For moms, those few hours when children are in school are precious — you get to focus on wellness, catch up on work (or favourite shows), or sit with a cuppa and a book! Here is what I do, every day.
By Moina Memon
Constructive and creative utilisation of time is an art every parent wants to master, especially mothers who have to multitask through the day. From running errands to cooking, to making sure home chores are done on time — there's a long to-do list. And, before you know it, the day comes to an end and it’s time to hit the bed.
After the birth of my older daughter, life became busy and I used to struggle to carve out time for myself. Naturally, life became even busier after the birth of my second daughter two years ago. However, over the years, I’ve learnt to use time effectively. I have learnt how to manage my commitments while taking care of my children's schedules.
Typically, my day starts at 7 am, regardless of the time I go to bed. I have two early risers who like to sing and play as soon as they wake up! There have been days when I have found myself sitting on the bed like a zombie and then rushing to get my child ready for school.
Once my elder daughter is on her way to school with my husband, I feel a sense of freedom. Then, I sit down to sip a cup of tea and go through my list of things-to-do, deliberating on writing assignments, follow-up messages I need to send, planning my children's lunch and instructing the cook on what to do.
Once I turned 30, I realised that I needed to take better care of my health. After all, a healthy and happy mom makes a happy home. So, after I finish my tea, I exercise for an hour, which also includes gratitude meditation to set a positive tone for the day. Even when my days do not start well, I don’t skip my meditation session as I find the practice relaxing. I am also a believer in the fact that I should be consistent in anything I choose to do. There are days when I am bogged down by work deadlines or a fall out with someone or, a whiny, cranky child. But, just sitting on the couch and searching for a silver lining in the dark cloud, helps me. It really works! Of course, sometimes laziness gets to me and I skip exercise.
My ‘me time’ is over by 10 am, when it's time to take my younger daughter to her school. She is only 2 years old, so I must be with her in class three times a week. On those days, I begin my workday at 12 noon, catching up on emails, calls, and meetings. And, by 1:30 pm, it's time for my elder daughter to come back home. After lunch, I spend time with her, helping her finish homework. In between, I also shift to another room to attend to and focus on my work.
Over the years, I have fine-tuned a routine that helps me have a productive day. Here is my secret:
Plan your week in advance: I usually plan my meetings and prepare my to-do list for the week, every Sunday evening. This helps me save time every morning because I can quickly start ticking things off my list as I start my day. For example, while I am having my morning cuppa, I tick off the follow-up messages and calls.
Prioritise tasks: I am not able to finish all the tasks on my list, every day. There are days when I get time to only complete one or two. And, that's okay. For, on the days I go to my younger daughter's school, I only have an hour before my elder daughter is back. On those days, I prefer not to begin work in that one hour because my flow of thoughts gets disturbed. There also are days when I don’t do anything and only spend time with my children thinking they will soon grow up and begin leading their own lives. So, I should make the most of the time when they really want and need me.
Strike a balance: Overdoing things can sometimes drive us mad. Even spending more time than necessary with children can be tiring and frustrating. I realised it is important that I learn to balance my life and my commitments. Even when my children are home, I take breaks away from them. This is possible, thanks to the help I have at home. I have always believed that, if delegation of duties makes us better parents and helps us achieve what we plan to, then that is the way to go.
Be present in the moment: I learnt this the hard way. While my daughter was an infant, I wanted to be with her all the time. So, I rarely ventured out of home, wasn't too particular about caring for myself, or pursuing my interests. And, when I did go out, I would worry about my daughter all the time. I’d keep calling my mother-in-law to check on my baby daughter. And, when was at home with my child, I would whine about not being able to step out of home and my boring life! After this had been going on for some time, my spouse and friends suggested that I should stop worrying and enjoy myself. Over a period, I realised that when I am with my children, I want to be with them without any distractions. And, when I step out of home to do something, I want to be fully involved in that, as well. As I began writing, I also learnt to focus on the task at hand. Following this practice makes me feel satisfied and productive.
After 6 pm, I prefer being with my children. I like to take them for a evening stroll, sit with them for dinner and talk to them about anything exciting or ask if there's anything they’d like to tell me about their day. By 8 or 8.30 pm, it's time for the children to go to bed, after which, I get together with my husband and plan for the next day.
Overall, my free hours are well spent when my work is delegated and I am more planned and organised. When I have a productive day, I sleep well and I wake up recharged to take on the next day with enthusiasm!
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