I am a mum of two boys and I work full time and I’m as busy as f*ck!
My hat goes off to single mums who have to do everything on their own, because I have loads of help from my husband, and I still struggle to get everything done in a timely manner.
BUT…I changed the way I worked my week last year and this new routine (because that is what it is) – has literally changed my life.
My house is now relatively clean, I’m relatively sane, and I actually have time during the week to do a couple of things just for me — which is so important for mums. We do so much for others, we forget about ourselves… and our partners. And when you don’t look after your brain, that’s when anxiety comes in. You need quality time with your partner too to nurture that relationship, on top of your relationship with the kids.
So I’ll share what I did. And maybe it will help you too!
1. No screens until the house is clean and homework is done.
My boys live for their computers. So I use this to my advantage because they would sell their souls to be on the computer all the time. Now I’ve bought in a rule that they are only allowed to use their screens once all homework is done – and the house is clean. Now by a ‘clean house’, I mean I don’t expect them to mop and dust, but I do expect them to go around the house and pick up any dishes, pick up everything on the floors in their rooms and in the lounge room, take the washing off the line and make sure the toilet has toilet paper.
And if they don’t do those jobs properly before going on their computers, they get a day’s screen ban.
I also use this on the busy school mornings. If they can get themselves dressed for school, deodorant on, hair and teeth brushed and have their school bags packed, they can use their computers until we leave for school.
2. Sunday afternoon is ‘weekly prep time’.
Sunday afternoon is truly the secret of giving me my life back. Sunday’s prep day starts at lunchtime. I write a list of all the school lunch items I’ll need and other groceries for the week (I only go shopping on a Sunday afternoon – never during the week!). Once I’m home from food shopping, this is when I do all the school lunches (I freeze them for the whole week), do any baking for school lunches (anything left over in the fridge that needs to be used up gets turned into muffins for school lunches and frozen). I ensure there is enough cereal for the week – all put away and labeled.
Any school uniforms are washed, dried, ironed (I’m anal about ironing – you don’t have to be), and put away ready for the whole week.
Plus I’ll pre-cook a few meals for the week. Bulk spaghetti mince is usually my go-to meal as it can be turned into so many dishes (we have it with pasta, on baked potatoes with steamed vegetables). So my freezer always has a couple of meals for the nights I don’t want to or don’t feel like cooking.
3. The fridge is used as a whiteboard to list what’s on this week.
Some people have photos or lists on their fridge. Mine, I’ve turned it into a whiteboard (except it is silver). Using a whiteboard marker, I write down all the activities in date order for the week. Any kids’ extra-curricular activities, any appointments I or hubby might have, any time we need to leave the house, pay a bill or remember a birthday, it goes up on the fridge for the week.
I need visual reminders for everything or I’ll just forget. So having it right there on the fridge is perfect because it is one of my favourite places to be in front of lol!
I also have a calendar with everything else in my office, and I just transfer the week to the front of the fridge as I go!
4. My fitness regime and my hobby mixed into one.
A year ago, I stopped going to the gym. It was way too expensive anyway – and really, apart from being fitter and poorer, I didn’t really have much to show for it. But I love to garden. And my gardens were looking terrible because I simply had no time to spend tending to them. So I turned my workout into my love – gardening. I’ll mulch for 90 minutes – that certainly gets a huge sweat on. I’m lifting weights, pushing rakes, shovelling etc. At the end of 90 minutes, my shirt is saturated in sweat, my muscles pleasantly ache, my garden looks great right away – and I’ve mixed my workout and my hobby in one.
There is just one stipulation – I have to work hard enough in the garden to consider it a workout.
I’ll dig holes, carry dead branches to the pile. use the push mower instead of the ride on — all these things are great exercise! And seeing I get to do this every afternoon, I’m making my brain happy to see how neat and tidy it looks.
5. Mixing down time with family time.
My boys love going swimming, and we don’t have a pool (maybe one day!). My hubby and I take turns taking the boys to the local public pool at least once a week after school. One of us usually will swim with the boys, the other one will either be cooking dinner at home, or having some time to themselves.
I took the boys swimming yesterday afternoon and took my novel with me. I camped right next to the kids’ pool, lay on the towel, and read my book whilst keeping an eye on the boys. Every time the boys yelled, ‘Look at me, Mum!’, it was easy to look up from my book and give them a thumbs up of encouragement. But I do try and get in with them as often as I can, having fun with the boys, exercising, getting out of the house – win/win/win!
At night, we all watch tv together whilst hubby is folding washing and I’m ironing…. Killing two birds with one stone.