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Balancing kids, home, and work is no easy task - especially if you're used to having more freedom and doing your own thing, but even with all the things that need to be done, it's still important to ensure that you're making time for yourself.
To be able to do this effectively, you'll need to be disciplined with how you prioritise and spend your time on the things that you do need to be done, and make sure you're not spending more time and energy than you need to on them.
Here are some suggestions on how to free up a bit of time each day, so you can focus on the essential things and learn to say no to the rest - there are only so many hours in the day, after all, and you can't be everywhere.
Many things you do each day are simply habits because you're used to doing them, so things like showering, brushing your teeth, and making the kids breakfast don't need to be planned because these things get done regardless.
How about the rest, though? Instead of having a massive to-do list that never seems to end, a good habit to get into at the end of each day or first thing in the morning is to sit down and look at your calendar for the week or month.
What deadlines do you have coming up this week? Are there any errands you need to run? Appointments that need to be made?
Then choose three to five things that need to be done in order of importance for that day.
Making yourself a plan for each day is a great way to gain a better perspective on what needs to happen that day instead of just ticking a bunch of things from a list and still feeling that you've never accomplished anything, as well as making sure you get the important things done and then have time for yourself and your family.
The concept of time blocking and task batching are well-known productivity and time management techniques used by everyone, from students to billionaire CEOs, because of how effective they are.
Time blocking works by allocating blocks (usually 30 minutes to one hour) for a specific type of work.
So, let's take house cleaning as an example. You might like to strip all your beds every Monday and put fresh new bedding on. So, to ensure you get this done, you would set an event in your calendar to repeat every Monday between 10 am - 11 am.
Task batching works similarly and usually alongside time blocking by putting similar tasks into a block of time.
So, if Monday is the day you do housework, you can create a block of time on your calendar for this, and then within that block, you add several housework-related tasks that you get done at the same time.
Meal planning takes some practice, but once you've got the hang of it, it's not only a massive time-saver but saves money, is better for your health, and reduces food waste.
By setting aside some time at the beginning of the week or month to plan the meals you'll cook for your family and shopping only for what you need, you won't be scrambling to come up with something each evening and will be better able to resist the temptation of buying a takeaway.
Once you've made your meal plan and shopped for the things you need, you can save even more time by allocating a few hours one day per week or month to batch-cook everything and store it in the fridge or freezer until it's ready.
If things are frozen, take them out the night before and either put in the slow cooker in the morning or warm them up at dinner time. This saves you so much time cooking every night, and with hardly any dishes to wash, you'll have more time for yourself and your family.
Many of us, especially mothers, have this crazy idea that we're supposed to be some modern superwoman who does everything.
Not only will this lead to burnout, but it's also unrealistic. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the things you need. Most family members and friends are all too happy to help out with things like babysitting. If you're struggling to keep on top of the housework, then maybe it's time to hire a professional cleaner who comes to your house once or twice per week.
Whether it's a weekly date night with your partner, a trip to the cinema with the girls, or even just an hour at a lovely cafe with a book on your own, these little things will revitalise you and give you more energy so that when you have that time with your family, you enjoy it even more.
Your family needs you to be taking care of you, so you don't have to feel like it's selfish - it's simply necessary.
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