Do you ever feel like there’s a million things vying for your attention as a modern-day mom? Whether you’re a full-time Stay-at-Home mom, the increasingly-popular Work-at-Home mom, or a hard-working Momma outside of the home, there are a LOT of demands on moms of our generation. Between maintaining a home, posting enough photos on social media to keep the in-laws happy, giving your family healthy, organic, paleo/vegan/gluten-free/Whole-30/whatever meals, maintaining the right screen time/activity balance, and of course the daunting responsibilities of raising decent, responsible, well-adjusted humans– all while your mom frenemy Shirley is on Facebook sharing how proud she is of her 5-year-old finishing his thesis and her 2-year-old’s fluency in Portuguese—it’s a recipe for a guilt-ridden 3-ring circus without the ringmaster.
From conversations with pretty much every mom I know, I’m pretty certain I’m not the only one that feels like life is pulling her in 20 different directions simultaneously. That’s why I’m starting this new series on Delightfully Frazzled: Kicking Overwhelm to the Curb. Because whichever stage of motherhood you’re in, whatever your specific life responsibilities may be, I’m betting overwhelm is a regular (if not daily) emotion for you. It sure is for me.
This week, I’m sharing some great methods to help you with prioritizing your to-do list (with a fabulous freebie, if I do say so myself). Next week, we’ll go in-depth into the best tips I’ve learned for managing time as a work-at-home mom. Later on we’ll touch on self-care in the midst of busyness, tricks for housekeeping like a boss, and how to eliminate excess—both around our homes and on our never-ending to-do lists. Oh—and get ready for some fabulous worksheets, printables, and other freebies coming your way!
So read up, stay tuned, and get ready to show that overwhelm who’s the BOSS around here. (That’s YOU, btw.)
The first step in taking back our time as moms is figuring out where our priorities lie. So often I think we try to do everything. At the same time. All the time. And you know what? That’s not necessary, Momma! If you haven’t heard that before, let me be the first to tell you. Doing everything all the time isn’t necessary. Give yourself a break, you Beautiful Human.
I’m not telling you it’s okay to sit around on Twitter all day and pig out on avocado toast while ignoring everything in your life. Obviously. However, learning where we can delegate, where we can let go, and where we don’t want to skimp can help us take care of both our families and ourselves better.
Now I can’t sit here and tell you which tasks in you should be prioritizing and which you can let go. I could tell you what mine are, but every family (and every mom!) is different. Instead, I can offer you some helpful tools to figure out for yourself exactly where your energy should lie!
I’ve developed several different little worksheets and diagrams that can help you get your tasks (and your head) a little more organized. Because everyone learns and thinks differently, I’ve included 5 different pages of worksheets that you can print out and fill out to your little heart’s content. Here’s a brief explanation of each– or you can skip the reading and just download the whole Guide right here.
For me, simply writing everything down can be a huge help in organizing my tasks and mind. I jot down all the things swirling in my mind so I can stare them down. Then, I like to categorize the tasks from my brain dump by Family, Housework, Friends, Blog, Etsy Shop, Self-care, etc. (We’ll be talking about self-care in a few weeks. For now, just know that taking time to care for yourself is just as important–if not MORE important!– in the midst of a busy life. In the meantime, check out these easy and fun ideas for a little at-home pampering! You deserve it, Beautiful Human.)
This simple little system can help you evaluate where to spend your time. Just answer two simple questions about each task: how important is it, and how urgent is it? Those two answers can help you decide what needs to be done first, what you can do later, what you can delegate, and what tasks you may not need to do at all!
I use this little exercise as a guide to structuring my tasks. In a perfect world, we could all give 100% to every single person and every single relationship in our lives. Until this world achieves perfection, however, we have to choose what we value most and what we need to say “no” to sometimes. For me, the Inner Circle is my faith, my husband and my boys. The medium circle is other family, close friends, and church friends. The outer circle is everyone else. (You can also use this exercise for business tasks/relationships, clients, or pretty much everything else!)
Some people don’t like thinking like this because it seems harsh to the people in the outer circles. I wrestled with that after my first child was born. I still wanted to be there for all of my friends and relationships in the ways I was before– but I just couldn’t do it. Something had to give, and I had to invest less in some of my relationships in order to properly care for my family. That doesn’t mean I don’t value those people, or that I never get to spend time with them! It just means that when faced with a choice between an acquaintance and my family, I’m going to choose my family every time.
Having your “circles” defined can help you determine which tasks you should be spending your energy on. It also gives you the freedom to say “no!” (We’ll talk about the power of “no” later on, too!) Keeping this visual in mind when making decisions about your time can make those decisions a whole lot easier.
(Silly diagram name is silly. But you get the idea!) This is a simple Venn Diagram to help you think about who (or what) benefits from each of your tasks. For example, I could label the three circles as Family, Home, and Business. Then each task goes into a circle (or an overlapping portion). I place Meal Prep within Family. Working on new designs for my Etsy shop would go in the overlap between Business and Family (since more designs = more sales = more money and less stress on my husband). Laundry would go in between Family (since we need clean clothes) and Home (since it seems like my house is perpetually coated in a layer of dirty laundry).
Self-care would go in that very middle section where all three circles overlap, because cared-for mom = happier home, more focused work, and less-stressed family! (Self-care is SUPER important. Are you getting that yet?!)
This process of thinking can help you find balance in your distribution of energy. For me, this also helps serve as motivation! Instead of rolling my eyes at the Mount Everest of laundry, I can focus on the outcomes. (Well, okay. I’ll still probably roll my eyes or at least sigh heavily. Nobody’s perfect.)
So– to recap. Prioritizing is important. It can help you decide where your time and energy is best-spent, thus eliminating some of the overwhelm in your life. Sound good? Sounds good. If you like those processes I described above, click on that nifty little photo above for a snazzy printable guide to them all!
Once you’ve got your priorities in order, come back next week for the next post in Kicking Overwhelm to the Curb! I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks for getting things done around the house while also raising two little ones. I’m pretty stoked about it!