So you’re a mompreneur. I want to give you a big hug and say “Go you!” and “Bless your heart!” all in the same breath. After having three kiddos of my own, I am convinced that being a mom is one of the toughest (if not the toughest) jobs on earth. We work from dawn to well after dusk, and then we’re on call every waking and sleeping moment in between. Add to all that, trying to run a successful business, and you have a recipe for one highly stressed-out mama!
If you’re like me, you probably find the creative parts of your mompreneur day energizing; while the less creative (Read “so monotonous that I want to pull my hair out”) parts of your day less than so. Ever feel like if your family would just skip dinner three days a week you might actually be able to finish editing that session or work on your new product guide? Or has it been so long since you scrubbed the kids’ bathroom toilet that you can’t tell if someone forgot to flush or it’s just stained that color? (Yep, I’ve been there too!).
There’s a constant struggle to balance doing the necessary, repetitive tasks of daily mommy life with pursuing the creative ideas that are flooding your head and heart.
This has been my life too since getting back into photography after baby number three. After finishing the 2016 busy season exhausted and overwhelmed, I thought, “Something has to give!” Since my family still appreciates three meals a day and we can’t afford a full-time maid, I had to be creative with my solutions.
The following ideas are what has worked for me. They may not fit your situation, but I hope they will at least inspire you to brainstorm some time management strategies of your own so you will have more time to get out there and CREATE!
1. Put a load of clothes in the washer first thing in the morning.
Think about it. If you only ever got that one load finished a day, that’s 5 loads a week done! That load is usually done by the time I get to the kitchen to make breakfast, so I quickly move everything to the dryer or hanging rack, and boom! One load down!
2. Clean your bathrooms before the kids get up (or after they go to sleep).
I am a to- do list kind of mompreneur, and checking things off energizes me so anytime I can get something accomplished before my kiddos get up, I have set myself up to have a productive day. I had been frustrated for forever that the chores that used to take me no time at all before kids, would often seem to take me all day with kids. So I’ve learned to do as much before they get up as possible. Mondays for me are bathroom days. I get up 45 mins early, and scrub all 2.5 baths- after putting my load of laundry in of course. This sets me up to have a productive week, and clears time later in the day to read to my kids or get creative!
3. Use the small breaks in your day to be productive!
Even 5 minutes here and there put together over the course of your day can save you an hour later! We homeschool, and I have learned that my 1st grader is much more attentive during his lessons if I give him a 5-7 minute break between subjects. I used to piddle around on Instagram or email while he was away taking his break, but last fall when I was so overwhelmed with housework and sessions due back to clients, I decided to instead see how much of a load of laundry I could fold in that 5 minutes. (Yes, laundry is the bain of my existence.) Guess what? I folded the whole load! Remember that morning load of laundry? It went from dirty to clean and put away by 9:30AM! Yippee!! If I don’t have laundry to fold, I’ll find another task that can be easily started and stopped like cutting up onions for dinner (more on that later), straightening up my bathroom counters or ironing a shirt. After he’s finished school around 11/11:30, I feel so productive. And the best part? When I sit down to enjoy my two hours of creative time while the kids are resting after lunch, all those little routine must-do’s won’t be screaming at me to give them attention! Maybe you don’t homeschool, but I bet you have little 5-10 minute snippets of time in your day that you could put to good use too.
4. Create a weekly mean plan and then prep for dinner at lunchtime!
This tip is so great because it not only saves me time, it saves me frustration and stress! Does this sound familiar, you spend all morning cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, (in my case teaching lessons), and by the time naptime gets here, you are dying to get to creative! Then you sit down and before you know it it’s 5:30 (like it is as I type this!), and you should have started dinner and hour ago! Yikes! What I’ve started doing to avoid this scenario is 1) creating a weekly meal plan so I know what we are having for dinner and 2) I prep as much as possible either while I am preparing lunch or during lunch cleanup. I don’t use a monthly meal plan where I’ve planned out every night 30 days in advance. That bores me. What I did is create four weeks of meal plans, and at the beginning of each week, I decide which week I want to use. Then I shop for it, and each morning, I decide which of the 6 or 7 meals that I shopped for I’m going to prepare that night. Then at lunchtime, I cut onions and bell peppers. I mince garlic. I boil chicken. I mix the spices I’m going to need for the taco seasoning. When 5:30 gets here, it’s still game on! I can pull dinner together on time while basking in the satisfaction of another creative idea accomplished!
5. Limit your time on your phone, social media and email during non-work hours.
I’m not the first one to suggest this, but this one was huge for me. I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting on social media and email until I started disciplining myself to hold off until rest time, a.k.a. office hours, to engage in them. I realized at some point last year that when I would check my email in the morning (knowing full well that I didn’t have time to sit down before school time to email a client back), I would stay flustered all morning drafting and redrafting a reply in my head. So, I implemented a new rule for myself. I could not check work email until after lunch. It did me no good to stay wound-up and distracted while I was supposed to be spending time with my sweet ones. I also realized that I was wasting way too much time each day on Instagram. So, I implemented the same rule as for my email. Voila, there’s that hidden time to fold the laundry, clean one toilet or finish up the dishes! Do I always follow through 100%? No, but the days that I do are usually more productive, and I am a much nicer mommy and much happier mompreneur.
And a bonus 6th tip because I just couldn’t narrow it down to five…
6. Get your kids involved in cleaning!
Let me tell you about my favorite brain child- the clean-up game. Get each child two identical bins or baskets (different color sets for each kid)- one to put in front of his/her room and the other to carry with them around the common areas, and get one to go in front of your room as well. (Mine is a pretty woven basket!) Periodically throughout our week, I will call out, “okay, time for the clean-up game” and the kids know to go get out their buckets. They all run around picking up anything they see on the floor in the common area and put it in their bucket. When we are done (or sooner if their bucket gets too full), they go around and deposit each person’s belongings, including their own, in the respective buckets by that person’s door. When we finish the game, each child delivers any toys that belong in the playroom upstairs, and after that they are only responsible to put away the items in the bucket by their door. (So there’s no, “I don’t know where HER dolls go” excuses.) Now, we are ready for our robotic vacuum- affectionately named “Alice”- to work her magic! (She is another lifesaver!)
Maybe the clean-up game isn’t up your alley, but I encourage you to find some way for your kids to contribute to keeping your home running smoothly.
I hope some of these ideas will be helpful for you, but regardless, the most important recommendation that I can make to you, my fellow mompreneurs, is to GIVE YOURSELF GRACE daily.
You are not going to get everything done perfectly every day. There will be some weeks that the bathrooms don’t get cleaned or the kitchen floor never gets mopped. There will be days that you can’t reply immediately to a bride or you don’t get your blog post up on time because you are snuggling a feverish toddler. Embrace those moments too. They are real life. After all, we can be great housekeepers and successful creatives after our kiddos are grown and gone, but we will never get those sweet snuggles and butterfly kisses back. These are the moments that memories are made of.
Be fully present in them, and snuggle those sweet ones a bit longer!