By the end of last year, I felt totally depleted and fatigued by doing all the things that we mothers do. The mothering, the schooling, the working, the cooking, the washing, the emotional caring, the disciplining, the routine making, the routine keeping, the household managing, the bill paying and the lunch making. Phew! Why do we ever wonder why mothers are so tired? I knew I needed better mum life balance, stat.
It’s true that, more than ever, I had run the year at a sprint, not really pacing myself. I felt that I could and should manage this better, so as the new year dawned, I took some time reflect. I asked myself.
What is possible to change?
What steps can I take to implement them now?
So over the last few weeks of the school holidays, I really took a long hard look at how we were living and functioning. Both as a family and as contributors to society. I wanted to see what I could change to live in a less stressed, more fulfilling way.
Changes for better mum life balance
1. I’ve had “the chat” with my husband about the division of our roles.
This sounds worse than it was, but the start of the year is a great time to have a chat about expectations, roles both at home and work. We talked about our own goals, what we wanted to achieve personally and professionally, and how that fits into our family.
We also talked logistics: like school administration, after-school activities, school drop-offs and our own personal time. It was so refreshing.
It feels like we are heading into the year supporting each other, not resenting the other person for what they don’t do!
2. I’ve committed to online grocery shopping.
This one is, for me a huge game changer. I know some people (I am not one of them) who love a good grocery shop. For me, outsourcing this feels great. I use Your Grocer and pay a monthly fee for them to deliver my groceries, a couple of times a week.
I chose Your Grocer because they support small business and the range of items is incredible. Now, I’m only popping into a supermarket every now and then for a random item. The best thing about this service is I can set a regular shopping list to be delivered every week. Think staples like milk, bread, snacks for school and a few weekly dinners on repeat all done. It’s one less thing to think about.
Start here: Easy meal planning
3. I’ve reduced my kids’ after-school activities.
I have always been strict about my two kids only doing two extracurricular activities each per week. This year I’ve reduced it to one each. My son is now in high school, and he is committed to school sports training one afternoon, and then Saturday morning sport. If I was to add another four activities on top of this, I think it would be too much to manage.
I spoke to the kids and they were each happy to select their favourite activity from last year and drop the other! This has still meant I’ll be taxi driver a couple of nights a week, but it’s manageable.
Nic has some ideas: 5 tips to manage the chaos of extracurricular activities
4. I’ve increased my children’s independence.
Of course, as each year goes by our children grow and so should their independence. With a child starting high school comes great responsibility and a growing need for independence. We’ve talked about his morning routine, and what is expected about being responsible for his timetable, belongings and also getting himself to and from school.
To allow them to be more self-sufficient, I made a space in our cupboard near the kitchen where all the school information is kept. By reducing how much I manage for them, I’m hopeful I’m fostering their independence and resilience.
Build ’em up: How we foster independence in our kids
5. I’m ditching the guilt and taking more time for me.
I’m done feeling guilty over carving out time each week for myself. Whether its reading a book on a Sunday (and ignoring the washing), or a 6am HIIT class a few times a week, I’m making a conscious effort to put my heath and wellbeing closer to the top of my list. As I often say to my husband, “As the captain of this ship, if I’m not at my best, this ship sinks.”
Ah, mum guilt: 11 tricks to balance working mum guilt (mostly)
6. I’m taking Friday nights off.
We did this for most of the year last year and loved it. We did nothing and planned nothing on Friday nights. I ensured we didn’t book any extra curricular activities on a Friday, we got takeaway for dinner, and hubs and I would enjoy a glass of wine.
The night usually ends us all curled up on the couch watching a family movie. It’s bliss.
7. I’m taking time to nurture our relationship.
I was having a glass of wine with a neighbour a few months ago and we were lamenting how hard it is to schedule in a babysitter, just to go out for dinner with our husbands. So we came up with an exchange. Each month one of us babysits, whilst the other couple enjoy a night off. When work Christmas parties came up last year we helped each other out again, and it is fabulous. Don’t be shy suggesting this to a school friend or a neighbour!
BONUS better mum life balance tip
8. I’m going to buy in more support.
This is a bonus because I haven’t tried it out yet, but I’ll report back. We have no family support nearby, so it’s hard getting informal support to ease the busy, unbalanced weeks. Late last year (when it all started to unravel), I outsourced the weekly cleaning of our home. It was a huge help and I loved coming home each Thursday to a wonderfully clean home.
Then I discovered a Moncierge Service. It offers parents extra help where they need it, on a flexible basis. You might need assistance with cleaning, laundry and meal prep, or you might need some child minding, errands run or ironing done. This is what they do.
We are yet to try the service, but I thought it was too good not to share and I hope I can report back in a few weeks time to let you know how we are getting along.
What will you change this year to bring you better mum life balance?
Image by Thought Catalog