Why Read: Time management for moms is based on trial and error. By recognizing some of the most common mistakes you’ll be able to add more time to your day and spend it on things that matter.
Do you often feel that you never have time on anything?
You don’t have time to play with your kids, to do the housework, to have a self-care routine … even to sleep.
As moms, we always have many things on our plate. Too many, actually.
But here is the thing.
We all have 24 hours a day.
And if at the end of the day (every day!) you feel dissatisfaction cringing in because your house looks like after a major lego catastrophe, you had to order take out 3rd night in a row and your husband can’t find a clean shirt to wear to tomorrow’s important meeting – you need to take a pause and think why you don’t have enough time.
What are you mostly spending your time on? Or wasting your time on?
Be honest with yourself. Recognize which mistake (or all of them!) from this list you’re making and start working on the solution.
Doing everything for others
As women, we tend to switch the “I’m the mother” or “I’m the wife” mode on and start doing everything for our kids and husbands. But this wears us out and doesn’t leave time or energy for anything else. Neither your husband nor your kids would want to see you silently doing everything for them but feeling irritated inside.
Family is a big team where everyone should support and help each other. You are the most important person in your husband’s and children’s life. They want to see you healthy and happy. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Everyone in the family should have their portion of responsibilities. Even from a very young age kids are willing to help and are fully capable of doing certain chores around the house. Spend some time teaching your kids how to help you.
Yes, at first it’ll take you more time than doing everything yourself. But in no time this will pay off and you’ll have capable helpers around the house.
It’s more complicated with men, of course.
After a long day at work and tiring commute, all your husband probably wants to do is lie on the couch. But he wouldn’t want to have a crazy wildcat in the house who gets more and more agitated with every hiss at him. Men don’t take hints! So just talk to him.
Whether it’s grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, taking kids for activities – your husband needs to have a fair share of things to help with around the house.
Blaming others for lack of time
It’s 6 o’clock in the evening and you realize you don’t have anything for dinner. How many times this happened to you? Too many for me.
And what do you do?
You start thinking about how this could’ve happened. What went wrong? Oh, right – my boy didn’t want to put on his clothes for an hour. Then my mother-in-law called and wanted me to help with her Facebook login issues. My husband didn’t do grocery shopping this week.
But here’s the truth – blame is an energy-depleting sucker.
The best thing you can do to accomplish more is to stop shifting the responsibility for your failure to others. Yes, sometimes things get out of our control and change direction. So it’s important to quickly re-adjust gears.
If you drive to work and there’s road work and your regular route is closed, what do you do? Do you sit in your car and cry how life is unfair and how construction workers are to blame if you’re late to work? No, you quickly change the route.
Do the same at home. Recognize the problem, evaluate alternatives and act on it. Or if it’s too late, then just order pizza. And if your husband makes a puzzled face when you offer pizza at the dinner, instead of shouting at him that he is the one to blame because he didn’t grocery shop and then his mother called, treat him to something nice.
“How about a nice massage after dinner, honey?!” And your evening will have a much better ending with the second scenario.
Making to-do lists in your head
At this moment, I bet you have over 20 things floating around in your head that you’d like to get done.
You need to schedule your son’s dental appointment. You haven’t bought toilet paper. You got distracted and didn’t finish writing a birthday message to your niece. And on and on and on.
You make painful efforts to not forget the most important tasks so you keep thinking about the same things over and over again. This distracts you, wears you out, overwhelms you. You keep wasting your time trying to remember what else you needed to do that day.
And when you’re finally in bed after doing a crazy amount of different things, you suddenly remember that you forgot the one that was most important – your niece’s birthday message. Your head is about to explode – how could you forget??
Get your to-do list out of your head. Whether you like to write things down in a to-do list journal, or in your phone’s notes app, or even on your fridge’s whiteboard – just take a minute and do a brain dump.
Write down all the tasks that you could remember that need to be done for today and tomorrow. And then those tasks that could be done later. Assign specific dates to each of the tasks. Divide your list into categories and priorities. Now you’ll have a roadmap to follow every day without overwhelming your brain. When you finish the task just check it off. This will also cause you a sense of satisfaction.
Now, it’s extremely important to write down every new task as soon as it pops up in your head. Do it even if you need to keep a piece of paper and a pen in your back pocket at all times. Or the easier would be to use your phone. Every evening before going to bed, spend 5 minutes doing the same brain dumping of the tasks for the next day.
Planning too much for the day
Why is it that we feel more energized and pumped up about our goal setting and to-dos for the next day in the evening? Or is it just me?
I always feel like I can conquer the world when I’m relaxed lying in bed. Somehow all the traffic disappears in front of me when I drive to Costco at 5 p.m. in my mind. Or the washing machine is on some kind of accelerated mode in my mind and can do 5 loads in 5 minutes. I plan and plan and plan more for tomorrow.
The reality – completely different. I look at my list of 25 things to do the next morning with skepticism but still think: “OK, I can do it”. But can I? The result is always the same if you plan too much for the day and finish only a small fraction – you’re dissatisfied with yourself.
It’s always better to plan less and overachieve than the opposite. Start paying attention to how long time it takes you to finish each item on your to-do list. And plan accordingly the next time.
You can always add more tasks to your list if you finish earlier but you’ll be so happy with yourself and ready to tackle more if you feel you were productive that day.
Related: How to Find the Elusive Work-Life Balance
Not knowing what your priorities are
“OK, so you don’t want me to plan too much for my day but what if I ALWAYS have too much to do?” – you might be asking.
If you look at your to-do list for the next day and it has 30 tasks and errands, the first thing that comes to mind is “I’ll just multi-task”.
You think you can do the cooking, folding the laundry, playing with your child, and talking to your mom on the phone – all at once. Nope, never works!
Your attempts to do everything at once will never end in a productive result. Either your dinner gets burned, or your child is upset that you’re not paying attention, or you forget the laundry in the dryer and now you need to iron everything (the worst!).
You need to learn to prioritize. Yes, at first it might seem that everything is important on your list. But if you look closely, you can easily cross off what’s not as important or urgent.
Combine things only if you are sure you can pull them off. It’s better to have your child help with the dinner and spend meaningful time together that way (see mistake #1) rather than play and cook at once.
Quite often we put too much pressure on us for things that don’t really matter.
Your 3-year-old toddler doesn’t care how neat his clothes are. He’ll end up all dirty and messy the second he steps into preschool anyway. So why bother dressing him up from the latest Gucci catalog? Or if you think you have time to create cute little cartoon characters from food to go into his lunchbox, because some other kid’s mom does that, great do it. If no time, then forget it – there’s no need to complicate things for yourself.
To do more in a day, try to simplify things.
No need to cook culinary masterpieces every day, to keep your house sparkling clean and to try to create Instagram-perfect life all at once.
Decide for yourself what brings you joy and what it is that’s most important for you. If a sparkly clean house is something that makes you happy but you feel that cleaning drains you and takes all your time, just buy a Roomba. Simplify cooking by getting an Instant pot and meal prep for the whole week.
Look at all the areas that take lots of your time and simplify those the best you can. Check out the best apps helping with time management for moms.
Being a perfectionist
Do you often strive for flawlessness in your daily life and spend hours perfecting even the tiniest thing? You’re not alone! We all tend to fall into that trap.
But here is the truth for you – perfectionism is a foolproof road to unhappiness.
Voltaire put it the best: “Perfect is the enemy of good”. Trying to do something perfectly, you waste a lot of time to the detriment of other things on your to-do list.
It’s important to pay attention to how much time you spend on things. If you notice something takes too much of your time because you try to bring it to a perfect condition, dedicate a certain amount of time for that. Even use a timer if needed. Evaluate how you can take your best effort and complete the task on time.
And whenever you’re having a hard time with this, remember Sheryl Sandberg’s quote: “Done is better than perfect.” Sheryl is Facebook’s COO, author, mother, billionaire – so if she can let go of perfectionism, you should be able too.
Not saying “No” enough
Our friends, relatives, coworkers are all very important people in our lives as are their requests. And it’s only natural that we want to always be available to help whenever asked for.
But you will not learn how to manage your time effectively if you agree to help with all the requests that come your way.
You can answer your phone, messenger, or help with requests but do that at a certain time. For example, if you get a call from your mother-in-law during your child’s daytime nap, while you had some work planned for that time, ask you to call back later or just keep your phone muted. Otherwise, you might end up still being on the phone discussing fall decor colors when your son calls your name from his room. Wait, did you just spend one hour on the phone and did nothing?
Arrange with people in advance so as not to call you at a specific time of the day, because you will be busy and will not be able to fully communicate. Don’t answer your messages right away but do it at a specific time allocated for that.
Also, recognize the people who only remember you when they need your help. Learn how to say “No” to them or just cut them out of your life. Do you really have time on them?
If you do want to help but realize there is no way you can do it right away, just let your friends know you’ll help in a couple of days. But do keep your promises!
Overusing social networks
Can you believe the statistics that in this day and age of social networks moms can spend up to 5 hours a day on the phone? Crazy, isn’t it?
What if you’re that mother, too? Has your phone become an extension of your hand?
Sometimes we don’t even realize how long we spend scrolling our Instagram feed. Or reading articles on parenting while not having time on the actual parenting. Innocent 15 minutes can often become 1.5 hours and deprive us of the precious time we could be spending on more meaningful things.
First of all, use an app like Moment to track how long you spend on your phone browsing through social networks. If the number you receive scares you, it’s time to make changes.
Set aside 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day to browse your phone. Use an app like Offtime to block you from using social networks after 15 minutes.
Then try to understand why you’re using Instagram anyway. If it’s only for looking at the latest photos of Kardashian sisters, then just try deleting the app from your phone altogether. Do the same with other social networks as well.
If you follow too many bloggers and are part of too many groups on Facebook, keep only the top ones that bring the most benefit to you and mute the others. You can always visit their pages and sites, but you don’t need to have them in your feed constantly. Turn off all push notifications so that you don’t get distracted throughout the day.
Sacrificing night sleep
We all need 7-8 hours of night sleep to maintain good physical and mental health.
It might seem to you that you do more if you stay awake longer but actually quite the opposite is happening. You wake up tired and cranky the next day. You have huge dark bags under your eyes and your day doesn’t go well. You realize that you feel tired and all you can think of is taking a nap.
Try going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time too. That way you’ll set your biological clock to put your mind to rest as soon as you’re in bed.
Cut off ANY screen time at least 30 minutes before bed. Electronic devices emit blue light that suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Take a good book instead.
You’ll feel more rested and energized and ready to accomplish more after a good’s night sleep.
If you wake up at night to feed your baby, make sure to have a nap throughout the day. If you work and this is not feasible at your workplace, just rest your head on your arms for 15-30 minutes with your eyes closed. Even this will help you recharge.
One last thing
Imagine having more time in your day!
What if you had 3-5 hours extra time to actually spend quality time with your loved ones?
What if you go to bed every day feeling satisfied with how your house looks and how all the things you planned for the day have been done.
It’s not that hard when you recognize the problem.
You’re able to take action and manage your time better.
No doubt here. No second-guessing yourself.
The more mistakes you stop making the easier it’ll get. Promise!
What About You
How do you try to be more productive? Do you have any other time management tips for moms to share with us? Please share in the comments.
Hi, I’m Tamara! I believe with the right resources at hand any mom can give her child the best start in life. And that’s what I help busy moms with at Pomegranate Mom.
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