I often receive questions on how I manage to handle my busy schedule at least once a week, honestly, closer to a few times. As some of you may already know, I am a single mother to three children who are aged 7, 5, and 4. Besides raising them as their sole provider, I am also their sole educator, as I homeschool them. Additionally, I run a successful nanny agency, travel often, cook almost all meals from scratch, bake, go to events, host events, read, and we have sports practice nearly every evening, and I still have leftover time - albeit not much. I know you are saying that is not possible, well yes it is! I strongly believe if you prioritize your goals, you can make time for anything. Here are my top tips for success.
GET SUFFICIENT SLEEP// Getting a good night's sleep is crucial. Not only does research show how this is a key piece to having a successful day ahead, but I can firsthand tell you that it is a must for me. I understand that many of you might not be able to achieve this, especially if you have young children like me. However, I always made sure to give myself the opportunity to get as much sleep as my body needed, 6-7 hours each night. You may be wondering, but how do you do all of this and get enough sleep? The key piece here is to put your phone down, turn off the TV, put the game down, and go to bed. I have never been a TV watcher or a gamer, though I do love social apps. Many of us don’t utilize our time on social media well and I find using the timer on my phone is really helpful.
THE 5a WAKE UP// Yes, you read this correctly, I make sure to wake up by 5 am every day because it sets me up for a productive day ahead, and it gives me plenty of time to take care of myself, work, get schoolwork ready, and make breakfast all before my children wake up. During the spring and summer months, my children wake up earlier, so I adjust my bedtime accordingly and wake up no later than 4:30 AM. Once you get into the routine, I promise you, it's not that difficult to wake up early. In fact, many people thrive on it. Waking up early not only makes you feel great for the entire day, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment by noon.
MORNING ROUTINE// Every morning, the same things happen to set my mood! First things first, I always thank the universe for another day to enjoy. I then take a peek at the emails that came in through the night, though I do not respond unless urgent, and then I head straight downstairs for 8oz of lemon water. What do you think comes next? You are right, coffee! I then take time to meditate, do my gratitude work, take my vitamins, and get going on work. If you are not working, this would be a prime time to get a workout in. I am working on that piece currently. As soon as I hear little footsteps, I warm up the breakfast that I made on Sunday reset, and we talk about the day ahead and what I need from them to get us to our activity on time. Clothes for the children were brought down from the night before from our Sunday reset pile, so they get dressed right after eating. I love that there is no choice here to put on something else as none of them want to go upstairs alone, so that battle I used to take on vanished. My oldest jumps into an hour of schoolwork, the boys play, and I work another hour alongside my daughter, and then we are off to burn off everyone’s energy. Next year, this will look a bit different as I will be schooling all three, though I will maintain some kind of routine.
NAP TIME// I do not waste a single minute of nap time. All three of mine nap three days a week, and the boys nap every day, thankfully, I do not see this ending anytime soon – they love their sleep. I very seriously do not waste a second of this precious time. Generally, this is where I get roughly another 2-3 hours of work completed. If it is a really busy work season, then I will have someone watch them in the evening so I can work.
EVENING ROUTINE// Yes, we also have an evening routine. Every evening after dinner, we all pitch in to get things back in order. Now that I have three very capable kids, we all pitch in to pick up, and it goes really quickly. We go room to room before we head off to the many sports practices. After we get home from their sports practices/games, they jump in the shower while I finish getting my kitchen back to perfection so I can wake up to a fresh kitchen. I love waking up to a clean home as I am pretty type A, and it sets me up for a great day. I do simple things like set my coffee cup under the Nespresso and get the plates down for breakfast with the right silverware out. As they wrap up for the night and watch a show, I get the rest of my work done that I didn’t get finished at nap time.
SUNDAY RESET// Almost every Sunday, I do the reset, as I call it. I talk a lot about this online when parents are feeling overwhelmed with all the things to do. Family assistants could do this for their families as well to ensure a good start to the week. Sunday reset is either completed by me or a wonderful family assistant who steps in when I am super busy, or we are coming home from a trip. If you have a partner, this would go so much faster. Saturday nights are meal planning for the week and ordering grocery pick up for Sunday. Sundays are no exception to the early morning wake; only I don’t dive into work; before my children rise for the day, I am tiptoeing around the house doing the quiet things, switching laundry, putting away dishes, wiping hand prints off windows, and getting our muffins and pancakes made, and a Dutch baby made for the week. Then, when the children pop up, we get in the car – pancakes in hand and get all of our pickups; it usually involves three stores as I live up north, and sadly, we don’t have one store that carries all of everything we need. We then head to the car wash and gas station, check the mail, run additional errands, and head home. When we arrive home, my littles all help; when they were younger, this was not an option, though they have all three been helping for the last year. They help unload and put groceries away, my oldest helps wash the fruit and prepare the fruit for the week, and the boys fill water bottles for the first four days of the week, yes, that is 14 water bottles, as my oldest has sports and uses a different bottle, and they fill my Nespresso machine with water and the cat’s water bowl while I start on three dinners for the upcoming days. Then, once they are done, we all cook together. While I am cleaning up the kitchen mess we made, they are all off playing.
Generally, it is now lunchtime, and I make double for the next day, Monday, as Mondays are my busiest workday. The kids and I break for lunch and try to get out to a nearby park to burn some energy, and in the Summer months, they play in our backyard.
Once back, the boys are taking a nap, and Adlie is doing a good chunk of math and language arts while I get emails caught up or write a blog! This is also a time when I get a mop and vacuum completed, take out all the trash, and get the bins to the curb. In the evenings, we all do laundry, or in the Summer, I mow the lawn, and we garden. Every Sunday, we create daily piles of outfits that the kids will wear all week, and each night, I take that next day's pile and bring it down for the morning. While this is a full day's work, it makes my week a breeze. Now, once we run out of meals, I do another set during the week, and we do eat out 1 or 2 times a week. The Sunday reset could really be completed on any day, though we generally have at-home days on Sundays, and I try my hardest not to work – that never happens, though I try, so it works for us.
CAR ORGANIZATION// Car organization is a part of our Sunday reset. The back of my SUV is super organized, and I love it. I have bins in my car for everything. For example, my oldest is on the swim team, and the boys swim twice a week, so in my trunk, I have a large bin with ten towels ready to go (put in Sunday night) along with three nights of PJs for them to change into after and her swim bag. This way, I am not forgetting anything, and we just fill the swim bag when we get there. We also have a bin of coats; each child has two, so when one comes in to be washed, I immediately put a clean one in to replace it. Along with hats, gloves, boots, and hand warmers. Same thing for summer; sand toys, extra suits, sunscreen, and extra sandals are always in the car. I put all of the twelve water bottles in the car for our outings. Lastly, we refill our snack bin and empty the garbage can.
TRICKS AND TIPS// I use Apple's iPhone app called Notes to keep track of everything, from meal ideas and tasks to items I need to buy at the store. I also use the Habit app to monitor my daily routine, especially my water intake. I find that tracking my activities helps me stay organized and motivated. Additionally, I have a system where I clean one area of my home each day, which keeps my space tidy. On days when we need to leave the house early, I dress my family in their next day's clothes the night before if the outfits are comfortable. To reduce the number of dishes we use, we have a shared plate system where everyone eats from one plate. This not only saves on dishes but also helps reduce food waste. Lastly, I ask for help when I need it. My brother and my parents are a huge support I have for the big things, and I am not shy to hire a nanny for the day/weeks to give me extra support.
Everyone's schedules are going to be different, though I hope there is some information here to help you be successful in everything you choose to do! And if you need extra support - you know who to ask!
The Nanny Consultant