It’s hard to describe a typical day as a work-at-home mom because no two days are the same! But that’s why I’m so excited to share what a day looks like for someone juggling work, marriage, motherhood, friendship, and home management. My life is the busiest it’s ever been, but thanks to the routine I’ve implemented, I’m less stressed than I’ve ever been!
Before we start next week’s mini-series on structuring a productive day (specific to student, career woman, and mama!), I’m giving you a glimpse of a productive day in action. Not all my readers are wives or moms, but the principles remain the same.
There are a couple things to keep in mind as you read this post:
- Productivity is subjective. The demands of your life determine what productivity will look for you, so while my life is an example, it’s not a template.
- Intentional living has a purpose. Don’t try to “be intentional” because you think you should; only do it if you have a good reason. Good reasons might be: more time with your family, less stress, longer time spent with God, or healthier habits.
- Productivity requires discipline, and discipline is hard. You will be saying no to yourself frequently. If you want to see change and become productive, you have to embrace this difficulty. You to see each “no” as saying “yes” to something better!
The Importance of Creating a Routine
I’ve blogged about morning routines and evening routines and even shared a tutorial on creating a daily routine. I love routines! But my love for routine isn’t based on what they are, but what they do for me (sorry, Routine!). Routines are good only if they help you live your life effectively for Christ. If a routine doesn’t improve your life spiritually, physically, and emotionally, it’s not serving it’s purpose.
I am a work from home mom. Before I had my daughter and resigned my full-time job of five years, I worked 40-50 hour weeks, frequently traveled on business, and blogged on the side. For four and a half of those five years I was taking three to four college courses a semester in addition to my work and travel. I also planned a wedding, got married and then got pregnant during this timeframe. Without a routine, I would’ve lost my mind!
Note that I use the word “routine”, not “schedule”. A schedule operates on an hourly basis. A routine is fluid, flexibly changing with the circumstances of life. Routines allow you to accomplish what you need to do no matter what happens. A schedule can’t do that.
That said, I’ve broken my routine down by hour NOT because that’s the way I operate, but so you can see the amount of time it takes for me to accomplish my task list in a given day.
To understand how much I need to get done and WHY a routine is so essential to my life, here’s a list of what I typically need to do:
- Work out
- Plan and make three paleo meals + feed the baby
- Errands and grocery shopping as needed
- Buy gifts/write letters/thank you notes
- Answer three different email inboxes
- Write 1-3 articles or blog posts
- Complete any tasks for my guidance counseling work
- Clean the house
- Do our laundry
- Host videos, manage social media
- Read and review new books
- Read for continuing education/pleasure
- Text/call/keep up with friends and relatives
Each of these things play a role in my day. Without a routine, I would never be able to manage it all! We will talk about creating a routine for your life stage next week. For now, here’s a glimpse of how I fit these things into my day:
Josh’s alarm goes off, and mine goes off shortly after. We set our alarms 30 minutes before we NEED to get up so we have time to acclimate, get dressed, and get moving. Josh goes to the basement to work out, and I drive to the gym to run laps for 30 minutes.
I get back to the house around 6:30. If Josh isn’t using the shower, I take mine while he makes breakfast (eggs and bacon most mornings). Adeline is probably making noise at this point, so I try to shower, put on makeup, and get dressed before we get her out of bed.
If it’s a PiYo day (a Beachbody pilates/cardio program), I put on workout clothes. I only allow myself to wear workout clothes if I intend to work out! No spandex unless I’m going to be moving my body. Some days I do just PiYo and skip the run, or vice versa.
Addie is up and in her high chair while Josh and I finish our breakfast and make sure his lunch is ready to go. I set out the items for Josh’s lunch the night before (most evenings!). While Addie eats, we read our daily Bible passage and/or a few pages from our latest book. Right now it’s Francis Chan’s You and Me Forever.
Josh leaves for work at 8 AM (this is new to us – for the last three years Josh has left for work between 5-7 AM, with a different schedule each day! Inconsistent schedules are the WORST but routine is still possible – more about that in December!). Once Josh is gone, I start the laundry scheduled for that day and clean the assigned room.
My laundry schedule is:
- Monday: Sheets
- Tuesday: Baby Clothes
- Wednesday: Towels
- Thursday: My Clothes
- Friday: Josh’s Clothes
- Saturday: Iron
My cleaning schedule:
- Monday: Living Room
- Tuesday: Bathroom
- Wednesday: Bedrooms
- Thursday: Kitchen
- Friday: Basement/Office
- Saturday: Outside cleanup
The cleaning schedule does not include daily pick up before Josh gets home. Every month, I declutter the house, focusing on areas that I struggle to keep clean. If stuff tends to get out of place, chances are – you have too much stuff!
Sometimes I’ll do my PiYo workout during this time, but if I don’t fit it in I’ll do it in the afternoon when the baby wakes up.
Around 9:30 Adeline lays down for a morning nap. Sometimes she goes down earlier or later; like I said, this routine is flexible! This is my best time to work on college counseling, articles that are due, and blog posts. Since I work best in the morning, I focus my energies during this time.
I’m often tempted to do “pick up tasks” – things that take just a minute, but distract me from what I need to do. I keep a running list of writing tasks on hand so I stay focused during work time.
Adeline wakes up between 10:30-11:30. I feed her lunch, then do any tasks that can be accomplished with her alongside. These might be:
- Folding laundry
- Writing letters/emails/notes
- Calling or texting friends
Now that she’s older, I also make a little time for “Montessori” activities – practicing her fine and gross motor skills, playing piano, or reading books.
Somewhere between 1:30 and 3:30 Addie will go down for her “quiet time”. Sometimes she sleeps during this period; other times she just plays with her books for an hour. This is another dedicated work time.
You’ll notice I don’t utilize screens very often. Addie doesn’t watch videos right now, and I’d like to keep that as a last resort! This is partially due to research but also due to how I discipline my own TV time. I treat TV shows as the reward for a productive day, and won’t sit down to watch anything until after dinner with Josh – if at all. I make exceptions for TED talks and documentaries, which I will sometimes play during the day instead of a podcast. This is how I use the strategy of pairing – watching something educational while accomplishing my daily tasks! I definitely make exceptions here and there – flexibility and moderation are great ways to keep momentum.
Adeline is a awake, and we enter the witching hour. This is the best time for focused play because she won’t entertain herself. At this point, my daily work should be finished – I won’t get much more accomplished with her around! This is another good time for errands.
If I didn’t schedule a crockpot meal (which is good for busy days), I’ll start making dinner. Addie is usually fussy during this time, so I’ll try to put her in her high chair with a snack or a toy.
Josh and I catch up over dinner, clean up the dishes, and one of us gives Addie her bath. She will play in the living room while we chat, read, or watch a show together. After her bottle, we lay her down for bed.
Monday and Friday Josh plays hockey, so if it’s an early game we’ll go to the rink. Tuesdays we have Bible study, and my mom watches Adeline during the day (as a working mom I highly recommend getting someone to watch your kids one day a week, or hire a mother’s helper – I’ve done both). We leave Wednesday nights open as our “mini Sunday” in the middle of the week. This provides a nice rest day to recoup before Thursday and Friday. Just as we protect Sunday nights (our weekly planning night to prepare for Monday), we protect Wednesday for special dates or simply spending time together.
Josh and I get ready for bed at 9 PM. Sometimes we will stay up and read aloud to one another (currently Where’d You Go, Bernadette?) but we shoot for lights out before 10 PM. This is a MUST for an effective, early start on your day. We don’t “miss out” by going to bed early – we get a lot more done, are better rested, and have better health! What’s more, when we got married, Josh was a night owl. Three years of getting up between 2-5 AM make 6 AM mornings a breeze!
At the end of the day, I check my bullet journal for any undone tasks and move them to the next day.
There are days when our typical routine is interrupted by an appointment or sudden shift in plans. But because it’s a rhythm, not an hourly schedule, I simply shift everything forward and make a new plan for when I’ll do each task. Read more about how to do this here.