Having kids really does change everything ... including your TIME.
Now that you have kids, time is a luxury. Remember those long periods of uninterrupted time you used to have? Remember when 30 minutes was actually a short window of time, not a huge one? When parenthood begins, that reality no longer applies. If you're struggling with how to make it all work amidst the demands and the realities of kids, I have some tips for you.
First, remember this:
Things always take longer than you think — no matter who you are and how many kids you do or don’t have, this experience is common to all people. More often than not, people plan to accomplish more than is actually possible in a certain amount of time.
And now that you have kids, you actually do have less time. Little people take up a huge portion of your daily moments that were once free or otherwise allocated. Whether it's five minutes setting up a snack, monitoring them in the backyard pool, getting out the crayons, breaking up a fight, or getting someone’s clothes out, so much of your time is no longer available anymore.
Your time windows, your movement, and your ways of accomplishing tasks are different now that you have kids at home. If you want to get things done — other than bum wiping and snack producing — you have to approach time differently. Here are five tricks:
1. Say Affirmations Daily
They seriously help the brain relax. “Holy sh*t, how am I ever going to get this all done?” and “I have enough time to accomplish all that I need to do” have completely different energy patterns in your body. You don’t need me to tell you that one is infinitely better than the other. So use positive affirmations. They are simple but effective ways to calm your brain and body down, which helps you not only accomplish tasks, but also boosts your productivity. It will amaze you how a few little words can make a HUGE difference.
As an added bonus, these little brain relaxers also make you more available for your kids. Instead of doing so distractedly while trying to work out how and when you're going to get your "To Do" Items done, you can actually focus on them, knowing that the time and space for those other needs will come.
- “I have more than enough time to accomplish what I need to do.”
- “There is time enough for everything.”
- “The perfect time for me to accomplish ___ will arise.”
2. Use Your Tiny Windows Of Time
You can accomplish a lot in tiny windows of time. OK, it may take longer for you to get things done, but as long as things are moving forward, that’s a happy place.
I learned this from one of my husband’s clients. She was a house projector, like my husband. When we had our first newborn she mentioned to him that, after becoming a mother, she learned how to accomplish big projects in 20-30 minute intervals. Sometimes that's all the time you have. Once you understand and make the mental change, great things will happen within tiny moments, and you'll feel at ease.
3. Keep Lists
When you're accomplishing things in tiny windows, you need a place marker. A reference you can come back to at your next opportunity, since you might not have time to work out your whole strategy in one block of time. Your lists and notes take you back to your last free moment. They tell you, “I was here.”
But the best aspect of list making for me is this: Between five different requests for snacks, a bum wipe, and “Mom, have you seen my red boat?”, I don't always remember what was on my list to accomplish, but my list helps me remember.
4. Try "Flow Time"
I used this a lot when my first child was born, and I started to understand that time was no longer available to me in the same way. In fact, without kids, this is my most natural way of being.
It involves internal questioning that goes something like this: What time is it right now? The answers that arise are anything from, Time for me to make some website tweaks, time for me to fold the laundry, time for me to jot down a few ideas, time for me to knit quietly while my kids are playing together, time for me to get dinner prepped, time for me to search for a new audio book on my phone, etc..
Using this method of “flow time” produces results. If you follow the answers, if you apply the method, you find that almost miraculously and spontaneously all the things that you wanted to accomplish get done. The when and where sometimes aren't what you'd expect, but you do accomplish your tasks.
Now just for the record if you have two kids and one of them is under two and you're sleep deprived, this method might not work for you at the moment. It’s OK, it'll come back to you. Practice it when you're on your own (like when your kids are asleep or your partner is caretaking them).
5. Go Easy On Yourself
When I find myself most overwhelmed, I hear myself think this series of thoughts a lot: This is the reality of my life right now [these extra demands/these people/this situation]. It cannot be that there is no way to accomplish what I feel needs to be done. It looks differently than I think it should, but there is a way. What is the way?
This series of thoughts usually floats by all in one blurb. I understand. This is true. There is a way. Find that way.
I just lay off a bit and remember that life with kids looks different than it did before. But it’s okay, and it's all still doable. However, it does require me to shift.
If you can gestate, birth and nourish a baby, you can do this, Mama. You’ve got it.