If you had an extra hour a day, how would you spend it?
Is it a nice long nap? A leisure stroll down the street? Or go to a Beyonce or Taylor Swift concert for a weekend?
Moms and free time are hardly ever in the same sentence. I’ve talked to many moms that wish they had more time.
(Let’s be honest here, don’t we all, whether you’re a mom or not, lol)
And I’m here to tell you that you can find and safeguard your time for what matters most if you do it right.
Let’s dive in on 10 tips for busy moms!
Create a Daily Schedule and a To-Do List
I LOVE a good to-do list and turning it into my daily schedule!
It helps you focus on the important stuff when so many things are vying for your attention when you have limited time.
When you have a clear plan for your day, you can prioritize your tasks and focus on what’s most important rather than getting derailed by unexpected distractions.
To create an efficient daily routine, plan your schedule by setting aside time each day. I like doing this in the evenings before bedtime, so I know what to expect for tomorrow, and I’m ready to hit the ground running the next morning. It also helps me wind down from the day and not feel like I have to store all the to-do items in my brain (which gets quite crowded up there!).
I leverage the Ivy Lee method, which limits your to-do list to six items max. Anything that needs to get done beyond the six items I can still jot them down to tackle a later day, but the six-items max rule helps me really focus on my priorities.
Once I have my prioritized six-item to-do list, I slot them into my daily schedule.
I used to make the rookie mistake of creating a to-do list but not setting aside time to work on the to-do tasks. Don’t do that; you’ll stress yourself out even more when you feel like you’re not accomplishing anything.
It can be setting aside 15 minutes to schedule all the upcoming doctor’s appointments for the next month or carving out time to go to your kid’s soccer practice. Whatever takes up your time, create a time block for it in your schedule.
Consider using a digital calendar or planner, which can help you keep track of various appointments, gatherings, and deadlines. I use Google Calendar for personal and work – I keep the information separate. Still, I can view an integrated view of both calendars at once, so I get a complete picture of everything that requires my time and attention.
Breaking your day into manageable chunks can help you stay on task, avoid being overwhelmed, and schedule breaks like lunch.
Creating a to-do list can be a powerful way to improve productivity and reduce stress.
Meal Planning and Prepping
I never realized the importance of meal planning and prepping until I realized how much proper nutrition plays a role in your overall energy level, mood, and health.
That’s why I meal plan every weekend before the work week starts. It also helps me create my grocery list!
I read Maye Musk’s book, and something she said really stuck with me – if you plan for your food in advance, you’re less likely to eat junk food when you’re hungry. Often times we go with junk food because it’s readily available when we’re hungry. But if you already have a healthy meal waiting for you, you’ll likely eat healthy.
So, I always plan at least one meal ahead. This allows time for meal prep (e.g., allow my frozen salmon time to defrost).
For me, two of my time-saving tips when it comes to getting dinner ready on the weekdays especially are 1) frozen vegetables and 2) using a crockpot.
Washing and chopping vegetables and cleaning up afterward takes me at least 15-20 minutes. Then, my brother introduced me to the beauty of frozen vegetables, which are already prepped by companies and are frozen at the peak of their deliciousness. Also, I never have to worry about the vegetables going bad if I don’t get to them – saving money and not wasting food.
I also use a crockpot when I go into the office. I typically have a few go-to crockpot meals, so I don’t have to spend 10-15 minutes looking up recipes every time. I use the evening before to prep all the ingredients (e.g., mix up sauce or marinate meat). Before leaving for work, I dump everything into the crockpot and set it on low for 8 hours.
It’s the BEST feeling not worrying about cooking dinner after a long day at work and picking up kids.
Also, as a side note, you can make so many easy meals with crockpot. Cooking is not my strength, but I’ve been able to make many delicious meals for my family and friends with the crockpot.
Especially for working moms where you have to straddle between work and personal schedules, it helps to meal plan and prep at the start of the week so you can save time and reduce stress. Consider batch cooking and making freezer meals, which can be a great way to save time and reduce waste. Especially there will be times when unexpected things come up (e.g., unexpected doctor’s visit or you’re not feeling well) – freezer meals can be a lifesaver!
Delegate Household Chores
Moms innately feel compelled to do everything themselves – from household duties to caring for the kids.
But here’s the truth,
You don’t need to do everything by yourself, and not everything needs to be perfect all the darn time!
Delegating household chores can be a powerful way to lighten the load for busy moms. Rather than trying to do everything yourself, consider enlisting the help of family members or hiring a professional cleaner.
If you have family nearby or your kids are old enough to help, consider creating a chore chart or cleaning schedule so everyone knows their responsibilities.
Household chores are also a great way to teach kids at a young age about responsibilities, like packing lunches for themselves, filling up dish soap when it’s low, or wheeling out trash cans for the weekly trash pick up.
I know only some have family close by or kids who can help, so I won’t go in-depth in this aspect.
However, I want to point out that you can pay for services to make your life easier.
You see, for the longest time, I felt guilty spending money on services to save me a few extra hours from household chores when I could do them myself.
But, I came across a few successful entrepreneurs’ talks that changed my perception of money.
I need to spend money to buy back time so I can spend it on the things that truly matter to me, like working out for 30 minutes, spending time with my family, or doing meditation to help me de-stress.
My goal in life isn’t to have $1 million in my bank account on my last day.
My goal in life is to maximize every minute I have while breathing and doing the things I love.
And I’m willing to trade money for my valuable time.
This can be hiring professional cleaners to help you clean the house every month, paying your neighbor’s kid $10-$20 to take care of laundry time, unload the dishes, or pull in your trash can (seriously, my coworker hired a kid in their neighborhood to fold their family’s laundry for $20).
Every minute you get back from not doing house chores means it’s every minute of your valuable time to do something that you truly cherish and value.
I love this quote.
Because we can’t take care of our loved ones if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
That means ensuring you’re getting enough sleep, exercising to care for your physical health, managing your stress level…etc.
But it can also mean taking time to do the things you love, like getting a cup of fancy coffee, fresh air first thing in the morning, or watching your favorite Netflix show.
For working moms, that means not dwelling on mom guilt when picking work over your kids’ activities in certain circumstances.
I can’t stress enough the importance of self-care, especially for moms.
One of the best ways to prioritize self-care is incorporating it into your schedule, like any other chores.
Well, I don’t really have much time in my daily life.
Well, it doesn’t have to take much.
Start with a 1-minute or 2-minute increment, where you do something for yourself and your wellness.
I couldn’t stand silence a few years ago because I was always on the go. So, I started practicing 1-minute of meditation in silence – gradually, I began to love it. And now, I do a 5-minute or 10-minute meditation as part of my morning routine.
Self-care is essential for busy moms who want to avoid burnout and stay healthy. Taking the time to prioritize your needs can help you recharge and feel more energized.
Don’t let the busyness of everyday life take over your life.
Streamline Shopping and Errands
Another huge time saver I love is streamlining your shopping and errands!
Consider blocking out a Saturday (or whichever day you have off) to run all your errands, from dropping off return packages at UPS to getting groceries. Try to consolidate your trips and plan your route in advance so it minimizes your travel time, and you can hit up many stores simultaneously.
Another way to streamline your shopping is by leveraging online shopping.
For daily essentials, like paper towels and napkins, I have them on auto-subscription from Amazon to save me fewer trips to the stores.
My husband and I also started using Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods delivery since the pandemic, and it’s been a game changer! It saves us about 1.5 hours weekly, and we don’t make impulsive purchases (those peanut M&Ms!!) in the grocery store.
Some people worry about getting lesser quality produce or meat with online shopping, but most of these delivery services are generally reasonable and generous with refunding you if you receive spoiled or incorrect items.
If you don’t have grocery delivery services near you, many grocery stores actually offer pick-up services. This means you can place your grocery order online, they’ll package everything up for you, and when you show up, they’ll drop off your groceries in your trunk.
You can avoid crowds and long lines.
How awesome is that?
I’m not one to stand in line for the newest iPhone.
But I love incorporating technology where it makes sense to make my life easier.
As I get older and busier, I become more forgetful
So, I create systems and tools to automatically take care of smaller tasks, especially recurring ones.
For example, setting up all your bills on auto-pay can be your credit card, utilities, phone bills, and all the endless bills that come with adulthood.
Instead of mailing in a check, I pay my bills online, so I have a digital record of the receipt and can more effectively track my spending.
My husband and I also have a shared family calendar. We track our social events, appointments, or bills with specific deadlines in that shared family calendar. It makes coordination so much easier, and I don’t have to repeat myself as much on planned events, lol.
Some of my favorite apps that maximize my time management and productivity include Evernote, Google Shared Calendar, …etc.
The advancement of technology has made it easier than ever for busy moms to manage their lives.
So, take advantage of it and simplify your life where you can.
Set Realistic Goals and Boundaries
As women, we often feel we need to do everything perfectly and please everyone.
We want to be the perfect daughter, perfect wife, perfect mom, perfect colleague, perfect friend.
The truth is, you won’t be perfect in every role in every second of your life.
There will be moments when you are the perfect mom but not the ideal colleague, and sometimes the inverse will be true.
And that’s where setting realistic goals and boundaries is SO important.
For example, suppose you have a big work deliverable due next week; in that case, you likely won’t be able to cook dinner every night. You can set realistic goals of trying to cook dinner on the weekends and order healthy food deliveries 3 times on weeknights to give yourself some lift. That’s perfectly okay.
That may also mean that after you’ve worked a 10-hour day, you let your boss know that you won’t be checking your email when you’re home so you can be present with your family.
Setting unrealistic goals and not creating proper boundaries can lead to feelings of mom guilt, burnout, and burnout. That’s why I emphasize setting a maximum of 6 items on your to-do list.
And the truth is, you only have 24 hours a day.
It’s okay to say “No”.
It’s okay to not please everyone.
It’s okay to put you and your family first.
So, what will you do to fiercely guard the thing(s) that matter the most to you?
I don’t know everything about you, but I hope you are at the top of your list.
Declutter and Organize
I will be the first to admit.
I’ve always been a messy kid growing up.
I’m super organized at work but could not get my room to stay clean in my 20s through my early 30s.
And it honestly didn’t bother me.
BUT one morning, when I was trying to get my crockpot set up before work, I couldn’t find this seasoning in the spice rack.
It took me about 5 minutes to find it.
THAT STRESSED ME OUT!
I asked myself, how much time have I spent in my life so far to look for things?
And how much time can I save if my place is organized?
And that’s when I realize why Marie Kondo makes so much money…!
Image source: cunoozfeed.com
An organized living space can go a long way in reducing stress and promoting productivity. You need to first declutter your house before you can organize – there’s no point in organizing something you’ll never use.
When I decluttered my house, I also realized how many unnecessary items I had accumulated over the years. And this decluttering exercise actually helped me save money by not buying knick-knacks!
Once the remaining functional items are set aside, you can leverage simple organizing hacks such as labeling containers and creating designated spaces for specific items.
One habit I adopted was to put things back where they belong so I don’t have to spend time later to organize.
Stay Connected and Seek Support
Human beings are born to be social creatures.
Many women I’ve talked to find talking to be a stress reliever.
That’s why communities are essential.
It’s powerful, comforting, and healing to connect with people who have gone through (or are going through) the same things you’re going through.
Social support has been shown to reduce stress and promote well-being in moms. Scheduling regular catch-ups with friends, joining local parenting groups, or attending community events are all great ways to stay connected.
One thing I love about joining local groups outside my usual family and friend circles is that you can be more vulnerable.
Depending on your relationship with your family and friends, sometimes it’s easier to chat with people who don’t have ties to your immediate circles. You don’t have to worry about your stories getting shared with Aunt Debbie and what they might think of you. It’s pretty liberating, actually.
On the topic of support, this also includes professional help.
It can be therapy sessions, couples counseling, or post-partum support.
Motherhood is life-changing in so many ways.
And, naturally, you need support to adjust to this new chapter of your life.
So, get out there and find your tribe, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As I get older, I realize life is constantly about making choices.
If I go to work, I may miss certain moments with my baby.
If I visit my parents, it means I have to say no to my friend’s birthday party.
Acknowledging that there will never be enough hours or the ability to show up in more than one place at once – being physically and mentally present is the best I can do to enjoy the choice I’ve made.
Recently, I went to my parents’ to hang out with them one weekend. I wasn’t sure if I would spend one or two nights when I first got there.
My brother was abroad, and my husband was at my in-laws, so it was a really special weekend where I felt like I was the only child.
But I noticed that the first few hours of my time there, I was thinking about my blog – how will I write the 2 articles I planned to do over the weekend.
I became stressed just thinking about it.
Finally, I decided to spend only one night there to have a full day to work on my blog.
Once I made that decision, I could fully be present in my conversations and activities with my parents. We had a fabulous time together, joked around, laughed like no one was watching, and hugged a lot.
I was so glad I caught my stress levels and anxiety early on. I quickly created a plan to address it and became fully present afterward.
And when I got home the next day, I could entirely focus on my blog – not feeling guilty.
This simple observation and intentionality make a big difference, especially when you have a busy schedule.
Savor the moments. Right here. Right now.
Being a busy mom is undoubtedly a challenging and demanding role, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
Self-compassion is essential during this phase of your life, juggling between life, possibly a job, and motherhood.
One way to embrace these tips more easily is – what would you tell your busy mom friend if they’re overwhelmed? You’ll probably tell them to prioritize self-care, set boundaries, and learn to say no more often.
So why not be the change you want to see?
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools or appliances can I use to get more time back?
My kitchen appliances help me save the most time compared to other tools I use.
Eating healthy requires a ton of prep and planning, so the less time I can spend on actively cooking, the better (for me personally!)
Growing up, my mom always did stir-fry, but I realized I didn’t have the time to do all the active cooking after a long day at work. So, I leverage my oven, crock pot, or instant pot on most work days.
I also have a coffee maker that I set up the night before, so it starts at 6:00 a.m. every morning; I have two rice cookers that do most of the steaming for me (I steam quite a lot of food!). I have a water warmer that boils and keeps my water warm.
How can I make time for quality family moments despite a busy schedule?
Create a time block on your calendar for quality family time, just like you would for a work meeting or an errand that needs to be done.
Prioritize family time by scheduling regular activities or outings. Turn off screens during meals and spend time talking and connecting.
Quality over quantity matters most.
What are some tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a working mom?
Going back to setting clear boundaries, communicating your needs with your boss at work is important. This can be letting them know your general availability during the day, what hours you won’t be available for kids drop off or pick up, and the best way they can get a hold of you in case of a work emergency.
I’m a manager at work – on day 1 of welcoming new team members, especially working moms, I’m intentional about understanding their work-life schedule to create a system and process that works for them and the company.
If you have a partner or family member who lives with you, consider communicating how they can lean in on household chores.