Life

My top 5 strategies to ease a busy life…with kids

If you read my post ‘A day in the chaotic life’, you’ll know that my days, particularly this month have been anything but straight forward. I have two young children…

But I do get things done, below are my strategies for this:

  1. Prioritise

This can relate to a few areas. For example, housework. I have plenty to do. I can’t do it all in a day so I will prioritise the jobs that can’t wait (dishes, laundry, animal related jobs, hoovering (vacuuming)). As long as I can make the house tidy and clean enough, I’m happy. It means I spend less time cleaning and more time with the kids.

When it comes to my shop and marketing, I will pencil in a few goals at the start of the week. So this week for example:

  • Prepare, package and post orders 
  • Print and cut X amount of Mrs Brimbles main stickers 
  • Continue design work on Mrs Brimbles sticker sub work (to be completed next week)
  • Post 2-3 times on Instagram and Facebook. 
  • Write 1-2 Blogs
  • If time, film a video (what I did with my August Brimbles box)

Believe me, I could make this list so much bigger but I have to be realistic. With the way my life has been this month I could easily burn out. In fact I’ve actually done quite well, all that is outstanding is the filming. I can honestly say I am more relaxed for sticking to the list and plans. I find it very easy to over think things. If I don’t have a list my brain will fill with so many tasks. It’s suffocating. This method of prioritising key areas for the week keeps me on track and gives me a sense of achievement. 

      2. Daily Routine and Structure

I have had many days when I look at the clock and wonder how on earth it’s already late afternoon. It’s a rubbish feeling when you are busy. These are the days when I without a doubt, have had no routine or structure.

There are days, especially when it’s full on with the children, that I need routine. These days will have a pattern much like the one I talked about in my ADITCL post. Giving myself a routine allows me to get a feel for how the day will pan out. Of course it doesn’t always go to plan but as long as there’s a skeleton routine I can work around it.
The children can if anything, cause a lot of confusion. You can be carrying out a task and George will state a really random fact (like Hedgehogs have prickles) and before you know it, you mind is blank. Whatever you were doing is gone. Having a routine means that the important things are done and because the routine is repetitive, you naturally remember tasks. As a backup, you can write reminders into your planner.

There will be days when they kids go to Grandparents. A lot of the time it will be only one of them but more recently they’ve had a few hours together. This means I have time to catch up on whatever I want to. Structure is needed here because I’m against the clock. I will look at my priority list for the week and choose 1-2 tasks. Depending what these are, I will break down how long they will take in hours and work on them. I usually allow about half an hour for procrastination. It’s going to happen!

      3. Plan

Plan, plan, plan. The backbone of it all! I will sit with my planner on a Sunday night and map out my week. I will write my shop and marketing/blog priorities. I will write down my daily to-do’s and I will add things I need to remember to do that week.

My planner is my brain, without it I would be lost. Before I had my planner, everything felt overwhelming. Housework felt like a huge task and I would constantly worry. My planner allows me to write a few housework tasks on a day and only focus on those. It sounds straight forward but before planning, I’d do the dishes then look into the room behind me and stress about the washing needing putting away, the bookshelf that needs tiding, the Terrapin tank that’s due a clean. It was a lot in my head. I would then feel guilty that I hadn’t spent time with the children. This was before I opened my shop. I’d basically spend the whole day worrying and not getting anywhere.

Planning has allowed me to structure my week. I can be more realistic with it, I know how long my days are and I know I only have so many hours to achieve things. I also know that, particularly this month, some days will be a day only with the kids. When I was new to planning and had opened my shop, I would worry that days spent with the kids meant I’d not done any work, then I’d feel guilty and think I’m a rubbish Mum. Daft! For me, I now know that a full day with the kids, no shop, no designing, no social media etc, is a productive day. A day they’ve had their Mummy. Then when I do plan in a day where I will spend an hour on shop stuff, I won’t feel guilty. Think I just shared a glimpse of my anxious mind there!

One last thing I do with my planner is list. All that stuff in my head has to go somewhere and the priorities have to come from somewhere. I have lists in my planner relating to all different areas of my life. I have many different shop lists, blog lists, housework lists, goals, inspirations, projects…all sorts! At the moment I am using the planner shown in my Planner Society setup and the structure is working very well for me. Having list sections and a diary at the back has allowed everything to become much more simple. As long as it’s on a list, it’s out of my head. I always refer to the lists so that way nothing is forgotten. It also means I can prioritise from the lists, everything is there so I can instantly see what needs doing first.

      4. Self Love

I am my worst critic. I’ve had days where I have been exhausted and have ended up falling asleep (when the kids were in nursery and I wasn’t on the rota that day). By the evening I’d be annoyed for wasting the day and not achieving anything because it would be a fortnight until that day would roll round again.
Instead I should have listened to my body. I was exhausted, I’m not one to fall asleep quickly and those days it was within seconds.

Comparisons. Don’t compare yourself to others. Many a time I have seen people who own shops, have children, work a day job and are miles ahead of me. I instantly think, what am I doing wrong? I instantly think I’m the problem. I have to remind myself to stop doing that, life isn’t that black and white. The people I’m comparing myself to, I don’t know anything about them, their home lives, their mental state, their support, nothing. All I see is statistics and social media. The black and white. Statistics and Social media isn’t enough to base a comparison on, all that does is bring on unnecessary self doubt. This then brings negativity which affects your productivity. Downward spiral.
Don’t get me wrong, an element of comparison can be healthy. Gaining inspiration and ideas, even looking for your own interest. I’m making a product that I also love to buy, so naturally there will be an element of comparison. It’s all about finding the level, easier said than done.

Allow yourself a rest. Even if it’s to sit with a cup of tea and nothing else for 20 minutes. It can help settle the chaos in your head. It helps to ground you. There have been days I’ve been running around doing things, I’ve stopped and sat for a little while and I’m always surprised by how tired I am. My brain will keep going and drag my body with it. I never used to do this in the past and I would work until I was ill. Physically ill, if there was a bug going round, I got it! I had no defences left as I’d burnt them all away. You only have one body, be kind to it.

Switch off. Literally. I have days when social media can be overwhelming. There is always so much going on. I will pick up my phone to do something and before I know it, I’ve lost 10+ minutes to a social media wormhole and have forgotten what it was I wanted to do! I have found I will now purposely leave my phone on silent upstairs whilst I spend time with the kiddies. I am much more engaged in what they are doing and I’ve found I pay attention to a lot more. It’s not rocket science, of course I’ll be more in tune with them.

      5. Communicate

I am rubbish a delegating. I hate asking for help and will avoid the awkwardness of it all by doing things myself. It’s very hard for me to say when I’m struggling. However, I’ve found the most simple thing can make a difference. For example on the weekends, as a family we are usually rushing to get out of the front door. I used to do all of the housework jobs but recently I have found passing just one over, like the hoovering, to Daniel has made such a difference. It’s one less thing to think about.

I recently started volunteering again at the local animal shelter. To do this, I need the Grandparents to watch the kids every other Wednesday morning. It took me about 2 hours to pluck up the courage to ask but they agreed! So now I get to do something outside of everything else in my life. I can focus on the task in hand (cleaning the rabbits and cats pens). I genuinely love it, I still get to be around animals and I’m helping.

The other thing I’ve found beneficial with communication is speaking to friends and family. Particularly hearing about their lives. I can get so wrapped up and consumed by my own life that I forget about the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear what other people are doing.

Social Media groups. Finding a group with common interests can be very beneficial. I’m lucky enough to be apart of some amazing planner related social media groups who offer so much support to each other. I’ve never known anything like it and it has definitely changed my state of mind.

So those are my top 5 key areas that I have found have eased my days. I feel better as a person for it. This month particularly could have been a disaster, I imagined I wouldn’t get anything done at all. However, although there has been less, I have managed to do much more than I expected and a lot of it stress free.

Thank you for stopping by,

Kelly.

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