I absolutely love being a mom.
It was my only real goal in life... I didn't care how much money I made, or how big my house was, or what kind of car I drove, but I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be a mom.
And that dream became a reality in 2001, then again in 2005, and then once again in 2009. And with these three adorable, squishy, delicious babies came lots of chaos.
I struggled like everyone else with schedules and commitments and self care, and by the third one I had a better sense of what I was doing.
Here are my best tips for moms seeking to create a balanced life for themselves. These have been the key ingredients for me and its what I recommend to my clients who are jumping into this delightful chaos.
1. Create a plan for each day. I couldn’t live without my paper planner- a spiral bound calendar that I use to record my appointments, work hours, activities and events for my children and spouse. I keep mine open every day in a central spot in my kitchen so my kids can look at it as well. Planners help you juggle your responsibilities, especially as your children get older.
Planners come in monthly, weekly, and daily layouts, and some even list the hours of the day, allowing you to block out a chunk of time visually.
Planners can be used for daily/ weekly schedules, managing your budget and expenses, fitness tracking, and managing work hours and goals.
Three planners that I love:
www.emilyley.com (Simplified Planners)
2. Create a cleaning schedule. It is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but working off of a schedule to keep the house clean avoids exhausting marathon cleaning sessions and keeps things easier to maintain.
My all-time favorite website for cleaning information is www.cleanmama.net. She has devised a schedule that breaks down tasks every day that should only take 30 mins or less and includes laundry. It is perfect for moms with young families who get easily overwhelmed and never feel like they are “caught up”. She also has a beautiful, helpful book that takes you step by step through the process: Simply Clean by Becky Rapinchuk.
3. Create a plan for dinner each night. Meal planning is the simple- yet challenging- task of planning ahead what you are making for dinner each night. You make a plan for a week or two and then grocery shop off of that list. No more running out for a missing ingredient or two or a last minute dash to a fast food drive-thru. It’s a good idea to make a list of your family’s favorite meals to help fill in your plan, but don’t forget to add some new recipes as well! Most meal planning guides include a pantry and freezer inventory guide, also.
The meal planner I use and love is available at www.shop.carrieelle.com. Another good option is also at www.cleanmama.net under the Shop category and then click on Printables- Meal Planning Kit.
4. Create a plan for your kid’s keepsakes. If you have children in school, you know the amount of papers and artwork and certificates and worksheets that come home each week. It’s a lot. While there are many options you can find online about how to store these important papers, my personal recommendation is a simple one: you as the mom curate a reasonable collection of papers that reflect who the child is at the time.
5. Create time for self-care. This is so important for creating a balanced life, yet in many ways is the hardest to create. The trick is to figure out what really refills you emotionally- exercise, connecting with friends, being outside for a nice walk, a night out with your spouse, going to the movies, or simply sitting in a quiet room reading a good book. This activity needs to be what you really enjoy, not what you THINK you SHOULD do. If you start using a planner, block out 2-3 activities a month that refill you. Even if you don’t get to do them- life happens! - at least it is on your mind. The bottom line is that with young children, you are not going to be able to meet your own emotional needs at this stage- but it helps if you try.
Remember: Less self-care DOES NOT equal being a better mom.
You need to fill your own bucket so you can fill your children’s buckets.
Balance is a struggle, and there are seasons in which this balance is easier to maintain than others. I have found that setting my own goals really helps me focus on what I want to achieve and accomplish and helps me connect to God when thinking about what His plan is for me. It helps me stay focused on my own progress, not others and helps to reduce the tendency to compare my life to others.
Hooray for balance! What do you do to keep a sense of balance in your life?