Why Every Mom Needs a Schedule
Balancing work and family and everything else is no easy feat. With seven children, you better believe it has taken a significant amount of trial and error to figure this whole balance thing out. But what the last ten years of juggling motherhood and everything else has taught me, is that balance can 100 percent be achieved with a strategic approach to time management.
It’s not only children who thrive on routine and the benefits of a schedule- parents can benefit too! Even the most spontaneous of individuals, I argue, can benefit from some sort of a schedule. Here are my top tips to help you balance it all and conquer your calendar.
SPEND TIME ON PAPER BEFORE YOU SPEND IT IN REAL LIFE
I was introduced to this concept by Michael Hyatt in a podcast on creating more margin. Similar to a financial budget, do the exercise of spending your time on paper, before you spend it in real life. This can involve simply creating blocks of time on a printed calendar for your various activities, or scheduling recurring appointments on your electronic calendar. However, you choose to do it, plan how you’ll spend your time before you spend it.
START WITH THE BIG ROCKS
Do you know the story of the big rocks? Basically, the idea is if you fill a jar with pebbles but then try to fit in large rocks after you can’t. There’s no room. But if you put the large rocks in first, and then pour the pebbles on top, the smaller stones will fill in the gaps- same jar, more in it.
Use this concept in planning your ideal week. Make a list of the “big rocks” in your life. Now schedule these big rocks in time increments on your schedule. Running out of time? Consider if there are any big rocks you can give away- either to hired help, a responsible child, or another family member.
3. THEME YOUR DAYS
When I coach moms on how to manage their time, this is my FAVOURITE strategy to offer. The concept of theming your days essentially means you group like activities together, allowing you to be efficient as you are not switching from activity to activity. For example, on Mondays you might run all your errands outside of the home, Tuesdays you might focus on chores and laundry, Wednesday you might focus on social commitments or volunteering in your child’s school, Thursdays you might always reserve for doctor’s appointments, etc. The point is, when you assign a theme to each of your days you are being efficient with your energy. Some days you’ll put makeup on and dress well for going out, other days you might choose to stay in sweats as you take care of things at home.
Still running out of time? This next strategy is AWESOME…
4. AUTOMATE, DELEGATE, DELETE
As I mentioned in point 2 with the big rocks, you might find after writing your list and plotting it into a schedule you have completely run out of time. The metaphorical jar of a week only has so many hours. So you have two choices- cry or change (just kidding).
We cannot do it all, and we definitely cannot do it all and do it all with excellence. Some form of delegation is necessary for us to live whole, holistic lives. Here are some strategies from my own life:
Automate: Think of using technology to automate anything you can! Many grocery stores offer the service where you can create the same grocery list every week, hit order with one tap on your phone, and then either have the items delivered, or you can load the kids up and have the groceries brought to you in your car. I also love to automate regularly consumed items like toilet paper and toothpaste. I have these on a subscription service and they show up to my house before I have even realized we have run out of that item.
Delegate: What in your life does not require your unique skills to do? For many women I coach, this looks like many elements of home maintenance like cleaning and laundry. For after school activities consider sharing pick and drop off with a fellow parent. And of course so many professional services like accounting can be delegated to pros.
Delete: This one was REALLY hard for me but has proven to be a game changer in my pursuit of peace and balance. It’s hard to delete. It just is- especially when you have done something the same way, or you feel like the world might look at you different and judge you for no longer doing something. But YOU HAVE TO. Because you can’t just keep filling up your schedule (i.e. your jar) without expecting something to burst. And like Greg McKeown says, sayong no to something is really saying yes to something else.
The juggle is real- but the juggle can also be fun. While being a parent is of course going to be challenging, I am a firm believer that it does not have to be challenging all the time.
Interior designer from HGTV’s “Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers,” lifestyle expert, author and mom of seven Lisa Canning almost lost her family by pursing career success. Now she coaches moms on how to live their best lives, eliminate stress, feel less guilt and get more done while chasing their dreams. Her book, The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dream at the Same Time, releases on July 16, 2019.