The following article is in partnership with Tide and written by Jen Rattie.
When they hand you that tiny bundle of joy in the hospital you have no clue what you are getting into, there’s no manual. Before I was a mom, I had no clue as to the amount of time and energy it would take to just get through the day. Things that came naturally to you before children no longer apply.
I used to have the memory of an elephant, the patience of a saint and slept like a baby. Now I hardly remember my name and I can’t remember the last time I slept. It’s a willing sacrifice I make because being a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Over the last 20 years of parenting and wrangling children I have picked up a few tips that make being a busy mom a little easier. You will save energy, time and your sanity, I promise.
1. Prioritize. Sticky notes and to-do lists are your friend. Find great sticky notes, like the ones I have above, that cover all your bases. I use these on a daily basis. They are stuck around the house, in my work binder and on my personal calendar. I put them where I will always see them and it helps me keep my priorities straight. I don’t start anything until I have finished one to-do list.
2. Organize. This is one thing I was never good at before my children came along. I was pretty much a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants gal. Motherhood and working out of my house has changed that. Kids’ schedules now are action packed and you don’t have a choice not to be organized. Grab a cute file folder to keep school papers organized. A planner is a MUST. Don’t rely on technology to keep you updated. I have learned the hard way, things get un-synced.
3. Simplify Household Chores. Busy moms like you and I have a thousand things on our plate and adding extra steps to our household chores not only wastes time, it can, over time, drain us of all our energy. Save time by doing a light dusting during the week instead of waiting 2 weeks to do a whole house once over. Delegate some of your chores to your teens – there is no reason they can’t be doing the laundry!
Use products that multi- task like Tide PODS. Tide PODS® is a 3-in-1 laundry solution that consist of a detergent, stain remover and brightener all at once. PODS® detergent pacs are a super concentrated liquid detergent that are specially designed in a small and compact unit dose form to give you a great clean. Until I started using them, I thought my kids’ clothes were clean. Nope, I am amazed at how well those little laundry pacs work! I don’t even have to pre-treat the clothes when there are tough stains! And do I ever have tough stains – my husband and son both work at a truck terminal.
I have a top loading washing machine and it works just as well in mine as it does in my Mom’s front loading machine. There is no need to measure or pour, the laundry pac goes directly into the back of the drum of your washing machine before adding clothes, not in the dispenser and they dissolve quickly and completely. They won’t stain your clothes and you can use them in any water temperature. Plus, they are safe on both whites and colors. One laundry pac covers one normal size load of laundry but you can use up to three for over-sized loads.
4. Consolidate. Your days will go so much smoother if you have dedicated spaces for everything related. If you keep everything together running out the door becomes much less stressful. We have sports accessories all together in a bucket, outdoor toys – like chalk, bubbles etc. are together in a bin so my daughter doesn’t have to bug me to find them. We even go as far as gathering all the snacks for school in a basket so the kids can just grab and go. Using a pill case, like mine above, can make even the simplest things, like taking your medication or supplements simple. The less time you spend finding things saves so much energy wasted that you could be doing other things!
5. Weekly Planning Sessions. Set up a time 15 minutes a weekend with your family to touch base and coordinate schedules. Plan meals, regroup as a family and go over your upcoming week. This helps prevent the Sunday night freak outs. You know, the Oh-No-My-Project-Is-Due-Tomorrow I need to build a volcano freak outs?
6. Create A Hub. My kids have yet to be clued in on the fact that mom remembers pretty much nothing they tell her. Our solution was to buy a giant whiteboard with a calendar and a corkboard attached. All papers that are time sensitive go up there. Important events, work schedules and any activities must be written on there. It has helped immensely. Our family wouldn’t function smoothly without it!
7. Set Limits. With my older children, I hadn’t learned the value of setting limits. Now I see the wisdom of the word no. I volunteered for everything, signed up for everything and ran myself ragged. Now I have only certain months I will volunteer when I know work will be slow and the kids have less activities. Make extra-curricular activities revolve around your schedule, not the other way around.
8. Multi-task. Fold laundry when you are on the phone or put away the dishes. Pay bills or balance your checkbook while the kids are at practice. I became the master at returning emails when my daughter was at dance. Take advantage of that hour of sitting. Write your to-do lists or read that article you have been meaning to get around to but haven’t had time to. Taking time for yourself to get your tasks done is just as important as anything else. It breeds less chaos in your life so you can spend quality time later with your family.
9. A Mom Busy Bag. Have you ever heard of a busy bag? My kids had them when they were younger filled with coloring books, building blocks, basically whatever they were into at the time. I have a “Mom Busy Bag”. I bring it with me whenever I know I might be sitting. It helps me multitask like I talked about in #8. Put whatever you need to work on- like your checkbook, a calculator or planner, a journal to make your to-do lists with and colored pens to color code them. I even went one step ahead and got a journal I can color in when I run out of tasks. Sometimes it’s a full-on purse size bag, other times when I am being particularly self-sufficient, it’s just a pencil pouch.
10. Develop A Schedule. Last, but the most important, get yourself on a schedule. All these things will only help if you implement them regularly. It will become second nature after a while. Wake up at the same time every day, do your set tasks at the same time if you can and keep yourself accountable. It can take work but you will be amazed at how light you feel once it’s all in place and cruising along nicely.
Check out this funny mom hack for getting through a messy weekend…