I, like many of you, am a mother who works full-time in the office. I can’t do it all – childcare, housework, grocery shopping, leisure, hobbies, work, fill the car with gas, etc.. This does relate to my post some time ago about Mental Load – not only the physical things we do each day, but the management of all those things that NEED to be done.
pretend I’ll finish list
This isn’t a post about prioritizing, motivation, or productivity. It is about realistic expectations and finding creative ways, and time, to cross “to-dos” off your list. But if you want motivation…. here it is: As long as your family is happy (enough), clean(ish), clothed (negotiable), safe, and fed you are doing great. Want to prioritize? Figure out who you want to be and what truly is most important. Thinking you could be more productive? You are only one person and can only do so much in a day – focus on those priorities and get them DONE. And don’t just touch a bunch of things without taking the time to make headway with them because that’s not productivity. That only leads to stress from never getting anything done.
As far as those “to-dos,” here are some things I will suggest:
This may seem like a given, but if your child goes to daycare, I recommend you take advantage of it on days off (as long as it’s not a holiday and they are closed…. your child(ren) may be sad to be left on the front steps of a locked building). Just imagine a whole, beautiful day, all to yourself! And during those precious moments you would otherwise have been working do all the FUN things you feel you have been depriving yourself of. NO CHORES. The dishes can wait, but your outlet, sanity, and mental health cannot. Getting rest and letting your creative juices flow (ew) will help you recharge and be able to tackle those other things later.
Is your partner or significant other getting in your way or on your nerves? Send them to daycare, too.
offers of help
SAY “YES!” When family offers to help in any way just say yes. They are offering because they care and want to help. And if that’s not the case… that sucks and they should not have offered. Mind you, I often don’t accept help and I certainly rarely ask for it. But when I do, I never regret it.
This can be helpful for the same reasons as daycare is (so, go ahead and re-read that and pretend it’s written down here). But it can also be helpful because someone else can take a few of your action items. I once asked my mom to bring a package to the Post Office. She already had to stop there so it wasn’t a huge deal for her, but it was a huge deal for me because it meant one less drive, one less errand, and one less time I have to juggle my toddler and a package hoping neither roll into the street. This may seem like a joke, but toddlers are fast and anxiety is real.
Accepting help could also mean stuffed shells and not having to make dinner, too. I call that a total win.
I am privileged enough to be able to afford to have someone clean my house for me. And this is just such a wonderful thing for both my time and my marriage. When my husband and I were both home, cleaning was a way I clearly marked the end of my work day and started my evening; however, once I was forced back into the office, it became impossible for me to do any cleaning between the end of my work day and going to pick my daughter up from daycare. And when I got home, I had my wonderful toddler taking up my time, attention, sleep, and soul (JUST kidding, she’s wonderful and amazing).
Maybe bringing your clothes to a wash and fold laundromat could be helpful? Even if it’s just one or two weeks a month you delegate this task to strangers and do it yourself otherwise. Or maybe you have enough underwear to go two weeks without doing laundry – I’ve certainly stretched that far and more while in college. A neighborhood kid could possibly use a few dollars for comics and would be willing to mow the lawn for you? The lines might not be straight, but the task is no longer on your list!
I would even suggest some chores can be delegated to the ghosts in your house from time-to-time. For example, do you really need to scrub the floors every week? Maybe the tub can stand a few more days of soap scum (sounds really gross to write that out…. so I could be wrong about that one).
I was inspired to write this portion of my post by an episode of Best of Both Worlds with Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger. A great point they made is to think about what your time is worth. Maybe you can’t actually buy time, but maybe you actually sort of can by having someone else do some of your tasks. Obviously you can’t delegate all of your tasks away because eventually you are only working to pay others – but some of those tasks you don’t like, take up a ton of time, or you simply know someone could do better and more efficiently could certainly go to someone else. And, if it’s in your budget, why not? I wish I could point you directly to the episode, but I have only recently discovered this podcast so I’ve listened to so many recently.
My husband and I have clearly outlined chores. I am responsible for a set number of chores and so is he (I gave him picking up the dog poop… hehe). What this means is I don’t have to put some things on my list (thus reducing my mental load), and we don’t have to spend time passive aggressively wondering when the other is going to put all the dishes away. We just have to find other things to be childish about, like who is going to change a diaper.
Also, who else lives in your house rent free and can pick up some of these tasks? My 2-year-old likes to dust and vacuum with the swiffer….
What about the cooking and meal planning? I use Freshly now, but I have tried nearly all of the other meal boxes. What is special about Freshly is the meals are already fully cooked! You just need to stick it in the microwave for a few minutes and it’s time to eat. I was oh so happy with how good the meals have been – it is sorcery how the chicken and steak isn’t all dried out after what it undoubtedly has been through.
My husband and I, prior to having a baby, did enjoy the meal boxes as a project to do together – I prepped and he cooked and plated. Now neither one of us really wants to do either part and we definitely do not want to do the whole of the parts. For us, meal kits are out. I, most days, would prefer to eat cereal and feed the little one yogurt with fruit. But maybe those children who don’t pay rent can reach the stove….
Here are some Meal Kits I am aware of in case this is a totally new thing for you:
- Freshly (Referral code for $90.00)
- Blue Apron
- Purple Carrot (Vegan)
- Home Chef
- Hello Fresh
Be aware that ALL of these kits have first time offers. So be sure to use one to save money.
take a bath
I am a firm believer we need to take breaks to avoid burnout and excessive stress. So… take that bath and relax. I promise you your family will survive. At least for an hour or so anyway.
Note: A long, hot shower is a perfectly good substitute for a bath.
grocery delivery (and pick-up)
When I first thought of this post, I was sure I was going to say Instacart. But I have since learned stores are able to set their own, apparently random, prices and those prices can be upwards of a 30% mark-up. I find this to be unethical because this information is hidden within a tiny link and it is not very clear at that. I find it hard to believe the stores are being charged that large a fee for using the service because Instacart is already charging the customer a fee! I value my time, but I do not value it at a 30% mark-up; especially since these stores are clearly taking advantage of the pandemic and of single parents, the elderly, and those who are ill and are trying to keep others and/or themselves safe. I wrote them specific feedback and have yet to hear back.
Until I found out about the shady dealings of Instacart, I truly believed having groceries delivered to me was a wonderful time and energy saver. So I feel obligated to include this in here.
Instacart isn’t the only way to have groceries delivered to you.
- Amazon has a lot of pantry items you can purchase.
- Target will same-day delivery with Shipt, and they also do pick-up.
- Most grocery stores (well, all of them near me) will do pick-up.
- Walmart will do same-day delivery… I won’t shop there, but many people do.
- DoorDash has an option to get groceries delivered to you as well. (Referral code for $10 off first three orders over $15.)
I can’t tell you which ones do to don’t mark up prices, but they could be good options when you are looking to save yourself some time and energy in order to do other things.
hobbies, fun, and exercise
In addition to the bath, spend time doing some things you enjoy – reading, writing, yoga, bird watching, baking, lifting heavy things, going to open houses, making the rounds at BJs to eat food samples, etc.. Let’s not spend all of our time cleaning the house, paying bills, and washing socks. Remember, the ghosts need things to do, too, let them help. Happiness is an overlooked yet important aspect of productivity. We, as humans, are more productive when we feel well-rounded and, yes, happy! Don’t you tolerate the boring stuff better when you also get to do fun stuff?
I could keep writing for forever since I have a lot of opinions and thoughts about a lot of things. But here is where I will stop for now.
Peace & Cookies!
Sometimes I send out emails – advising of new blog posts, attaching free printables, or containing tidbits and tips! If that is interesting to you, sign up for my email list! Can’t promise consistency, but I can promise not to be overwhelming!
By subscribing, you agree to share your email address with meganbplansitall and Mailchimp to receive marketing, updates, and other emails from meganbplansitall. Use the unsubscribe link in those emails to opt-out at any time.