housewife“Wow – I don’t know how you do it all, you must really have it together.” I’ve heard some version of this phrase quite a few times since becoming head of the school PTA in January. Oh fellow moms, thank you, thank you for thinking that I’ve got it all together. I’ve got you all fooled, don’t I? I’ve got a lot of balls in the air and I think for the most part I’m avoiding dropping them – at least the important ones – but I’m certainly not scoring any baskets or making any touch downs.

Truth be told, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. And I’ve been throwing myself a pity party for one. Sometimes it feels very unfair that I have to work full time, manage the household, volunteer for all this stuff and yet still feel like it’s a stretch to pay the bills. Keeping score, even with other moms instead of my husband, is just the first step on a slippery slope.

I take on a lot of things outside of work and family, but they are things I feel strongly about like getting involved at school and I want to continue to give my time there when I can. If only I had more time. There are only so many hours in the day right? You can’t make more time can you? Maybe we can! Aside from the fact that I might never see her again, I really loved Kate’s blog post last week about giving up her online presence. So much of it resonated with me. After I tuck my children in twenty times, I’m spending every evening on the couch with my smart phone instead of my husband. My inbox is my daily to-do list. I’m spending more time reading about strangers’ lives than engaging in my own.

So I thought – what can I trim to make more time for the things that really matter? My first thought was – the blogging has to go. I tend to make up my mind to act quickly, without giving myself the chance to second guess myself. But at the urging of my husband, I stepped back a little and thought about how much I like the blogging and what a sense of accomplishment it brings me. There are other little things I can do and am already doing to get it all together and keep it all together (ha!). So rather than focus on all the things I need to do or should be doing, I’m trying to focus on the things I am doing well to make my life more manageable and see if I can snap myself out of this little funk.

  • Nighttime prep. Even though I am a morning person, I do as much as I can the night before. I do a silly amount of things ahead of time – pack the lunches, pick out the clothes for the next day, put out all morning medicine, vitamins, put breakfast in bowls in fridge, including OJ in cups, prep the morning smoothie, get the coffee pot ready, put the bags by front door (or in car if possible).
  • Meal planning. I’ve been neglecting this lately and I can feel the stress it’s putting on me. When I know what we’re eating all week, including leftovers and lunches, and I can make only one trip the grocery story, life feels better. Prep all food for the week on Sundays. Peel all the hard boiled eggs and package up any portions of lunches that can be made ahead of time so you can grab easily each night.
  • Grocery pickup. Or even better, order groceries online and pickup at the curb – less than a $5 cost and it keeps you from splurging on impulse buys. Remember what your time is worth.
  • Amazon Prime Membership. It shames me to do so, but I do the opposite of buying local. I have someone in Indiana ship me a tube of toothpaste in a box that could hold a refrigerator. I also use this service to buy birthday party gifts and sometimes stock up so I always have one available. We use this for TV (along with a Roku) and I’ve recently decided to use it to backup all my photos in the cloud.
  • Working from home at least one day a week. If you think this might be an option, consider asking. Someone has to pioneer this at your company – why not you? If you’re able to avoid taking/picking up the kids that day, you’ll be on way more time than if you spent time commuting in traffic. You wouldn’t believe how good for the soul it is to be home alone for one day a week.
  • Get your kids to be more self sufficient. Really, stop helping your toddler get dressed if they aren’t asking for it. Spend a week allowing them to put their own clothes on backwards and inside out at a snail’s pace and sooner or later they’ll get it down. Right now both my kids are in phases where they get themselves dressed and it’s a wonderful thing. I hope it lasts. You can also ask them to do morning chores like put the waffles in the toaster or feed the dog. Kids really do love helping and there are plenty of small things that could come off of your plate and onto theirs.
  • Get rid of the unnecessary. Go through your deleted email box. If you’ve deleted an email from Shutterfly every other day, unsubscribe. You can always find that coupon on retailmenot  when it’s time to order something. Take a look at your to-do list. If there’s stuff that’s been on there forever and you’re living just fine without doing it, consider eliminating altogether. Do you have a million Facebook notifications? Unfollow all of those groups you belong to or consider leaving them altogether. You’ll find this will actually eliminate a lot of negative energy in your life.
  • Do light cleaning often and deep cleaning never. Keep antibacterial wipes on the back of the toilet and wipe down the bathroom every night while the kids play in the tub. Clean counter tops every night after making lunches for the next day. Consider hiring someone to do the deep cleaning once a month? I’m too cheap and prefer organized over clean, so I’ve yet to do this myself. Have kids get into the habit of picking up the house before bed. Try to have all of the dishes done before retiring to bed. Who wants to start the day with leftover stuff to do from the night before?

Maybe some of my shortcuts and tips are things you hadn’t thought of before. Maybe you have some great tips that other moms (myself included) could use. Please please share them in the comments.

And to those moms who think I have it all together, thank you thank you – I struggle a lot too, but I surely appreciate you thinking I make it look easy. I think you do too, mama!