What exactly does it mean to do it all? Does doing it all mean you are the perfect partner/wife/mom/person? Oh please! As moms, we all have a million of things to do in a short amount of time, that should have been done yesterday or last week, but is only being partially done now because we just found the time and the kids are in bed.
I think the key to “doing it all” for working moms and stay at home moms is to have a “system” that works for them and their family. I didn’t use the term “routine” because some of us don’t work well with routines. Regardless, we all find our own way to keep everyone clean, feed, rested, and alive.
Here are some of the things I do to “do it all” as a working mom:
WRITE THINGS DOWN
Have a command center where important dates are written on a family calendar. Reminders, follow up appointments, and birthday invitations also go here. In my own daytimer, I have different to do lists for different aspects of my life: Work, business, home, and personal. I know I can’t remember anything so I’m not even going to try to fake it. Just write everything down (on paper or on your phone).
I literally work my butt off keeping the house tidy and organized. Every night I tidy the house up and reset the house. I don’t care if the same item will get used tomorrow in the same place, it is still going into a drawer. I cannot stand having visual clutter. Staying organized also helps teach my daughter to put things away and I feel it gives her a sense of comfort knowing exactly where everything is. This also helps keep temper tantrums at bay. If you know where everything is and you can get it, what more do you need to be upset about, right?!
HAVE A SCHEDULE
Child: My daughter has a very strict schedule that is enforced by us. Dinner by 5:30pm, Bath by 7, and bedtime by 7:30pm. Of course there are days when this doesn’t happen but it is good to have a “ballpark” schedule.
Home: Unless something horribly dirty happens, I wash our bed linens every other week. The week in between is for cleaning bathrooms. Laundry gets done sometime during the week or weekend but I only fold clothes on Sunday night. Any clothes that miss this laundry folding time will have to wait another seven days. No exceptions (partner or child) unless you throw up on yourself and there is absolutely no other clothes for you.
Me: After my daughter goes to bed, this is my “catch up time.” This is when additional prepping throughout the week happens, additional things that need to be done, and then maybe some time for me to shower and put myself back together a little bit.
READJUST AND BE FLEXIBLE
This is going to sound weird but I generally have an idea of how long a task takes for me to do. As such, if I wake up, everyone is still asleep, and have 15 minutes, I will clean the bathroom at 6:45am on a weekend. You can argue that I should just sleep in but I find more energized having checked something off my to-do list! I have also started ironing at 11:30pm when I had one too many coffees. Not everything has to be done during a normal time. What is normal really?!
This applies mostly to eating healthy, having fresh cooked meals every day, and watching the grocery budget. Meal planning happens every Sunday morning for the entire week. The so called menu is written out but doesn’t have to be followed exactly to the date. A grocery list is written after the pantry and fridge has been checked for items that should be eaten first. I take a picture of the inside of the fridge in case one of us forgets the grocery list and then we go to the grocery store as a family.
This is a different category because sometimes you have to extra prep the things. Some days after work, I only have 25 minutes to get a freshly cooked dinner on the table for my daughter. On days like this, I will have veggies cut/cleaned the night before and have them in a dish ready to be steamed or cooked. Rice will be washed and the rice cooker out. Meats will be cut and maybe marinated. I might even have all the pots and pans on the stove too. When I get home the next day, I will take off my shoes and turn on the rice cooker and burners on. By the time I help my daughter get her shoes/coat off and do whatever it is she wants, everything will be heated and ready to be cooked. Prepping ahead allows you to utilize every minute that matters.
Last piece of advice, cut yourself some slack. Being a mom is hard and there aren’t any easy solutions. Some days you just have to take a break and readjust your schedule and expectations. Floors could always be cleaner; house could always be neater/cleaner; and a better dinner could be made but there is nothing wrong with letting things slide once in a while – if just for your sanity!