Real Life Time Management for Mommies

Have you seen or heard this quote from Nigerian drummer and music educator Babatunde Olatunji?

“Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” I first encountered this little nugget of truth years ago in a forwarded email. It was one of those unfortunate electronic chain letters in which you are warned at the end that you must spam 10 other people with the message or risk impending doom. I’m so glad I didn’t immediately delete it as soon as I saw the FW: and the hokey subject line. Despite the medium it arrived in, that quote has stayed with me and has helped me to appreciate living fully in each moment, and using my time effectively.

But as we all know, appreciating something does not necessarily mean you do it well. Indeed, some other things I appreciate: hitting three-pointers, making Top Chef-quality meals, salsa dancing. All things that I do not do well. I mean, I’ve got the basics down, but there is much room for improvement.

And so it is with time management – I know how to enjoy a moment, but many of my moments are not used well. I’m talking about multiple trips to the grocery store in one week and still forgetting something. Spending too many hours cleaning in one day because we’ve let the messes pile up. Looking for lost keys, clothes, minds, etc. All time that would have been more enjoyed in the company of my son, husband, or circle of family and friends.

It is not enough to resolute to get better at using time. Been there, done that.

This year, I need to develop some new skills and habits.

Time Management Tips for Moms

I asked Terri Sullivan, a Tulsa-based Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Personally Organized – a small business and home-organizing consulting business — to help me sort out a few practical, do-able ways for us to get things done around the house and have more time left over to spend with our families and ourselves. Here are a few of her tips on managing necessary home time-consumers (i.e. tasks).

How to get food on the table with time left over for dinner conversations:

“Have a schedule for easy meal planning – Sunday is meat/potatoes, Monday is soup/sandwich, Tuesday is Mexican food, Wednesday is ‘breakfast for dinner,’ Thursday is ‘anything with burger,’ Friday is always pizza!” Sullivan said.

“Store all sandwich fixings – meats, cheeses, spreads – in one plastic container in the refrigerator. Everything comes out of the fridge in one step, and can be returned in one step once sandwiches are made.”

How to get out of the house in the morning without getting on each others’ nerves:

Plan the night before. “Know what you and the children will be wearing,” Sullivan advised. “Children’s clothes can be organized in a day-of-the-week organizer.

“Get dressed and do make-up before getting children up. Use an oversized shirt or smock to cover your suit or clothes while you are preparing breakfast and getting children ready.”

How to clean up without throwing all of your belongings away in frustration:

“Clear as much clutter as you can before starting to clean. Cleaning professionals say that getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40 percent of the housework in an average home (National Soap and
Detergent Association).”

“Have a cleaning schedule – you don’t need to clean the whole house at one time,” Sullivan said. “Clean bathrooms on Monday, vacuum/dust on Tuesday, etc.”

How to find time for you so that you can have a better time with them:

“Schedule ‘me’ time on your calendar just like any other appointment. Do not schedule 100 percent of your day. Only schedule 80 percent. Learn to say no.”

The wise women in the Friendship and Motherhood group I attend at my church boiled it down to this, “Planning is essential for balance in family life.” I believe it.

We can do this, mommies! Carpe diem!

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