Have you ever read the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? It’s a great book and I love the idea of developing habits to help me to be more effective and productive. This gave me the idea to ask some of the most highly effective stay-at-home-moms what HABITS they have that help them to be highly effective at their many responsibilities. Now I get to share the ideas I’ve gathered with you!
7 Habits of Highly Effective Stay at Home Moms:
1. Make your bed. I know this one is not a new concept to anyone and that’s because it really does help get your brain in the right mindset to be productive. My sister who offered this as one of her habits said it like this; “Messy Bed = Messy Head.” I had never heard that and I love it! What a simple way to clear your head! If this truly becomes a habit, then you will do it no matter what! I have made my bed at 3:00 PM before, just because I hadn’t had a chance to do it yet and it really did help me feel better about the whole day!
2. Wake up early to get in YOU time. My friend said that she likes to wake up early, before anyone else, to study and exercise so that she makes sure to get in something for herself. I love the analogy that in an emergency on an airplane, we are told to put our own air mask on FIRST before helping anyone else (even our children) so that we can ensure that we have the ability to continue to help others. The same thing goes for moms during their day to day routines. If we don’t take care of a few of our own needs first, then we are not as likely to be helpful to others (including our children). I know that when you are up in the night with waking children, that you probably feel like the “YOU” time you need is to sleep. I also know that I have never once regretted getting out of bed, but I have regretted more than once when I sleep in. It can be difficult to start, but if you make it a priority, it will become a habit and become easier.
3. End the day with 5-10 minutes to pick up the house. I know that sometimes we think, “what’s the point of picking up anything” because the house is so messy and we feel like it will take too much time to even put a dent in the mess. But I bet we would be surprised what can get done in just 5-10 minutes. Set a timer, so that you don’t get sucked into cleaning the whole house. I usually choose one area of the house that matters the most to me to be tidy and focus on that area. For me, it’s the upstairs living area (kitchen, dining room and living room). If that main area is somewhat picked up, I feel better about starting the day tomorrow. My basement, where all the toys are, can be left messy without it bothering me the next morning. So decide what area is most important, set a timer, and make it a priority until it becomes a habit.
4. Do a little cleaning every day. Cleaning the whole house in one day is not an option for me. That would take at least 2 hours without interruption (which is also not an option) and by the time I finish one room, there would be a new mess in another room. I just have to accept the fact that my house for now, will not stay clean for long. My sister is great at this. Her house always gets cleaned during the week. She makes sure to clean the bathrooms one day, floors another day, dust another day, etc. She said that she does not do it all at one time, but throughout the week and she knows that her house is staying CLEAN. This is different (at least in my mind) than staying picked up. A house with toys laying around is not a dirty house, but a bathroom with pee stains on the toilet is a dirty toilet. So do a little actual cleaning every day to ensure that the basics are being done. It’s best to set a schedule:
Wednesday: Sweep & mop
Thursday: dust & vacuum
Friday: run errands and/or extras at home
5. Do the dishes before going to bed. There is not much that I hate more than waking up to a messy kitchen filled with crusty dirty dishes. I usually aim to do the dishes and clean the kitchen immediately following dinner, but if we have to be somewhere before I can do that, then I make sure to take 15 minutes and do it after kids are in bed and before I go to bed. Our mornings are busy with getting ready for school, eating breakfast and making lunches. These things in and of themselves can be stressful, but if I have clean kitchen counters and a clean table for my kids to eat on and an empty sink for the kids to pile their breakfast dishes in, it is more enjoyable for everyone! Again, this might feel like a huge burden at first, but if it becomes habit, you will wonder how you ever used to sleep knowing what was waiting for you in the morning!
6. Do ALL of the laundry in one day: wash, dry, fold, put away! This is a new habit of mine that has been LIFE CHANGING! Maybe a little dramatic, but seriously… life changing! I used to wash whites and darks on Monday, colors and kid clothes on Tuesday, towels and sheets on Wednesday. I washed those things during the day and usually left them in the laundry basket to fold later that night while sitting on the floor and watching a show. Then I put the folded clothes back in the laundry basket to put away the next day. Basically, I was never DONE with the laundry. Ever. Every day I had something that needed done with the dang clothes! I have now set aside Monday’s as my laundry day and that is the only day I deal with laundry… for the whole week! I make sure that I can mostly be home all day on Monday and I start first thing in the morning. I do the 4-5 loads of kid clothes first. As soon as one load is washed and dried then I fold it on my bed and leave the piles there. After all kid clothes are washed, dried, and folded on my bed then I sort them into their own laundry baskets. This is usually getting finished by the time that kids are getting home from school. The three oldest kids put away their laundry right when they get home from school. Then I do the three loads of adult laundry and by then my husband is home to help get those loads folded and put away while I’m working on dinner. Every once in a while I do need to do towels or sheets on Tuesday, but I’ve noticed that when I do that, they sometimes sit in the dryer until next Monday when I do laundry again. Aiming to get it all done and put away in one day helps me to feel like I can get other stuff done during the week and we all have clean clothes in our drawers for the whole week. Try it!
7. Have a schedule and routine and write it down! I am a list person. Big time. I use my notebook and write my schedule for the week in the exact same layout and usually the same things week after week. Seeing your schedule written out will help you prevent double-booking your time, forgetting out of the ordinary things, and will help you feel great about how much you’ve accomplished. Daily routines help you stay on track with some of the habits we’ve already discussed like cleaning something every day, doing the dishes, laundry, and having time to do something for you. A schedule helps make sure that you are getting out of the house and meeting the needs of other people (story time, play-dates, volunteering, etc.). There is something wonderful about consistency!
There you have it. I’m sure there are 70 x 7 other habits that I should include in this list, but I felt good about starting with these 7 habits. I just googled to find out how long it takes to develop a habit. I always thought it was 21 days, but “new research” has found it to take 66 times before an action is considered a habit. So give yourself some time, set a goal 2 months out, and hopefully a new habit will have formed to help you feel like a highly effective stay-at-home-mom! I personally am going to improve #4! I don’t even want to admit on here how many times I’ve mopped my kitchen floor since we moved to our new home 8 months ago…
Oh, and one more thing. I asked my sister-in-law (who is highly effective) for her habits and she had an interesting spin on the topic. She recommended that readers learn about the 4 tendencies that Gretchen Ruben discusses in her book, The Four Tendencies. The more we learn about ourselves and what makes us tick, the better we can improve our habits and become highly effective in the work we do within our home!
I would love to hear about what habits you have that help you to feel highly effective and nice and happy!