One day, though, I stopped and noticed that I since these "rough days" were happening over and over again, maybe I was (unintentionally) setting myself up for stress and failure.
- I consistently put off doing dishes after dinner. I always kicked myself the next morning when I walked into the kitchen to see the mess. It was not a good way to start the day.
- I stayed up late to try to have some personal time. It left me drained the next morning.
- I never had a plan for the mornings. I was half-awake and in “survival mode.”
I was feeling like the household and I were unpredictable. I really didn’t like how I was doing my job as a SAHM. I was setting myself up to fail. Can you relate? (Please, someone say yes!)
If you can relate, I've got a treat for you. Because I'm going to explain my most effective strategy for Setting My(Your)self Up For Success. I am going to lessen the learning curve for you so that you can jump right from wherever you are now to consistently successful days. The added benefit of Setting Yourself Up for Success is that you are taking care of yourself in the process.
Here's how you'll know you've gained something worthwhile from this blog post:
- You feel relieved that there are useful methods out there for Stay At Home Moms. (Not just a bunch of complaining.)
- You can name one thing that you can easily begin doing tonight that will make tomorrow run smoother. (Don't be a Debbie Downer and think that nothing can be done. That is simply not true.)
- You acknowledge that even if you don’t feel like it at the end of the day, spending the time in the evenings to prepare for tomorrow is a gift to yourself.
It all begins the Night Before
There is a very special time each day when I am super-good to myself. It's the time when I make my life so much easier. It's called "The Night Before" and it's at this time of that day that I begin to Set Myself Up for Success.
I created a Night Before Routine that has a 100% success rate. That means that whenever I do it, it works. Whenever I don't do it, I'm a mess. First, I started small. I picked 3 tasks that I started to do the night before that made my days much easier: Laundry, Kitchen Cleanup, and Laying out Clothes. Here's exactly what I did.
Laundry: I decided to sort the laundry in the evenings, bundle them by load, then put one load in the washing machine to start in the morning. I even moved the dials on the washer to the settings I wanted. That was pretty simple, and it helped. (10-15 minutes)
Kitchen Cleanup: Next, I tackled the thing that I like doing the least: having the kitchen completely cleaned – dishes, countertops, and all. I don't like doing it, but if I decide not to do it, it's like I start the following day off wrong. I think, "Why didn't I do that last night?" I know I can do better than this. (20-30 minutes, depending on the state of the kitchen. Why so long? I have four kids under 6!)
Layout Clothes: So once I started getting the hang of throwing in a load of laundry for the morning and keeping the kitchen cleaned up, I added setting my clothes out for the next day. (2.5 minutes) When I started doing these three tasks, it was like my household was redefined. It was like I was redefined, in a small way, too. I had a little confidence boost because I was being really nice to myself for a change.
Here's my Night Before routine:
So, after three years of using this strategy, here’s how it’s successfully developed over time for me:
- While my husband has the kids in the bathtub, I lay out pjs, underwear/diapers fo . Then, I lay out their clothes for the next day.
- I go to my room and get out my clothes for the next day.
- Depending on whose hamper is the fullest, I sort the laundry in that hamper. What works for me is to use one of the bigger pieces of clothing/sheets/blankets as a “laundry bag” for that load by bundling all same-colored/type items together. Like, I'll take my husband's white undershirt and use it for a laundry bag for the whites. This keeps things separate. I take the loads down to the laundry room and put a load of sorted laundry in the washing machine ready for the next morning.
- Next, I load the dishwasher, put in the detergent, and set the delay timer for 3 hours.
- I put any dishes that have to be hand washed into a hot, soapy sink to let them soak.
- Then I dash back upstairs to help get pjs on, supervise teeth brushing, and my husband reads to the older kids while I nurse the baby. Tuck kids in bed.
- Back downstairs to finish kitchen cleanup – washing dishes left to soak first (including drying and putting away). Then wipe off countertops and sweep floor. Trash goes out.
Creating Your Night Before routine
I don't expect anyone to just magically be able to do all of this at once. (It took me awhile to build this system up.) To begin, pick one thing that you can do tonight when you get home to make tomorrow easier. Here are some ideas to inspire you!
Prep for the Morning
- Pack lunches
- Pack diaper bag
- Pack backpacks
- Lay out clothes
- Prep coffee maker/tea
- Set the table for breakfast (bonus: write a little note or silly drawing for the kids and leave at their spots)
- Write grocery list or list of errands for tomorrow
- Go for a walk
- Talk to your husband
- Listen to chill music
- Exercise (at-home suggestions: kettlebell, Pilates, bodyweight exercises)
- Kitchen: Dishes, countertops, floors
- Pick-up toys that wandered out of the play room
- Organize the main entryway
- Sort through piles of "things" that are left around
Insider Tip: Go to bed at a decent time tonight. (10pm is my goal, but it usually ends up being 11pm.) If you do this, you will have enough energy for tomorrow, and your hard work will pay off!
Have you gotten anything useful from this?
By doing your Night Before routine, you are setting yourself up for success and working smarter as a SAHM. You consistently do this as a gift to yourself, as a way to take care of yourself. I try to remember: this is how I USUALLY do it, not how I RARELY do it.
If you can pinpoint at least one thing that you can easily begin doing tonight that will make tomorrow run smoother, then you’ve gotten your money’s worth. Anytime you intentionally orchestrate success in your household, you are adding value to the family and to yourself. After implementing these strategies, I see SAHMs more relaxed. I hear them say that they have more control over the success of their days than they thought was possible.
Before you know it, you'll consistently be successful, too. Remember, though, it all begins The Night Before.
If you are brave enough to start picking one thing to do tonight to make tomorrow better post it in the comments below! Or if have your own great Night Before Routine, please share in the comments. We'll all benefit from your wisdom! And if you'd like to get more tips on the mental and emotional side of being a SAHM, sign up for my newsletter! I'd love to have you on board!