You could spend all day cleaning up after your kids, running to the grocery store for that thing you forgot for dinner, and looking for lost paperwork. Or you could, you know…not.
Mastering homemaker time management isn’t just about squeezing more tasks into your day; it’s about doing the most with your time so it isn’t wasted. Sounds simple! It’s not.
For everyone who’s ever felt like they were busy busy busy and accomplishing precisely nothing, I’m here to help.
Let’s explore how to design our days to be productive but not overwhelming.
It’s all about balancing your homemaking so that your daily life feels both fulfilling and manageable.
Why Bother with any of this?
This question makes sense to me. When I first started staying home, I had a lot of time. I felt like I didn’t need to worry about doing things efficiently. I could react to things as they came up. Freezer meals, schedules…whatever. I didn’t need that. I could float through the day.
But! This is a terrible idea. Even when you have the luxury of lots of time, believe me when I say it will not always be that way.
As you have more kids and they become busier, you will wish you had mastered time management before you needed it.
Being smart with your time lets you have breaks and flexibility in your schedule, and even if you think you don’t need that either, you do.
Just like it’s foolish for a wealthy person to waste their money, it’s foolish for a person who doesn’t feel busy to waste their time.
So what does this look like, exactly?
I’m glad you asked! In fact, I hate vague terms like “time management”. What we are really talking about are strategies to make sure that your time at home is not wasted. These strategies include:
- Batch work
- Smart use of technology
- Daily routines
- Eliminating busywork
- Time blocking
- Staying motivated and on-task
I know this sounds like boring business-speak. But we’re going to go through each of these and you’ll see how they directly apply to your life at home and really, truly work.
1. Batch work at home
You can designate a day of the week for each of these, but you don’t have to. Just get into the habit of doubling or tripling your work when it makes sense.
Meal Prep: This can be a freezer cooking day, but it doesn’t have to be. Just double what you’re making and freeze half, whether it’s cookies or a lasagna. Putting chips in a snack bag? Go ahead and do the whole package.
Laundry: I prefer to do a load a day but we’re all different. If it makes sense for your schedule, you might like to knock out all your laundry in one go.
Menu Planning: Think of your week ahead. Instead of deciding on meals daily, why not sketch out a whole week’s worth of dinners on Sunday? This not only streamlines your grocery shopping but also takes the daily “what’s for dinner?” stress out of the equation. And if you’re feeling super organized, you can even plan breakfasts and lunches too!
Writing Cards: Got a slew of birthdays or events coming up? Don’t write cards one-by-one on the day. Instead, set aside a quiet hour, get all your cards, a pen, and perhaps a cup of tea. Write them all in one go, addressing and stamping them too. Store them chronologically, and you’ll never miss sending out a card on time again.
Wrapping Gifts: Whenever you buy a gift, instead of stashing it away to wrap later, why not have a dedicated “wrapping session”? Gather all the gifts you’ve accumulated over a month or before a holiday season, put on some music or a podcast, and get wrapping. With all your paper, ribbons, and tags out, you’ll get into a rhythm, making the task feel festive and fun, rather than a chore.
Of course there are many, many more ways to do this. Think of tasks where getting ready is the hardest part, and make use of all that hard work.
2. Using technology wisely
Technology, particularly smart phones, can be huge time wasters. But we can also use them well!
Smart Home Devices and Automation: Think of devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home. These aren’t just for playing music or answering questions; they can be homemaking allies. Set reminders for when it’s time to water the plants, start dinner, or pick up the kids. Not that you would ever forget to pick up the kids. 😉
Meal Planning and Grocery Apps: When you’re stuck in a car or waiting for someone, you can order groceries or jot down a meal plan. Use that downtime wisely instead of scrolling social media.
Digital Calendars and Task Lists: Gone are the days of sticky notes everywhere (unless you love them!). Platforms like Google Calendar or apps like Trello let homemakers set tasks, reminders, and events. You can share calendars with family members, ensuring everyone’s on the same page about who’s doing what and when. I use Trello to organize my gift ideas, shopping lists, daily routine, meals plans, and more.
Online Learning and DIY: Want to fix a leaky faucet, sew a dress, or bake a new type of bread? Platforms like YouTube are treasure troves of tutorials and classes. Just don’t get sucked into a rabbit hole.
3. Daily Routines
The beauty of a routine is that it becomes well, routine. You wake up, brush your teeth, get dressed. You don’t have to plan or think. You just do. You aren’t overwhelmed by task of brushing your teeth and how much time it takes. It just…happens.
This is a good thing! And we can use the power of routines for so much more.
Morning Routines: A well-structured morning sets the tone for the entire day. I think everyone deserve quiet alone time first thing, but if you aren’t an early riser that’s okay too. I personally unload my dishwasher and start a load of laundry every morning.
Bedtime Routines: Just as the morning routine is about revving up, the bedtime routine is about winding down. Tidy up the house, get yourself settled, run the dishwasher. Maybe pack lunches for tomorrow and set the coffee maker. It’s up to you what this looks like, but make it automatic.
Dinner Routines: Have dinner at the same time every day. The same time. Every day. You now never need to think about what time to serve dinner, ever again. Beyond the serving, know what time to start it. And maybe get into a little mini-habit of double checking every morning to make sure you have everything you need. That way, if youu don’t, you cam get it or change your plans.
Brief Daily Clean: The idea here is ‘little and often.’ Instead of letting chores pile up, a brief daily cleaning routine—maybe just 15 minutes—can keep the house in order. This could be as simple as a quick vacuum, wiping down surfaces, or decluttering a specific area. The key is to do it every day and make it automatic.
The beauty of routines lies in their power of repetition. By doing something daily, it not only becomes a habit but second nature. Tasks that once felt hard become automatic. Try it, and you’ll see ❤️.
You can’t do it all. Or at least, you shouldn’t.
Trust me when I say that no one cares if you do you everything yourself. There’s no medal at the end of your life that says “and she never asked for help”.
Assigning Chores: Every household member can play a part, no matter how small. Little ones might be responsible for putting away their toys, while older children can help with dishes, vacuuming, or even cooking simple meals. Above all, do not give your children dumb “fun” chores. These chores should be actually useful to you. Okay? Okay.
Outsourcing Tasks: Consider grocery delivery or curbside pickup services. These can be lifesavers, especially on particularly busy weeks or when managing kids’ schedules. Similarly, while regular cleaning might be manageable, occasional deep cleaning or specific tasks like carpet cleaning can be outsourced to professionals. I’m not saying everyone can or should do this. But maybe you can. I used to ask for professional window cleaning for my birthday. It was a gift of time to myself.
Trading Skills with Friends: Think of it as a skill swap. Maybe you’re great at organizing wardrobes, while a friend is excellent at gardening. Consider trading tasks for a day. It can be a fun way to get things done and even learn something new in the process.
You can use all these strategies or just one. But please stop doing everything yourself.
5. Eliminate Busywork
We’ve all been there: spending hours on a task and then wondering if it genuinely added any value to our day or household. It probably didn’t.
Stop doing these things:
- Over-organizing: Spending hours color-coordinating a closet when a simple sort would suffice. No one cares.
- Frequent Re-decorating: Constantly changing home decor without a particular reason. Also a huge waste of money.
- Excessive List Making: Crafting multiple lists for the same tasks or creating lists without ever referring back to them.
- Over-cleaning: Cleaning areas that aren’t dirty or repeatedly cleaning the same spot without cause.
- Purchasing Unnecessary Organizational Tools: Buying countless bins, containers, and gadgets without a clear purpose.
- Constantly Shuffling Items: Moving things from one place to another without organizing or decluttering.
I’m sorry! I’m trying to help.
To eliminate busywork:
- Set clear goals for each activity to maintain focus (Why are you moving the scarves from the back door to the mudroom? Maybe it makes sense, maybe it doesn’t.)
- Set specific time limits to tasks to prevent overindulging in details.
- Before starting any task, question its value to your home or life.
6. Time Blocking
Nothing kills productivity like indecision. If you spend the whole afternoon trying to think of dinner ideas or bouncing around from room to room, you’ll feel busy and stressed, but you won’t actually have done anything.
Anytime you can make a decision ahead of time and make your work automatic, you become more productive.
Instead of working with a never-ending to-do list, you operate within clearly defined time frames. Each block is dedicated to a specific activity, be it meal prepping, cleaning, self-care, or even downtime. This ensures that each task gets focused on and gets done. No multitasking, no wondering what you should be doing.
For example, by setting aside a specific block in the morning for breakfast prep and family time, there’s no spill-over into the time reserved for, say, cleaning or grocery shopping. This clear delineation increases efficiency and ensures a smoother flow of activities.
Additionally, time blocking allows for better work-life balance. Be sure to block out time for relaxation, hobbies, or family activities and leave some blank space.
Want to know exactly how to make this work for you? I’ll hold your hand, show you lots of examples, and give you a printable in my time blocking for homemakers article.
7. Staying motivated and on-task
The work never ends, it all feels the same sometimes, and no one ever seems to really appreciate you. How do you stay motivated instead of resorting to sitting around eating snacks?
- Set a timer. Mopping is a pain. But I bet you can do it for just 5 minutes, right?
- Enjoy your space. You’re cleaning for yourself, too. If the house looks clean, relax and enjoy it.
- Reward yourself. Set a reward for getting a task done you didn’t want to do.
- Work first, then relax. If you’ve been efficient and motivated throughout the day, the free time you get feels genuinely free.
Remember, this is a job. You don’t get paid, but it’s still a job. Sometimes, you have to push through.
More Homemaking Help
Every day, you’re making a difference in your home. Keep going, and know that your work shines through