If you're a mother who always feels like you're racing against the clock, then you certainly aren't alone. Between changing diapers, keeping up with household chores, and balancing your own work and social calendar, it's no surprise that one in three moms feels rushed all the time.
But burnout doesn't have to be your daily reality. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to minimize the time crunch of daily life. Whether you're looking for a way to carve out a little more free time or simply trying to destress, this piece is for you. Alex & Thea, a premier baby accessory and clothing brand, outlines four essential and actionable time management tips for new moms.
Add Everything to Your Calendar
Many mothers use a calendar to mark big occasions—birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, holiday parties. But fewer use it to plan how they'll conquer their daily to-do list.
Admittedly, it does feel strange to add tasks like "pick up salmon," "return clothes to Target," or "buy stamps" to your calendar because they seem so trivial. But the truth is, these small to-dos take up a lot of time in our days, even if we think we're running a "quick errand."
This miscalculation is a very real thing: It's called the "planning fallacy." It's a cognitive bias people have to consistently underestimate the time it will take to complete an action. And, because these tasks are small, they're likely to get pushed back and then stack up… And so forms a never-ending to-do list.
To avoid the build up, block out ample time in your calendar for daily tasks, and then break down chores into smaller parts. For instance, instead of adding “shopping” to your calendar, add each place you need to go (e.g., Nordstroms, Trader Joe’s, Lowes, etc.).
Opt for a digital calendar so you can reference it on your phone, tablet, and computer. Not only are you more likely to always have access to it when you need it, but you can add additional information as it comes to you, lessening the chance you’ll forget a last minute change. It's helpful to include your shopping list, links to price compare items, appointment reminders, and more.
2. Ask for Help
At some point, even the most "put together" parent needs some extra hands on deck. Whether it's from a family member, friend, or significant other, asking for help is okay. You'll be surprised how many people are willing to step up to the plate.
In fact, 38 percent of grandparents help with babysitting and daycare needs. While friends may be more apprehensive about taking on childcare responsibilities, there are other favors you could ask for (e.g., picking up an item, helping with yard work, walking the dog). Make sure you're effectively delegating tasks to your significant other as well.
All too often, one person in a relationship thinks it's obvious that a chore needs to be done, when in reality, the partner has no idea. Communicate clearly about each person's responsibilities and make sure each person has access to a communal calendar.
There are also many single parents who don't have the luxury of asking for help from their partners. In fact, the U.S. currently has the world's highest rate of single-parent households (23 percent). If you do need help with childcare, there are a variety of resources available, including, but not limited to:
But it's not just about asking for help. It's about having a plan once you receive it. Make sure you're ready to delegate tasks, have appointments booked, and prioritize your objectives in case you have to eliminate something.
3. Stack Your Habits and Tasks
For busy people, our days can feel chaotic. But they’re probably more streamlined than you think. In fact, roughly 45 percent of our daily activities are habits, from our actions to our emotions. We take a shower, brew some coffee, brush our teeth, etc. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny little habits.
Each small daily task provides the opportunity to "habit stack." By adding a small action before and after each every-day habit, you can foster time-saving behaviors and free up some more space on your already busy schedule.
The basic "formula" for habit stacking is: After/Before [Current Habit], I will [New Habit]. So, for example:
Before my morning, coffee I will pick out my outfit for the day
After I shower, I’ll review my to-do list for the day
Before bed, I’ll do all of the dishes
After work, I’ll immediately change into my workout clothes.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, notes, “The reason habit stacking works so well is that your current habits are already built into your brain. You have patterns and behaviors that have been strengthened over years. By linking your new habits to a cycle that is already built into your brain, you make it more likely that you'll stick to the new behavior.”
You should also stack habits that have the same frequency. For instance, if you drink coffee every day, you should stack a new behavior that you’d like to do daily. Master habit stacking, and you'll notice a new momentum in your day that will help you run more efficiently.
4. Be Mindful of Social Media
There are few time sinks as bad as social media. The average person spends about 2.5 hours a day scrolling Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms. That equates to almost 17.5 hours a week.
And, look, we like it too. But if you’re constantly rushing from task to task, give yourself more time by weaning off of social media. You’ll probably find that you feel better too. Social media usage has a strong correlation with anxiety and depression. If you want to ensure you don’t scroll mindlessly for too long, you can:
Activate time limits on your phone
Track your time
Use browser extensions that block social media sites
Take one or more days out of the week to not use social media at all
Disable social media notifications
Many new moms also have an unhealthy habit of comparing themselves to their social media peers. While posts from successful women can be entertaining, empowering, and informative, the truth is, the moments we all share on social are curated and filtered. Limiting your social intake can minimize insecurities and improve your confidence and self-worth.
Alex & Thea creates functional, fashion-forward baby products and accessories that make life easier for busy parents. We are also an emerging resource for actionable parenting advice. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do, join our newsletter below and browse our upcoming line of backpacks and accessories!