This article was first published on The Coach Space
For working mothers, feeling accomplished and satisfied at the end of the day can be a challenge, to say the least.
It is easy for us to get stressed even thinking about all we have to do and achieve, and just as easy to believe that with more hours in our day, our problem would be solved.
But would we really be more productive and efficient with more time? Or could there actually be enough hours in the day to be a satisfied working mum? This is the question I continually asked myself.
The first thing I did was think about what satisfaction meant for me, and whether I was being too much of a perfectionist. Sometimes we set the benchmark too high and overcomplicate things as a result.
Eventually I worked out that there were just a few golden rules I could organise my day around, which would keep things simple and prevent me from feeling overwhelmed.
Right now, these are the five rules I use to help my day as a working mum go successfully.
My rule #1: Make each morning a family time
It is super important how we start the day because it really helps set the mood for the rest of it. With the focus on mornings as family time, we avoid things becoming a mad morning scramble.
I try to wake up before the kids do, but that doesn’t always work out if I’ve had a broken sleep the night before, and that’s fine. The point is for all of us to wake up gently without stress, and start the day with kisses, cuddles and fun. We get ready while playing and laughing.
We make sure we all sit down together for breakfast.
Our morning time as a family is sacred and non-negotiable. With this as my number one rule, I know I’m on the right track for a satisfying day.
My rule #2: Keep the daily schedule flexible
There are simply too many opportunities for a strict timetable to go wrong and cause stress. So I make sure there is a buffer zone between each stage of the day, from getting up and getting ready for work, to going to bed.
I also include contingency plans. For example, I always make sure I have no work meetings before 9.30am. This means if my husband can’t take the kids to creche, I can do it.
There will always be things out of your control. So better to factor that in from the start and save your sanity.
My rule #3 : Include small breaks for house stuff
I used to get mad if the house wasn’t spotless but I’m over that now. Even so, if household chores are not taken care of, even just the bare essentials, things will pile up and cause unnecessary stress.
So I add two or three small breaks of about 10 minutes in each day specifically for tidying, laundry or general house stuff.
By factoring in chores as ‘break time’, it gives me much needed time away from the computer. It helps me clear my head, rest my eyes and get some movement.
And combining computer breaks with house stuff means I have more time for myself and my husband once the kids are in bed.
My rule #4: Start preparing dinner before picking up the kids
I finish work by 5pm so it gives me 15 minutes to start preparing something for dinner. It may sound like a small thing but it makes all the difference because we want to eat all together – our daughter goes to bed around 7pm and our son by 8.
Bear in mind, food is almost a religion here in this family so I make it a priority. Our children are used to us both spending quite some time in the kitchen cooking. So I use that 15 minutes to get things going, and my husband can stop the oven or the pan while I am out collecting the kids.
Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to know how I organise the meals and what we eat.
My rule #5: Go to bed early
This is quite a recent rule for me. Going to bed at 9:30 pm may sound ridiculous, but I have realised how much I need to recuperate from broken nights’ sleep. When I am exhausted my week turns out to be a disaster, so this has become quite important!
Without a doubt, I am more focused, organised and efficient when I have enough sleep. Aren’t we all?
What are your 5 rules?
Of course, your rules can and probably will be different. The point is to focus on the things that matter the most and that make the biggest difference to your day being a successful one.
I really hope you will get some inspiration and ideas on how to organise your day with less stress and overwhelm. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.