Six time-savers for moms

Time-crunched moms, take a collective sigh of relief: we can help you get your to-do list under control, stop the clock and make room in your busy schedule for you. Here's how

No matter how many chores and tasks you cross off your daily to-do list, it can feel like there still isn’t enough time to get it all done. Moms may be master multi-taskers, but they’re still feeling the squeeze. The latest findings from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing show that 23 percent of women are feeling crunched for time, so we went to the pros for their top six strategies to help take the pressure off.

1. Stop making long to-do lists Creating a schedule for completing tasks – like doing grocery shopping on Mondays, e-bills on Tuesdays and laundry on Wednesdays – can help you stay organized. But, for new moms or families with young children, making to-do lists can become counterproductive. “Some moms end up feeling overwhelmed because the list can be never-ending,” says Anita Pal, a registered marriage and family therapist in Barrie, Ont. Instead, be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day and then prioritize what really needs doing. The rest can wait.

2. Mark “do nothing” on your calendar “Setting boundaries is always a balancing act for families,” says Pal. To prevent social burnout, sometimes you’ll have to say “no” to birthday parties, playdates and even dinners with family or friends. And, that’s OK. When life gets hectic making time to do nothing can be essential, she says. Unstructured playtime also gives kids a chance to be creative and learn how to amuse themselves while providing mom and dad with a much-needed break.

3. Email a friend A call to a friend or IM (instant message) date with another mom can help you de-stress and get back on track. “Sometimes just talking about what’s stressing you out is enough,” says Elena Verlee, a certified life coach in Vancouver. Setting aside half an hour for a chat with a friend can help you relax and put things in perspective.

4. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than the kids Mornings are tough for most moms, whether they work in or out of the home. “I’ve noticed that if I get up half an hour earlier than everyone else I can have a few ‘me time’ minutes to enjoy my coffee and gear up for the day,” says Verlee. In addition to setting an earlier wake-up call, packing lunches and setting out clothes the night before can also help you free up precious minutes that will ensure you (and your clan) get out the door on time.

5. Call your mother-in-law You can generally count on your friends and family to be happy to chip in when you need a helping hand. They key is to realize that, for the most part, people really want to help you; they’re just waiting for you to ask, says Verlee. “It’s important to know who to ask for help when you need it – and then actually do it.”

6. Prioritize your wellbeing Making time to take care of yourself can be the biggest challenge, but it’s necessary, says Pal. Prioritizing your health and wellbeing can mean making time for evening walks or weekly fitness classes, to cook healthy meals or even just to read a book for a few minutes before bed. “Moms who make time for wellness routines are able to incorporate their role as mom into their lives without losing their own sense of self or sacrificing their health,” she says.