“A goal without a plan is just a wish” –Antoine de Saint Exupery
Life is crazy. Parenting is hard. How do people get anything done? As you can imagine, my life is no different in this regard. I have an 8-month-old, a husband, two dogs, a house, I work VERY part-time, I’m in a doctorate program full-time and I have this side-hustle of writing/blogging/parenting advice thing. Somehow, I still find time to date my husband, workout a few times a week and see family/friends. I don’t say this to gloat. I say this to reassure you, that it can be done. It is not easy and it takes some preemptive thought and planning, but you CAN do hard things.
I’m a planner. Ask anyone. I have lists on lists, I’m in love with post-it notes and I have multiple notebooks for multiple reasons. My google calendar is absurdly overwhelming and makes people cringe. BUT, this works for me. It mostly looks crazy because I write down EVERYTHING. Because, I am a mom and a human and I forget shit ALL THE TIME if it is not written down somewhere.
Here is an example.
Choose a day to sit down and plan your week.
I choose Sundays. It is typically our least eventful day of the week and I just like the feeling of sitting down and feeling like all my ducks are in a row before the crazy starts in again. There are a few great options for planners if you want to purchase one, but I just bought a $10 notebook and made it myself. Planning in this way keeps my time intentional. I don’t spend a chunk of the time I have figuring out what I need to be doing. It is already written down and I can just be quickly reminded and get work.
- Chat with your partner about the week. Who has appointments, do we have dinner plans, when will either of you be gone or out of town, who is watching the kids, etc. My husband’s schedule is a bit more flexible than mine, so he can be late to work or leave early if I have a dentist appointment or something. We even designate gym nights and date nights. This ensures that we can meet our needs for physical activity and some time for ourselves. Date nights are once/week, but usually just involve me not working on school and having time focused on us.
- Plan self-care activities. For me, this is my workouts. I plan which days I am working out and what I will be doing in those workouts.
- Plan mornings (or evenings if you are a night owl): I get up around 5/530 each day. On mornings I leave the house for work for class, I focus on my side-biz. Writing posts, blogs, following up with customers, etc. I write down the post I need to make for that day and if anything else needs a second look. On days I am home, this is usually when I will get my workout done.
- Write down daily priorities: Write down my MUST GET DONE tasks for each day of the day. And then number them by priority. Being a student, I have discussion posts, exams, papers, etc. And, being a mom means I often lose track of when things are due and no longer get them done ahead of time, so I focus on school during F’s naps or after bedtime and get the most important things done FIRST. If I get to more school work, great. If not, I accomplished the necessities. I also use this area to write down if I need to bake cookies for a sale, make a doctor’s appointment, mail a birthday card, etc.
- Finally, I include a section for my blogging/writing business. I write down what post I want to make that day, topic of my blog for the week, etc. on each day. So, when I sit down for a 30-minute power-hour I know where to focus my efforts.
Organizing and staying on top of life is challenging. This system helps, but I certainly still feel like I am constantly playing catch-up and I try super hard not to give in to the anxiety it gives me. At the end of the day, it is all good. We are alive. We are healthy. And accomplishing tasks does not define my life. Doing the things I love, does. So find balance in the everyday and be patient with yourself. Nothing needs to be perfect.
One final tip: make reminders for all the things!
Some days, I have 5-6 reminders in my phone: call L, take your medication, give F his probiotics, turn in an assignment, take an exam, etc. Truth is, I rarely know what day it is and if something actually HAS A DEADLINE, this is how I ensure it gets done. And, I would 100% never take my medication everyday if I didn’t have a reminder set for 6 AM.
Happy planning this week!