Moms: How do you do it all?

A few weeks ago, a reader asked if I could do a post on how to fit everything in… workouts, family time, career, cooking, social life, and so on. So many of us feel the pressure to be super mom.

I’ve learned to set aside certain times of my day for certain activities… early morning is usually my workout time, nap time and evenings are my computer time, post-nap is our cooking time, the two mornings that L is in school is my school/study time, and 2 evenings are set aside for health coach clients and teaching spin.

The biggest challenge for me is letting go what is left undone when that time is up.  My friend Christine wrote a great post on being present and not always trying to find balance that I highly recommend.

We all have different schedules, to-do lists, and tips and tricks.  How do you do it? I put the question out on my Facebook page, and here are many of your awesome answers:

Wake Up Early!

  • Natalie T: I get up early to get my run in most days.
  • Jerliee: I run before my kids get up- either outside or at the gym. Otherwise life gets in the way and the exercising gets pushed to the back burner.
  • Jennifer A, Rachel G: Very EARLY mornings!
  • Patty J: I do my workouts before anyone is awake in the house. I schedule the longer weekend run with the group that works best for my schedule along with the other runners. My family knows how important it is for my well being to take the time and run or cross train. If there is something else that comes up then I just need to be flexible. My evening time does get cut shorter then my husbands because I need to get to bed early but at least I am around until then to be with the family. Once the routine is started it seems everyone adapts.

Schedule It!

  • Jen SI schedule my time, get up early to workout, take advantage of naptime/school time, involve my family in activities like runs and bike rides.
  • Amanda L: Schedule, schedule, schedule! If I don’t have it all planned out before the week starts, it gets hard. I am very routine oriented and I think this provides a sense of calm. That and being willing to get up very early!
  • Rebecca G: I schedule time when the kids are sleep so I don’t have Mommy guilt for taking time away from them even though I know healthy happy mommy is what the kids want
  • Lori D: Treat it like it’s a second job. Schedule it into your day, don’t let yourself put it off. If you have a spouse, ask for help!
  • Erica G: I do the bulk of my running in the wee hours of the morning before work but my main key to success was establishing a routine, which includes plan A and plan B if the pre-work run is a flop, like today.
  • Alison G: Make a schedule. Stick to it. Make time for yourself and don’t feel guilty doing so. It’s healthy for our kids to realize we have interests besides them. And of course we can include them, too. It’s a balancing act and it’s not always easy, but I think it’s important that we put ourselves first some of the time.

A Supportive Spouse

  • Michelle S. J.: I get up early (4 am early) and run three days during the week. I run my long runs on the weekend. I work full time and have four kids, 6 years old & under. [Editor’s note- WOW!] Communication is essential when it comes to schedules & calendars. My husband knows running is a HUGE part of my life & the center of my balance. I make it a priority & he supports that.
  • Aimee P: My husband is super supportive and I’m so so lucky
  • Kristin F: Always exercise in the morning! Too many things can go wrong throughout the day. I also love the Cozi family app which allows you to make to do lists, shopping lists, etc and then you can actually email to your spouse to keep him up on things…or send him to the store! Always ask for help too! Nothing wrong with admitting that we all need help sometimes.
  • Vera W: I do my running and crosstraining in the morning before my husband gets up for work. He also knows how this is a big part of my life and is really good about being with our son so I can do longer runs on Sunday mornings with my running club. I also at times take my son for a run in the baby jogger. Not only am I getting my fitness in and taking care of my needs (which all mom’s need to do ) my son also sees that I am active which hopefully will lead to him being active as well. He already copies me when stretching and gives me the foam roller to “roll it.” My park district also has babysitting available for when I want to take a fitness class or if I cannot get up early.
  • Michelle S: I do as many early-morning workouts as I can, and I’m lucky that I can bring my youngest to the gym with me when I need to go later in the day. Also, I couldn’t manage ANY of it without my super supportive husband, who doesn’t object to any of my running, racing, training, or socializing with running friends. I never lose sight of how lucky I am to have his support!

 

Be Willing to Be Flexible (YES!!)

  • Alison S.N.: While its important to have a schedule, I feel like you have to have flexibility too. Things come up and you have to be able to adjust accordingly. I squeeze my runs in early mornings, or evenings while my husband is with the kids, or bring them in a stroller. You have to have balance but my kids know and understand that mommy runs and they have that healthy influence in their lives. We schedule social activities as a family.
  • Brooke E.: It’s not about leaning in or leaning out or even balance [that is soooo unachievable} I actually try to find HARMONY. That means there will be some days when you need to let things go, squeeze in a shorter workout, don’t clean the kitchen, etc. in exchange for more cuddles or to attend a school function. Life is all about give and take, and if you stress yourself out about trying to do EVERYTHING in EVERYDAY you will go crazy. I never to do it all … I just do ENOUGH. Enough to keep my sanity and to keep me fulfilled. Oh, and I wake up at the crack of dawn to workout, I write my blog on my lunch hour, and find time to read while I’m in the bathroom. …My two cents…
  • Max T: I get in my fitness time early in the AM before the rest of the family is up and most importantly, learned to be lenient with myself on whether the house is clean, all of the laundry is done or if I finally cleaned out my closet, etc. My health matters more than how organized my house is. At least to me it does.
  • Nicole: I think part of the secret is flexibility and being ok with the days that you can’t squeeze it all in. As a working mom, there are some days that I just can’t fit everything in. I’ve learned to go with the flow and appreciate the days that I can enjoy a longer workout or time with friends. I do try to make exercise a priority in my day, which often means early mornings or working through lunch.

Multi-Tasking

  • Rachel B: To-do lists! Scheduling. Using the nap time wisely. Involving my kiddo in exercise (we do yoga together and I stick him in the jogging stroller to go running.. he’ll even do some circuits with me!). Getting up early and using that time to get work done. Art projects while mommy blogs. And also having a baby sitter that lives nearby!!!
  • Kayla K: I love multi-tasking…Running with my girlfriends is a great way to connect with them, have some mama time and get a great workout in together!

Include the Kids

  • Kari N: From the minute they could walk, we started taking the kids on hikes. Now that they are older, I exercise while they are at school.
  • Angela B: Schedules are key! Very early mornings, stroller runs, squeezing in yoga and/or weight bearing exercises when they are playing or have them join in on the fun. Also having a very supportive husband who know that your working out/running is key to a happy home.
  • Angela G: I run whenever I can! Running makes me feel good, so I do enough of it to achieve that goal. I am lucky that I can take my daughter in the Bob on runs – she usually enjoys it. And we often literally run errands or run to wherever we have to go (perk of living in the city). I get in my solo runs when my husband is home or when our parents come to babysit. I also attend a pilates class with several mom friends – our kids play together with one babysitter while we workout. If fitness is a priority, it will happen. But it certainly isn’t always easy.

 

Child Care at the Gym

  • Jennifer F: a gym with babysitting- the kids are with me all day so when the hubby gets home I get some “alone” time with him while working out and the kids are excited to be with other kids for about 1 hour as far as fitting everything else in…I don’t think you always can so I guess it is prioritizing which things will be cut out from day to day…cleaning one day and socializing another.

Food Prep in Advance

  • Kimberly B: 5:00am mornings do the trick here. Also use Saturday or Sunday as your food prep days. I make oatmeal for the week along with all other meals. Wash and cut produce when you buy it. You’ll be more prone to eat it throughout the week than let it go to waste.
  • Kristina W: I work full time so I get up early during the week to get some stuff done. Sunday’s are my food prep days for the food I take to work. I try to make dinners on the weekend that we can have leftovers during the week. Everything else I just do what needs to be done without over thinking it. If I stop to think about all of the things that need to be done I think I would go a little crazy.

I highlighted some key points, and I can especially relate to all the lines about flexibility, harmony and acknowledging that you can’t always do it all–  a lesson I’m learning to be okay with lately! Sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing and simple BE present.

For more on super moms and the need to slow down, check out the Pursuit of Superwoman.

Which of these tips work for you? Anything else you would add?

67 thoughts on “Moms: How do you do it all?

  1. Though I am not a mom I can completely relate to this. If I want to workout, I must do it very early. I don’t have the time after work with other commitments. Waking up at five now is no longer really a challenge. Great post and these tips are so good for anyone, not just moms!
    Hollie recently posted..Weekly Life MusingsMy Profile

  2. All of these tips are awesome!!!

    It’s funny, people think that a stay-at-home Mom spends all day doing nothing. Since I’ve been a SAHM, I’ve been crazy busy each and every day but I manage to get most of stuff done.
    Natalie recently posted..It has been decided.My Profile

  3. Love this post Laura! You truly hit on all the points!! I sometimes wonder how us moms do it all– but I do my workouts at 5am!– I work 4-5 days a week and am training clients in the evening as well! Having my husband be so supportive makes all the difference in the world– prepping food is key and having me time! We are also in bed by 9:30 most nights!! I would never ever give up sleep! I don’t work out our gym but I often use it for some extra childcare a couple of hours a week because my daughter LOVES it… kind of helps me play catch up!
    Laura @Fit Running Mama recently posted..Happy Friday: Some Highlights From the Week, NuNaturals Giveaway and ProBar WinnerMy Profile

  4. Setting aside different times of the day/week for different activities is a great strategy. When do you clean the house?!

    • Haha!! Great question. :) I clean one of the days when L and I are hanging out at home. She is great at entertaining herself or helping me when I’m busy with chores, but gets very frustrated if I try to do computer work or talk on the phone… so those I save for school/nap time!
      Laura recently posted..Moms: How do you do it all?My Profile

  5. I love all the tips but I especially love what you said about letting do of the things that don’t get done. I always have items left on my to do list at the end of the day and I heave learned that it is ok! As long as I get to the items that have top priority, I end the day happy!
    Betsy recently posted..Florida Day #3My Profile

  6. I’m a single mom. I have my daughter every week night and every other weekend. I work full time at a job that I commute 1 1/2 hours to each way. I leave the house at 6:30 am and get back at 6:00 pm. Balancing is difficult. I do my running on a treadmill during the week, after my daughter is in bed (makes for some late nights). Do my long runs outdoors on weekends when she’s with her dad, and on the Treadmill if she’s with me (or outside while she’s at gymnastics) It’s a long day, full day but definitely worth it.
    Robin recently posted..Uxbridge Half MarathonMy Profile

  7. Great tips Laura! While this is definitely something I struggle with from time to time, I’ve learned how to balance things for the most part. However, plans are always changing, kid getting sick, mom or dad getting sick, etc. so my biggest challenge was learning to be flexible :-)
    Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome recently posted..Munchkin Meals at 23 monthsMy Profile

  8. It does often feel like a big puzzle that we’re trying to piece together each day and then we have to put the pieces back together again in a different arrangement for the next day. It’s a constant work in progress. These are great tips and thank you for mentioning my post. I’m honored.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: StorytellersMy Profile

  9. What a great post – looks like you had a lot of great input!!
    The early morning is key for me (like 4:30 am).
    Thanks for compiling all of this info into such a helpful post!!
    Kim recently posted..Some Friday FunMy Profile

  10. Yes to all of these tips!!

    I think the key to putting everything together is to not expect it to go smoothly 100% (or even 50%) of the time. There are always things that are going to pop up, there are always things that are going to give you mom guilt, and there are always things that will disappoint you – but trying to find your happy place/sense of balance is worth the effort. I also think there are just tips/tricks that you learn over time that work for you and your family. Oh, and when you do hit that sweet spot don’t be afraid to celebrate it! It’s no small feat :)
    Michelle recently posted..Five Reasons You Should Go See Iron Man 3My Profile

  11. This is a great post! I also get up very early to get my run in/menu plan/schedule/etc… I am a homeschooling mom, so I have started running with my daughter (her idea, not mine) during the day as well. My younger 4-year old daughter goes in the jogging stroller. This is in addition to my regular runs as we only run about a mile together currently. She is only 6. :) I am hoping this will lead to many fun running times together when she is older!!
    Amanda recently posted.."This world is not my home"My Profile

  12. I love the flexible one, not every day will work out as planned/scheduled. I think it is near impossible to find the perfect balance because everyday is different but these are good tips to try for getting pretty darn close:)
    Dana @momrunshalf recently posted..Pin it PartyMy Profile

  13. Haha I sense an ‘early’ theme! That’s what works for me too. I remember days when I left my toddler in gym daycare only to have them coming to find me just as I was unrolling my yoga mat. Tough days, but they pass.

  14. This is a great list. There are so many things I do in my day that help fit everything in. but I would say surrounding yourself with support is probably the most important. Whether it is your spouse or hiring a babysitter. It’s all support and you need to have it.

    My husband just said to me this morning that he loves that my mind-set has changed so much in the last year. When I need to go for a run – I just go. A year or so ago I would find a million ‘should-dos’, put off the run and eventually not go at all. And i guess that has a little to with being committed to yourself and not feeling guilty about taking that time for yourself.
    Trish recently posted..Friday Things: running, birthdays, Spring Cleanse and stuffMy Profile

  15. So many great tips here – and I think the hardest thing for me is what you mentioned at the beginning – letting go of what you just aren’t able to get done. I struggle with that, but I’m trying to get better!
    Michelle recently posted..Boston, 2013My Profile

  16. I don’t have kids, but I certainly have a busy schedule with teaching full time. Meal prep is HUGE. Committing to prepping a bunch on the weekend is a big time saver throughout the work week. I also am a big advocate for working out early. Get it done with minimal interruptions and distractions, and enjoy the rest of your day!
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Friday’s FiveMy Profile

  17. The scheduling and supportive spouse are certainly key! My kids are way older now so it’s not really an issue, but back in the day I would get up before my husband and go work out, leaving him ‘on’ with the little ones until my return. I’m in awe of those of you who work FT and do food prep on the weekend– I’ve never been that organized but it sounds great and I’m sure my family would benefit if I did that even now.
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Trader Joe’s Kale Waldorf SaladMy Profile

  18. This is such a great post! I would also add a tip of “don’t compare”. I try not to do this, but sometimes I inevitably do. Everyone’s circumstances are different. Your friend who is training for Ironman with 2 kids may have a family member who takes the kids every Saturday. Or your other friend may have a job with an onsite gym for lunchtime workouts. Or another friend may get massive early morning miles in because their kid is a good sleeper. You get the idea. Comparing yourself to someone with a different life then feeling bad because they are doing so much more isn’t really productive. What has helped me is to take an honest inventory of my time, then fill in the blanks. If I pick what I want to do first, then there’s more of that than time and I just get frustrated. Best to figure out how much time there is and go from there. But I am still learning. I don’t think as a mom any of us ever feel completely balanced!
    Clea recently posted..I hate it when life says “slow down!” in not so nice ways…My Profile

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  20. It’s all about priorities I think. You can ALWAYS carve out 30-60 min. a day for something that’s really important to you. Personally, I don’t watch T.V. Most other people I know watch at least an hour a day, so there’s my workout time! :) I agree w/ including the kids. I never make my kids come with, but they are almost always invited.
    jan recently posted..400 Repeats: Three Methods for Building SpeedMy Profile

  21. These are all wonderful tips, but I still come back to: I don’t do it all. I choose what’s important and let go of what isn’t. It’s taken such a long time to be able to do that, but it’s worth it. My life is so much happier when I relax a bit.

    Letting go of the idea that we can do it all is something all women should help each other do. We should give ourselves and each other permission to stop trying to be perfect. I think that’s the greatest gift we could give our fellow sisters.

    But some of these tips are wonderful for fitting in those things we’ve wanted to do for so long and haven’t figured out how. It’s important to make time for the things that will feed our souls. I just worry we do it to the detriment of our health sometimes.

    Thanks for the great ideas. And thanks for talking about priorities and letting some things go.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend. With some down time.
    misssrobin recently posted..Letting People See My ScarsMy Profile

  22. Amazing post! I need to book mark this. I stll feel like a novice and have lots to learn. I workout at night or take my kids with me. I blog when I can fit it in. And just try to be more relaxed about everything.
    Jess recently posted..Welcome May!My Profile

  23. Very easy: I just DON’T do it all! The house is not sparkling clean, and I don’t care. As a busy working mom who also trains for races and writes a blog, there is no way I could keep everything in check. So instead I prioritize, and whatever does not get done… just does not get done. No big deal. :-)

  24. All these tips are coming at a good time for me. I can usually do a decent job with the juggling act, but lately I feel like I am falling flat. So, I will definitely make sure to use some of these good ideas!
    Kelly recently posted..Friday FavoritesMy Profile

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