Motherhood is a lot most days, and the beginning of a new year seems to be particularly fractious and filled with stress and pressure. Prepping for a new school year, trying to set (and stick to!) your own goals while trying to balance family life and work-life can become overwhelming and exhausting.
Mothers today seem to be held to impossible standards. We are told that we can do it all. This is usually followed by perfect Instagram squares of other women managing to workout, cook dinner, clean, plan parties, run a business, and have time for meditation and yoga.
But what we don’t see is the parts of life on the periphery of those squares. Being a mother is wonderful but will also be one of the hardest things you ever do. There are a few things you can do to help, though.
Small daily and weekly habits that will help give you peace of mind and maybe even some free time (the Holy Grail of motherhood). Being more organized might seem like an unattainable goal, but you can find a happier balance and a healthier you with minor changes.
Here are 22 things you can start doing to help you feel calmer and be more organized this year.
1. Get A Diary
Get a diary and actually use it!
Having a place where you can put all your appointments, notes, lists, and extra-curricular means you won’t be caught scrambling.
I like a diary I can write in. Crossing something off my to-do list is incredibly satisfying, even if it is something small like remembering to water the plant in my bathroom. Maybe you are a minimalist who is happier with a small A5 diary with simple lined pages, but I am not one of those people.
I like an A4 diary with a water tracker, a quote, a gratitude prompt, a space for lists, a half-hourly daily planner, and a double-page month planner. This may seem excessive, but with work, kids, and a side business, life is busy, and having space for everything keeps me organized.
2. Start Meal Planning
This may be difficult to start doing but believe me, you will be grateful for that frozen lasagne or the chicken breasts in the fridge after a long, busy day.
Staring at your cupboards, wondering what to cook for dinner while your kids scream and fight might be one of the worst parts of a mother’s day. By spending some time planning your meals for the week on a Sunday evening, you can avoid those stressful times.
Planning your meals also helps you keep your shopping list up to date and also allows you to use the product in your fridge before it goes bad. An hour of planning at the beginning of the week can help save you money, time and keep you sane.
3. Find A Daily Rhythm
A daily routine can feel too prescriptive and doesn’t leave much room for change or spontaneity. But having a rhythm means you don’t have to assign a time to anything. Instead, it is a sequence of events that helps you move through your day more calmy.
If you are a morning person, then try getting up early to have a quiet cup of coffee. If you are a night owl, spend some time alone after the kids have gone to sleep. Maybe you like to read, go for a run, or listen to a podcast?
However, you choose to structure your day, try and have touchstone points that allow you to reset and take a breath.
4. Start Journaling
Now I know what you are thinking. How would you find time to journal? But seriously, it is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your busy brain.
Life can be chaotic, and taking a few minutes to write down your thoughts can make a big difference to your stress levels. You can only hold so much inside you before it all needs to come out, and that is often in the form of impatience and crankiness at your kids.
So, why not take some time each morning to write in a journal and get all your thoughts, feelings, and frustrations out of your head and onto paper.
5. Do Some Exercise
I’m not talking about a daily gym routine, although if that is your thing, then power to you. It could be a yoga class, a run, or even a casual stroll around the block.
Just take the time to get outside and release some happy hormones. Not only will exercising benefit your body and keep you healthy, but it is also good for your mind and stress levels.
This might be easier for some of you than others.
Taking the time to get rid of things you don’t need and clear out your space can be therapeutic and help you feel less stressed. It is challenging to feel calm and composed when you have a cluttered and busy space.
Decluttering your home can also have some surprising benefits:
- It can improve your creativity and productivity
- It can help you save money
- It makes keeping your house clean and tidy easier
- It can improve your sleep
7. Have A Family Calendar
It is all good, and well, you have a diary, but if the other members of your family aren’t aware of the weekly plans, then you will find yourself frantically trying to organize everyone. Why not put a large calendar up, preferably where everyone will see it, like the kitchen.
Assign each family member a color pen or sticky note and then schedule soccer games, doctors’ appointments, or important business meetings in the matching color. That way, each family member can look at the calendar and see how their plans fit in with the rest of the family.
This works particularly well if you have older kids who can be responsible for the timetable. As a mom, you have enough to worry about without having to make sure your kids have a clean soccer kit. A family calendar allows your kids to take more responsibility for themselves and will take some of the pressure off you.
8. Have A Cleaning Schedule
I don’t know many mothers who enjoy cleaning, particularly when your kids have left a trail of dirty laundry, Lego, and bread crumbs in their wake. But having a clean and tidy home will help you feel less anxious and allow you to take for yourself guilt-free.
But cleaning doesn’t have to consume your days and leave you feeling irritated and exhausted. If you assign just 30min to a section of your house every day, you can stay on top of the chaos that your children will inevitably try to spread.
I like to set a timer and only allow myself 30 minutes to do a blitz clean in a room and another 10 minutes to tidy away toys, clothes, and any other unnecessary mess. I don’t want to get carried away and spend my whole day cleaning, so a quick, intense burst, once the kids have gone to bed, means I can enjoy the evening child-free in a clean and tidy space.
Handy Tip: Keep all the cleaning products in a carry caddy that you can quickly grab out of the cupboard
9. Invest In Plants And Candles
Having plants in your space improves the air quality and can boost productivity and concentration by up to 15%. Even if it is in a pot on your table, being close to nature can help you feel calmer and more relaxed.
Having plants like snake plants, orchids, bromeliads, and succulents in your bedroom can help you sleep better as they emit oxygen. Along with plants, a good aromatherapy candle can release soothing scents into your home and help you unwind at the end of a busy day.
Scents are often linked to memories, so a smell might bring back a happy memory, which triggers dopamine release in your body. Dopamine makes you feel happy and helps regulate your mood, making it an excellent hormone to have around.
10. Make Time For Self-Care
As mothers, taking time for ourselves can feel selfish and is often at the bottom of the priority pile. But the saying ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ is true, and you need to meet your own needs before you can meet those of your family.
Children model our behavior, so by taking the time to look after yourself and your emotional health, you are helping them develop good self-care habits.
11. Read More Books
Whether you buy them new, used, use a library card, or have an Ebook reader, reading will let you escape for a few minutes and keep your mind sharp.
You can immerse yourself in an emotional fiction story, enjoy a raunchy romance, or educate yourself with non-fiction. It doesn’t matter what you choose to read. It is the act itself that is important.
Why not try putting your phone off an hour before you go to bed and read instead?
12. Make A Playlist
Listening to music can boost your mood and reduce anxiety. It has the power to help you regulate and process your emotions and change your mood.
So, choose your favorite songs and start each day with a playlist that makes you happy.
13. Monthly Activity List
Chat to your kids at the beginning of each month about any activities they would like to do. These don’t have to be anything fancy like a theme park. It could be a hike, a movie, or a visit to the aquarium.
Decide which activities you would like to do and what will work with your budget that month, and add them to your family calendar. Deciding on activities together means less pressure on you to keep your kids entertained.
14. Make Time For Date Night
Your marriage is important, and taking the time to spend one on one time with your spouse should be a priority.
If you have the chance to go out to dinner or a movie, that’s great, but if leaving the house is tricky, then wait for the kids to go to sleep and do pizza and a movie at home. It is less about what you do and more about spending time together to connect.
Parenthood can take over your day-to-day, and touching base as a couple and not just as parents are important.
15. Plan A Family Holiday
A family holiday is a great way to put aside the pressures of life and spend time together.
You don’t need to plan anything extravagant. It could be a road trip or camping, but the important part is that you are all together, reconnecting, relaxing, and having fun.
Family time is precious, especially when your kids are young. They grow up so quickly, so soak up all the family holiday time you can.
16. Stick To A Budget
Financial pressure is a sure way to feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
Talking about money can be awkward and cause tension, but having a clear picture of your finances and a realistic monthly budget can reduce stress and friction.
17. Find A Hobby
As mothers, it is easy to be consumed by your kids and their lives. Try to find a hobby that brings you joy and spend time doing it.
Maybe it’s scrapbooking, or crochet, or bonsai trees. Whatever it is, dedicate some time to doing something you love.
18. Prep Lunchboxes The Night Before
No one needs the pressure and stress of trying to get kids dressed, fed, and out the door while still trying to make last-minute lunches.
Do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes at night putting your kids’ school lunches together.
19. Have One Social Media Free Weekend A Month
We are surrounded by social media and the pressure it brings with it. Scrolling through Instagram, it is hard not to feel inadequate as you look at picture-perfect squares of moms who seem to have it all figured out.
You might know that their reality looks different, but that doesn’t stop you from playing the comparison game.
So, try and go one whole weekend a month without social media if you can go an entire weekend without your phone, even better!
20. Drink More Water
Did you know that drinking water can make you happy and reduce anxiety? Studies have shown that people who drink more water have lower blood pressure and anxiety.
Drinking water can also help you feel calmer and content and increase your concentration and brain function. Add a water tracker to your diary to help you develop good water drinking habits.
21. Start Having Family Meetings
Being a parent is stressful, but you don’t need to make all the decisions by yourself. Sharing the responsibility with your kids may seem like a strange idea, but our kids can make decisions if we give them the opportunity.
Family life should be more democratic, with shared power and respect. Having a family meeting where our children get a say in the decisions that affect them allows them to take more responsibility for themselves and helps them feel heard and respected.
It also takes some weight off your shoulders as you allow the mantle of responsibility to be shared.
22. Give Yourself A Break
Don’t be so hard on yourself, Mama. Motherhood is hard, stressful, and demanding, and you are doing your best. You are exactly what your kids need.
Cut yourself some slack as you navigate the craziness of parenthood because no one is doing it right. No one has it all figured out. We are all just muddling our way through, trying our best to raise good humans.
So, give yourself some credit and celebrate the amazing job you are doing.
Start Your Year Off Right With These 22 Tips
New Years Resolutions never seem to stick, and you are left feeling frustrated and disappointed that you failed.
Rather than set yourself up for that disappointment, why not set intentions that are achievable and practical?
Motherhood is a challenge, and juggling being a mom with all your other responsibilities can leave you overwhelmed.
Finding a few strategies and habits that can help you be more organized means you can go through your days feeling calmer and less stressed.
Isn’t that the dream of every mom?