As a mum, an author, and entrepreneur, I often get asked how I find the time to manage everything. I wrote my debut novel, The Good Mother, while pregnant with my second son and looking after a toddler and I thought that was tiring. But looking after two young children and trying to find some quiet time (I wonder if that even exists with my two!), there are a few ways I try and make it all happen. I say ‘try’, because there are days (sometimes weeks!) where it feels like one long uphill battle (kids are sick, husband is travelling, deadlines are looming etc. etc.) But what separates the good days from the bad? For me, it’s tiredness or mindset and I’ve found the latter dictates the former. Here are just a few of the things I do to make sure the good days outweigh the bad.
1. Wake Up Before Your Kids
When my youngest started sleeping through the night, I decided on weekdays to set my alarm an hour* before they normally wake up. It gives me time to enjoy my coffee in peace, take a shower, and get dressed without the little people clamouring for attention. Yes, it’s painful getting up at 5:30 am but so worth it as I no longer need to run out of the house with wet hair and no make up.
*An hour is sometimes pushing it, but even 20 minutes earlier makes a difference!
2. Make The Most of Digital
No, I’m not talking about endless scrolling on social media, but the sheer number of e-commerce platforms that make life so much easier for busy mums. It seems that everything can be delivered to your home these days. In some cases, it might be pricier but when you think of the time and effort saved of lugging yourself, the pram and the kids, finding parking, not to mention the shopping, the packing, the unpacking, etc. it makes sense to make the most of the digital world we live in. Yes, you may feel a touch lazy but if it gives you some more time to yourself, why not? Plus you can revel in the possibility of never having to leave the house again!
3. Prioritise You
I read a quote the other day that said TREAT YOURSELF LIKE YOUR BEST CLIENT and it really resonated with me. How quick are we to make sure our clients are well looked after, often at the expense of our own goals? When I’m tempted to sacrifice self-care, I remind myself that if I don’t look after myself, how can I look after anybody else? So however you choose to recharge, whether it’s a gym session, a hobby, meeting up with friends or a massage, make it a regular priority. I even go as far as putting it in the diary to make sure it happens.
4. Double Up, Batch, and Multi-Task
I’m aware all the experts say we shouldn’t be multi-tasking but I’m not sure how else I would get it all done. While this approach shouldn’t apply to things that need a lot of concentration (such as writing a novel!), there are instances throughout the day where you can save some time. If I have to drive, I will often make phone calls (hands-free) or listen to a podcast. If I know I may have to wait for an appointment, I’ll take some work to do with me. If I’m cooking one meal, I’ll make extra for freezing. If I’m meeting a friend or client in one area of town, I’ll tag on another appointment in the same area while I’m there. If I’m in the mall and I see something for a friend but her birthday is not for a couple of months, I’ll buy it anyway and store it. Batching – basically grouping the same tasks together - is also a great way to be more efficient.
5. Keep It Simple
I have been trying to plan a family holiday for a while. This includes two young children, grandparents, and possibly a couple of uncles and aunts. While my original plan was to find a nice villa with a pool in the middle of nowhere, the logistics started to get very complicated. I would need to hire a car, find car seats, locate the nearest supermarket, and what if the boys fell in the pool? While a package holiday might not provide the most authentic traveller experience, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my laissez faire approach to holidays is over for the moment. I need something simple and if that means a nice hotel close to the airport, with a meet and greet, a kids club, and dinner, so be it.