Five hacks to help reclaim the rest of 2020 for your family

 

It's October.

And many mums are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the year that has been #2020 is now into its final months.

A year where we became truly grateful for the things that matter most, like our family and our health, and for the silver lining that has been spending more time at home with each other than ever before.

But also, a year with periods of lockdown, isolation, restrictions and separation from our villages through border closures; of juggling parenting and working from home, with no mothers' groups, baby sensory classes, reduced group sport and activities for our kids; and even windows with no school, kindy and childcare at all. 

It's been a lot. 

But while most of us are limping to the finish line, keen to write this disaster of a year off and put it behind us, one pretty incredible mum is urging us to look at it a little differently.  To take the last three months of this year and finish strong, so we can set ourselves up for 2021. 

And it all comes down to how we choose to design our life. That's right, it's always a choice. 

Nothing is going to miraculously change for us when the clock ticks over to midnight on that last day of 2020. 

We have no idea how 2021 is going to look. What we do know is the impacts of Covid-19 are going to be with us for some time. And life as we knew it has certainly changed. In many ways, for the better – who wants to go back to the old way of commuting and slaving away in an office now that we've experienced the flexibility and increased family time working from home technology has allowed?

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But there's also no doubt that the demands on our time as mothers has never been greater. 

And this is where we bring in Lorraine Murphy

The woman is a life hack wizard. One of those high energy, super organised mums, who magically seems to have more hours in the day the rest of us. 

She doesn't like to call it a juggle or a balance (because both adjectives conjure up images of women struggling desperately to pull off a crazy circus skill) but she manages to expertly "blend" her roles as mum of three-year-old daughter Lexi and successful businesswoman.

And like many of us, she's doing it without a "village" of extended family to lean on, with her parents and sister on the other side of the world in her native Ireland. 

She says there's never been a more important time to get organised and set our lives up in a way that reduces stress, overwhelm and the demands on our already stretched time.  And she's opened her toolbox to us mums here at Essential Baby to show us exactly how to do it.  

"I know something I've experienced this year is that we just have so much uncertainty right now as a world, and what I've really tried to do is create as much certainty as I can by getting really fricken organised," she says. 

So what does a week in the life of a really fricken organised mum look like? 

Here you have it: Five hacks to get more time back:

Create a weekly schedule

"The biggest game-changer for me has been taking a seven day view rather than just living in that reactive mode where you just think about the next 12 hours or 24 hours," Lorraine says.

It doesn't need to take long, especially once you've set up a template that's relatively consistent week to week.

Sit down with your partner, over a glass of wine if preferred, and map out both of your commitments, workouts, social engagements and the big one – clearly delineate household responsibilities and allocate them into the schedule. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lorraine Murphy (@lorraineremarks) on

"My husband Wade and I will plan our week down to who is doing day care drop off or pick up each day, then it's just there in the schedule and it saves that wasted conversation each day of 'who's doing it?', 'I can't I've got a 9am' – that crap is just unnecessary," she says.

"We even plan our weekends because we found we would get to Friday and both be exhausted from the week and then spend all weekend going 'what should we do now?', 'should we go to the beach?','I don't know if there's enough time now'.

"If it's in the diary it's not only planned and saves that debate, but you also get to spend the week being excited about it and looking forward to it."

The weekly schedule also has the added bonus of pointing out in black and white exactly where you're allocating your time.

"So many us take the beautiful blank canvas that is a new week and give it to everyone else in our lives to fill up, like our children, husbands, families, work – and there's often no time left for us. I get that work needs to happen and children need to be cared for, but it is possible to design your perfect week by scheduling in and making time for the things you want too."

For example, Lorraine has already scheduled every workout between now and the end of the year. Because she knows that's the only way it'll get done.

"I don't know if it's really anal retentive or really intelligent, but we don't have family support so if one of us wants to exercise outside of day care hours, the other one has to be at home looking after Lexi," she says. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lorraine Murphy (@lorraineremarks) on

Reduce the daily decisions you have to make

"Eliminating repetitive decisions like what to eat, saves headspace and time," Lorraine says.

"I love a meal plan because it's one less decision to make each day, plus if you know you're having pancakes with the family Wednesday morning, you can look forward to it.

"Then I do a big batch cook for a few hours on a Saturday while listening to a podcast, it's nothing fancy or elaborate but I'll roast a heap of vegetables and cook up some grains so it sets us up and saves having to prep each lunch and dinner during the week."

Other time savers include an online grocery shop, direct debits for bills, and setting certain days for certain chores, so it doesn't build up on you over the week. 

Get the stones out of your shoe

"You know when you're going for a walk and you have this annoying little stone in your shoe and you think you can just ignore it, but it gets more annoying and uncomfortable until it's all you can think about and eventually you just need to stop and get it out," Lorraine says.

"Niggly little annoying jobs are like those stones - they cause mental and physical clutter.

"For example, my nice heels that I need to get resoled have just been sitting there waiting for me to do it and I think of it every time I see them."

We all have those stones.. the jumper that's too big that needs to be returned, the letter that just needs to go to the post office, the blown light globe, or slightly bigger stones like the superannuation funds you need to roll together or the health insurance you need to update.

That annoying life admin.

Write a big list of all the stones causing overwhelm so it's out of your head and on paper, and start with the smallest, easiest thing and tick it off. From there you get momentum, and the endorphins of achieving stuff will lead you to get more done.

"I just want to be clear, that list can be really really overwhelming. So it's important to just tackle one thing at a time. Nail one, then the next thing, then the next thing."

Don't multi-task

"Trying to multitask is a sure-fire way to lose time each week and sap energy and efficiency," Lorraine says.

"Studies show it takes longer to do two tasks if we try to do them at the same time, and we're more likely to make mistakes we need to go back and fix."

Using the example of trying to tidy the bathroom while cleaning her teeth, Lorraine explains in the end she's not even really cleaning her teeth properly, but is one hand down trying to do a job that's now taking longer because she's holding a toothbrush. 

Her motto is "Do less, better."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Alice Monfries (@alice_monfries) on

Look after your future self

This is genius. Lorraine is all about looking after Future Lorraine. That poor busy mum who'll pay the price for the stuff she DOESN'T do today, but will benefit enormously from the tiny actions she can take now to make life a hell of a lot easier down the track. 

Imagine if we pictured our future selves each time we weighed up something like whether to wash the roasting pans now straight after dinner before they're crusted hard or watch Netflix instead and save it for tomorrow because we're TIRED and we DESERVE a break with our wine. Or whether to wash our hair before bed or save it for the morning, even though we have a super early start and it'll be one less stress to worry about.  

On that note, I'm off to wipe the food off the floor around the high chair before the baby crawls through it and my husband walks it through the house. Future Alice will thank me later.

This is Your Village.

Alice Monfries in a reporter for Channel Nine news in Sydney. You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook or email her at AMonfries@nine.com.au