Recently I have been working with a mum who has just returned to work and who is finding her evenings very tricky. As she talked to me about her end of day activities and how she seemed to be unable to organise or get into any kind of a routine, I could not help feeling really sympathetic.
It reminded me of years of evening juggling – which took on different forms dependent on my own circumstances and the ages of my kids.
The thing is that evenings always tend to be very busy and compounded by tiredness, hunger and sometimes too many things to do. The problem is when we are feeling things are getting on top of us our organisational skills go out of the window and if you are anything like me, it takes twice as long to do the simplest of tasks.
Developing some good time management strategies, organisational skills and a simple routine is time well invested.
So (back to this client), instead of an organise your life plan, we developed an Organise Your Evening Plan, the rudiments of which I have jotted down below.
Obviously everyone’s personal circumstances differ but having road tested this myself and with a couple of other busy mums – it definitely is a tool for helping mums who find themselves struggling to get through the evening without losing their temper or falling asleep. Neither of which are particularly helpful.
To work on your Organise Your Evening Plan you will need a notebook and pen and paper – and a few minutes when you can sit and evaluate your personal situation and your families flash points as well as what you are hoping to achieve.
Organise Your Evening – Have a Time Audit
1. Decide when your evening begins. This may sound a stupid question, but it is important. For example is it when you pick the kids up from school or when you leave work.
2. Now let’s say your evening starts at 5pm when you leave work. Write down a short description of everything you do each evening, with approximate timings next to each item, along with how you are feeling. (This could be happy, stressed, worried). Although the list might go on and on, don’t worry – this is time well spent. You are doing an audit of where and how you spend your time. You may find that you are losing half an hour here or there with the odd telephone call, chatting to the child minder (unnecessarily), and dealing with the daily after school tantrum etc.
3. Once you have completed your Organise you Evening Audit, decide when the flash points are. You are probably thinking I already know this, but believe me writing this down is a very powerful process and gets the solution finding bit in your brain powered up.
An example of a flash point in our family was my youngest daughter, who always screamed all the way home in the car from nursery. I could almost predict it without fail. By the time I reached home, my head would be throbbing with the noise from her screaming, my own hunger pains and general exhaustion. (After months of us all suffering this I spoke to the Nursery and I adopted a number of strategies which really helped resolve the problem).
Remember Do What You Always Do and You Will Get What You Always Have Got
4. Having established the flash points and where you lose unnecessary time or stressful situations emerge, start to look at what you can do differently, to avoid them or counter these flash points.
5. Now write out your “perfect organise your evening plan” – that includes your daily routine. Sorry – no dreams here, just what you can effectively achieve each evening.
6. Ask yourself, how would you feel? Energetic, calm, in control, organised. How would the evening run? What time will the kids be in bed by? What will you have cooked for dinner? Will you have had a game with the kids? What have you done differently to improve your time management? What new routines do you need to adopt?
Remember evenings may be busy but they don’t need to be stressful. Just settle down do your Organise Your Evening Plan, be a little more disciplined about your time management and immediately your busy evenings won’t be quite so busy.