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Do you stay home all day with your kids? Do you have a daily or weekly schedule…that you actually stick to? I get it, it’s a struggle to create and stick to any type of schedule when you’re home all day. There’s no boss telling you to go on lunch, take a break, or tell you what you should be doing; and there’s no bell like there was in school to tell you to move onto the next class or activity, and no schedule to tell you where or what to do next.
To be honest, there isn’t really that much that absolutely needs to get done in a day. If we need to, we could really just get by with making sure we eat and feed our kids 3 times a day; the rest of the day could be chaos, we can survive til the next day. But, who wants to just survive?
I want to feel and be productive each and everyday. What I don’t want is for my kids thinking I’m lazy or don’t care about things. Because I do care, and I don’t want to be thought of as lazy (don’t judge me that I’m writing this in my pj’s, it’s only 5am and my kids are still asleep).
Plus, I love making to do lists, scheduling out tasks in my planner, and checking off what I do. It brings me a sense of accomplishment to check things off, even if the task was as small as doing the dishes or filling out the meal plan part of my planner with the help of my kids. (Yes, I even write down the task of planning, just so I can check it off when I’m done!! I’m absolutely in love with it, then again, I am used to the cheap planners you get at the dollar store or walmart for a few bucks.)
I don’t know about you, but I actually find staying home with my kids all day long more stressful than when I worked full time at a call center. At least when I worked there, there was structure to my days and weeks; I knew when I had time to do things that needed to get done, whether at work or at home. I was able to get everything done that I believed I needed to, like meal prepping and other things us moms need to do. But, now that I’m home 24/7 and no one telling me what to do when, it’s actually quite frustrating at times.
All the meal prepping, and batching tasks together in order to get things done before my weekend was over, isn’t something I feel pressured to do anymore; I’ve got the time. Right? Because I’m just a stay at home mom and I’m home all day. Wrong! And, that’s what I’ve been realizing lately!
In order for me to be productive and get more things done everyday and every week (like I used to); I need to keep batching tasks together like I did before, and not stretch things out just because I can. And, I’ve known for awhile now that creating a weekly schedule that I could actually stick to would be super beneficial. Just scheduling out certain tasks for certain days, like meal planning, meal prepping, cleaning, or writing. I need to make sure that everything that absolutely ‘needs’ to get done, everything that ‘should’ get done and everything I ‘want’ to get done, actually gets done!
Like me, I’m going to assume that you’re probably in the same boat. So, let’s get started on how to create a weekly schedule that will actually work!
Write Down All Your To Do’s
The first thing you need to do to create a weekly schedule is do a brain dump. If you don’t know what a brain dump is; it’s simply writing down everything that you need to do, anything that seems to be on your mind swirling around or stressing you out. It could be that you have to remember to pay a bill or how much that bill is, or what time your child’s dentist appointment is. Whatever is on your mind; write it down! This won’t only help you figure out what needs to get done, but it’ll also relieve the stress of trying to remember it all; it’ll give your mind some space to relax!
You may want to circle or highlight anything that you’re expecting to get done this week, so you can focus on those when creating your schedule. Also, be as detailed or as vague as you want here! Just try not to forget anything, if you do, then it probably won’t get done. (If you do this on a regular basis, make sure you refer to your old brain dumps to double check you didn’t miss anything. I have a notebook specifically for brain dumps, plus posts and other random scrap paper!)
Use my ‘Create YOUR Week’ Template for Brain Dumps and MORE!!
You might notice that some things on your list are appointments or things that must get done each week for your family to function properly (talking about laundry and buying/making food here), make sure you highlight or circle those! And, now onto the next step.
Once you feel confident you didn’t forget anything in your brain dump; determine all the must do’s, should do’s, and want to do’s. I’d even go as far as grabbing another piece of paper and dividing it up and rewriting the tasks for this week depending on their importance.
For example, doctor or dentist appointments are must do’s, meal prepping an entire weeks worth of meals could be a should do, and decluttering an entire room (or reading a book you’ve been trying to get to for the past 6 months) would be a want to do.
Your priorities may be different than mine so your to do’s may look different as well.
If you want to start spending more quality time with you kids, then maybe a must do for you would be spending 15 minutes with them doing what they want to do, or at least reading to them every night before bed. Make sure when you schedule out your tasks for the week that you include this, and in the same way you would schedule in an appointment. The more you schedule into your week, the more you can actually accomplish, and the less time you’ll fill your day, or week, with unproductive activities (like getting lost in facebook or pinterest)!
Of course, when you get to the next step, you’ll want to include all three categories (must do, should do, and want to do’s) into your schedule for each week. You’ll appreciate the balance, after all!
Schedule it Out!
This next step is what those of us who love planning live for; scheduling out tasks!! (Don’t give me that look, I know how ridiculous it may sound, but it’s totally true!) So, get out your planner so we can start scheduling out our tasks! Or, if you don’t have a planner (gasp!!) then use whatever it is you usually use for your schedule. Some people use the calendar in their phone or google calendar. I like to go old school here and use a physical planner and pen, just like back in school and college. And, you know what, not everything has to change now that I graduated college 4 years ago and have 2 kids. It worked back then, and it can still work today!
Use the ‘Create YOUR Week’ Template for scheduling out tasks and MORE!!
If you don’t own a planner, do yourself a favor and get one, even if it’s one on clearance at walmart, it’ll still work! I can’t imagine not having a planner, especially as a mom. My memory hasn’t been the same since having my first child and I don’t want to use precious memory space trying to remember doctor appointments and what we’re having for dinner each night.
(I personally use a whiteboard calendar, a smaller whiteboard for a to-do list/ ‘we’re almost out of’ list, my planner, Asana, and a ton of post it notes and regular old notebooks! You could say I’m a bit obsessed with planning!)
Did you know there’s different ways to schedule?!
Believe it, or not, there are quite a few different ways to schedule tasks, your day, and your week to get the most done. The way you decide to schedule is up to you, and if one way doesn’t work, go ahead and try a different one. It’ll depend a lot on the tasks you have, your personality type and how often you procrastinate! I know I need a pretty strict schedule and I need to focus on sticking to it or it’ll all just fall apart. For me, I need to write everything down in my planner and schedule it out hour by hour. I don’t always stick to the specific hour, but if I don’t schedule it in like that then I know it’ll get pushed off to another day, week, or even month!
Whatever way you choose to schedule in tasks for the week; make sure you know approximately how long each will take you to do. Then, add in buffer time, or just double the time, especially for tasks you enjoy. Unless of course, you’re on a time constraint. We tend to estimate too low on tasks we enjoy doing. For example, I thought it would only take me an hour to write this post and do everything I need to do for it, but I’m going on an hour and a half simply writing the first draft. It’s better to have extra time if you finish a task early, than not finishing the task in the allotted time!
Let’s get into a few different types of scheduling…
Write down the tasks you want to accomplish each day
As a stay at home mom of two little girls, I never know what’s going to happen next; a tantrum, a much needed bath for my toddler who covered herself in applesauce, or my girls playing nicely together in the playroom (this rarely happens, but I appreciate when it does)! The type of schedule I need has to be flexible. Sure, I write down tasks to get done at certain times during the day. But, it doesn’t mean that they always get done when they should. The important thing is that they are written down. If I can’t get to a task I was supposed to do in the morning; I’ll get it done later in the day. My schedule is more like a to do list with some wishful thinking; writing down when I’d like to accomplish each task!
With this type of scheduling I’d suggest to tackle no more than 3 main tasks a day. If I can’t get something done when it’s scheduled in the morning; I quickly eat my lunch, put a show on for my girls, and get at least one task knocked out while my girls are eating and being entertained. Even if that just means I get to shower during that time. It’s worth it! And, yes, sometimes you do need to remember, and make time for, simple and necessary acts of self-care. It’s that important!
If you want to know the importance of having a daily schedule with kids, check out: 5 Reasons Your Child (and You) Need a Daily Schedule!
Why you should just assign certain tasks to each day of the week
You can’t get everything you want to get done for the week in a single day! You don’t need the extra stress that comes with inflexible schedules. Being a mom, it’s hard trying to get everything done that needs to get done by the end of the day. Spread out your tasks. If you have 6 must do tasks for the week; don’t schedule them all in one or two days. Schedule 1 to 2 a day as a main task of the day instead!
On the other hand, if you like to procrastinate; I’d highly recommend not using this type of scheduling.This is for mom’s who strive to get things done but have little ones who are a little more demanding and expect your attention 24/7. For those who can fit tasks into small crevices of the day when discovered!
Schedule with Time Blocks
Time blocking isn’t new, or even difficult. Many productive people use time blocking as a time management technique in their everyday lives! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well for me. It might for you! But, as I see it, when you stay home all day with little ones; you’re on call 24/7, and may need to drop what you’re doing immediately because your kids need you. They need to cuddle, or they jumped on the couch and fell off, got a boo-boo, or want you to play with them, or whatever else.
On the contrary, if your kids are in school, or if you can get someone to watch them for you; this technique may work for you!
All you need to do is find all of the 60-90 minute blocks of time in your week that are free. Then schedule in tasks where you can fit them. If you have tasks that need to get done that only take a few minutes each, schedule them together. For example, in one block you could throw in a load of laundry, do the dishes, and pick up around the house.
Remember to schedule in must do’s first, then try to balance the rest of your week out with the should do’s and want to do’s!
Make Yourself Deadlines
Yep, we’re going to treat our everyday life like we’re at work or school. Think of how much stuff you got done then; probably a lot more than now, and it’s not just because you didn’t have kids with you!
You need to create deadlines for yourself. A least for the most important tasks, and especially if you don’t feel motivated to get anything done. Creating deadlines will create a healthy form of stress to help you be more productive and get much more done.
If you’re not up to creating deadlines; at least try out the pomodoro technique to get more done in a small amount of time. I use the tomato-timer to help me get a task completed quickly, it’s literally racing against the clock. With this technique you try to complete a task within 25 minutes, then you get a 5 minute break! If you’re able to do that 4 times in a row, then you get a 10 minute break. I’ve never made it that far, though. Actually, the only time I can successfully get through one pomodoro is when my kids are asleep.
Use my ‘Create YOUR Week’ Template to keep track of deadlines and MORE!!
Do what You Plan!
Alright, so you’ve almost made it through all the steps to scheduling out your week! But, this final step is the most important one, so don’t forget it! Now, you have to actually do your to do’s when you scheduled them for (or, at least sometime for the day you planned it for)! If you skip this step, then all the planning you just did was a huge waste of time; the whole purpose of planning things out is to be more productive. Don’t waste your precious time by not following through.
You may, however, have to make yourself accountable for what you need to do during the week. There’s no one there who will fail, or fire, you if you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to be doing. So, this step is up to you. You could always try finding an accountability partner if you’d like. But, at the end of the day it’s up to you whether you do it or not.
Another way to make it slightly easier, rather than getting an accountability partner; is to treat yourself at the end of the week if you accomplish all your tasks. Like, going to bed early, or making what you want for dinner instead of what your kids want. Just a little something that you can enjoy and appreciate for all that you do for your family and yourself. Cause, guess what, it’s not easy being the stay at home parent and you deserve to treat yourself!
Grab these ‘To Do’ Tracker Templates to make sure you get everything done! (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Budget, and Meal Plan!)
I know, you were probably looking for some cookie cutter weekly schedule that would work for you as a stay at home mom; that schedule just doesn’t exist. We all have different chores, activities that we do, places we need to go. And once we get set in one schedule; our kids start growing up and then everything changes and we’re back at the drawing board trying to find another schedule that will work for us.
I wanted to give you a guide on how to make a schedule; rather than a weekly schedule you could print out and hope works. Because in reality, those won’t work. Our brains aren’t all wired the same way, and our lives are not all the same; nor will they stay the way they are now for very long, anyways! There’s no one size fits all for scheduling out your week. And, what works for you now may not work in a couple months. I want you to be able to do this on your own; you are more than capable!
How to Find More Time in the Day
5 Reasons Your Child (and You) Need a Daily Schedule
9 Ways to be a MORE Productive Stay at Home Mom