By Weronika Ozpolat (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)
Time Management As a Mother
Time management is a common issue for busy mums. There always seems to be a chore at hand. Whether it be running around with the children, cooking the dinner or ironing your husband’s shirts. Sometimes, these errands feel very overwhelming. More tasks start creeping onto the never-ending pile of jobs. You find yourself wondering how will any of them ever get done? Do you find yourself sitting at the end of the day thinking about where the day has gone? It has elapsed in a flash and you have not got half the things done that you wanted to.
Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Indeed each of you is a shepherd and all of you will be questioned regarding your flock. The commander who is in authority over the Muslims is responsible and he will be questioned regarding his responsibility. The man is responsible over the inhabitants of his house and he is the one who will be questioned about them. The wife is responsible in her husband’s house and she will be questioned about it…” [Tirmidhi]
Furthermore, you may find that your to do list is so jam-packed, it becomes hard to find a space to spend time with those you love. However, spending time with our children is one of the most important things we can do. Being there for them, listening to them, teaching them and having fun with them is the most important use of our time. Children yearn for our attention. They love us to spend time with them but finding the time in the busyness of our hectic lives can be a struggle. If only we had more time in the day or, better still, less to do.
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1) Plan your day (Use a Journal/Planner)
I always seem to get more done if I plan my day. It does not necessarily have to be a detailed plan but a rough guide on what things you will be doing throughout the day can be very helpful. When writing your daily plan, first think about any set activities you or your children have that day and write them in. Next, think about what you can fit in around those activities.
It can be really helpful to write out your daily plan either in a diary or journal or on a piece of plain paper. This way you can refer to it throughout the day to make sure you are getting everything done. It can also be very therapeutic to cross things off the list once they are completed. Make a to-do list that is short and easy so you can actually check off everything. You will feel accomplished for the day in shaa Allah.
If, like me, you are a homeschooler, you will have to schedule your child’s work for the day as well as prepare all their educational resources. If I do not plan these things in advance, I can waste a lot of time thinking about what to do in the morning and nothing much gets done. Planning really is key to a productive day. If you have a productive day and get things done, it is likely you are going to have more time to spend with your children once your must-do jobs are completed.
If your kids go to school, you can plan out the whole week’s wardrobe/lunch on a Sunday night. When you’re making lunch for the kids, make it for yourself, too! This way, you won’t forget to eat during the day.
2) Work when the kids are in bed
If you are a working mother or you work from home, you may sometimes wonder how you can possibly fit everything into the day. How can you manage your time so that neither your work nor your family suffers? The answer is to do as much as you can in the early mornings – before or after Fajr (when kids may still be in bed and you have a well-rested night) or in the evenings while your children are in bed.
I have been doing this for the last 8 years, first as a university student and now as a blogger. I had my first child when I was at university and soon realized that any work I wanted to do had to be done while my daughter was sleeping. Therefore, I soon got used to spending my evenings reading, writing assignments and revising for exams. Now that I am a blogger, I spend my evenings writing articles and doing other things that are necessary for maintaining a blog.
If you are anything like me, you will probably have a lot of social media accounts. As a homeschooling mum with four young children, sometimes social media is my only chance at getting some adult conversation during the day! However, once I start it can be easy to get sucked in to the black hole that is the internet. Either you are on Facebook and you click on a link which leads you to an article with more links and you keep clicking, or you get stuck in an endless debate about the best way to discipline your toddler. In any case, you could easily end up glued to your phone or tablet procrastinating the hours away.
If you really want to work through your to do list in order to spend more time with your children, the best way is for you to switch off social media until you get it all done. This can be easier said than done, I know too well the urge to check the notifications. So, try turning off notifications or, if this does not work, switch off your phone. You will be amazed at what you can get done without these distractions. So switch off social media and spend more time with those you live with. I am sure they will appreciate it!
Getting the house in order can take up a lot of time. As mums, we often take the responsibility of running the household on our shoulders. However, we needn’t do everything alone. Children are quite capable of helping out around the house. Even from a young age, you can ask your children to do simple tasks such as setting the table or tidying their toys away. Once they get older you can give them more responsibilities. Perhaps put together a chore rota which lists the tasks and who will do them each day.
Personally, I would not recommend rewarding children for doing chores. This will lead them to always expect something each time they help out around the house and this is not something that should be encouraged. Instead, they should understand that chores are a part of life and feel happy that they are contributing to the tidiness and cleanliness of the house. Having a clean and tidy house to live in is a reward in itself, not money, chocolate or some other treat.
Once you learn to delegate tasks to others in your household, not only will you have less to do yourself, you will also be able to complete them quicker by working together. This will free up some time which you will then be able to spend with your children doing things you enjoy.
5 FREE Customizable Chore Charts for Kids (Printable)
1) Free Printable Chore Charts by I should be mopping the floor
2) Printable Chore Chart For Kids by Thirty Handmade Days
3) Daily/Weekly Chore Chart by Gogrowgo
4) DIY Chore Chart by Sincerelysarad
5) FREE Printable Chore Charts for Kids by Passion for Savings
P.S. Please note that each child is different and each family has their own needs and rules. So go easy on your child and a gradual loving process always works better to help them get into the habit of it without the feeling of a burden unloaded on them. The younger they are, the more they love doing their chores to be honest. The older they get, the more chore-like feeling sinks in!
5) Make time for yourself
Finally, as mothers we spend so much time running around after others it can be easy to neglect ourselves. However, if we are tired and stressed we are no good to anyone. Therefore, it is extremely important that we make time for ourselves too. If we look after ourselves we will be better able to look after others. Whether it be going to an exercise class, having a relaxing bubble bath or going for coffee with a friend, take time out to do something for you once in a while. If you are relaxed and happy, your family will be too.
The Prophet (ﷺ) called ‘Uthman b. Maz’un (and)…said: “Fear Allah, ‘Uthman, your wife has a right on you, your guest has a right on you, your self has a right on you ; you should keep fast and (sometimes) leave fast, and pray and sleep.” [Abi Dawud]
I hope these tips will help you be more productive and free up time to spend with those you love. Children are our biggest responsibility and spending time with them should be our top priority. One thing you will never regret is spending time with your children and they deserve out time. So find as many ways as you can to spend more time with them today.
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Quick Time Saving Tips As a Mother
Although tasks and chores are a necessary part of life, less time and energy spent on them means more spent on what you love – especially finding time to reconnect with ourselves or those we love, both of which have been proven helpful when it comes to our happiness and health. Following saving tips are from AYEINA’s founders:
- Eat previous night dinner as breakfast. It will fill you up for the energy needed to start the day afresh without having to cook.
- Turn to raw fruits and veggies for lunch so you don’t have to cook three meals a day. It’s not only healthy, but also time saving alhamdulillah. You can see the no-cooking lunch ideas HERE. It will also help your children be less picky when they’ll be able to eat a variety of foods in the form that Allah has made them. See the above IG post for ideas (because not every vegetable can be eaten raw, but most are very delicious raw as well).
- Meal prep – make a meal plan for the week on Sunday or Saturday (when your spouse may be home and you can do faster work with less interruption from kids). Planning the meals for the week not only helps with grocery shopping, but also with prep work (cutting, marinating, etc.).
- Buy more wrinkle-resistant fabrics so you don’t have to constantly iron your clothes. Denim, polyester, wool, cashmere, spandex, cotton knits, lyocell (a type of rayon that is referred as Tencel too) are all great choices. If you wear polyester and cotton blend fabric with the permanent-press finish and hang them up while still warm out of the dryer, they shouldn’t need ironing.
- No separate kids’ clothing for day and night – Try to get comfortable and presentable clothes for kids that they can wear during the day and night both so when the night routine starts, bathing and changing them into night pyjamas can be replaced with cuddle time instead. Less night power struggles when you are already bone-tired. I find Jersey fabric ideal for my girls. They need very little or no ironing most days. Frocks (informal dresses) keep them covered and warm during their night tossing-and-turning, while it is presentable for the day too.
- Set days for different tasks that need to be done, but you always forget them (because you don’t necessarily enjoy doing them). It’s harder to not do something when it’s a habit. So for eg: Tuesdays and Thursdays could be laundry days! Making it a normal part of your routine means you save the mental energy of figuring out the logistics each time.
- Use little pockets of time productively – you may utilize the time to recite Quran and bring barakah in your life naturally. You may do your adhkaar or salawaat instead of scrolling through social media or watching random videos that don’t add any value to your life.
- Simplify your options – Streamlining your choices is an easy way to cut down the amount of time you spend making decisions. For eg: When I go out, I know that I always prefer wearing a black so keeping so many options was just adding clutter. I waste so much less time and headspace deciding what to use and figuring out where to find it. Now all my hijabs/niqabs and abayas are black. One gets dirty, another black one comes out and I’m ready before my husband (unlike how women are notorious for taking so much time getting ready when going out :p).
- Ditch tables and shift to the floor for eating. It’s not only a sunnah, but also a huge time-saving hack because there’s just one sheet to clean. When we eat on the table, there is the table, the chairs and the floor to clean. Also, you tend to not over-eat when you’re sitting on the floor the sunnah-way.
- Have a place for everything and everything will be in its place. By assigning a place for everything in your home, and making sure that everything is put back in its proper place after each use, you’ll be able to avoid losing time searching for items. Of course it’s easier said than done most days, so keep an empty box in each room where you can dump things when in a rush. It works great for kids too if you ask them to clean up while not wanting to answer their endless questions on “where do I put this?” :p
- Baby led-weaning! I used to puree food for my eldest child, but was glad to have found baby-led weaning with my second! Check this account for ideas (you can skip the ideas that have haram ingredients like pork).
- Shift your night tasks to early morning (before or after Fajr) because barakah of early morning will help you do your night tasks in half the time! so sleep after Isha and wake up at Tahajjud time or stay awake after Fajr till kids get up. And if you can, plan your day a night before to avoid overwhelm bi’idhnillah.
Co-Author’s Bio: Weronika Ozpolat is a Speech and Language Therapist specializing in bilingualism. She lives in the South West of England with her Turkish Kurd husband and their three, young, homeschooled children. They are a multilingual family, speaking English and Turkish at home and learning Arabic as a third language. Weronika shares information about her multicultural family life on her blog, Multicultural Motherhood, where she writes articles about homeschooling, bilingualism and speech and language issues. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, youtube, and twitter.