There are never enough minutes in the day for busy, working moms. Although the business meetings, soccer practices, scout meetings, and birthday parties aren't going anywhere, you can make it all more manageable. Check out these helpful planning tips and find out if they could work for you.
Map Out Mornings
Begin the day by quickly mapping out where your time goes. The idea is to make the haphazard elements of your schedule as visible to you as if the day were a messy closet in need of order.
It's important to get a sense of what you're trying to squeeze into that closet - and decide if it will fit or not. Sometimes it's not the number of commitments on your schedule but rather the disorder and uncertainty surrounding them. Make your schedule as concrete as possible and share it with your spouse, so you both have a sense of when you're available. By identifying solutions to potential problems early (you have an early appointment so the kids will carpool with the neighbor), it will help the rest of your day run more smoothly and give you more control of your time.
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Schedule Breathing Room
Another common roadblock is after-school pickups. If you're lucky enough to have family nearby, work out a regular schedule (every Tuesday and Thursday) for pickups rather than relaying on last-minute requests. Also see if your family would be willing to take on babysitting duty for a few hours after school. It will give the kids some great grandparent or family time and also allow you to get a jump on dinner or other activities.
But since a family arrangement isn't always easy to come by, see if something similar would work with neighbors or friends. With two families splitting carpool and babysitting duties a few afternoons a week, it will allow both to be more efficient with their time.
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Have the Kids Help
If your kids are old enough to help clean, straighten up, and pick out their clothes for the next day, let them give you a hand. While many working parents feel guilty asking their children to help out with housework, it can actually benefit everyone.
Try performing tasks while your kids watch, explaining the entire time why you do it a certain way. For example, if you're teaching them how to unload the dishwasher, mention the reason you only stack four plates at a time is so they aren't too heavy when carrying them to the cabinets. By involving them in your own process, you'll have fun teaching them to be efficient and allow the entire family to spend more time together.
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Streamline Your Days
If you feel too busy even to breathe, follow organizing guru Julie Morgenstern's four d's to free you up for what's really important: time for you and your family.
1. Delete. People constantly burden themselves with unnecessary tasks - like organizing the kitchen cabinets or everyday dusting - that take up too much time. For every task on your to-do list, ask if it really affects the quality of your life. If it doesn't, delete it.
2. Delay. Does laundry honestly need to be done tonight, or will the family get by if you wait until Monday morning? Delaying a task - and setting a specific time to do it - can keep you from feeling overwhelmed in the moment.
3. Delegate. Who says you have to do it all? Asking a neighbor to carpool or hiring a teen to mow your lawn is a simple way to clear your schedule for what really matters to you.
4. Diminish. Plenty of tasks can be minimized to fit your schedule - and save your sanity. Bakery cupcakes can substitute for homemade in a bake sale, and purchasing a gift card is much more efficient than an hour-long hunt for the perfect birthday present.
Do you think these ideas could work for your family? Tell us how you stay organized.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.