| Image courtesy of Stuart Miles |
You see, I've been doing this stay at home mom gig for about a month now. But before that, I worked in the corporate world (and the nonprofit world) where the entire day was ruled by my schedule and my "to do" list. But when you are a stay at home mom, what is on your "to do" list? What are the priorities? And how do you balance the "need to do" with the "want to do" in a way that makes everyone happy? I don't have all the answers, but I do have some ideas on how to make it all work for me. Maybe some of them will resonate with other moms, too.
A Master List
I do so much better with a list of items to cross off. If I do a list for each day and something throws me off, it's a problem. I won't get to everything on the list because Nathan will poop on the floor or Nicholas will need lots of extra attention that day. Or one of the dogs will vomit in my shoes. Making a master list of things I want to get done eventually helps keep me on track but doesn't put me under too much pressure. If your house is anything like mine, you probably have dozens of projects you want to do. Organization, rearranging, deep cleaning, crafty stuff - anything beyond the routine of cleaning the kitchen, sweeping/mopping the floors, straightening rooms, cleaning bathrooms, and doing laundry - these are all on the master list. I try to cross at least 1-3 of these projects off my list per week. But guess what - more projects are added every week. Just like at the office, the list is never-ending. But it feels so nice to cross things off. Side note - a few days ago, Nathan spilled milk on my master list. I rewrote the entire thing, including the crossed-off completed projects, just so I could cross them off again!
A Loose Schedule
With a toddler, a schedule is pretty much required. We try to follow a loose schedule every day that includes play time, TV time, craft time, learning time, meal/snack times, and nap time. Just as important as having a schedule is being flexible with the schedule, however. If something derails, I have to remind myself that we are not missing a client meeting or losing out on a million dollar contract. If we miss the MOPS meeting this week because Nathan had a fever the night before, it's totally okay. This schedule includes leaving the house as much as we can. It keeps us sane.
Yep, one of the best skills for the corporate world works in the mommy world too. My best tip is cleaning up while cooking. My mom would always do this and it saves so much time.
Make It Fun
If you have a toddler, get him or her in on the action! We are working on this right now. If you make it fun, they are more likely to help. Sing a song or do a dance while picking up toys. Alternate the task, "I put a toy into the box and you put a toy into the box." Anything you can do to make it fun for your child will work.
Spend Time Playing
I'm still working on this. I've been working so hard to make sure my staying at home is "worth it" to my husband (by making sure the house is clean and the clothes are washed and dinner is on the table) that I haven't been making it "worth it" for the kids. Or for me. I've realized the main reason I'm staying at home is to be with the kids, so I need to BE with them. The priority should always be them.
Every single article or blog post about balancing life and work recommends "me time." Why? Because it is the way we recharge. Right now, we alternate bedtime so that one of us takes the toddler and the other takes the baby one night, then we switch the next. If I have the baby, I can watch something on TV while feeding him and getting him to sleep. After they are both asleep, I can have some "us time" with my husband or we can both have time for ourselves. He likes to paint miniature gaming figures. I like to crochet. We sit in the same room with something on TV as background and pursue our hobbies. Or we watch a movie. Or we go to bed early and talk. Or have "adult time," as I like to call it. ;) Whatever we choose to do after the kids go to bed, it is always something for US. It is so important.
What are some of your tips for doing things on your "to do" list when you are at home with the kids?