Top 5 Tips so far this year.

✨New year, New habits✨

I decided to start my blog in the new year to motivate me to make some big changes in 2019 (and that was before I even knew I’d be growing a new person inside of me!)

So here we are, with the first 3 months of the year over us and already into April. I’ve decided to use quarterly goals and reviews to split what I need to get done into 3 month chunks at a time. Somehow this seems like it might be more manageable.

I’ve made quite a few changes in all aspects of my life already. Here are the top 5 changes so far. These are the ones that I’ve found have made the biggest impact for me. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful too.

1. Shower before breakfast 🚿

My usual routine typically consisted of coming downstairs as soon as we woke, having a leisurely breakfast while hubby got ready and left for work and then at some point, once I’ve managed to appease the toddler, get myself showed and dressed. This often meant I wouldn’t be getting into the shower until well after 9am despite having been up for at least 3 hours by this time!

I would find myself feeling frustrated at this waste of time. I never felt I could start into any tasks on my to do list until I was showered and dressed because then I would end up being in my pyjamas for even longer. Being in my pyjamas seems to cause me some sort of weird anxiety. I am constantly on edge that someone might call to the house and catch me looking like a slob at 10am and think I am a terrible person, or report me to social services. Basically, changing this one was a bit of a no-brainer. It was making me less productive and more anxious.

Now, this doesn’t yet happen everyday, and I’m especially bad at it after a night of being up for hours on end with a screaming child, but I’ve definitely noticed that on the days when it does happen I do get so much more done.

If I get up and showered and dressed right away I usually feel ready for the day before 7am. I can then have breakfast, begin tasks, get out and about to toddler mornings or just be safe in the knowledge that if an unexpected caller should arrive I’m dressed for the occasion!

This switch in habits often sounds like a bit of a hassle to me if I’m feeling tired in the mornings, which lets face it I am every day, but I always feel a million times better when I do it. I just need to persevere with it so that it becomes second nature.

2. Follow “The Organised Mum Method” 🏠

If you don’t already know about this amazing woman, you can read about her in my earlier blogs, or check out her website but it’s basically a weekly routine to keep your house clean and tidy. It uses a “Level 1” list of jobs which you do everyday and then a 30 minute blitz of one room each day. It’s also accompanied by an amazing playlist which is updated daily to keep you dancing and laughing your way through the housework. Best of all, it’s absolutely free!

Before I started on my #TeamTOMM journey the state of my home was a constant source of anxiety for me. There always seemed to be so much to do that I felt utterly overwhelmed by it and paralysed into doing none of it, which obviously only made the situation worse.

I’m not totally on plan just yet, but it has already made a vast difference in my life. I no longer feel completely overwhelmed and with every 30 mins, every day, every week I feel the load lighten even more.

If your house is in particularly bad order she has a “Messy House Bootcamp” week long program to whip your home into shape first. I really needed to do this, but I just felt it was too much for me to tackle in one week as I just have so much stuff and a very demanding toddler in tow. Therefore I kind of have both running side by side, trying to declutter as I go, which is why I’m not finding it as easy as it should be just yet.

I’m also finding it tough, because as mentioned above I have a very demanding toddler. I know all toddlers can be demanding, but this one is something else. I can’t really find 30 minutes to myself each day and often try to do it in three 10 minute bursts. Even this can be tricky though as he is usually messing up what I’ve just tidied or smearing various foods all over the place and creating more work for me.

Also, I don’t know if it’s the not getting a full night’s sleep due to aforementioned toddler or being pregnant, but I find myself getting more and more tired as the week goes on. This meant that Mondays and Tuesdays were always the days where I got most done, therefore my living room and bedrooms were ok, but the rest of the week or went downhill. Wednesday’s are hallway day, Thursdays are the kitchen and on Friday the focus shifts to a different room on an eight week cycle. I never seem to make it to Friday and even Wednesdays and Thursdays are questionable. I decided to do it backwards done weeks so that the rooms are done in reverse order giving the ones that are usually neglected a chance of a good clean. I then need to revert back to the original again to even things up a well or two later, but it does seem to be working out.

My hope is that over the next three months all the decluttering will be finished and keeping on top of The Organised Mum Method will be as straight forward as intended, which should hopefully make keeping on top of things with two children a breeze, right? I’m definitely making much progress, just not as quickly as I would have hoped, but I’ll get there.

3. Give up watching soaps 📺

I had gotten into a bit of a habit of watching certain soaps. It wasn’t even that I was particularly interested in the story lines or particularly loved the characters, but it had just become habit. I felt I needed to keep up, I was scared of missing something.

It began while I was still at work. At the time I got home “Hollyoaks” was just starting so I used this as my winddown time. I’d stare thoughtlessly at the screen while my brain shifted gear from work mode to relaxing at home mode. Once I was on maternity leave I began to watch “Doctors” as it often coincided with nap time, so again a chance to just unwind and switch off. I found myself wanting to sit longer so ended up watching “EastEnders” on catch up more and more frequently. After a while I became stuck in a rut of having to keep up to date with the stories, not wanting to miss an episode.

As with any baby, routines shifted, naps and downtime became less and less, but I was still trying to squeeze what was now around 90 minutes a day of soaps into most days. What had begun as a way to relax was now actually beginning to cause me stress. I knew it was ridiculous, I was sure I wouldn’t miss much of I missed an episode and certain I would pick up the gist of what had gone on the next time I picked it up, but it really wasn’t about that. For some reason it had become a crutch to me that I had to begrudgingly shake.

Luckily, however, once I realised this it was surprisingly easy to shake the habit. I just decided to give up soaps as a New Year’s Resolution, and that’s just what I did. One soap in particular had an ongoing storyline that I wanted to see the conclusion of, but after that I’ve never looked back. I have gained an extra 90 minutes a day and freed myself from this unnecessary burden.

I no longer feel shackled to the TV during precious naptime or after bedtime. I do still watch Netflix series, but that is much more flexible as I don’t feel the need to ‘catch up’. This is now something we do together as a couple at the end of the day and that’s a much nicer thing.

4. Make a daily walk your routine 🚶‍♀️

Life has been full on since becoming a mum. It is literally a 24 hour a day 7 days a week job. As a breastfeeding mum this is further reinforced particularly in the early days as you literally only get a break when the baby sleeps, and mine didn’t really sleep for long periods at all for at least the first 2 years of his life!

I was at home with him all day every day as I didn’t return to work until he was 18 months, and only then for 3 hours on a Saturday morning. I had to also do all of the nighttime parenting as he woke to breastfeed and there was, and still to some extent is, no way that his dad can settle him. So basically there was no down time, except maybe an hour or so in the evening if we managed to get him to bed before we needed to go to bed ourselves. It was relentless and I was constantly burnt out.

I knew I needed some ‘me time’, but it just never seemed possible. My husband was obviously a great help to me when he was there, but he works long hours and gets home just as the dinner/bedtime routine begins, and obviously I am required for this as the only way to get young sir to sleep is for me to feed him. I’d occasionally get out with friends once he was in bed, but he’d usually wake up a short time after this, which meant a long and upsetting evening for all concerned, and I was usually too tired to enjoy being out in the evenings anyway. No, I knew I needed something more regular and less stress inducing if it was to really have any benefit.

When I found out I was pregnant again I knew that I really needed to do at least 30 minutes walking a day, so this was the catalyst I needed to find time in the day just for me. My son has never been a fan of a buggy, even since birth, so walking with him wasn’t an option. I had a look at my day and found that there was at least half an hour a day where I could make time just for me. If I was organised and had dinner ready before my husband arrived home from work we could tag team when he got home and I could go for a walk and be back in time to help with bedtime!

This has been a real game changer for me. I found a time in our family’s day where I could escape and just be on my own with my thoughts, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it earlier. A 30 minute walk between dinner and bedtime. It’s so simple yet it has been so lovely and restorative, not to mention the health benefits. It’s acutally a nice time of the day to walk too, dusk, I haven’t seen dusk for a long time! I’ve even started listening to podcasts while I walk, which I feel is really indulgent after 2 years of not really doing anything just for me! I know that people who don’t have children would probably think that is absolute madness, but if you are a parent you’ll understand just how lovely and how important it is for your mental health just to do something purely for yourself. Make time for you.

5. Leave phone downstairs at bedtime 📵

We all do it, don’t we? Go to bed early, but have one last quick browse on the phone first. We check we haven’t missed anything on social media, maybe read the latest news or Google something that’s been on our mind during the day. Before you know it half an hour has quickly passed, maybe an hour or more!

I would have done this every night, I would also do it the numerous times I was up in the night soothing a crying child or breastfeeding him to sleep, then just another little minute, or 20 before I’d go back to sleep. I’m sure my phone must have worked up several hours each night, contributing to extra lack of sleep.

Another mummy friend casually mentioned one day that she’d had a very different experience with her second baby than she had with her first, simply because she left her phone downstairs at night so she got more sleep. It sounded ridiculous, but if your baby is waking every 2 hours for a feed and you spend an extra 10 or 15 minutes either looking at your phone or trying to get back to sleep after looking at that blue light it would make sense that you would be getting at least an hour less sleep than you might otherwise!

I thought about it and decided to give it a go. So simple, but it’s had a huge impact. Hubby still brings his to bed and is still scrolling well after I’m out for the count. I don’t think I realised how much time was spent on my phone while in bed. I’m sure it was often making me lose out on an hour or more each night. I feel much more rested (even though I’m probably still sleep deprived thanks to my sleep hating toddler 😂).

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @life_hack_mum_

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