by Valerie Recore
Does this sound familiar, as a mom who also happens to be an entrepreneur?
You wake up in the morning, drag yourself out of bed, and pour a cup of coffee.
You start thinking about everything going on today: School drop-off, client calls, invoices to send, proposals to write, dentist appointments, soccer practice after school for one kid, and dance for another.
You check on the kids and one of them says her tummy hurts and she doesn’t want to go to school today. She has a temperature. So you tuck her back in bed and tell her you’ll come to check on her shortly.
You start thinking about everything you’ll need to reschedule today, and how much disruption this is going to cause. It’ll take you days to get caught up.
You grumble your way into the kitchen to start breakfast. You get your other kid out the door. Your partner heads off to work.
You call the school to let them know your daughter won’t be there today. You send an email to your team letting them know you’re working from home and will be sporadically unavailable today.
You pour another cup of coffee and dive into your work email while worrying about your daughter and whether your other child is going to get sick (or if you will!).
At the end of the day, you are exhausted and drained, wondering what you got done that day. You were able to get most of your proposals done, and you got your client calls made, but you didn’t get to the invoices.
At least you made chicken noodle soup from scratch for your daughter. And you froze some extra for the next sick kid.
What if you could rethink these days? If you could prepare for them? And if you weren’t the only one responsible for sick kids or snow days?
What if you were able to end these days feeling accomplished at both work and as a mother?
It is possible. Let’s cover some ways to make it happen.
Start with leaving some white space in your days.
Yes, you have more than enough tasks and activities to fill your days from sun up to sun down. But you also know that the unexpected happens.
Leave room in your days for tasks to take longer than planned. For sick kids. For unexpected client work.
When there is a little extra room in your days, you have breathing space to complete important tasks, and to not feel so rushed.
Plan for the week, not the day.
I know this goes against every time management system you’ve read about, but hear me out. I plan my week out, not my days. I look at what needs to happen by the end of the week. What tasks are moving my business forward? What tasks in my personal life need to happen?
I may have a general idea of which days I’m going to do these tasks. I try to get the most important things done early in the week so I can save the easier tasks for later in the week, when I’m tired and ready for the weekend.
But I don’t plan my days down to the minute. I know the hardscape, the meetings, client calls, and deadlines that I have, so I work on items around that hardscape.
Some days I’m ready to dive into the big important tasks. On other days, I’m tired and know my brain isn’t going to be able to focus on something. So I tackle something that’s a bit easier.
Try planning your week, not your days, and see if that works for you!
Break every task down into the smallest possible step.
When I look at my task list and it says ‘Yellowstone’, my brain just skips right over it. When I break it down into smaller tasks, my brain knows I’m planning a trip to Yellowstone. The first task might say ‘research when I can make campground reservations’ and the second step will be to ‘research campgrounds’.
Each of these steps can be done on different days. At the moment, they might not seem like big steps. But over time, I planned a trip to Yellowstone and didn’t feel overwhelmed by the project.
Talk with your partner.
You are not the only one responsible for keeping your household functioning. Have a plan that involves both of you. Maybe it’s taking turns with sick days and snow days. Maybe it’s planning out days off that are already on the calendar. If your partner has paid time off, can they use it to stay home and take care of a sick kid while you are out meeting clients?
Have regular meetings to talk about the upcoming week. What important meetings are on the calendar for each of you? How can you support each other in making these meetings happen? Who’s taking the kids to their activities? Maybe you have grandparents or a nanny available. Or a neighbor you can trade off with during a snow day or on teacher planning days.
It’s not all on you. Support each other and work together.
Keep a list of things to do when your kids are home.
There are several different lists you can keep. One is a list for you with things that need to get done eventually, but don’t have a due date.
Cleaning out old emails, filing, cleaning out files in Google Docs or on your computer desktop, watching all of those training videos you’ve been meaning to see. These are tasks that don’t need much brain power, but need to happen at some point.
This can also include a list of movies, tv shows, games, and toys that are special for snow days or sick days. These items are brought out to make the day special and to allow you (or your partner) to get some work done, or to make lunch without a big meltdown.
Yes, at the end of the day, celebrate what you accomplished! Make a “Done!” list. Celebrate that everyone made it through the day, even if there were tears. Even if you feel like you are more behind than you were, you made it and tomorrow is another day to try again.
Now, let’s go back to the story at the beginning. The one with a sick kid that totally derailed your day.
Picture the day when you have a sick kid, but now you have a plan. Your partner is going to relieve you at lunchtime so you can focus on work in the afternoon. Another parent is going to take your other child to soccer, giving you another hour to focus on work (or make more chicken soup, or take a shower).
You end the day knowing you helped your child feel better, while still getting a few things accomplished. And you know tomorrow is another day.
Any of these tips can help when there’s a snow day, a sick kid, a childcare closure, or any disruption to the daily schedule. Take a few ideas and get started on them! And if you need support in putting these into practice, or to talk more about how to better manage your days, schedule some time with me.
Valerie Recore is a productivity specialist, a time giver, and a Certified Fair Play Method Facilitator. She helps overwhelmed and overcommitted moms stop feeling pulled in too many directions. With a background in mental health and corporate training, she’s ready to guide you toward a better relationship with time. If you’re ready to start feeling more peace and accomplishment at the end of the day, she is here to help.
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