Trying to keep up with the demands of mom life is exhausting. It’s an effort that completely drains you of your time and energy and resources. And I know I’ve shared this statistic before, but the average mom works about 95 hours a week, which is the equivalent of two and a half full-time jobs. So if you’ve been feeling like you just can’t keep up,you’re not imagining it.
It’s actually your reality, which is why I’m breaking down the five ways that you can maximize your time as you’re trying to keep up with the demands of mom life. Today I’m gonna help you get really clear on:
If it’s easier to listen to these ideas, hit ‘play’ on the video below, it’s easy to listen to on the go if you don’t have time to (or like to) read!
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So let’s talk about what’s actually happening with your time. As I mentioned, you do have a lot on your plate. You have enough to be expected to show up for the equivalent of two and a half full time jobs.
So what is realistic in terms of what you should expect yourself to be able to do? And also what might be unrealistic? Because I think a lot of the time we tend to take on expectations of other people and we really feel responsible for meeting those expectations, and we really feel responsible for meeting those expectations. I really dive into this in the last post, about three signs that you’re suffering from mom burnout, but it’s worth touching on again.
When we were raised as young girls, we were taught to anticipate other people’s needs to put those needs before our own. And so I think sometimes, especially in a caregiving role as a mom, we anticipate the needs of others and we expect that we need to meet those needs, that we are solely responsible for them, and that can be really overwhelming and time consuming.
So I want you to take time to examine the expectations that you are shouldering that can look like your own assumed, even unconscious expectations that you are anticipating other people have of you, and you are trying to make sure that you do everything possible to meet those expectations so that you don’t even leave it a possibility that someone could be disappointed in you.
That said, there are plenty of things that are really intentional when it comes to your expectations. You know that you are the one who cooks food for your family or does the grocery shopping. You’re the one who fills out the school paperwork, whatever it is that are your defined roles and the dynamic of your family, you are really intentional about, these are expectations of things that absolutely have to happen that my family is counting on me for.
And then there are also the communicated expectations from other people. So those are the ones where people make direct requests from you or that there’s conversation around what they need you to do. A lot of times their emergencies become your emergencies. So all told these expectations get accumulated and they accumulate fast. And I think that it even brings on this low level or even high level of anxiety for so many of us because we are very aware of everything that is expected of us.
And we are also very aware that we only have 24 hours in the day. So how are you going to get it all done?
So on top of trying to actually do all this and be effective, keeping up with those demands, you’re also struggling with this anxiety of how am I gonna do this all? And also then feelings of inadequacy or, “I can’t keep up”, “I can’t do this”, or “I don’t have time to do it all”.
That’s really hard to live with.
So the very first most important thing I want you to start doing is examine how you are spending your time and whether the expectations that you are taking on and committing yourself to are actually priorities. I think it’s very easy to confuse the two.
It’s very easy to tell ourselves that all the expectations that are on us are all equally important because we see the value of those expectations. We understand that our worth can sometimes be tied to meeting those expectations because that is what society tells us. So one of the most important things you can do right now is start reframing how you approach your commitment of time and effort.]
You absolutely do not have to meet everyone’s said or unspoken expectations. It’s within your control and your power to decide for yourself which expectations are important for you to meet, which expectations are a priority. So let’s define what a priority is in the context of mom life. In my opinion, a priority is anything that you deem essential, and that’s for you to decide.
It’s going to look different for each and every one of us. Things to think about are what’s essential to the day to day functioning of my family, what is essential to my happiness and what’s essential to my own wellbeing? Because far too often when we are so busy trying to keep up with the demands of mom life, we especially lose sight of what is essential to our own personal wellbeing,our own personal health, and our own personal happiness.
When we forgo what is actually essential, sometimes we’re forgoing what is absolutely essential, particularly for us as individuals, because we’re confusing expectations with priorities. Priorities must come first, expectations can follow. If you’re struggling with, well, how can I really tell if I’m faced with an expectation over a priority?
Here are some questions I want you to start asking yourself. It’s really going to help you start to tease out whether your efforts are tied to priorities or expectations. Great ways to tease this out are asking yourselves questions like:
Just because something is a priority doesn’t mean it has to be your priority. I think that’s a really important distinction. What I love about this is that it really empowers you to say no or not now to the things that aren’t essential. And you can say it with confidence because this is no longer about, “Is this a matter of something I’m willing to do?” Because when you tease out whether something is essential—Is it a priority or is it an expectation—you have that confidence to say no because the decision isn’t personal.
You’ll find that once you start really aligning your efforts with your priorities, you are going to be freeing up so much time, your mental load and your stress automatically.
Now, I do want acknowledge that being clear on your priorities does not free you up from the majority of the demands you have and are trying to keep up with in mom life. So let’s break down the five strategies that you can start using to help keep up with the demands of mom life, but also feel more productive, accomplished, and focused on what really matters.
Now, we’ve all had those days as moms especially where we haven’t sat down, we haven’t eaten, and we’ve been doing things all day long, but you can’t quite pinpoint exactly what you’ve accomplished. You’re always busy, but that’s just it. You’re feeling busy, you’re not feeling any closer to the finish line.
A great theory that I love to help kinda explain how this happens to so many of us is Parkinson’s law. It’s this idea that work will just expand and fill up whatever amount of time we give it in mom life. This might mean that if you don’t have a set expectation for how long a given task is going to take, say making dinner or folding the laundry, it can end up taking 2x, 3x, 4x as long as it probably should have.
When you’re inefficient at completing tasks, it’s really hard to feel effective or as though you’re making any progress. A common solution to this problem is to create a routine or a schedule to help you manage your time better. But I really believe that this is unrealistic when it comes to mom life, and that’s because mom life is incredibly unpredictable.
Your productivity is tied to the mood of your family members, your energy levels, whether you have healthy or sick kids, managing multiple schedules, the unexpected hiccups in your day-to-day life and the ever-changing, changing needs of your family and personal life. So to expect yourself to be able to keep up with a schedule or a lock step routine is just setting you up for failure.
So I believe that a much more sustainable approach is to segment your efforts. One way to approach this is to chunk your day into parts that are in alignment with your priorities. So if you identify you have priorities in your day that are focused around managing your household, connecting with your family, focusing on your wellbeing, showing up for your job, you can ask yourself which priorities you can reasonably get done in the amount of time you have for each of those categories.
So if you’re giving yourself an hour to complete household work that day, what could you realistically get done in those 60 minutes? You might even look at chunking your week where you assign certain priorities to certain days of the week.
For example, in my house laundry, no one has a completely empty laundry basket every day of the week. It’s unsustainable. I used to have this expectation for myself, and it ended up just leading to procrastination or overwhelmed because I was very aware of the fact that there were constantly dirty clothes in everyone’s laundry baskets.
So in order to feel like I could get off of that laundry hamster whale, I changed my approach. Now each person has a different day of the week when their laundry gets done. Theo, his clothes and his bedding gets washed on Monday, and then I do a load of my laundry along with Jason’s on Tuesdays and our towels. Then on Wednesday, it’s Stella’s day.
So do you see how I’ve really slotted it out and kept my expectations realistic? It allows me to be done for the day when I complete that chunk of the task.
Make sure if you are using blocks of time in your day that you account for much needed wiggle room.
There are definitely going to be unexpected interruptions or delays, and you don’t wanna create anxiety or frustration around the fact that you aren’t keeping up with the allotted amount of time for tasks that you had anticipated having. So what’s great about this is that when you’re clear on your priorities, it’s a lot easier to make the effort to make sure that they actually happen in the time that you allot.
In addition to looking at how you can block your time in alignment with your priorities, it’s really important that we look at how you can overcome procrastination. So we do need to make sure that if you are going to tackle the demands of mom life effectively, you have to have a plan in place that’s going to help you actually start tackling the demands of mom life.
And when you’re struggling, it’s really hard to find the motivation to actually take that first step to take the action and get things done. There are lots of reasons why moms tend to put off tasks that really do need to get done.
This might look like low energy disinterest in the task, prioritizing a task that’s really just an expectation and not a priority.Sometimes even having self doubt or fear or anxiety, it can cause us to really get into this like free state where it is hard to take action. So give yourself some time, especially the next time you find yourself putting off a task and lean into that.
Don’t ignore it, don’t pretend it’s not happening. It can be uncomfortable to sit with this feeling of ‘why am I putting off this task?’
But once you consider the causes of your procrastination, it’ll help you to pinpoint where you need the most motivation and support to get it all done. Something that really helps is to make sure that you give yourself short term deadlines instead of long term deadlines. If you know that you have a week to get something done, you are more likely to put it off until the pressure is on.
So when you are figuring out when you are going to complete given tasks, I want you to really think about how can you prevent putting things off until the last minute? Give yourself a narrower window of time to actually get the task done.
There’s also a lot of research that indicates that when you are tying a favorable or preferred activity to a less favorable task,
you are more likely to get the unfavorable task completed. So some ways to motivate you are to use a first then model. First, I will fold the laundry, then I’ll give myself 10 minutes to relax. You might find it more motivating to do something favorable while you’re completing the task, whether that’s listening to a podcast or an audio book, or watching your favorite show.
And remember, Parkinson’s law, Make sure that you are giving yourself a set amount of time to get a task done or to at least make progress on that task. So using either a timer on your phone, they’re great timer apps, or even a visual timer can be a great reminder of the importance of completing the task efficiently. So if procrastination is something that’s hard for you and you heard a strategy that you think you might be using,
I want you to let me know in the comments below. I love hearing which ideas are most meaningful to you.
Now, we touched on this a little bit earlier, but it is really important that we talk about how unavoidable it is that mom life is going to have interruptions. There’s some that you’re gonna be able to anticipate and others that you didn’t even see coming.
And in those moments, I really want you to focus on what you actually can control or influence. It’ll help you keep your perspective. This is something that has really helped me keep my perspective when I’m interrupted. So here are some examples of things that you absolutely cannot control. You might wish you could, but you just simply can’t.
You can’t control whether you’re interrupted by your kids, your partner, whomever. You can’t control whether an emergency happens. You might think the kids are gonna be great at school and then all of a sudden they’re having allergic reaction or they get sick.
And in those moments, if you can really recognize that this is something that you just have no control over, it’s a lot easier to give yourself patience and grace because they aren’t things in your power to begin with.
It’s okay to feel frustrated that you’ve been interrupted or that something came up that’s now preventing you from being as productive as you had hoped. But it’s also okay to give yourself that space to say, “I did everything I could to get this done, and it’s just clearly not happening right now. And that’s okay.”
Let’s talk about the things that you can influence or control that will help you to be more effective in managing the demands of mom life. And break down a few examples for you to give you a sense of what you can be doing to anticipate interruptions and how to respond to them or even work around them or prevent them in the first place.
So the first thing I want you to focus on is your timing. Think about when you’re trying to get your tasks done. This might be that you are more productive and we’ll get through tasks more quickly early in the morning before anyone’s up.
Maybe you are able to get a few things done after your toddler wakes up from their nap because they’re in a great mood, they just wanna play. Maybe it’s easier to get out of the house and run errands after breakfast instead of trying to do it right before afternoon nap.
Your timing can be really key, not only in when you do the task, but even thinking about which tasks can handle more interruption or disruption than others. So especially if you’re at home and you’re trying to get things done while the kids are around, it really helps you kind of tease out, “Okay, I can make dinner with a fair amount of interruption and still gonna get on the table, whereas it might be unrealistic for me to expect that I’m gonna be able to focus in on all of the school registration paperwork while the kids are up and needing me.”
So use that to your advantage as well. When you think about timing of completing tasks, I also want you to really think about how you can communicate expectations more clearly.
My kids really resonate with the idea of being a team as a family. They understand that everyone has their roles and that the team is only successful when everyone does their part. So sometimes when I’m trying to accomplish a task,having a conversation with them before I start the task to let them really know and understand what it is that I’m trying to accomplish, what they need to be doing in order for that to happen and how that’s benefiting all of us, can really help minimize interruptions. Now, obviously this isn’t gonna necessarily work with your 18 month old, but if you do have kids who are a little bit older, this can be really effective.
Also, set a boundary. Letting your child know what they can do if they feel like they need help is really important, and empowering them to give you the space and boundary that you need while also feeling like they know what they can do. If they get to a point where they feel like they need a little bit of help.
So whether that’s you can ask your brother, you can ask your dad, or maybe I have this call I have to be on, but I’m gonna leave a post-it note next to me, and if you need anything, you just write it right there, and that way I know what you need. I’ll try to answer it then if I can. If I can’t,
we’ll talk after I’m done on my call. My kids love that, even if it’s just drawing pictures of what it is they need or want. And that alone can be really validating and give them that satisfaction that They’ve been heard. Sometimes all our kids need is to know that they’ve been heard and they don’t actually need the action that comes with being heard,the follow up or the follow through. Sometimes they do, but not always. So this can be a really effective strategy that helps establish a boundary and help you move through the task you’re trying to complete while also validating your child’s needs and voice.
Also, consider the minimum viable option. ‘How can I get this done with the least frustration possible?’ Sometimes that means adjusting your standards for the extent to which you get the work done or the quality that it’s done in.
Remember that interruptions will happen. Your key to success is responding to them in ways that are flexible and realistic.
Let’s talk about the fourth thing that you can do to maximize your time as you’re trying to keep up with all of these demands. Just because your mom doesn’t mean that you should be the default person who’s responsible for everything that keeps your house and your family moving forward.
You don’t have to be solely responsible for your family’s priorities. I want you to really start thinking about which priorities you can realistically take on, or also the ones that only you can realistically be responsible for, especially when it comes to your personal wellbeing and self care. So let’s talk about how you can be asking for help with the many priorities that your family has.
The first thing you can do is start having regular family meetings so that you can figure out how to divide and conquer depending on the age of your kids, This might look like a conversation that happens on a weekly basis between you and your partner, or even every other week or even once a month, whatever works for your family. But committing that time to sitting down talking about what the priorities are, talk about what’s working, what isn’t working, and problem solving collaboratively helps to create a culture of teamwork instead of you being the command telling and delegating what needs to get done.
This is especially important as your kids get older too, to include them in some level of this conversation. It helps them understand that they have a meaningful role in the family that they contribute to and help with.
Think about ways that you can start to help your child build their sense of independence and self-sufficiency when it comes to taking care of themselves and also helping out around the house even beyond the scope of your immediate family.
I want you to start thinking about who else could be helping with the priorities in your life.
If meals take a lot of time to plan or prep,see if you have a friend who’d be interested in setting up a weekly meal swap. Each of you can make a meal that you share with one another’s families to take even just one night of meal planning and prep off your plate.
Maybe you take turns planning out the menu, find the recipes, and share ’em with one another. Heck, get a few friends to do that. Four friends would cover a month’s worth of planning. That makes it a whole lot easier.
Find extended family members who wanna have a meaningful role in your home. A lot of times we have family members that want to feel more connected with us and especially our kids. So you know, if finishing a novel is really hard for your child that they’re just resisting doing their homework, maybe you partner them up with your family member as someone who’s outside the home to really motivate them. They could talk about the book together if they read it separately, you know over the week, and then set up a time to chat on Zoom about what they read. It’s nice to have accountability from someone outside of the home.
Maybe you have someone who’s able to help with driving to and from after school or extracurricular activities. They more than likely would really enjoy being at practices and having those conversations in the car.
So don’t hesitate to ask for help like that because oftentimes it’s actually very meaningful and purposeful to the person who’s offering you the help. It is the furthest thing from an inconvenience.
And if you have the means, I want you to consider which priorities you could outsource to a professional.
Appreciate the value of investing in someone else’s expertise in business. Oftentimes they value the work and you can value the help and support that they’re lending to you. Please remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness or ineffectiveness. It’s a sign of confidence that you recognize your own personal limits and boundaries. You know that your time and energy are precious resources.
So you have to honor the limits of what you are capable of accomplishing in meeting all of those demands of a busy mom life. At the same time, we want to be sure that you’re minimizing the likelihood of stress, overwhelm, and the possibility of burnout.
Hopefully that sets you up for success with tip number five, which is making sure that you are making time to prioritize your own wellbeing.
We’ve all heard it. You can’t pour from an empty cup and there’s a reason you hear it over and over again. It’s because it’s true. You can’t keeping up with the demands of mom life is draining. It’s exhausting.
When you don’t replenish, you are setting yourself up for so much frustration. You’re going to be inefficient. Your memory is going to be poor. You’ll have lower self-esteem because you’ll see that you’re being ineffective and your energy will be depleted, and none of that is actually helping you keep up with the demands of mom life.
I want you to consider some simple ways that you can start taking better care of yourself and if you don’t have a whole lot of time, because it is that important. So there are three aspects of your own self that I think are really important to focus on: mind, body, and spirit.
So let’s talk about one simple thing that you could do to take care of each of those aspects of who you are as an individual, and I’ll make sure I promise that they are not super time consuming and that they’re pretty easy to put into practice.
So the first is taking care of your mind. This is your organizational machine. It’s what helps you make sure that you know what needs to get done and accomplish it. So in order to take care of your mind, we wanna make sure that it’s not overwhelmed or stressed.
By sitting down and outlining your priorities for the day or the week, we’ll help you stay focused on what matters most. Make sure that anything that goes on that list is actually a priority rather than just an expectation.
When it comes to taking care of your body, I want you to make sure that you incorporate daily movement. This could be as simple as making sure that you get outside for a quick walk with the family every day after dinner or breakfast, whatever fits with your lifestyle.
It does not mean that you have to commit to working out an hour a day.I think that’s so unrealistic. But there are ways that you can move your body to help you hit reset, and just de-stress your actual physical body.
Moving your body could also be stretching at the end of the day. You know, if you’re watching a show after the kids go to bed, stretch during commercial breaks or stretch while you watch.
And for your spirit, Iwant you to make sure that you’re taking time to get quiet and connect with who you are on the inside. I know it sounds cheesy, I know some of you are probably cringing, but there is something about giving yourself that time and space that allows you to really process how you’re actually feeling. Taking that pause gives you the moment to recognize what’s really going on for you.
That’s gonna be really helpful in managing the demands of everyday life. So you don’t have to do this every day, but start small. Commit to one time a week where you can just sit quietly, either to meditate, you could use a meditation app or if you would like to have a prayer practice, whatever fits with your own spiritual connection to yourself. It doesn’t really matter the form of the practice. What matters is that you’re taking the time to pay attention to what you need as a unique individual.
So there you have it, the five ways that you can start maximizing your time so that you’re keeping up with the demands of mom life more effectively. We talked about the importance of blocking time, overcoming procrastination, how to prevent and deal with interruptions, effectively dividing and conquering by asking for help and also taking care of yourself.
But I also promised one small action step that you could take today to help you start maximizing your time, because I really do believe that it’s the small changes that are sustainable that will stick and help you make meaningful progress over time. We can layer in some of these other strategies as you gain that momentum. So don’t feel like you have to do all of these at once.
Let’s just start small, focus in on one small strategy and see how that sit. So when I have a lot to do, my favorite thing to do is come up with my top three for the day. There is so much that I could keep on my to-do list and tell myself that I am available and capable of completing in 1 24 hour span,
but realistically, I’m only setting myself up for failure when I’m looking at the whole picture of everything that needs to get done. So like we talked about at the beginning of this video, I want you to really think through what are the actual priorities? What is essential that I get done today? Yes, I know there’s so much more I could be getting done, but realistically I’m only gonna get through about three big tasks. So what are they?
Once you choose those three top priorities, put those down on your list and focus in on how you can block your time to fit them in. And if you’re worried about everything else on your to-do list, it’s okay to keep a little wishlist. But here’s what I want you to keep in mind.
After you finish those top three things for the day, I want you to pause and ask yourself, Have I prioritized myself? Because if you’ve only been focused on the productivity and maximizing your time to get through those big tasks that your family’s relying on, I don’t want you to keep moving through your to-do list before you’ve hit pause and focused on yourself. Even if that’s just for five minutes.
If you still have time and energy and capacity to tackle a few more things on your wishlist, go for it. But just know once you get through those top three things, you’ve had a really productive day. It’s okay to turn off the productivity and focus on connecting with your family, connecting with yourself, and just enjoying the life that you have.
If you liked this video, please share it with a friend that you know who could also benefit from these five strategies to help them maximize their time as they keep up with the demands of their own mom life. And be sure to comment below, Let me know which of these five tips was most meaningful to you.
Remember to download my free resource, How to Do More—In Less Time if you want some more idea to help you feel more effective in maximizing your time as you keep up with the demands of mom life.
And although you know how to maximize your time, you still might be feeling overwhelmed by the big picture of everything else that needs to get done. So I’ve made sure to length the video, Three ways to Tackle Mom Life Overwhelm so that you feel like you are confident enough to overcome the things that are just so anxiety inducing, so that you can really get to the source of these feelings that keep coming up for you.
Also, be sure to go check out the video about Three Signs that You’re a Burned Out as a Mom. I think it will really help you to identify the patterns that are leaving you feeling stuck and in the position that you have too much to do and not enough time to get it done. I’ll be back next week with more lessons on how to help you make sense of mom life.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the resources that I’ve shared with you today. And remember, making small intentional changes will have a really big impact in how you are feeling effective as a mom. Mom life is complex, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. So let’s take action and simplify mom life together.
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Mom life is complex,
but it doesn't have to be complicated.
LET'S SIMPLIFY THINGS.
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