If there is one thing I could wish for it would be more hours in the day... or maybe more energy to accomplish things with the hours I do have. As a parent it always seems that the length of my to-do list far outweighs the amount of time I have in my day. And while I am certain this is the plight of all parents and one that won't change anytime soon, there are definitely some things I've found that have helped me to "find" more time in my day whether it is by increasing my productivity or combining two tasks or activities together. Every little bit helps!
1. Getting up early
I am so not a morning person, but since I'm also not a night owl and was finding myself too tired to turn out quality work at the end of my day (i.e. when my brain was already totally fried,) I decided that I was just going to have to figure out how to make myself become a morning person. My husband happens to leave for work early in the morning, so I started getting up with him before the kids were awake. He would make me a latte to enjoy while I worked as motivation, which definitely helped. Before I knew it I was enjoying 1-2 uninterrupted hours by myself every morning and it was bliss. Even though I was being productive and writing, the fact that I had coffee and quiet to enjoy made it feel like a mini-vacation and it was so much better waking up with a little peace and solitude before taking on my day.
Taking my kids for a walk, having an impromptu dance party, doing online workouts and inviting my kids to join in with me. These are all ways I've found to get my fitness on with my kids and it's created so much more space in my day. Working out with kids is the ultimate multitasker, because you're having fun and playing together, while also getting in some aerobic activity and happy-making endorphins same time. I still enjoy a good solo workout too, but working out with my kids has become something I really enjoy and the fact that it frees up a little bit of extra time in my day is a great bonus.
3. Inviting my kids to help with chores
Things like doing dishes and sweeping floors aren't the most fun tasks ever, but unfortunately they are a necessity—at least on occasion. Some days it seems like I spend half my day cleaning or simply just putting things back where they once were to create some semblance of order. It's incredibly time-consuming. My kids are still little (one is only 9-months-old), but that doesn't mean I can't include them in some of these tasks. My three-year-old loves helping out with cleaning tasks. If I give her a rag and some vinegar cleaning spray, she will happily set about wiping up every surface in our home. She also loves helping put away dishes, loading the dishwasher and sweeping *the sweeping is often more of a hindrance than a help at this point, but we'll get there.) Involving my little ones in my day-to-day tasks instills a sense of pride in them, but also truly helps me to get things done quicker many times.
Too often I was finding myself harried and stressed and running at a million miles an hour and in the end I was frazzled and not really doing anything all that well.
4. Having a "uniform"
It might seem a little bit boring, but having a "mom uniform" has made a huge difference in the time it takes me to get ready every day. I've pared down my closet to include only items that I really like and that are practical for my life as a mama. I've also come to realize that neutrals are my favorite and so easy to mix-and-match, so I tend to stick with those. Jeans, a top and some variation of cardigan is my go-to ensemble and I can add accessories or a fancier shoe if I feel the need to spice things up. I've also done the same with my hair and makeup routine. I've learned what steps are essentials (i.e. under eye concealer, blush, brow powder and a pretty lip color) and what things to skip and it's made getting ready a much more streamlined (read: quick) process.
5. Planning multitasking playdates/hang outs
Playdates are great for moms with young kids. They provide much-needed adult interaction and something fun for the kids to do as well. Much as I enjoy them though, there are a lot of times where it just feels like another thing on the to-do list. I've taken to making playdates a multitasking affair. Heading to my local barre studio with a friend for a workout while the kids hang in childcare or going for a walk altogether are a couple of great options. I've also employed this with one-on-one girl nights as well. If I have a few things to pick up at Target, I might invite a friend along, or if I have a craft project to complete for a party I'm hosting, or a gift I'm giving I'll invite a friend to come be crafty with me.
It seems counterintuitive, but pausing in the midst of a chaotic day to take time for myself makes a huge difference in my productivity for the rest of the day. Too often I was finding myself harried and stressed and running at a million miles an hour and in the end I was frazzled and not really doing anything all that well. Taking a little break to do something just for myself—something so small as watching a short TED talk, or enjoying a quiet distraction-free lunch while my kids nap—has given me a much needed recharge in my day and the feeling of refreshment has carried over into my day and made me much more able to take on other tasks.
How do you find extra time in your day as a busy parent? What shortcuts or tricks have helped free you up a bit?