The back to school season is in full swing and you’re probably already readjusting to busy school days, the anticipation of new lessons learned and the happy (and sometimes not so happy) stories that come home with your child everyday. It can get pretty hectic and overwhelming. That’s why I’ve asked some pretty busy moms their productivity hacks for maintaining order, reducing stress and keeping their sanity. Enjoy and please implement!
- Rise Early: Most moms I’ve talked to mentioned the absolute necessity of waking up early. ProductiveMuslim has been advocating rising for fajr and staying up since its inception and here’s just one reason why:From Shakr Al-Ghamidi that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “O Allah bless my Ummah in what they do early (in the day).” [Tirmidhi]The hours immediately after Fajr are peaceful. Use this time to start your day off right with recitation of the Qur’an, quiet reflection and preparation for the day to come. This is a quiet time, unlike any other part of the day. Getting a head start on your day will help you feel energized and ready to conquer whatever the day has in store for you.
- Schedule Your Meals: Planning ahead will save you the headache of not-knowing, or what I like to call the ‘not-knowing syndrome’. Think back to a moment when your day was hectic and when you stepped into the house and all you could hear was: “Mom, I’m hungry” over and over again. You realized you hadn’t even thought this far ahead in your day. Panic set in and you just didn’t know what to do. You ended up scrambling to make a meal, or chose an unhealthy option (pizza, anyone?). Think about what you’ll be cooking for the week over the weekend and create a schedule. Make sure this list is handy when grocery shopping (you don’t want to waste time running to the grocery store during the week!). Having a menu for your home will save you time and energy.
- Prepare the Night Before: You wake up and realize the kids don’t have their clothes for the day ready. You have to pack lunch, make breakfast, and would like to squeeze in a cup of coffee somewhere in between. Here’s the magic key to an organized, stress-free morning: have everything ready the night before.If your kids are old enough, have them put out their clothes for the next day before they go to sleep. If they still need your help, make sure their clothes are clean and ready for the next day before you go to sleep. The night before, pack all book bags and if you’re heading out to work, your workbag and clothes for the day should be ready as well (sometimes we prepare for everyone else and forget ourselves!). Have the lunch boxes on the counter ready to be filled in the morning. If you really want to get fancy, make sure your coffee pot is ready and all you have to do in the morning is press the start button on the machine.
- Recruit the Help of Family and Friends: Remember, you are not a machine. Although we may like to think we can do it all, the fact is we’re human and we can’t. Saying that is pretty refreshing and makes it easier to ask for help. You’ll be surprised how willing your family and friends will be to help out. Have your kids pitch in; you’ll be surprised how much your 5-year-old can do, at least make (or try to make) his/her own bed. In addition to helping you tidy up, you are teaching your child responsibility as well. Ask your spouse for support, both in the household chores and emotional support. If you have sisters or cousins, you can exchange babysitting days, giving yourself some much needed quiet time.
- Set a Daily Routine: I may be pretty boring but when it comes to school days. I hardly go out with the kids unless it’s to a park. Incorporating fresh air and physical activity helps the kids (and myself) release the stresses of the day. I’ve found it’s easier to get them to sit down during homework time when they’ve already had their physical activity. Otherwise, we’re pretty much homebodies after school. This helps when it comes to getting ready for bed and maintaining an early bedtime.
- Build Strong Family Ties over Meals: Make it a point to sit down with your kids over a meal. It’s hard to have all family members present during the workweek but whoever is at home when dinner is served should be sitting at the table. It’s important to talk about what’s going on in school, ask questions and listen for answers. Too often, we get caught up in juggling our responsibilities that we forget to listen. Creating a time to listen is essential, especially when they’re young. In sha Allah, when we instill a habit of open dialogue with our children when they are young, they will remain open and honest with us even as they get older.
- Give Yourself a Break: It’s pretty hectic during the week, and as the CEO of your household you work hard to maintain order and keep things running smoothly. This is why you are entitled to a break! Once a week, make sure you schedule in productive downtime (I promise, ‘productive downtime’ is not an oxymoron). Productive downtime means you are shifting gears and taking it easy. Things you can do include journaling (reflection is always positive and helps beat stress) and treating yourself to a no-cook day. Having one day a week when you focus on yourself will give you something to look forward to and helps you reenergize for the week to come.
- Focus on the Task at Hand: Thinking about everything that needs to get done all at once can be overwhelming. This is why being present in the moment helps reduce stress, gets the job done better and allows you to be mentally present at all times. Remember, multi-tasking is overrated anyway.What is your #1 productivity tip that helps keep your household running smoothly? Please share in the comments section below.
About the Author:
Ahlam Yassin is a former ProductiveMuslim crewmember. She is currently teaching Social Studies at Rising Star Academy in New Jersey, and aims to strike work/home harmony. If you’ve benefitted from her article in any way, she hopes you’ll share and help support Rising Star Academy with a simple click of a button. One vote = One dollar = A big difference. Make sure to type “Rising Star Academy”, Union City, NJ. It is a simple act that helps make a big difference.