If you've clicked this link looking for clever lifestyle tips or life hacks... you'll probably want to click away now. I don't really have any clever tips. Sorry about that.
I'm a single mother; I work from home; I maintain (what I'd like to think is) a successful blog. People are forever asking me how I have the time to bake biscuits with S - or make a kick ass Easter bonnet for nursery. One person did rather sniffily ask me how I find time for housework.
Here is how I manage to find the time to do the things that matter:
The things that matter come first in this house.
Now, I'm fully aware that what matters can differ from household to household, person to person. In this house, cleaning and tidying are fairly close to the bottom of the list. I believe that when my child grows up, she will remember afternoons spent sitting on the kitchen work surface making biscuits, not how often the bath was cleaned.
Here are a few things I do that allow me more time to do the fun stuff (and the blogging and the obsessive West Wing watching):
- I only wash up once a day. There are only two of us here, and there are plenty of plates and cups to last us a day, so we pile it neatly next to the sink, and I wash up after S has gone to bed.
- I never read the instruction manual, so I've made an executive decision to just assume my oven is self-cleaning.
- I make piles of things at the bottom and top of the stairs. Every time I go up or down, I take something with me, and put it where it belongs.
- Similarly, I keep my recycling in a pile, and take a little of it down to the bins every time I go out without S (when she's with me, it's just not worth the effort!)
- S has a shower instead of a bath. She enjoys splashing under the water, and I can use the time to potter about on the landing, sorting washing and tidying the toys that are usually left hanging about.
- My housework is done on a "critical mass" basis. Everything is left until it can't possibly be left any more, and then tackled in a massive spree. I'll often have the washing machine and tumble dryer running for 2 days solidly, and then not use it again for a week or so.
- When S has nursery the next morning, as soon as she's in bed I get her clothes ready for the next day. I bring a pair of trousers, two tops and two pairs of socks (so that she can choose what she wears) down to the living room and put them on the side along with a clean nappy and the baby wipes.
- As soon as S takes her shoes off when we get home from anywhere, I pick them up and put them on the side, out of her reach. She has a tendency to play with footwear, and there are a million places to hide such small shoes, so I keep them where I know they'll still be when we need them in the morning!
- I watch very little TV. I haven't watched any live TV on a regular basis since... I don't even remember. I use the catch-up function on my TV package to browse through what's been on. It cuts down my viewing time considerably, to see that a show I thought might look vaguely interesting is an hour and a half long. In fact, the only show I watch every week without fail is Casualty. And while I'm "watching," I'm blogging and researching. And sorting washing and tidying away some toys, and flicking through magazines for ideas, and scheduling tweets.
- When it comes to blogging, I type very quickly so once I have an idea for a post it doesn't take too long to get it written up. I keep a notepad next to my bed, and make notes on my mobile when I think of ideas.
- When I'm using Facebook, Twitter etc, I'll often compose updates, respond to tweets or comments etc, while I'm queueing in a shop or on my way home from nursery drop off.
- I use apps like Trello, Work Flowy and Asana to keep track of what I'm doing, what I need to do, what I've done.
- Probably the biggest thing I've learned to do is just plain let go. Instead of rushing around, worrying I won't get things done, worrying about this or about that, I just chill out. S and I meander to and from nursery, usually taking a couple of detours. When we go to town she will have a little wander and I will follow along. If I don't stress about being late or missing something or whatever, S doesn't pick up on it. Realistically, there aren't many things in life that absolutely can't wait, and I find that actually, if I'm not stressing about things, I get more done any way.
So there you have it: my secrets for being Wonder Woman/Mum of the Year. Don't go telling anyone!