Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work, and these tips will help lighten the load.
Being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) is hard work. And it can feel like the work is never-ending.
You need to:
- Keep the house clean
- Do the laundry
- Do the dishes
- Help the kids with their homework
- …and more
These are all repetitive tasks, so not only is the work never-ending, it can become soul-destroying. (OK, I’m exaggerating a bit… but not by much!)
I’m not a SAHM, but I had to cope with a newborn during level 5 lockdown with no helpers. I think that’s the closest thing! We’ve also had to self-isolate for weeks on end due to exposure to the COVID virus. (That’s a story for another day!)
I’ve excelled in helping systems, processes, and people work more efficiently and productively in my corporate career. So I use those skills to my advantage to take control of the situation at home.
When you feel overwhelmed, and like the work is never-ending, your mental health can quickly take a turn for the worse.
But if you have a system in place, you know what to expect, and you know the work will get done at some point. So you don’t have this dark cloud of to-do’s hanging over your head.
Let me tell you more about the system I have implemented.
Time blocking is where you assign a certain amount of time to each task you need to do. The idea is that you limit yourself to a set time to complete a task — let’s say 2 hours — and if you’re not done when the 2 hours are up, you move on to the next job.
This method works because:
- By setting a deadline, you are tricking your brain into exclusively focusing on the task at hand. How often have you procrastinated on a job only to rush doing it at the last minute when the deadline is looming? Use this to your advantage.
- If the task takes longer than you anticipated, you know that you need to plan better next time. You should also ask yourself whether this task is worth the amount of time you’re spending on it. There are probably better ways you can spend your time.
- Time blocking moves you from one task to the next, so even if you didn’t complete the one task, you’re not stuck on it the entire day. You can get other things done.
So, start by planning your days of the week in time blocks.
For a SAHM, I suggest using big (ish) time blocks due to the nature of what needs doing. Like 1 to 2 hour intervals.
And schedule the big-ticket items like “cleaning” or “cooking”, not smaller to-do items, like “brush teeth” or “get dressed”.
6 to 8: Breakfast, getting kids ready for school, getting them to school
8 to 9: Hanging laundry to dry
9 to 11: Cleaning the house
11 to midday: Break/personal time
Midday to 14:00: Pick up kids from school, lunch
14:00 to 15:00: Helping kids with homework
15:00 to 16:00: Cook dinner
16:00 to 16:30: Tidy up (get the kids to help)
16:30 to 18:00: Family time/Personal time
18:00 to 19:00: Dinner
19:00 to 20:00: Dishes/Wipe kitchen counters/Sweep kitchen floor (get the kids to help)
20:00 to 20:30: Kids bath time and to bed
20:30 to 21:30: Time with hubby/TV time
You will need to adjust this to your schedule and needs. And every day of the week could look slightly different, depending on what needs doing.
You may want to schedule some time to do grocery shopping (although online shopping is the best and saves so much time). And your kids may have various after school activities that they need transport for.
But you can work it into the schedule. The important part is to plan ahead and not let your day happen to you.
Pick a day of the week to do your planning for the upcoming week — Sunday afternoon/evening works for me, but you can do whatever floats your boat.
Clean In Sections
It can feel like no matter how hard you try, your house is always a mess. But when you try to keep the entire house clean all of the time, you will drive yourself nuts.
Instead, divide your home into sections and clean each segment on a different day.
Let’s say you don’t want to clean the house over weekends, so you have five days a week to clean.
Divide your house into five sections according to room or function.
Wednesday: TV room
Thursday: Outside areas
Then, on each of those days during your assigned time block, clean only that section of the house. Do not be tempted to do more because that will not be sustainable.
By breaking up the work, you know that each part of the house will have its turn to be properly cleaned. And when something crops up last minute, and you can’t clean on a particular day, at least you know:
- The rest of the house will still get cleaned.
- That section was done last week, so it shouldn’t be too bad to skip one week.
- You will get to that section again next week.
If you’re anything like me, your kitchen gets the most amount of activity during the day. It’s not feasible — for us — to leave the kitchen only to be cleaned once a week.
So every day after dinner, I:
- Wipe down the kitchen counters.
- Sweep the floor.
- Do the dishes.
I love walking into a clean kitchen in the morning. It starts my day off on the right foot.
I put the laundry in the machine at night before going to bed. Then I put the device on a time delay start so that the machine finishes washing the laundry at a time convenient for me.
I try to hang items on hangers as much as possible — it keeps wrinkles at bay, plus I can just hang it directly in the closet from the line. This saves me a ton of time!
Disclaimer: I refuse to iron. So we buy clothes that don’t need ironing. (And if it does, that’s too bad. We ignore the wrinkles.) If you feel strongly about ironing, you should probably add a section for that to your time block planner.
Cook extra and either have the leftovers for lunch the next day or freeze the different portions to be eaten at a later stage.
It will also help to assign meal types to each day of the week. For example, Monday is Meatless Monday, but Tuesday is Chicken.
Doing this will narrow your choices and make it easier to decide what to cook.
A little bit of planning will go a long way to improving your productivity and keeping you sane.
You can do this, mama!