Between kids, cleaning, work, basketball practice, and everything else, life can feel overwhelming at times (or most of the time). It is impossible to give everything your full attention all of the time. If you have kids at home, this is always where the mom guilt sets in big time. Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula that solves these overwhelming moments, days, years. However, there are small things you can do, that can make a big difference. Below, I am going to share 6 ways to organize your life in the midst of chaos.
#1. Make a To Do List and Write it On Paper
This step is very mental, but there is something so stress relieving about sitting down, taking out a pretty notebook and writing your to do list on a real piece of paper. Having your to-do list in your head or even in the notebook section of your phone can often leave your brain feeling fuzzy. Taking the time to sit down and write it out, gives you a visual and provides some organization to all of your thoughts.
Tips To Tackle Your To Do List:
- SET A DAY/TIME TO WRITE YOUR TO-DO LIST: I recommend writing out your to-do list on Sunday, so you can plan for the week. This should be uninterrupted, focused time. This way you can really wrap your head around everything that needs to get done.
- WRITE EVERY SINGLE THING DOWN THAT NEEDS TO GET DONE: No task is too small. Sometimes the littlest things are the things that slip our minds the most. If it is helpful, also include an estimate of how long it will take you to complete each task. This will help to ensure your goals/plans for the day are realistic.
- PRIORITIZE: Once the list is complete, prioritize it. I suggest doing the easiest things first to give yourself some “quick wins.” If you owe someone money, sit there and Venmo them the cash right away, and literally put a line through this item on the list. Marking lines through completed tasks is also mental, but it makes you feel accomplished.
- DELEGATE: There will be some things on your list that you just have to do yourself, but if you can give someone else (like your spouse) a couple of responsibilities, than do it!
Here’s a real life, personal story for you about delegation….
My husband and I had a “discussion” awhile back (over text messaging, mind you) and it was during a season of starting this blog where I felt extremely overwhelmed in every area of my life. To prove a point, I texted him every single thing I needed to get done (so he could get a “visual” of how long my to-do list was). His response to me was, “Okay, thanks for this list, it is really helpful. I can’t do some of these things for you, but I can take 2,5,8,9 off your plate. Let me help you!” This was not the response I was expecting and he kind of just burst my bubble. But in that moment, I realized, we are a team, and this visual helped both of us.
From this experience, I have learned to communicate, ask for help and delegate where I can! This has been tremendously helpful for me and in our marriage. It has made my husband feel like I actually need his help. Which gals, let me tell you, our husbands need to feel like we need them. This is a whole separate blog post that maybe I’ll do another time!
#2. Break Up Your Cleaning Tasks By Day
Although a housekeeper is every woman’s dream, for many of us, there are other things that need our money, first. But goodness, cleaning takes so much time! If you don’t already follow Clean Mama on Instagram or at: www.cleanmama.net, I highly recommend following her. The schedules, techniques, and tips she talks about have transformed the way I clean and maintain my house.
Below is the main premise you follow:
- Monday – Clean all bathrooms
- Tuesday – Dust and thoroughly clean the kitchen – wipe down cabinets, scrub the sink, clean the refrigerator if needed
- Wednesday – Vacuum
- Thursday – Clean/mop all floors
- Friday – Catch up on anything you didn’t get to or that needs a thorough cleaning like baseboards, windows, etc.
- Saturday – Wash all bedding
- Sunday – Take the day off!
Tips On Breaking Up Your Cleaning Tasks By Day:
- BREAKING UP THE SCHEDULE SAVES YOU TIME OVERALL: Giving something 20 minutes of my time a day, still is much easier than finding a designated 3 to 4 hours every other week to do a deep clean. I will often fly through the bathrooms while the kids are taking baths, or vacuum upstairs while they are playing in the play room. It’s all about the multi-tasking! But by cleaning weekly, you can whip through tasks much faster.
- GIVE GRACE: If it’s not dirty yet, don’t clean it. Some things may not need to be touched every week, so skip it (but only if it truly isn’t dirty)!
- SET A TIMER FOR THE TASK: In Clean Mama’s information, she says you should be able to clean all of your bathrooms in 15 minutes. The first time I did this, I could not figure out how she got through her bathrooms in 15 minutes. But then I started setting myself a timer which made me work really fast! I found that between the weekly cleaning (my bathrooms weren’t as dirty) and giving myself a time limit – I really can get through all 4 bathrooms pretty quickly. Maybe not 15 minutes quick, but close!
- HAVE CLEANING GEAR ALL IN ONE PLACE: I bought a tub like this one, to hold all of my cleaning gear in: cleaning cloths, household cleaners, and a brush. This makes it so easy to go room to room and use what you need.
#3. Cut Out Wasted Time
In this season of my life (yes, blog life), I feel like every minute of my day is spent on something intentionally. I don’t really have time to waste. I will literally take my laptop in the car and work on something while my husband drives, or multitask in other areas whenever I can.
Recommendations on Cutting Out Wasted Time:
- GOOGLE CALENDAR: Share a google calendar with your spouse or whomever else you need to. This will clear up so much miscommunication, double booking, and other things.
- TURN OFF SOCIAL MEDIA: This is an obvious one, but we all know the struggle is real. It is sometimes really convicting to think about how much time is spent on social media. There are several apps out there that help you track your time, or even shut it off if you need something to slap your hand and tell you no!
- AUTOMATIC BILL PAY: Paying bills is just an annoying thing you have to think about but you obviously you have to think about it! If you get nervous about setting up automatic bill pay on bills that fluctuate every month, than continue paying those manually. But, for those bills that are a set amount every month, take them off your mind! You can typically set up the date you would like them to be paid and you never have to think about them again.
- LEARN TO SAY NO: This can be so hard but it is so important. You can’t always do everything, and be everywhere. Sometimes you have to take a minute, prioritize what is most important and say no to the rest. And KNOW it will be okay.
#4. Tidy Up Your House Before You Go To Bed
I know this is so hard some days when you are exhausted on every single front, but I am telling you, it makes such a difference. Don’t drag yesterday’s mess into the next day.
Tips On Tidying Up Your House Before Bed:
- TIDY UP RIGHT AFTER PUTTING YOUR KIDS DOWN: It is so easy to just sit down for a minute or start something else, and before you know it, you never got to those dishes in the sink. Get in the habit of making this the first thing you do after you put your kids to bed, to ensure it gets done.
- THINK THROUGH YOUR NEXT DAY: Take a few minutes to tidy up your papers, look at your to-do list/calendar, and think through your plans for the next day.
- START THE DISHWASHER: Run your dishwasher every night even if it is not filled to the brim. Then be sure to unload it first thing in the morning! This gives you a empty dishwasher at the start of every day and also cuts down on dishes in the sink
- GET THE COFFEE READY: Prepare your coffee so all you have to do is click “brew” in the morning, or better yet, set the timer.
#5. Make a Meal Plan and Grocery Shop Once Per Week
I know not everyone is a meal planner, but if you can shift your thinking and try to become one, I promise it will save you so much time in the long run. Choose a day when you will do your grocery shopping so you get on a weekly plan. Before you go, take 20 minutes to plan out your meals for the week. From there, make a list of all of the ingredients you will need, and then go shopping.
Tips For A Successful Meal Plan:
- LIMIT MEAL PLAN TO 1 WEEK AT MOST: For the most part, produce, milk, etc. will stay good for an entire week. It may get a little sketchy after that, and you will start running out of food. This results in added trips to the store (and unnecessary purchases). Make your meal plan realistic for how long you think your groceries will last.
- PLAN AROUND YOUR SCHEDULE: Factor in planned eating out and leftovers into your meal plan.
- FIND A TEMPLATE THAT WORKS FOR YOU: You can find endless meal planning templates on Pinterest. I personally just like to write out Monday – Sunday on a piece of paper, then break the days up by breakfast/lunch/dinner, and fill in the blanks.
- CHECK YOUR PANTRY BEFORE YOU GO: Once you have written out all of the ingredients you will need, check your pantry/refrigerator to see what ingredients you already have that you don’t need to purchase. How many times do we go to the store and try to remember if we have that certain spice in our pantry or not.
#6. Take Some Time for YOU!
I know this last tip is sometimes the hardest, but it is the most important. All of the tips above are beneficial, but unless you take a minute for some self-care, you will still feel like you are drowning in responsibilities. I can’t stress how important it is for your kids, your husband and everyone else, to give yourself a little time, so you can be the best you, for all of them.
YOU Time Ideas:
- Join a gym and go to it! If you have little kids, put them in childcare for an hour, I promise they will survive and will probably grow to really like it.
- Go for a 15 minute bike ride/run/walk in the neighborhood once your husband gets home.
- Wake up before the rest of your house to have a few minutes by yourself, pray, have a cup of coffee, or do whatever else will help get you focused and ready for the day.
- Take a bath once you get everyone to bed, turn on some music, light a candle, pour yourself a relaxing drink and just breathe
- Turn on some music or a good podcast while you’re cooking dinner.
- Do a devotional before going to bed.
Let’s Wrap It Up…
I could write a full blog post on each one of these tips, and I probably will at some point. But for now, I wanted to touch on each of them, because I really believe in them. Life is busy and there is no slowing down. It is so important to organize your life in areas where you can, and truly take back control. There are seasons we all feel like we are drowning in our to-do lists and responsibilities. Get some quick-wins for yourself, you need it!