Updated: Dec 22, 2021
A common belief for mums is that they aren’t ‘Good Enough’.
This is made harder when we are trying to juggle so many things at once and dealing with extra pressure. Find out if you are
This has been magnified this past 18 months or so with many people working from home, home-schooling, illness and sadly maybe bereavements to cope with. For mums though, this is amplified further as they have the practical and emotional impact on not just themselves but on their children too, to consider and manage.
This has meant extreme pressures on time and emotional wellbeing for mums.
I’m seeing and hearing about this daily in my clinic. We felt bad for not doing it all before now it is even worse. How can we get the balance right? Get everything done but look after ourselves in the meantime.
I’m going to be straight with you. I’m afraid I don’t have any special powers to increase the number of hours in a day but what I can offer is some practical, scientifically proven methods that can help us to manage the time we do have more effectively and efficiently, and some ways to change our perception of time.
STOP trying to multitask.
When we switch between tasks it costs energy and can take up to 20 minutes for our attention to catch up and focus fully on the new task. So, if you are trying to do more than one thing at once you are not giving any of them your full attention.
Neuroscience has shown that it is not possible to multitask.
Women generally can switch between tasks quicker than men because their Corpus Callosum (the bit in between the two halves of your brain) has more connections, on average, in females than in males. But we can’t put our attention on more than one place at a time.
We get frustrated because we never feel like we are doing our best or getting it right (whatever it is we are trying to do).
We forget things, miss things, make mistakes, and feel like nothing ever gets finished or is done right.
So, try Solo Tasking.
Focus on one thing at a time. Give it your full attention. Then do the next thing. This will save time, energy, and the emotional impact of not feeling good enough.
We all know the importance of routines. It’s the thing we all desperately strive for when our baby comes home – sleep routine, feed routine. We know we will feel more human again when this happens. We see it when we keep our children in their bedtime routine – how helpful it is – (or more so when the routine is broken, we see and hear how disruptive it is!)
But have you tried Time Blocking?
This takes the Principals of Solo Tasking and the usefulness of routines and helps us to take back control of our days.
NB – this isn’t ideal when you have a baby or a young child, but it can be adapted to be used if you want or need it.
Essentially you will need either a spreadsheet or a specific app. You can use a large sheet of paper, but this does take more work. Draw out the whole week breaking it down into 15-minute blocks for each hour you are awake each day. (I know, right, this is gonna be loads! See why I said paper and pen takes ages?)
Next you assign time limits to each task you do in a week. Try to be as realistic as possible here. Part of the reason we feel pressured by time is that we overestimate what we can achieve in our day and underestimate how long things will take. Some will be 15 minutes, but others will take 2 hours.
The first couple of weeks will be trial and error and help you to get a handle on exactly how long everything really does take.
NB – Remember to include Rest/Me time blocks
You then put the tasks in the diary. Now, again, there is going to be things that can’t be changed and others that you won’t know when they will occur. So put the non-negotiables in the first. Then work out how many of the unknowns usually occur in a day and schedule as best as possible. Doing this task will highlight why it can feel impossible to get everything done in a day sometimes.
Tip: Use it to inform other family members of just how much you try to do.
Leave some blocks of time empty to allow for unforeseen events or those things that take longer than anticipated.
Start using the Time Blocked calendar.
At the end of the time for the specific task you move onto the next (whether it’s finished or not) I know that may not always possible with children, that’s why I say make sure you are realistic with your timings.
At the end of the week review how it went and revise for the next week.
It may sound like lots of work to get this set up, especially to someone who feels time poor already. But believe me it helps. It helps to get the essentials done. It helps to keep on task when motivation is low. It helps to know I can take a break or do something spontaneous with the family, because all of that I need to do is planned into the diary and realistically timed, so I not only know it will get done, but I also know when it will get done.
Being a working mum can be stressful and it's worth recognizing if you are still coping. Here are some tips on how to recognize if you're not coping.
If you try either or both techniques do let me know how you get on and if you need support with them come and join Good Enough Mum Facebook Group where we offer support, friendship, tips, and advice to manage mum stress.