Moms need to do it all, right? That means we need to take care of the kids, clean the house, feed everyone, and have a side hustle. Oh, and don’t forget to fit in me time. I’m sure we all have that down. Except I totally don’t. It is so hard to find a balance, and one of the first things I tend to let go is the cleaning. Cleaning just isn’t very much fun, and it is easy to put off doing. But we can’t pretend it doesn’t need to happen. In order to fit everything in, I adopted a block schedule system for myself. It is a great way to prioritize your needs and stay focused on the task at hand. Here is how to use a block schedule to prioritize cleaning.
The Basics of Block Schedules
What is a Block Schedule?
What is a block schedule? It isn’t a complicated system. It just means you look at your day in chunks of time. This method works really well with small children because your days tend to fall into chunks of time naturally.
Why Use a Block Schedule?
Block scheduling allows you to assign tasks to a specific time. This helps you make sure you are getting everything done in your day you need to. It also eliminates the time wasted wondering What should I do next? It makes planning your day simpler and less stressful.
Examples can make things easier, so here is how I block out my schedule. I look at my day in six parts.
- Early Morning: 7:30-9:30am
- Independent Playtime: 9:30-11:00am
- Midday: 11:00am-2:00pm
- Nap Time: 2:00pm-4:30pm
- Evening Time: 4:30pm-7:30pm
- Night Time: 7:30pm-whenever I go to bed
These blocks work for us, but every family will look different. With small children, nap time offers up a definite chunk of time to use as a block. Meal times provide natural divisions between blocks as well. To determine yours take a few minutes and write out your daily routine. Then demarcate where you have natural chunks of time. (And if you don’t already utilize independent playtime you should seriously consider it! It is a wonderful tool that helps kids and parents. Learn the benefits of it here!)
How To Build Your Blocks
Determine Your Daily Priorities
This sounds like a big step. Priorities, wow, time to reevaluate your life. But we aren’t going that deep. Just think about what you like to accomplish in a day. I think of categories. Mine are family, clean, work, me. With little kids the family one kind of takes up the whole day. That is the default, they come first. But the other three need a more directed focus to achieve during the day. Your categories can be anything, but I have found that those are the big four for most people.
Assign Priorities to Blocks
Now comes the time to assign priorities to your blocks. My main three non-kid blocks are independent playtime, nap time, and after bedtime. I think this is pretty common for moms of littles. At the end of the day, I am tired and just want to relax, so my me-time goes after bedtime. Nap time is the next longest chunk of time, so it is when I sit down to do my work. (Work includes my bookkeeping, blogging, and any other projects I am trying to get done.) That leaves independent playtime as my cleaning block.
Use the Block
Now that the blocks are assigned Use Them!! It is very easy to get distracted and start flitting from task to task. I know I need to clean but I just have a quick work email to send. Or I need to work on a blog post but first I just need to wipe down the bathroom sinks. No! The purpose of the block is to have an assigned time for everything that needs to be done. Dishes can wait during the morning family time because I know my cleaning block is coming. Work block is just for work, I cleaned up in the morning so I can focus on the task at hand. Stick to your assigned priority in your block. If you run out of time there is always another block tomorrow.
Why Block Schedules Work
Look at the Big Picture
This is a big picture method of getting things done. Everything you need to do will not be accomplished at the same time, in the same hour, or even in the same day. But you are working on getting things done every day. You have a set time to clean every day. You have a set time to work every day. You have a set time to recharge every day. And you still prioritize your family. The goal isn’t to do it all every second of the day. The goal is to get it all done over time.
Block Scheduling Aids Focus
It can be so hard to get anything done with the mental load we women carry. I am constantly thinking about my to-do list, even as I am working on a task. Block scheduling helps aid focus. Everything that needs to be done has a time and place. I can focus on cleaning because I know I have a set period of time to work later in the day. And I can focus on work because I know I have cleaned and that another cleaning block is the next morning. Finally, I can give my all to my family knowing that I have planned time to accomplish my other goals.
One More Tip
One last tip. Now that your blocks are assigned, fill them up. Plan out how you are going to fill your blocks the night before. For some reason, I can clearly see what needs to be done in the evening. If I start the day without a plan though I waste a lot of time trying to determine what I should do when. Spending five minutes the night before to assign tasks cans ave you hours the next day.
You don’t need to get super specific, just the main idea. For example, I will assign deep cleaning the kitchen to the cleaning block, creating images for blog posts to the work time, and watching a show to my me time. It doesn’t take long to write that out, but it eliminates any need to make these little decisions the next day. I know what needs to be done and can just get started.
This is actually a very flexible method of prioritizing and accomplishing tasks. You can build your blocks as you need. The key is to have an assigned activity at an assigned time. This way you know you are getting everything done that needs to be finished. You can focus on the task at hand knowing that other tasks have a plan in place or are already completed. And it helps you maintain balance in your daily activities and chores. I get my cleaning done every week and relax during the other parts of the day knowing it is finished.
The ladies of the BFBN are writing all about how to fit everything in with kids around. Be sure to check out their posts!
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: Easy Cleaning Schedule Options for Busy Moms
Christine Keys: How To Have a Clean Home When You Have Small Children
The Journey of Parenthood: How To Encourage Your Children To Help With Household Chores
Mama’s Organized Chaos: Challenge Yourself Not To Clean Up For Your Child
Twin Mom and More: How To Keep Your House Clean in Ten Minutes a Day