You own time, time does not own you.
Think about that statement and let it seep into your brain as you think about what your day would look like if you lived that way. How would you carry yourself as a busy wife and mom?
How would you treat appointments, tasks, and chores? With that kind of ownership in your hands, you could probably be pretty confident in telling your minutes where to go and feel pretty great about all you accomplished each day.
That statement is pure truth. You DO own time, it has no power over you unless you let it. You have the same amount of hours in your day as Maya Angelou, Einstein, Oprah, all the great, accomplished people the world has observed as influential.
If you want to get more done, be productive, feel good about your day, and rock this motherhood thing, you’ve got to take ownership of your time.
Rockin’ this mom life gig is all about taking this ownership and balancing it with a heavy dose of flexibility. I need grace more than water, and I mess up on the regular, but for the most part, my days are owned, and I don't let the chaos win.
Let me show you how I do it, and then help you put this into practice for yourself.
What My Life Looks Like
I have four kids, ages two to seven. I’m married, I homeschool, and I own my own online business, which I run from my home office.
My husband Brian was able to quit the job that kept him away from us six excruciating days a week (massive prayer answered and a huge leap of faith for us) this past April, so he's at home with me.
We share the load of running the business and homeschooling the kids. This means sometimes the yellow time blocks set aside for work are used by him while I handle the homeschooling, but usually it's me writing or catching up on emails while he teaches the kids.
This should give you a feel for our life and what it is we're dealing with. Your life will probably look pretty different from ours, and that's okay - you can still use this blog post and idea as a really sturdy guide for some structure in your day. Just tweak how it's filled in to fit your schedule and family.
Our life is a lot, it’s not easy, and it takes a lot of patience, grace, and rhythm to keep things running smoothly. I’m not naturally a Type A person (kinda wish I was), but I have learned that I need to adopt some Type A habits in order to live intentionally, and that’s worth it to me.
Here’s what my typical day looks like (the details of the work and school tasks vary depending on which day of the week it is).
I typically take Thursdays off of both work and homeschooling, and our family will head out for an adventure day. Usually we do some sort of outdoor homeschool day trip, sometimes we just get lunch together, run some errands, and spend time at the park.
Either way, it’s a mid-week break with uninterrupted family time and I love it. I don’t do well with a traditional weekend of two days off in a row. I lose my step and my productivity tanks. Since I have the flexibility to do something different, I take advantage of that.
On Sundays, I don’t work at all, and I detox from social media too. It’s usually a very restful day for all of us.
Every day (even if it’s a day off), I wake up between 4:30 & 5:30. I found that there are certain things, like writing content for my website, that I really need to do in the quiet, which only happens when my kids are asleep. I’ve also found that if I have gotten the most pressing and important tasks for the day finished before my kids even wake up, I am able to be extremely flexible.
Mom life means unforeseen changes to the schedule pretty often - injured or sick kids, deciding to take off and do something fun midday, an errand that suddenly really needs to be done, etc. When the most crucial tasks on my day’s to do list are done at 4:30 in the morning, I can let go of the rest with a lot less stress if I need to roll with the waves and change my plans for the day.
You can read my suggestions on breaking night owl habits and waking up early here.
Now that you see the kind of things I need to accomplish throughout the week, let’s talk about time blocking.
Time blocking is exactly what it sounds like - blocking chunks of time out and dedicating each chunk to a certain genre of tasks. You’re basically telling your time where to go like you do in Dave Ramsey's budgeting philosophy.
Instead of telling every dollar how it will be used before you earn it, you’re telling every hour how it will be spent before it happens. This is taking ownership of your time, and in turn, taking ownership of your life. To me, this is a key part in living on purpose with intention and focus, which is really important to me.
Here’s what my time blocking looks like:
Want help applying time-blocking to your own life?
I typically spend two solid hours working early in the morning, and two or three hours mid-late morning.
I spend a few broken up hours homeschooling the kids in the afternoon and do things like going through our Bible curriculum while we eat breakfast to kill two birds with one stone whenever I can.
I’ve woven some self-care and intentional family time into each day as well. I end every early morning work session with a walk around my neighborhood while I speak affirmations over myself, my life, and my business and spend time in prayer.
My kids wake up around 7:15 and know they are to hang out in their bedroom until 8:00 when breakfast is served. I start my day with them feeling awake, caffeinated, productive, and happy. So much better than still in bed, groggy, pissed off, and late to the start of my own life each day!
I have prioritized meal time in our home by marking it in red on my time blocking chart. This way, even it’s an incredible busy day for me, we are pressing pause to sit down and share a lengthy meal together as a family.
You’ll notice that housework is the smallest block of the day, and blocking an hour out for it each evening is completely unnecessary, but that time is there in case for some reason we do need it.
Our home requires extremely minimal daily maintenance because of minimalism. I’ve simplified our belongings and our home down to the bare minimum, which allows me to not worry about housework much at all during the day. It’s awesome!
We pick up as we go a bit during the day, but the blue block of time on my chart is usually about 30 minutes of picking up right before dinner. Along with a load of laundry and caring for pets, that’s all we need to keep the house in good shape and feeling clean.
On Saturday mornings, we do deep cleaning as a family. If you’d like to implement minimalism in your house, click here.
How You Can Start Time-Blocking Your Own Life
The first thing you need to do is write out a list of all the things that HAVE to be done every week. What keeps your home running smoothly? What has to be done in order to keep your home and your life from falling apart?
Think about everything, including self-care. What needs to be done in order to keep YOU from falling apart? What do you need to do in order to be a fulfilled, peaceful mama? Include your marriage, your relationships with your kids, housework, business or work tasks if you have them, everything.
Next, you need to look at the amount of time you have in your day. What time would you LIKE to wake up? You can change this to be earlier if you end up needing the extra hours, but what is your ideal wake up time? Do you like to stay up later and sleep until about 7:30? Do you like to rise early? Write down your ideal time for starting your day.
Now write down anything you would like to accomplish before your kids come out for breakfast, if anything. Do you want to get the hardest/most important part of your day’s tasks out of the way right from the get-go? Do you simply want some quiet time alone? How long will these tasks take? Half an hour? Two hours?
Estimate and write the number down. Add thirty minutes to account for waking up, using the bathroom, and getting your head out of your sleepiest state. That’s how much earlier than your kids you need to wake up. If your kids wake up ridiculously early, you can set a new rule where they can come out for breakfast at a certain time that’s more realistic for you and allows you the time you need to start your day well in the mornings.
For example, my kids used to wake up at 5:00 in the morning, and it was ridiculous. I set a new rule which didn’t allow them to come out and have run of the house until 7:00. Now they sleep in until about 7:15 (their inner clocks naturally adjusted after a few weeks because they knew it’s no longer super fun to wake up early if you can’t do whatever you want), and their “come out and have breakfast” time is now 8:00.
This works great for our family, and you can adjust the times to what will work best for yours.
Next you need to look at your set schedule. This is the schedule that isn’t flexible in your life. For example, do your kids go to school? Their school hours are not flexible, and determine a large part of your day. Do you work outside the home? Your work schedule determines your day and is not flexible.
Do you have weekly commitments like homeschool co-ops, doctor appointments, or play dates? Write these things down and block out these times (school drop off and pick up times, work hours, commute times, etc.)
Okay, so now that you’ve done that, what’s left? That’s your place to fill in the things you wrote down in the first step - all the things you need to accomplish each day to keep your home and your life running smoothly. If you don’t have enough hours in your day, you have to create it by setting an earlier wake time, a later bedtime, or removing something from your day. Sometimes this means making hard decisions about your life because you realize you have way too much on your plate and literally cannot do it all well.
Don’t be discouraged or stressed out… this is something you needed to realize and can totally handle. Make decisions based on peace and confidence and in what feels right, not out of fear or worry.
The next step is to play around with the order and structure of your day. Look at what you’ve written down and think about living it out. Would you really like to respond to emails first thing in the morning? Or would you rather spend time doing that during the baby’s nap?
Think hard about the rhythm you want for your week and what will work best for your husband’s work schedule, your personality, and the ages of your kids. You might need to be a little more flexible for a season (ie: if you have a baby who isn’t sleeping through the night yet).
The final step is creating your personal time blocking chart. I prefer Google Sheets for this, but you can also use Excel or a similar program. You can also download my pre-made time blocking chart and fill it in for yourself by clicking here.
Want help applying time-blocking to your life?
Download the Time-Blocking Mom Workbook for just $9 now!
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Life is hard, chaotic, and can make you feel out of control so easily. Sometimes that’s a good thing and it grows us, other times it’s debilitating and depressing, and keeps us from accomplishing our purpose. Take control of your time, tell it where to go, and free yourself up to enjoy spontaneous moments a lot more, be a more intentional mom, and end up with a life lived well.