Before I became a parent, I didn't quite understand the daily juggling act that is required to survive. Having kids means being responsible for little people who can't seem to remember the most basic things, like brushing their teeth two times a day or wearing socks. They don't know how to tell time, manage a calendar or understand what the word Tuesday means, so keeping a schedule is tough. Pre-planning the day and closing down the day are the two practices that have been game-changers in my attempt to keep our parenting journey as organized as possible.
I was always a type-A worker. I color-coded categories in my work calendar and set alerts regularly so I would never forget a task. Turning in my pencil skirts for yoga pants when I became a stay-at-home mom was a transition I thought would result in less stress. I thought I would just go with the flow, snuggle with my daughter, and not have much to worry about. Then reality set in, and I realized that my laid-back attitude wasn't going to cut it if we wanted to survive.
To my surprise, parenting requires more organization than managing a stressful full-time job. At least with a job I could count on a boss that will hound me if a task was urgent, and co-workers I could enlist for help. Honestly, friends who work at an office and raise a child, how is this even working? Organization skills are non-negotiable.
I realized quickly that in order to keep on top of things, I needed to come up with a system. Thankfully, I already knew what worked for me pre-parenthood and once I realized that, when all was said and done, there wasn't much difference between being a mom and being on the workforce full-time, it was a lot easier to set a plan in motion. In parenting, there are still tasks to be performed, due dates to be met, and lots of accountability. With so many similarities, I changed my mindset and took some habits I created at work and transitioned them into my mom-life.
I start my day at my parent-job the same way I started my day at my pre-parenthood job: At a desk with my calendar and planner in hand.
Now, I start my day at my parent-job the same way I started my day at my pre-parenthood job: at a desk with my calendar and planner in hand. I go through the day's schedule and strategize how and when I am going to get everything done. I run through obligations and make a very loose plan in my head. I then run through relevant things with my husband, so he and I are on the same page. This practice takes me all of five minutes, and it saves me a lot of grief in the long run. Sacrificing five minutes of scrolling through social media before my child is up to mentally prepare for my day is worth it. The day might, of course, not go according to plan, but I don't sweat it and make a mental note of what needs to happen the next day.
At the end of the workday, I recap the day and pre-plan for the next day once my kiddo goes to sleep. The evening prep usually takes me around 30 minutes, but with a glass of wine nearby and silence, it's not that bad to run through what is on tap for the next day. I also get the house in order (as much as possible) so I can focus on unexpected things that come up in the morning — like my daughter dealing with the very time-consuming and giant tragedy that is having a bad hair day. I force my husband off of the couch and we both prep the house like rockstars: unload the dishwasher, fold towels, put things away, get the coffee ready to brew in the morning. It is the last thing both of us want to do after a long day, but we are so thankful that we put in the effort come morning time.
Treating parenthood like a job doesn't give a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it does result in a sense of organization, calmness, and structure. It provides a routine that has guaranteed us a flow that has saved us a lot of time and grief in the long run.