Since about the time your baby was born, you might have noticed that every week tends to look a little different.
Yet, both you and your little(s) probably crave some kind of structure and routine.
Besides that, you HAVE to be able to get things done.
So how do you keep up with the demands of everyday life, whilst staying not only organized, but also present as a parent?
I can’t tell you what’s best for your individual situation, but I can show you what works for me!
This week, I’m showing you how I plan out my week, keep track of my to-do list, and still embrace slow-living as a pregnant mom with a toddler.
Here’s what that process looks like!
How I Plan My Week as a Pregnant Mom with a Toddler
Step 1: Master List
The first thing I do at the start of my week is to make a master list of everything I have coming up, and all of the things I need to do.
I include appointments, outings, and all tasks that aren’t part of my normal daily routine.
What I mean by that last part is, I don’t list things like “clean toilet, wash dishes, sweep floor” because those are part of my daily cleaning routine anyway.
Step 2: Scheduling
Next I pull out my planner.
I like to use a large planner with a clean, weekly spread.
I’ve tried day designer type planners before with hourly lines that allow you to block out your time, but I’ve found that since becoming a mom, those just don’t work for me.
I look over my Master List and make sure to fill in any appointments that weren’t already in my planner.
I’ll fill in any other tasks that I think could best be done on specific days, but I don’t transfer EVERYTHING from my Master List.
For example, if I have an extra errand to run, I might write it in on a day I’m already making an outing.
Step 3: Prioritizing
Next, I’ll take a few different colored highlighters and color-code the items on my list by importance. Things that are MOST important that MUST get done are highlighted yellow.
Tasks that I probably should do, but could wait until the next week if needed, are highlighted pink.
Finally, things I would like to be able to do, but are not important get highlighted blue.
[A quick side-note here, I do NOT recommend grouping self-care tasks into the final, least important category. YOU should get prioritized, so if you’ve listed something like “Finish the book I’m reading” or “Face mask skin care routine,” make them at least “should dos”, if not must dos. Otherwise, you’ll never get to them.]
Then, each day of the week, I pull out my Master List and pick 2-3 of the most important tasks, or the ones that I think will fit best with what is already going on that day.
I don’t hold to the hierarchy of tasks rigidly. If I can fit something less important into my day ahead of something more important, I will. I like to take more of a “what you can when you can” approach.
Step 4: Time blocking
Finally, I’ve been trying more to structure our days with time blocking.
I’ve tried this before and didn’t like it because my blocks were too rigid, or we had too much going on and I couldn’t be consistent with it.
But, I’m giving it another shot, and it’s working out.
Instead of a strict routine where we do the same things at the same time every day, I divide my day into subject blocks.
6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
During the first part of our day, we set ourselves up for success by filling emotional buckets, making ourselves presentable, and fueling our bodies.
We all get up between 6 and 6:30, and I start the coffee maker. I make breakfast for my husband and toddler (I don’t get hungry until later), and get them fed.
My husband leaves for work, and I spend a while reading with my daughter. During that time, I also do my Bible study.
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Then during the next block, I do my cleaning routine, and because I’m active in our home, my toddler is more encouraged to play independently.
During the second half of this block, we might go on an outing.
Towards the end of this block, and maybe into the start of the next is when we have lunch.
12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Between 12 and 1, I try to get my toddler winding down for a nap. My goal is usually to have her asleep by 1, but as anyone with a toddler knows, you can’t force them to sleep.
Once I get her down, I jump straight into blogger mode. Since I haven’t been getting up as early in the morning lately (thanks first trimester), this afternoon window is my primary work time.
I try to bang out whatever assignments I’ve given myself that day, and if I have “extra” time once I’ve finished, I have a bit of a breather for myself where I might watch a show or read a book.
3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Depending on the day, my toddler’s nap might carry into this block, sometimes as late as 5 p.m.
This late afternoon block is what I consider my dinner prep block. I start getting the kitchen ready to make a meal.
Once we get moved into our house, this will take much less time, but right now we’re in an apartment with one of the worst kitchens you’ll ever see (and no dishwasher). So, getting things cleaned up enough to have room to cook takes A WHILE.
If my toddler is awake, she gets to stand on a step-ladder at the sink and “help” wash dishes.
Once the kitchen is tidied up, I cook dinner in time to have it ready when my husband gets home (between 5:30 and 6).
After he gets changed, we sit down for our meal.
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
This is the bedtime block.
When dinner is over, my husband spends a little while tuckering out our daughter while I clean up the dishes and tidy up the apartment for the next day.
He gets her teeth brushed and helps her wind down, and usually puts her to sleep as well.
Her goal bedtime is 7 p.m., but that rarely happens.
If we can successfully get her to sleep (in her own bed), we’ll spend the remaining time together hanging out or watching a show.
Sometimes my husband stays up later, but this pregnant lady usually goes to bed between 9 and 10.
Tips for Planning Your Week with Small Children
Planning your day with and around little children can be really aggravating. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re wasting your time planning something that always ends up changing.
If you’re pregnant on top of it all, you might make plans with the best of intentions, but end up having to tank an entire days tasks because of a sudden intense wave of fatigue, or relentless morning sickness.
Here are my best tips to help you succeed at planning your week with littles.
Have at least one ME block daily
I recommend having a regular time every day where you do something for YOU.
Whether that’s take a shower or read a book or crochet or shave your legs (or crochet with the wool you shaved from your legs)… Whatever fills your cup, make time for it daily.
Some days, you might be able to stretch this out for a couple of hours, and other days, you might only get to squeeze in 15 minutes.
Just make sure it happens.
Plan to be flexible
The more loosely you create your schedule and to-do list, the less frustration you will encounter.
If you’ve assigned times to every single task on your list, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
On the other hand, if you have an inventory of to-do items to pull from–doing what you can when you can–then life’s daily surprises will become slight speed bumps rather than major obstacles.
Plan regular outings (even if just to the back yard)
There’s something about getting out of your house that suddenly puts everything back into perspective.
Maybe not getting time to dust the baseboards TODAY isn’t as much of a crisis as you felt like it was.
Perhaps your toddler’s potty training mishap is now makes you laugh instead of cry.
Fresh air has a magical quality that reminds us what’s really important. Try to get our of your home daily, even if it’s just for a few minutes in the yard.
Plan to be active during wake times and save focus-work for sleep times
If you have work you need to focus on, like sitting down at the computer to write a blog post, then you should NOT plan this type of work into a block where a young child is awake distracting you constantly.
Trying to force a system like that to work is going to drive you crazy and cost you productivity.
I’d also bet that when your little finally sacks out for a nap, you’d rather drop into a chair and breathe for a few minutes than throw yourself into busy chores.
Take advantage of the natural ebb and flow of the day.
During the times your child is active, be active, too. The morning is the best time for me to get my cleaning routine done. When my child naps, and I’m physically feeling beat, that’s the perfect time to recline in my comfy nursing chair and knock out some blogging, or have a long block of time to iron clothes and watch a show.
Don’t expect that just because you got organized and made a paper list and even colored it in with highlighters that you’re suddenly going to accomplish 5 million things in one day.
Instead, limit your to-do list intentionally so that when you finish it, you feel the freedom to be present with your child.
Also remember that no matter how many lists you make, your child is still the same child.
If they hang on your leg while you start a load of laundry, no amount of highlighters in the world is going to change that (and if it does, it’s because your child is in another room coloring on the wall with them).
Be realistic and set yourself up for success, rather than failure.
Start waking up before kids
If you’re at a season of life where this is possible, start waking up a few minutes before your family!
I can’t express to you how valuable it is to start the day on your terms.
For a while, I got up at 4 a.m. daily, and this was my favorite part of the day. Now that my toddler is starting to sleep through the night, I’d love to get back to this soon (maybe once first-trimester fatigue lets up).
If you want to read more about my early morning routine and how I made it work, I did an entire blog post on it.
Now I want to hear from you!
Do you have a system for planning your week? What does it look like? What do you struggle with?