Does that feel like part of a song to you??
Well, maybe it’s just me… but I have Beyonce in my head.
And instead of “all my singles ladies” it’s more like “all my tired mamas, all my tired mamas… now put your hands up”.
But hey, I think that would be an awesome song. And I could certainly get behind it.
For what it is worth, I WAS a single lady when that song came out so I did rock to it! And I could lead the pack on this new version 😉
When my kids first both went to preschool I ran around trying to get things done while they were away for 3 hours.
I picked them up feeling as frazzled as if they had been with me. Sometimes worse since I had also physically tired myself out trying to get stuff done.
So I began planning a morning a week that I would not do anything. Unless I wanted to. Which mostly I didn’t.
I just sat on the couch and drank tea and listened to music.
Yes… often yawning.
It felt like a waste of time at first.
But after a while, I realised how much it became just what I needed to defragment my head to be ready to be a good mama again.
So I want to suggest a few ideas for prioritizing time and self-care for busy tired mothers who need to change what they are doing, or maybe just how they are doing it.
Coz let’s be real, quite a bit of what we do is not exactly from choice now is it?!? Would you be cleaning up your kids toys late at night before going to bed if it wasn’t for the fact that you got too tired to make them do it earlier in the evening and it has to be done or when the youngest one wakes in the night you will be sure to fall or at least really hurt your foot?!? No. Me either.
Make time each day for yourself
Yes, this sounds ridiculous on the face of it.
But when my kids were tiny I had to go to regular sessions with a psych team to start working on some pretty serious post-traumatic stress disorder from my first birth. Not a fun thing to have. And I like fun. So I wanted to deal to it!
As part of the weekly homework was a session of “worry time”. I had to have time to myself for 15 minutes each day where I worried about all the things bothering me and write them down. This was so that my brain would get trained to knowing that I was going to worry at a certain time of day and it would give me less grief the rest of the time. It sounds loopy but it really did help me. Honestly the hardest part was making that time actually happen.
But once we had it happening – my husband had the kids after dinner and bath time for a wee while – it flowed quite well. And I looked forward to it!
After a while, I didn’t need the time to worry. So I just… sat. And it was glorious.
So I guess I am trying to pull out a if-I-can-do-it-so-can-you type of scenario here. But it is true. We were in a tiny apartment with 2 babies, 14 months apart, me dealing with depression and all. There was little space away from each other and even less time for it!
But desperate times call for desperate measures. And we made it work.
I just wish we had made something like it work before we got to desperate times.
So see what you can do to find a small window to help your brain decompress, recalibrate and to just breathe with no little people pulling on you.
For my morning ladies… all my morning ladies… yeah ok sorry I will stop now!
But if you are a morning person then you may prefer to try a morning spot. It may be mid-morning nap time. It may be possible to wake just before your children if you have much better sleepers than I ever had!
If you are a night owl then once they are down for that first glorious part of the night where they actually sleep (or was that just my kids?!?!) that will be your window.
As I said above, when the kids were first at preschool I ran around like a crazy thing. I guess I had forgotten the way that “worry time” had helped… or perhaps I just didn’t feel like I could do it if it wasn’t really a serious situation. You know, the whole need to use my time well blah, blah, blah. Wrong thinking.
Currently, I use my mornings once the kids are at preschool and school to do all my jobs and errands, have a later lunch and then the last hour (give or take) before picking them up is my time. And if I want to do work on a project then I do. If I want to sit and stare into space then I do. And some days I only do the most urgent things in my morning as well before sitting and staring into space.
Whatever I do is my choice and it is done without guilt… well as much as I can when I catch myself doing that negative self-talk that still happens often.
Organize the basics that need to happen
So I have talked about this before a number of times.
But it’s a big deal. If you set yourself up so that the basics happen then you feel like you are winning. And when you manage to do above and beyond the basics then you feel like you are a shining example of #winningmotherhood 🙂
But I’ll give you a recap here as well.
Use a calendar or planner
Obviously this starts with writing in things that are happening. But then you also plan what you need to have ready for any events. Set reminders on your phone if that helps you.
So in practice this means that if you need a special book for school, you could have it laid out the night before since you had a reminder on the calendar in a place where you will see it… instead of trying to find it before you run out the door in the morning, or having a crying child when you get them to school or the bus and they don’t have it…!
Create a to-do list
I try to put my to-do list onto my planner / calendar. Or set a reminder on my phone. Then I have a time it should happen by so that it doesn’t just sit on my to-do list and never get done. If it can’t happen then I don’t stress but I do make myself re-book it so I can try to make it happen, if it is important.
I tend to be very flexi in how I plan our meals. So my shopping list consists of stocking up on the things that are running low in the pantry or fridge, and the main items that I will be using for our evening meals during the week. Then I can cook what we have available but also what I feel like cooking… it helps my creative brain not get bored.
Some people prefer to have meals planned exactly and then shop a precise list. Find what works for you. But doing this in advance will free up brains space and pressure. Which is good for you!
However you do this, knowing where your money is going and that you have enough to pay the bills takes a lot of pressure off.
My husband and I pay bills and have a set amount we try to use for food, and then consult each other for any other spending. We have a list of things we need to buy over time and choose what we will prioritize together. Which sounds crazy and controlling but it keeps us saving for the renovations we need to do on our house… find a way that works for you!
Yeah, this causes some people quite a few worries! But what I mean is organizing the parts you can!
Those areas – at least for me – are toys, back-to-school, and clothes.
I like to try and rotate the kids’ toys to keep the amount of tidying smaller, and so that their toys have some freshness to them when they are brought out! Sometimes I just stack up the boxes that have their toys in so that they are less likely to search for some… so it’s like hiding them in plain sight.
Heading back to school has its own pressures. I like to keep lists of what is needed that I just tick off as we get it. Nothing fancy here!
And for clothes I find around 6 or 7 items each child for top and bottom seems to work, with jackets or whatever extras are needed for the season. I try to organize it so they have enough tops and bottoms for the season so that I don’t have endless clothes to wash, but nor do I have to wash every single day if I don’t get chance.
Go and organize your priorities, tired Mama!
The main thing to remember in these points is that if you prioritize well then you can focus on getting what needs to be done actually done! And without extra exhaustion.
Choose to prioritize what will work best for you – but be sure to prioritize yourself first. There is a reason I put that point first. A healthy mama means a healthy family.
Prioritizing means you need to step back and look at what you are doing and how you could do it differently.
What will you choose to put first so that it actually gets done?