How to Get It Done While The Kids Are In School

Dreaming about all of the extra hours you'll have with the kids back in school? Determined to get on top of your to-do list and have space in your day to do more of what you really want to be doing?
09/04/2015 05:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Dreaming about all of the extra hours you'll have with the kids back in school? Determined to get on top of your to-do list and have space in your day to do more of what you really want to be doing?

Here's the truth. Those 'extra hours' will disappear into the ether if you don't watch it.

That's exactly what happened to me back when my youngest began nursery school.

I was thrilled to have three bonus hours a day to get stuff done. I imagined my amazing life with an additional 12 hours a week!

But soon I felt just as busy as ever.

Two years later when he started 'big school', I conjured up more images of what my life would look like with all of the 'extra' time I'd have.

I'd create filing systems, make photo albums, finish the baby books, learn Spanish, study to be a yoga teacher, do volunteer work....

But that time evaporated too.

Here's what I've finally learned.

Time expands or contracts to fill whatever you put into it.

If you've got one hour to rush out and buy a birthday present. You'll do it in an hour. If you have more time than that, you'll take longer to do it. Sometimes a lot longer.

Full time working mothers will tell you that they manage to get things done in a short space of time because they have to. They won't go to three separate shops to find a missing ingredient for dinner, they'll substitute it for something else. They won't comparison shop, they'll make a gut decision and move on.

Working mothers look at stay at home moms and wonder what in the heck they do with all of that time. Stay at home moms look at working mothers and can't comprehend how on earth they get it all done.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it's how you choose to spend your time that matters.

You need to make conscious decisions every day or you won't get the right things done and you'll end up super frustrated.

Having a daily plan doesn't mean you're tied to a set routine, nor does it need to feel suffocating. You're the captain of your ship. You set the course for your day.

If you decide you'd rather be socialising or hanging out online, that's your choice. But take control of your decision and drop the guilt. If you can't enjoy it because you feel bad about all of the things you 'should' be doing, see it as a message that you need to do things differently. Let it catapult you into action.

Two first steps to get started:

1. List the things you've been wanting to do, but never have time for.

Anything from organising photos, decluttering and purging old toys and clothes - to taking a course, starting a home business, or getting into a fitness groove and eating healthier.

Now decide what you truly want to make time for. Not because you 'should', but because you want to.

Get clear about why you want to make time for these things. Maybe you don't actually want to do the work, but you want the result you'll get by putting in the work.

Focus on the outcome and how you will feel when you've done these things.

2. Create an Action Plan.

Begin each day by identifying your 3 M.I.T's (Most Important Tasks). Get those out of the way first. Do things before they become screamingly urgent.

Now refer to the things on your list above. Don't get overwhelmed by the bigger picture. Break them down into small, manageable tasks. Schedule in each step. Small, steady baby steps will get you there.

I've achieved so much by doing this. Over the past five years I've become better organised, learned Spanish, got fit, did an online business school and started my business.

All of this is down to getting clear about my goals and being focused.

Be determined to spend your time the way you want to spend it. As a busy mother there's bound to be obstacles thrown your way and you'll need to be flexible and forgiving! No beating yourself up. When things calm down, get yourself back on track again.

Kelly Pietrangeli helps mothers set goals and take charge of their own happiness. Her free Project Me Life Wheel Tool has helped thousands of women to find a happier balance between the kids - and everything else. Click here to give the Life Wheel Tool a spin for yourself.

In the comments below, please share what you're going start making time for.