Between the kids, work and your long to-do list, your days can get jam-packed, and there are simply not enough hours available to get it all done. Yet by making a few small changes, you’ll be able to free up the spare time you enjoyed before the kids came along.
Here are seven ways to do just that:
1. Keep track of it
The best way to figure out how much time you can actually free up is to keep a journal for a few days of how you’re actually spending your time. “A lot of us spend time quite mindlessly,” said Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. “We assume because we’re often busy that we’re always busy. And that turns out not necessarily to be the case.”
2. Re-think priorities
As moms, we’re so used to caring for everyone else before ourselves and we believe we can do it all, “but the fact of the matter is the people who look like they’re doing it all are just doing what they need to do very well,” said Cena Block, a professional coach and the owner of Sane Spaces, a life coaching company. So instead of always living up to everyone else’s expectations, identify what is really important to you and set your priorities accordingly.
3. Schedule chores
Can’t get out from under the piles of laundry? The cleaning, cooking and errands you do every week can become all-consuming, but if you choose specific days to get things done, time management suddenly seems a whole lot easier. “Things shift because then it’s assigned and it doesn’t take up energy, and it doesn’t create stress,” said Block.
4. Swap to-do lists with other moms.
A co-op can work for babysitting but Block suggested taking it a step further by setting up a “mom co-op.” Love organization but hate cooking? Offer to clean out another mom’s closet while she makes your family dinner.
“One of the things that makes us feel more time-crunched than we actually are is constant connectivity,” Vanderkam said. “Being plugged into your smartphone all the time makes you feel less present where you are, no matter what you’re doing.” We’re not only checking email, texting and browsing; we’re on social networking sites like Facebook for up to three hours a day, a recent study by Mums Now finds. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through your news feed, schedule mini-tech times throughout the day.
6. Forget about the cleaning
There’s no point in keeping your house in pristine condition only for it to get dirty the next day. “It’s often more a matter of our preference than anyone is going to judge you for it,” Vanderkam said.
7. Make “me” time
If you don’t set aside time for yourself or your partner, chances are you’ll continue to keep up the same pace. On the weekends, come up with a plan so you both get “me” time. During the week after the kids are in bed, have a drink with your husband or meet a friend for coffee.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, food and women's issues and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.