Becoming a mum is one of the hardest jobs even if being a mum comes really easy to you the mum juggle is real! I have had a lot of mums say to me that they don’t know how I fit everything in. Some days I don’t know myself. Stacey said to me a few months back that I should think about all the things I do and write it down to help other mums.

My ‘spare’ time is filled with lots of other things but when I wrote them down I realised just how much I was getting through. I could also see where I could help other mums. Having a premature baby is overwhelming. Having a few tricks up my sleeve to stay a few steps ahead really helped.

Some of these ideas took a bit of time up front so other things had to slip. However, I was able to catch up and get back on track on other days. The sacrifice of a few things meant that in the long run I didn’t have to sacrifice quite so much of my time.

Here’s a list of things that can really help

The hospital bags

My son had only been home 4 days when he went into respiratory arrest and needed to be resuscitated. The ambulance crews came and as my husband had managed to revive our son the ambulance crews set to work checking him over. They told me to grab a bag for hospital and pack it quickly. I wasn’t prepared and didn’t have anything ready. I threw some stuff in a bag, scooped up all my sons medication and then relied on my husband to bring things in daily.

As soon as we were discharged I went home and repacked 2 bags. One for me and one for my son. I soon needed them again and it was a weight off my mind that I didn’t need to think. I just needed to grab the bags and go.

Cards

I am a nightmare for choosing cards. I can spend 15-20 minutes picking out one birthday card which is absolutely ridiculous! So one day I made a list of all the birthdays we send cards for. I went to the local shop and bought them all in one go. Then I bought a few extras so that I had spare unisex children’s cards in case my son got invited to a birthday. I also bought congratulations on the birth of your baby, good luck and new home cards.

Selection of cards. Photography credit Sydney Rae
Selection of cards. Photography credit Sydney Rae

It took me just over an hour to do so in the long run has saved me loads of time. I don’t need to bundle the boys in the car and rush to the shop where I would then spend half an hour picking out a card. I even write them out the month before so that all I need to do is wander to the post box a few days before.

Emails

My inbox regularly gets to ridiculous numbers of unopened emails. Once a month I have a sort through. There are different ways to do this. You could set up sub folders where you have ‘to deal with’ then ‘interested’ and the rest you either just delete or unsubscribe from and then delete.

The power half hour

My preemie would only sleep for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and he would be so clingy when he was awake that the housework felt like this huge daunting task. It was a daily struggle just to get through the basics.

I was amazed that when my husband had our son when he was on his own that he managed to get a few things done. Later I found out he used to rush around for half an hour before I was due to come home. I started adopting this approach as soon as my son dropped off to sleep. I felt like I was against the clock and competing against myself (I can be quite a competitive person when I want to be). Soon I was able to get myself in a little routine that meant I could clean the whole of downstairs in 45 minutes. Don’t get me wrong there was no deep cleaning going on but it allowed me to look around with relief that it looked presentable.

Some people also like to have set jobs for set days. Make this visible so the family can see what is happening each day. Another good tip is to tick off the worst job.

The dreaded shop

If like me you hate shopping then this tip might be for you. Once a month I do a big shop. This is all the none perishable items washing tablets, bleach, shower gel, toothpaste etc. If you are a fan of online shopping then even better, a few clicks from you and it will be delivered to your door at a time that suits you. Then the weekly shop I just need to get fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. As a family we have a preference to pick these items ourselves, so this is definitely a trip to the shops for us. The mum juggle is hard. If you don’t do your shop this week try it for one month and see how you do.

Get the whole family involved

You don’t need to be a one-person band. If you have older children then delegate a few age appropriate jobs to them. If you have a partner make a list of all the jobs that need doing in a day or a week and ask them to help with a few. It shouldn’t be a mum juggle all the time if other people in your household are able to chip in. The hardest bit can be vocalising that you want or even need the help!

Batch cook

Batch cooking can be a such a time saver. Do your normal cooking but just make extra and you will soon build up a good supply in the freezer. My son used to absolutely hate baby food so every single meal had to be made from scratch for him. I used to block out 1 day a month. Then I would just cook about 6 different dishes and then I would blend them up when he was a baby or cut them into smaller pieces when he moved onto solids. In one day I could make 4-6 weeks worth of meals.

Food on a chopping board. Photography credit Katie Smith
Food on a chopping board. Photography credit Katie Smith

Night time prep

I’m not a morning person. It takes me a while to come round and it takes me a while to be able to think straight.  So, I look at what I can do the night before. That way I have as little as possible to think about the following morning. I will make sure that my outfit and the boys’ outfits are out ready. Packing up and any other meals are ready. Bags are checked for spare clothes, sufficient nappies, books etc. If you don’t want to apply any other tip i urge you to apply this one. It’s one of my biggest helps with the mum juggle.

Group jobs together

This one takes a bit of forward planning. If you know you are doing the weekly shop on Tuesday but also need to go to the bank this week and the post office try and do it all on the same day. If you have children in tow you only need to do the shoes and coat battle once. Also you only have the stress of public tantrums in that one day (if they are of that age). This approach works well for other things as well for example if you have 3 birthdays and all need you to buy gifts wrap them all at the same time so you are only hunting down the tape the once.

Use the microphone on your phone

Typing with a baby in your arms can actually be really hard to do. If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome (which can be common for pregnant women and new mothers) can be painful. I only discovered the microphone on my phone a few months ago but it has been life changing! When you open a text message there is a little microphone symbol. Click on the symbol and start talking and it types what you are saying. You do have to go back and add the grammar and check that it has translated your verbal ramblings correctly but it saves loads of time. I also make full use of the notes section of my phone to make lists and notes of things I need to remember.

Done list or a to do list?

Some people find a to do list is essential and have a strong sense of satisfaction when they get to tick off the jobs they have done. Others find a to do list really overwhelming and it actually hinders rather than helps as it becomes too daunting for them to look at. This is where a done list comes in. At the end of each day record everything you have done. Especially do this on the days where you feel like you haven’t achieved anything. I bet you surprise yourself with just how much you have done and you will be able to see clearly in black and white just how much of the mum juggle you have done today.

What can you outsource?

If you can afford to do online shopping and pay for delivery consider doing this, it will save you heaps of time. Childcare – sometimes you just need a few hours to catch up with yourself or just rest! If you can’t afford a childminder or nursery then consider doing this with another mummy friend so you can offer each other a few hours a week. Make sure that it works both ways though. A dog walker. We all love our pets but sometimes the daily walks can just get a bit much.

Person vacuuming glitter up from a carpet. Photography credit The Creative Exchange
Person vacuuming glitter up from a carpet. Photography credit The Creative Exchange

See how much a local dog walker charges, the price might surprise you. A cleaner – this doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. Even if it’s only a one off having an extra pair of hands can really help you to just get on top of everything. Similarly, you can look into ironing services. I personally hate ironing so all of our clothes go straight in the wardrobe and I only iron if we are going out.

Don’t multitask

It is scientifically proven that humans cannot multitask. Women are better than men at multitasking but we still perform at our best when we can focus on one thing at a time. It also means that the task in hand is done quicker and to the best of your ability.

We know that the mum juggle is real and at times completely and utterly draining. Hopefully you can adapt some of these tips into your day to day life so that your mum juggle gets a little easier. I’m not going to pretend for one minute you’re going to have so much spare time that you don’t know what to do with yourself. In reality you will fill any free time you have with more things to do but you will get loads more done. The other thing to remember is that some of this you need to put the time in up front so that you save time further down the line. That may mean that certain jobs have to slide for a few days.

Did you see?

Our last blog was all about Back to school? Did you decide to send your child to school?

If you want more tips on how to help with the mum juggle (and other things) and to join a welcoming preemie group then come and join our Facebook group the Preemie Support Village.