There aren’t enough hours in the day, I’m completely aware of that.
I was the parent who woke up at 630 with the kids, laid on the sofa in my pajamas until 755 to run the eldest to school (still in my ‘jamas), to come home at 830 and make breakfast for the youngers; to play Words With Friends, Little Village, SongPop, and Gems on my phone while they destroyed the house; put the baby down for his nap at 1030, fought with the preschooler about taking a nap that never happened, followed by exhaustive Facebooking, a realization that it was 5:30 and I needed to have dinner on the table by 6, and then, oh crap but we have no food, which turned into a quick but expensive trip to the grocery store, only to go home and fight the starving children while stirring something dangerously hot on the oven, and plucking my children constantly from between my butt cheeks where they were on their ever loving quests to climb up my ass. As a matter of fact, I’ve blogged about my completely insane life before.
I constantly felt like I was running in circles, day in, day out, and I didn’t know which way was up. I had a basket full of unfinshed projects and a mind littered with even more projects that I wanted to start but I couldn’t find more time. My children were fighting all day long; I couldn’t find more time to wash, dry, and style my hair; I couldn’t find more time to go to the grocery store, and I certainly couldn’t find more time to do something kind or relaxing for myself. I had a Blogging Planner (which I won in a FURIOUS game of Rocks, Paper, Scissors) that was collecting dust, and a brain that couldn’t function because it was trying to run in seven thousand different directions at once. Finding more time sounds like trying to find Atlantis to us work from home moms, right?
Well, I’m really excited to tell you that you can find more time, and you don’t have to look very hard to obtain it.
You think I’m crazy, I get that and I don’t blame you but please hear me out. Once you find this elusive time, you will be having so much more fun with your children, your blog or business will blossom; and you will suddenly realize that you are happy, stress-free (most of the time), and for once in your life, enjoying it.
These steps might seem eye-rollingly simple, but they will change your life if you let them.
I know you’re chomping at the bit because it was hard for you to find more time to read this so without further ado, here are your three ridiculously simple steps to finding more time.
Step One: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
When Mama (or Papa) ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, right? Right. Get your sleep.
“But I can totally function on 4 hours of sleep!”
Reality Check! No. You. Cannot.
I used to stay up until 1am and wake up with Grady at 6ish. I was exhausted when I woke up, cranky all day, and incapable of really getting my engine started. I now go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30, hop immediately in the shower, and get dressed and painted as soon as I get out. I have less “time” during the day, but because I am awake, happy, and fully rested, I have now found more time in that same day. I know it makes no sense but listen: When your brain is tired, you can’t think straight, let alone keep track of the time that you do have. When you are rested, you are able to think clearly, keep track of your to-do list, effortlessly breeze through your chores and business, and you’re happy doing it. When you have those happy hormones dancing gaily about in your neurological system, you will dance gaily about your life. OK, maybe it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but comparatively speaking, it definitely is.
It is amazing what a full night’s sleep will do in your quest to find more time.
Step Two: Set a Schedule – and Follow It!
I totally just heard you groan. Put that groan back from whence it came. I wasn’t a big fan of a schedule either. I’m a free thinker! I live by the seat of my pants! I live precariously! Schedules are too restrictive! I feel like I’m in a straight jacket when I have a schedule!
groan groan groan groan groan blah blah blah blah blah blah groan groan groan groan blah blah blah blah
Get off of your keister, buy a planner of some sort (I highly recommend the Blogging Planner for ALL of your blogging needs), and start USING IT! Did you know that multi-tasking stresses you out?
“OH but I work best when I’m under stress!”
Shut-up, no you don’t. I used to think the same thing and it’s a big crock of uncooked potatoes.
When you know what is ahead of you for the day, and what you can expect, you can do all of those little spur-of-the-moment things when you know you have time instead of doing them just whenever you feel like, and missing that super important phone call from a potential new client.
Right now my schedule looks something like this:
6:30: Wake up & hop in shower
8:30: Tackle my daily “chore” according to my daily chore cards
12:00: Lunch for The Muffin and The Stinky
12:45: Storytime for The Muffin and The Stinky
1:00pm: Nap time for The Muffin and The Stinky
1:05pm: Fold any laundry that needs to be folded
1:30pm: Tackle the to-do list
3:00pm: Take The Muffin and The Stinky to the park
5:00pm: Start cooking dinner
6:00pm: Dinner’s served!
6:30pm: Clean up dishes from dinner while The Nerd, The Muffin, & The Stinky watch Sprout
7:00pm: Bath time for The Nerd, The Muffin, & The Stinky
7:30pm: Story time for The Muffin & The Stinky
8:00pm: Bed Time for The Muffin & The Stinky
8:30pm: Bed Time for The Nerd
8:35pm: Time for Mommy to tackle the rest of the To-Do List, work on Business Plan, and/or crochet, read, or write (whatever floats my boat – but only once the To-Do List is completely crossed off)
10:20pm: Wash the face and brush the teeth
10:30pm: Head hits the pillow
Anywhere you see a little *** between the times is free time. The kids can play or color, or we can work on our letters, or they can watch TV, or WHATEVER. These are your “fly by the seat of your pants” times. The rest of your day is planned out, you know what to expect, your children know what to expect, and your life is finally falling into place like the perfect, cohesive, beautiful, and intricate jigsaw puzzle that it is. Your life doesn’t have to be complicated, you’re making it that way by not having a regular routine that you follow and stick to on a daily basis.
I bucked the schedule and the routine until I was going completely insane. Not a day went by where I didn’t have the thought, “I hate my children.” It’s a sad thought to have. Your voice might not sound like mine. Yours might sound something more like, “I hate my job!” or “I hate my house!” or “My children are driving me crazy (but I love them anyways)!” Whatever that internal voice is saying, if it is saying it in a frustrated way, you need a change, and I guarantee you a change of schedule would make your thought life sound much more decorous.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it for 21 days straight.
Step Three: Find Your Joy
I had completely lost my joy. In the past three years, you could find me wallowing in the cesspool that I thought was my life at any given moment. I would tell you I was frazzled, stressed out, that my hands were full, that my children were ill-behaved, and any other plethora of other excuses as to why I was so darned unhappy.
My joy had been replaced by time-sucking activities like playing on my phone and mindlessly surfing the web. These activities were not fulfilling me in any sense of they word. They were simply cluttering my mind, filling voids, and shoving me further and further into the recesses of depression.
The truth is, and was, that I didn’t have time to nurture my joy. What are my joys? Writing, crocheting, reading, painting, any number of things depending on the season, the temperature, the time of day. I’m an artist, I have an artist’s unorganized and chaotic brain, but my life doesn’t have to follow suit.
I am now an artist with a schedule and purpose. This schedule has given me time to find more time and in turn find my joy, something I truly thought I had lost for all eternity. I wonder how many people could be pulled from the depths of depression if they only changed the way that they were spending their time?
Finding your joy will give you purpose, it will drive you to spend your time wisely, and it will keep you accountable to yourself.
You can’t make the decision to do these things for someone else. The Workaholic has been harping on me for ages to prioritize my time, but I couldn’t figure it out. A wonderful friend is helping me, and I’m trying to help you right now, so take the straw. Please.
The great news for you is that I’m still new at this too. I’m still working on making it a habit, so I’m inviting you to do it with me.
And while we’re at it, let’s join The Determined Momma on her quest to put our phones and other technologies away from dinner until bed time and spend that time focusing on the little gifts that are before us. For you that might not be children, it might rather be your pets or your spouse or your significant other. It could be an ailing parent or loved one. It could simply be the quiet space that fills your home – listen to it, it’s trying to talk to you.