For many military spouses, this can be an incredibly busy season. Whether you are returning to school yourself, driving kids to sports practices, starting a new job, preparing for a deployment, or settling in after a PCS move, it may feel like your life is moving at light speed. It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a military spouse, parent, employee, and/or student. If your to-do list keeps growing longer without an end in sight, then you may need to take a step back and focus on your priorities.
Tips to prioritize and make time for everything
Use a planner to map out priorities: If jotting things down on Post-it Notes or keeping a list on your phone isn’t enough to keep your life organized, then you may want to step up to a planner. You don’t have to be crafty and spend money on stickers or fancy layouts. Just get a calendar notebook that is big enough for you to write out daily tasks and deadlines. Every week, take a few minutes to think about your most important tasks and write them down on your schedule. Each morning, choose one annoying task that is your top priority for the day, and do that task first. Whether it is cleaning out a messy part of the house or scheduling that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off, writing down your most important tasks will help them get done today instead of someday.
If you aren’t a fan of paper planners, try using a virtual assistant like Google calendar. You can still map out and schedule chores, and your phone will give you reminders too. Plus, you can sync certain activities with your spouse, so they know the kids’ sports schedule and when the dog has to go to the vet.
Time yourself doing chores: We all have a household chore we hate to do. Mine is the dishes. With a family of six, our sink fills up after every single meal. It’s difficult to face an intimidating chore at the end of the day when I’m already tired. So, I learned this trick to motivate myself. One day, I timed how long it took to do the dishes. I was amazed to learn that it was only 10 minutes. I was dragging my feet and procrastinating over a silly 10-minute task! Now, when I’m faced with an intimidating kitchen, I tell myself, “I’m just going to clean this for 10 minutes.” Often, that’s enough time to get it done. Try the timer trick with a task you hate. You may be surprised how little time it takes to do some of your most dreaded chores!
Find ways to multi-task: Sometimes there really aren’t enough hours in the day, so we have to make the most of the time we have. What are some tasks that you can combine? Try folding laundry while watching your favorite show. Listen to your podcast while doing the dishes. Catch up on phone calls while walking the dog. Clean out your email inbox while cycling at the gym. Don’t put off those chores; instead, find creative ways to rearrange your schedule so you’ll have time for everything.
Cut prep time
Save time on meal prep: Work smarter, not harder. Getting groceries and making dinner every day can be time-consuming routines. Look for ways to save time by ordering groceries online and having them delivered. You can also try curbside pick-up at a larger store. At home, try cooking in batches so you don’t spend as much time in the kitchen. You can do meal prep at the beginning of the week or prepare double quantities of freezer-friendly meals. That way, you’ll have something prepped and ready to go on those busy evenings.
Involve the kids
Get the kids to pull their weight: When I transitioned from stay-at-home mom to working mom, something had to give. I quickly realized that I shouldn’t waste my time doing chores that my kids were able to do on their own.
Depending on the ages of your children, try making a chore chart or setting daily expectations so the kids can handle these simple tasks for you:
- Unloading the dishwasher
- Starting a load of laundry, or moving laundry into the dryer
- Setting the table
- Sweeping after a meal
- Wiping and drying the table
- Cleaning up their toys
- Feeding pets
- Making beds
- Wiping off the bathroom sink
- Dusting with a disposable duster
If the kids help keep up with these tasks, then you will have more time to focus on larger adult priorities, like paying bills and scheduling an oil change.
Take a deep breath. Life doesn’t have to feel busy and overwhelming every day. If you use these strategies to maximize your time at home, then you’ll see whether or not you can accept a new responsibility. And sometimes, if the planner is always full, it’s ok to say NO.
Don’t accept more than you can handle. Instead, make the most of the time you have by organizing priorities in a way that works for you.Read comments