important.
I hope my tips are helpful in streamlining your schedule and finding some much needed YOU time. What are some ways you make time for yourself?