Coping With The Busyness

It is the time of year where it can be difficult to find a spare slot in your calendar and your to do list is continually growing. I spoke recently at a MOPS group on this topic, you can see the presentation and links here – Time Management for Busy Families.

The presentation is comprehensive and starts very much with some bigger picture strategies. This type of planning has served me incredibly well, allowing me to work from home, be with the kids, my husband and have time for my activities even when times are busy.

But there are times when I tweak these strategies to help me through the extra busy periods. Here are some of the things that I do:

  • Recycle a monthly menu plan. When the next monthly menu plan is due, I know things will be busy, so I am going to just recycle a previous one and print out the shopping lists again.
  • Back up meals. Even though I will have a menu plan, I know that in reality, things will come up over the next month, which mean I may not get to cook all the meals. I need a plan for having something quick and easy to get the kids to eat for those nights. My kids love pasta and by steaming up some frozen veg to go along with it, I feel like we have done okay for that meal. I will make sure we have frozen peas and corn stashed in the freezer.
  • A movie afternoon. Mr I has taken back to playing cricket every second Sunday. Most Sunday afternoons I would write my posts for the week, this will be tricky without him being around. For the next couple of Sundays when he is out, after lunch I am going to let the kids have movie afternoon. They will be responsible for choosing movies and coming to agreement together and making their afternoon movie snack. And I will work with the movie as a timer, to get as many posts as I can written!
  • Renewed the library books. This week there is just no time to get the kids back to the library for new books, so with the click of a button online, they are renewed and we will refresh them next time around.
  • Stop. Stop and ask myself the question do I need to be doing this, going here, making that?

Coping with busyness
{Inspired by this fab post from Bernadette Jiwa of The Story of Telling.}

Now I would love your help! I am sure you have lots of tricks and tips that you use to get you through busy times, please share below, then next week, I will collate as many as I can and share them in a post on the blog.

Looking forward to reading your tips!

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Comments

  1. Katie Rainbird says

    Hi Nic, here are my Top 5 Tips on this topic:

    1. Stick to recipes that you are confident with and good at. Now is not the time to be experimenting especially if you’ve been assigned a dish for a pot luck and people are counting on you being able to feed the hoardes.

    2. Don’t be hurling yourself into DIY crafting projects unless you have the time and resources. If home made was your wish for this year but it’s not going to happen, surrender, outsource to the trim department and make it a goal for next year.

    3. Say no to social invitations when you need or want to. It can be SO busy with just about every group that you belong to hosting a Christmas shin-dig and tempting to participate in them all, but it’s hard going on the energy levels, time commitments and budget. Not to mention how OVER it kids can get with ensuing tantrums and meltdowns.

    4. Don’t waste time on personal issues: Let bygones be bygones. Christmas is not about opening old wounds.

    5. Order groceries online. You can make lists two weeks in advance. Pour a glass of wine or make a cuppa, sit down and avoid the Christmas lines and impulse purchases.

    Cheers! Katie Rainbird.

  2. says

    Great tips from both of you.

    I heartily endorse Katie’s no. 3 – I totted up the break-ups / Christmas invites for all our volunteering, sporting, community and work / school activities, and it amounted to 23 separate functions in the coming 5 weeks. 23 functions is *at least* 15 too many, so we are both strategically declining (no to the school kitchen volunteers dinner, no to the playgroup luncheon etc) and also dividing and conquering (eg hubs is taking older kids to one party on Saturday while I take 3 yo to her creche Christmas break-up).

    I guess my meta-tip, following on from that, is to think about what will add joy to your family, community and life experience of the festive season, and make those things your priority. For example, a family Christmas tree and baking day is a super important tradition for us, so we have declined an invitation to a marginal event to make sure we can still have our family time in this way.
    Similarly, events that are meaningful to and involve the whole family (such as the school Christmas concert and Carols by Candlelight) are always going to be a higher priority for us than things that only connect one of us.

    (Also – if you work and have any control over your workload – this isn’t the month for huge new projects!)

  3. Al says

    At busy times:
    - it’s OK to have take away! Like you, we eat well the majority of the time so the odd takeaway won’t hurt the kids or our budget.
    - I plan clothes at least 2 days in advance. We had 4 ‘parties’ over the weekend, so the day before I sat with my 51/2 yr old and together choose the outfits and shoes that she would wear. I find this saves the last minute “I’m not wearing that” arguments!
    - Where appropriate, lunches are packed days in advance. eg fried rice in container, fruit cut up (those that won’t go brown!) etc. I don’t make sandwiches in advance!
    - I limit the time I spend on the computer to avoid being sidetracked :)
    Great to read others tips…thank you.

  4. Alicia says

    Hi Nicole, I have been an avid reader of your blog for many years now, but this is my first post. Your posts always seem to come at the perfect time. I had a really busy week last week with work, kids activities, volunteer commitments. This has also coincided with a crazy busy time with my husbands work and him been away for a few days most weeks. I think your last point is so important. We mums do give ourselves a hard time, we often expect so much of ourselves. I have just made myself a coffee and my 3 yr old has chosen a movie (which I was feeling quite guilty about before reading your post), but now I think this is the perfect time for me to have a bit of time out for myself, just to breathe, enjoy my coffee and get my head in the right space.

    My top tips – simplify everything, as others have said, basic meals you know work well or can have the quantities doubled. Limit commitments, spend more time at home, instead of catching up with everyone prior to Xmas, have a catch up in the New Year. Leave home/hobby projects till a quieter time – those spring cleaning jobs can wait. I also order my groceries online and we visit our lovely butcher, fruit shop who know our names and will even deliver for us if I am really short of time.

    Ask your children what they want to do – and join in. Sitting playing in the sandpit or a card game etc with my older children gives me time to connect with them and makes me focus on them – even if my mind wants to race off to all the other stuff – I find it can be really relaxing hanging out at home with the kids – often they are not that keen to be out and about all the time.

  5. says

    One tip….don’t go near social media!!!! In fact a completely computer free week frees up a lot of time! Now that my children are older and yet I am still home parenting chronic illness I have to consciously stay away from the computer as it’s just so nice to catch up on the world and what everyone else is doing! And my friend’s blogs!!! Speaking of which…back to a much needed vacuum and tidy up before a lunch date! And yes the computer is great in so many ways but …I’m sure you all know what I mean!

    • says

      So agree Annie. A quick 5 minutes can lead to an hour before you know it. Same with TV too I think for some people.

      Hope you are well and your girl is doing ok. xx

  6. says

    I agree with Annie, this time of year is one to cut down on the screentime – for parents, my kids can have more!

    Sometimes I get overwhelmed and freeze, making great efforts not to feel this. But when it seems there are just too many things to do, I ask myself ‘where is the greatest need?’ With a bit of calmness there is usually one thing that is most urgent, so I do that and then move to the next. We mums will never get EVERYTHING done and really, lots of things don’t matter.

    Also, I do try not to over commit… my family hate being dragged from event to event, the kids get seriously over stressed. So I try to keep it a bit slower. Mind you, probably easier in a way as we only have friends here no family. Harder that too!

  7. says

    I love the idea of questioning everything to see whether you really need to do it after all. I always do this when I’m busy and end up skipping lots of things that I can catch up with again later if need be.

    My tip when things are busy is about keeping my blog running. When I know a busy patch is coming up, I will try to write a couple of extra posts to have in the queue. I will also SCHEDULE all my posts for the next couple of weeks so they pop up on the blog automatically without me having to think about them. Also, I try to post twice a week, but if things are REALLY busy, I’ll just post once in a busy week, then get back to normal the week after. Everyone else is so busy too, I’m sure they don’t have time to notice I’ve posted one less time in a week (and it gives them extra time to keep up with my posts too) and then it’s one less job to do for that week.

    Thanks for the great post!

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