Do you ever have one of those days when you wonder exactly what it was that you did all day? Your spouse comes home from work, asks how your day was, and you really have to stop and think about it... what DID you do? Where did the time go? Were you productive? How many tasks did you check off on your To Do list? Was it a good day, whatever that means?
If you have a 9-5 job, you may not have accomplished much some days, but you know where you were at least. You got paid for a day's work, productive or not. Stay at home parents or people who run their own businesses from home often have more trouble accounting for their time and, as a result, often wonder if they spent their time in the best way possible.
I want to be completely transparent and vulnerable with you right now and share just how my week went so far. I want to show you that it's ok if you only get one major thing accomplished each day. Our lives seem impossibly busy but you can find time for yourself if you get creative - I read after dinner a lot because the kids are playing independently and just sitting in the room near them is enough. Sharing responsibilities with your family also helps tremendously because you don't have to be supermom all the time and it's too hard to live up to that standard. Above all, it doesn't matter what other people think about how you spend your days. If your head hits the pillow at night and you are satisfied, then bravo for you!
I woke up before the kids and my husband and sat on the porch talking to my mom (she lives in NY) for our weekly Sunday call. We hung around all morning being lazy, then I headed to a networking event and my husband took the kids to a play place to go crazy. He called me that afternoon because he stopped to pick up his new glasses and the prescription was wrong, so could I please pick up the kids who were beyond bored at the eye doctor. I dropped off my work stuff at home, picked up the kids, my husband sorted out his glasses, and then stopped to do the weekly grocery shopping by himself on the way home. We played at the house, had dinner, and headed to bed.
Sunday recap: My husband's willingness to share the workload of the household chores makes it much easier on me and I am super grateful for him. My networking event on a family day was worth it because I booked a client. The eye doctor debacle was easily solved if we all worked together.
My little guy had his annual checkup at the doctor at 9:30am, so I woke up as usual and got the kids ready for school. Then I dropped off the older one and the little guy and I watched a movie in bed until his appointment, then I dropped him off at school. I spent 2 hours on the phone talking about financial and life insurance advice, ate lunch, answered emails until all of my inboxes from the weekend overload were empty again, and then picked the kids up from school. They played in the backyard while I read a book on the porch, we ate dinner, went to soccer practice, and headed to bed.
Monday recap: I barely got any work done but I had extra time to enjoy my kids so it was a successful day. I am finally making the time to update my financial affairs now that my youngest is 3 and it's a huge weight off my shoulders, so it was worth the time. Plus I am making time for myself by reading and relaxing more, and accomplishing projects I’ve put off for too long so I will have more time in the future as well.
It's the first of the month: my day to do major admin tasks on my business. I finished and sent out my newsletter, finished editing my monthly YouTube video and uploaded that, and recorded all of my mileage, social media stats, revenue stats, and budget info for the month. I printed my bank statements for the month for my accountant. I also ran the monthly cleaning cycle on my washing machine that is scheduled into my calendar for this day. After getting the kids from school, I cleaned up around the house a bit, we ate dinner, and then we all got ice cream out for a special treat as a family.
Tuesday recap: I got lots of admin stuff accomplished and reviewing my monthly goals made me feel proud of what I've done this year so far.
I attended a networking event in the morning, went by the post office to pick up a package and check my PO Box (chunking tasks is so important), and picked up 3 things from the grocery store. I stopped everything at 12:30 to get my oldest from school on early dismissal day, then played minecraft with him and responded to emails on my phone until it was time to pick up the little one. We went to the playground, played soccer, and blew bubbles until dinner. Then we headed to soccer practice and, not soon enough, bedtime.
Wednesday recap: I did as much business as I could in the 4 hours that I had, and then whole heartedly focused on my kids.
I had another networking event, followed by a trip to The Container Store since they are close to each other (chunking tasks again). I returned unused client items and bought a few different ones for another client. Then lunch, wrote my blog, more emails, and back to the kid's schools again. Dinner, bed, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Thursday recap: Another day that I maybe should have spent more time in front of the computer researching marketing, updating my website, posting on social media... but those days don't always satisfy me in the end and I'm pretty happy with my day so far getting out of the house. Spending time in front of the computer doing research is a "should do" but I don't like the word should. Who says I should? Society? Facebook? Working diligently on a project is one thing, but mindless hours of internet surfing… I'd rather see people, make connections, and feel like I did something with my limited hours.
I didn't work with any clients this week, but I purposefully didn't schedule any because of so many kid events I had going on so I scheduled clients for the following week instead. That doesn't mean that I should "feel bad" about my business this week, but instead enjoy the fact that I have flexibility to do what I want. I also read a lot of books after dinner for my business, went to networking events, and got to see my little guys a lot - balance is so important to me.
Daily automatic tasks I barely realize I'm doing (they've become so automatic at this point) that keep my life running more smoothly:
All beds are made before we leave the house for school.
All dishes are cleared before we leave the house for school.
Each night, I do a 5 minute straighten up to make sure there is nothing on the floors or kitchen counter or couch, I plug in all of our electronic devices to charge for the next day, and make school lunch for the older one.
Every night after dinner I clean the table and sweep the floor underneath immediately so I don't forget.
I do one load of laundry or more on most days. I also set the washer on a delay setting as I walk out of the house for meetings/errands, so it is almost done when I return.
I check all backpacks when we come home from school to see what needs to be signed/completed/etc. and have trained the kids to put their backpacks, shoes, jackets, and lunch boxes up themselves so I don't need to. I dump art projects, worksheets, and any other non-action items from school into a box to look at in June when school lets out, not now.
I immediately open the mail each day, recycle/shred the junk, and put the papers needing action in the same place on top of my Family Command Center to be dealt with the next day.
I try to empty all of my email inboxes each night except for the 2-3 emails that still need actions taken.
Why my schedule has gotten better over the years (even after having kids), not worse:
After being with my husband for 17 years (and 11 of those were without kids) we have developed a real flow to things that looks easy now, but took years to perfect. No perfect is the wrong word, because everytime a life event happens (a new house, a new job, a new kid) we have to reassess who does what task and we start new again.
My husband cooks dinner most nights and I set the table, get drinks, and maybe do a side dish. I am supremely lucky that he does this, but during one of our assessment talks he volunteered to take over dinner because I couldn't make it happen quickly enough and without stress most weeknights. You never know what someone is willing to do if you don't ask for help!
I have a great schedule because I can decide not to work on a day that the kids are sick or need me at a school function most of the time. This isn't the case for everyone but my husband and I decided that flexibility is more important than a huge paycheck in our kid's lives right now.
I do enough of the household chores during the day between work things that we can go to soccer or grocery shopping or hiking or whatever as a family most nights and weekends. We don't have to always go as a family but we can because we have free time and that makes me happy.
The morale of the story: No one has it all together, not even me, but I feel comfortable, not rushed or forgetful, because I have worked out a great schedule for me. Try sitting down with a blank weekly calendar and scheduling in FIRST the things you really want to do - spend time with your kids, work on a project, or do things for your business. Be realistic with your time, chunk your errands, make small daily tasks automatic, train your kids to help themselves, and don't spend your life trying to win at the "who is the busiest game." I want my kids to remember what we did for fun together, not that I spent my time rushing to get it all done. My schedule changes every single day and I love it, not loathe it. Don’t worry - you can love your schedule, too!