How this Perpetually Late “Hot Mess Mama” Got it Together

From Defeat to

When it was just me back in the day rushing to college classes, it wasn’t that big of a deal.  As long as I wasn’t the last one there, I wasn’t too flustered. But when I had kids, it became completely apparent to me and everyone else.  I was a hot mess.  My friend even gave me a mug with “hot mess mama” written on it.  I laughed when I read it, knowing it was spot on.

(The definition for hot mess is “A person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered, especially one that is a source of peculiar fascination.”)

Life seemed like a breeze to the other moms and there I was…constantly, obviously frazzled. Always late. Defeated.  (Granted, I was in the midst of postpartum adjustment disorder and later hormone health struggles, but that’s another story).

 I had to get it together.  But what was “it”? And how could I get it?

I went looking for answers. Some people get life coaches or mentors…Neither was an option for me at the time, so I discovered Michael Hyatt’s resources. (His audio book Your Best Year Ever is a good place to start if you’re interested.) Michael Hyatt is a success coach and productivity expert.  My overall takeaway from his material is that good time management is basically good self-management, and that is a learned skill.  I didn’t have to be a hot mess mama forever!!  There was hope for improvement if I just applied myself to learning how!

I then read books like Crystal Paine’s Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and other books on organization and productivity, and listened to podcasts or watched Youtube videos on the topics as well.  One guy named Robin Sharma talks about what he calls the “5 a.m. Club,” or being part of the few in the world who put their “mind over mattress” and start their days at 5 a.m., a habit of highly successful people.

So my first goal to get it together was to become a morning personI’d previously believed you innately either were or you weren’t, and I sure wasn’t. (Especially struggling with insomnia, if I was sleeping soundly in the morning, don’t anybody dare wake me up before I have to!  My kids would often jar me awake with their clamoring to get to me.  Which meant I was starting to resent them.  Not good.)

How could I wake up on my own without a dreadful blaring alarm putting me in an awful mood?  A friend who also struggled with sleep issues told me about her wake up light alarm clock, which helps balance your circadian rhythm.  I talked my hubby into getting one for us and I credit it with a less stressful morning routine.  Now I wake up with the gradually increasing light and am out of bed happily before the music ever even plays!

With my morning uninterrupted by kids and distractions (no facebooking allowed in the morning…productivity stealers banned for the first several hours of my day!), my second goal to get it together was daily planning in a productivity journal.  This is essential for me as a homemaker to have direction because a homemaker’s work is never done.  Dishes and laundry and the house get dirty every single day.  But if I have a clear idea of what TODAY’s workload is, I won’t feel overwhelmed by its continual recurrence.

I write my top 3 goals for the day and any appointments and times so I can see the layout of my day.  (Anything else is more flexible and can roll over to the next day’s list.) I started out doing this in the morning, but later preferred to plan the night before, so my morning was solid productivity (after walking the dog).  Either way was an improvement.

My third big step to get it together was improving my timeliness I’ve joked I have “time passage awareness disorder” like Noni from A Slob comes Clean, so setting a timer, alarm, or reminder for my phone and using iPhone Calendar app has done wonders to keep me from scrambling last minute. (The iPhone Calendar provides allowance for drive time as well as first and second reminder alarms, which I use for knowing when the kids should get shoes ready –15 minutes before drive time–and grabbing a drink or snack to go, and then the “out the door” signal–5 minutes before drive time.)  If mommy’s less stressed, kids are less stressed.

My latest application of this is putting the library renewal or return date on my phone…because I just paid $16 in overdue fines last month.  Ugh.  So I’m still in progress.  But let me tell you what, I am so glad I don’t feel like a hot mess mama all the time anymore!

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