Mom life is stressful, no matter what your situation. You clean up, and the next day it’s back to chaos. How can you focus on the good things when you feel like you have no free time and there’s always a load of laundry that needs to be done? How can you simplify mom life so that you can enjoy your own life and truly enjoy this season of life with your kids? After all, they will never be this age again.
I get it. I used to be that super stressed-out mom. As a mom of 3, an entrepreneur, and the breadwinner of the family, it took me a long time to simplify to the point where I felt mostly at peace with life. I’ve been working on it for years, but I’m finally at a point where I’m seeing that there is a way to enjoy life even when you’re deep in the depths of little kids, homework, 42 snacks a day, and legos all over the floor.
So whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, I think you’ll find these tips to simplify mom life helpful.
Prioritize (my #1 tip)
As a mom, I know your to-do list feels neverending. And that’s probably because it is! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed between work (if you work), chores, and taking care of your family. And that doesn’t even include time for yourself.
The #1 way to simplify your life? And, honestly, the easiest way?
Not everything you FEEL like you need to do needs to be done. And it’s certainly not all equal!
My desire to learn to knit or clean the toilet every day is definitely not up there with preparing meals for my kids or keeping my sanity so I can be a patient mother.
The best way to start prioritizing is by making a list of everything on your plate. Or anything that takes up any time during your day. I mean everything.
Step one: Write down everything you SHOULD do AND everything you DO spend your time doing.
Step two: Circle the non-negotiables and cross out the stuff you can let go of.
To help you prioritize, consider the following:
- Which tasks or responsibilities *actually* have to get done?
- Which tasks or responsibilities are a true priority in your life?
When you think of your top priorities and then compare everything against those, it’s much easier to see how insignificant some things are in comparison.
Be honest with yourself when prioritizing. It’s easy to get caught up in the small stuff and neglect the more critical tasks. Remember, not everything on your to-do list needs to be done today, or ever.
I’m guilty of wanting to do all the things to the point where I’m not doing the most important things well. For example, have you looked at the screen time app on your phone? Is scrolling through social media an hour or more a day of the same importance as having the mental energy to read to your kids before bed?
I know. I hit you where it hurts. Social media used to be my “me time” too, but I actually found that it hurt more than it helped. In fact, I ditched it. Apps deleted and everything. But this is just an example from MY life!
More examples: The kids don’t need to be in 3 different activities each. Those play dates no one enjoys, and the kids always throw a huge tantrum after? It’s ok to ditch it. It’s a lovely goal to want to bake bread from scratch every week, but it’s also ok to just buy it.
I’m about to ask for something big.
I want you to try to cross off at least 1/4 of your list.
If it makes you feel better, you can cross it off “for now” and revisit it in a month or two to see how you feel. I bet you’ll feel lighter without all that stuff weighing down on you.
Commit to Doing Less
Similar to prioritizing above, it’s time to just commit to doing less. Between the stuff you need to get done around the house and all the places you need to run the kids to, you likely find yourself constantly rushing from one task to the next. Being overwhelmed and stressed out has become your normal. But what if you could simplify your life by doing less?
Be extremely intentional about the tasks and activities that you take on. Here are some quick tips to let go of doing so much and focus on doing less:
- Prioritize your to do list: It doesn’t all need to get done today. Pick the top 3 things and forget the rest unless you have more time.
- Say “no” more often: It’s hard to say no when you’re asked to do something, or you’re invited to an event. It’s ok to say no! If you’re excited and know you can manage it well, go for it. Otherwise? Decline.
- Simplify activities: The library, the park, soccer, gymnastics. How often is your family running out the door? Every parent feels they must put their kids in tons of activities, but I’d say the opposite is true, especially if your kids go to school all day. You’re already away from them all day! Let them experience the joy of just being home.
Committing to doing less can be a powerful way to simplify your mom life and family life! It also helps your kids learn to say no so they feel like they have space to breathe.
Unless you’re already a minimalist, one of the most effective ways to simplify your mom life is by decluttering your home. A cluttered home feels overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. When you have too much stuff, it’s hard to find what you need, and you waste time and energy trying to keep everything organized and clean. Sound familiar?
When you have less stuff, you spend less time managing that stuff.
To start decluttering, you need to be ruthless. Eliminate anything you don’t use, need, or love. Be honest and ask yourself if an item adds value to your life. If it doesn’t, it’s time to let it go. Here are some tips to help you declutter:
- Start small: Begin with one room or category of items, such as clothes or books.
- Set goals: Make goals to tackle a room or category each week until you’re “done.” Or set a goal to donate one box of stuff a week.
- Keep a donate box handy: When you come across something you don’t need, make it easy to throw it in a box instead of stuffing it in a drawer to declutter later.
- Get the kids involved: They might be reluctant at first, but doing it regularly (maybe picking a few items each weekend) and talking about how these items will go to other kids who will enjoy them can motivate them.
- Be consistent: Stuff is always coming in, so create a habit to keep other stuff moving out.
- Get picky: To keep stuff from coming in, be picky about what you allow into your house. I rarely buy clothes, home decor, etc., these days because I know it just adds to the clutter.
Decluttering your home can feel overwhelming, but it’s worth the effort! It will make your home look and feel better (for everyone!) help you save time, money, and energy in the long run. Seriously, grab a garbage bag and a donate box, and get started today!
Create White Space
Creating white space in your life gives you some extra time to simply exist without the constant busyness of life. It also acts as padding for tasks or unexpected things, so you don’t feel overwhelmed when something pops up and you’re already fully booked. This way, you can handle challenges without losing balance and still have meaningful moments with your family.
Since I’ve started to embrace slow living, we have a lot of white space. Sometimes it turns into movie night, sometimes it turns into walking around the neighborhood, sometimes, it turns into a day of us just sitting around in the living room doing our own thing, but all in the same room together.
So instead of booking yourself or your family solid, make sure you have several blocks of whitespace every day. Creating white space is essential for simplifying your life and reducing stress. Setting this time aside to catch up or recharge is going to help you feel much more balanced on a daily basis.
Create a Family Rhythm
Rather than creating a strict schedule, try creating a family rhythm! This is going to change season to season, depending on your family, but it can truly help to have a predictable routine that your family follows every day. Or at least most days.
A rhythm helps create structure and provides a sense of security for children, plus it helps you know what to do next without having to think about it. Here are some steps to create a family rhythm:
- Consider your current rhythm: More likely than not, you already have somewhat of a rhythm in place. What are the things you and your family do most days? Wake up, get dressed, have breakfast, brush teeth? That’s part of your rhythm.
- Identify Your Priorities: Determine what is important to you and your family. Think about your family’s values, goals, and interests. Consider what activities you want to prioritize as part of your family life and what you can let go of.
- Involve Your Family: Get input from your family members when creating the routine. Ask for their ideas and suggestions. This will help ensure everyone feels heard and invested in the process.
- Be Realistic: Don’t try to do too much! Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. If you have young children, remember that they need plenty of downtime and rest.
Creating a family rhythm can help to create a sense of calm in your home. Remember to be flexible and adjust as needed.
Keep a Family Calendar
If you have kids, especially as they get older, you suddenly have a lot of different events and activities going on. One way to simplify your life (and reduce your mental load) is to keep a family calendar. One that is visible for everyone and everyone can add to, like this. That way you’re not the keeper of all the appointments, they’re there for everyone to see and reference.
Get the Kids Involved
I know it can seem counter productive to have a three year old help with dishes. They’re just going to make it take longer, and you don’t have time, so it’s way easier if you send them into the other room to play or watch Bluey, right? I’m going to have to disagree!
One way to simplify your mom life is to get your kids involved in household tasks. Even little kids. Seriously! Not only does it help you get things done faster once they can do it semi-successfully, but it also teaches them responsibility and life skills early so you’re not doing it when they’re teenagers.
In fact, I recently just read a really great book about how some of the oldest cultures in the world have mastered the art of raising happy, well-adjusted children. One of the biggest things seen across many different cultures? Kids are involved in everyday tasks from the very beginning.
I highly recommend reading this book, but even if you don’t, just get your kids involved. Let them help. Don’t kill their will to be helpful! Let them learn when they’re interested, and they will stay interested. Reject them because it’s not helpful enough, and they’ll stop offering. Getting them to help in the future will turn into a battle.
Example: My 5-year-old has been doing dishes since she was 2 or 3. Does she always do them? No. Did she always leave a huge puddle on the floor when she was learning? Absolutely. But now that she’s 5, when she wants to help, she helps. And she can do pretty much all the dishes herself. And she does a decent job! And even if it takes her twice as long, she gets to feel like she’s contributing (the ultimate motivation!), and it’s something I don’t have to do that day.
Here are a few ways to get your kids involved:
- Ask for help with small tasks regularly: A simple “can you grab me a diaper?” or “will you throw this away?” will almost never be rejected by younger kids. It gives them a quick win, makes them feel helpful, and motivates them to want to help more, even as they get older.
- Assign age-appropriate tasks: Give your kids tasks appropriate for their age and ability. For example, younger kids can help with simple tasks like putting toys away or setting the table, while older kids can help with more complex tasks like laundry or cooking dinner.
- Make it a family thing: The best way to “train” (I don’t love that word, but it works here) your kids to love to help? Don’t make it a chore. Don’t make them go do something by themselves. “Wow! We really made a mess having fun today. Let’s clean this up together!” is going to go over a lot better than “What a mess! Go clean up your toys.”
- Avoid chore charts: I know this sounds like the opposite if all parenting advice. Everyone has a chore chart, right? But I’m telling you, once it’s a chore and it’s something they have to do (or else!), you’ll be met with resistance. I think it’s better to create good habits than force compliance.
- Create a team mentality: Let your kids know that your family is a team, and everyone plays a part in making the household run smoothly. Emphasize how their contributions make a difference and how much you appreciate their help.
- Be patient and encouraging: It will take time for your kids to master tasks. Let them learn on their own without lectures or too much correction (which, we all know, will cause most kids to get frustrated and give up)
Stop Entertaining Your Kids
It is not your job to entertain your kids all day. I said it and I mean it. Sure, schedule a couple of fun activities throughout the week if you want to spend time with them. But if you’re constantly trying to find something for your kids to do? It’s time to train yourself, and your kids, to play independently.
When you stop entertaining your kids, you’ll have less to do. They can spend time contributing alongside you when they want to spend time with you (see the tip above). And they can definitely learn to entertain themselves! Let them be bored. I promise they’ll be ok!
Simplify Meal Times
Meal times are probably one of the biggest stressors in a mom’s day. Between finding time to plan meals, grocery shop, and cook, it can feel overwhelming. Especially since it feels like you’re ALWAYS making a meal or snack. And good luck getting them to eat it half the time, right? Simplifying meal time is the key to making it feel much less frustrating.
Here are some of my best tips to do this:
Creating a meal plan is one of the best ways to simplify meal times. I know, this feels like extra work, but I swear it’ll help save you time (and overwhelm) at 5PM on Wednesday when the kids are fighting and you have a headache.
To create a meal plan, start by looking at your schedule for the week ahead. Consider any events or activities that may impact meal times. Then, choose meals that are easy to make and that everyone in your family enjoys (or at least most people).
Once you have your meal plan, make a grocery list and stick to it. This can help you avoid impulse buys and save money in the long run.
Plan for Leftovers
Just because there are 7 days in a week doesn’t mean you need to make 7 different breakfast, lunches, and dinners. No way. I used to try to make 4-5 different variations for dinner, but the one thing that really changed things for me? Making 2-3 different dinners and doing leftovers most of the week. Thank me later!
Have Go-To Recipes
Another way to simplify meal times is by having a few go-to recipes you can rely on. These should be easy-to-make meals that your family loves. Having a few recipes you know by heart can help you save time and reduce stress during meal times.
In fact, I recommend sticking to your go-to recipes most of the time. Try a new recipe a few times a month. If you’re in an overwhelming season of life, this isn’t the time to get creative every night to the point where you stress yourself out. Make family favorites that you already know by heart. Switch it up by adding a different veggie or side instead.
Simplify School Lunches
When making your meal plan, make sure you plan school lunches too. Cut and prep what you can on Sunday night so it’s easy and GET THE KIDS INVOLVED. Not only will they learn to make their own lunches, they’re also more likely to eat them if they are involved in the planning and prep process.
Take Advantage of Tech
If you use it right, technology can be a lifesaver for busy moms! Here are a few ways you can take advantage of tech to simplify your mom life:
- Use a meal planning app: Meal planning can save you time and money but can feel overwhelming. With a meal planning app, you can easily search for recipes, create a shopping list, and even plan your meals for the week.
- Automate your bills: Keeping track of bills and paying them on time is just another thing on your plate. Instead, set it and forget it with automatic bill pay. Most banks offer this service, and many utility companies and credit card issuers do as well. I don’t think I manually pay ANY of my bills anymore.
- Organize your schedule with a calendar app: With so many appointments and activities to keep track of, a calendar app can be a game-changer. Not only can you easily view your schedule, but you can also set reminders and share your calendar with family members. Google calendar is a great option, and I recommend sharing it with your partner or anyone else who has a big hand in caring for your family.
Ditch Social Media
When social media started, it was a fun way to keep in touch with people. Now? It’s a highlight reel that likely makes you compare your life to other people’s lives AND it’s literally programmed to be addictive.
Once I ditched social media, my patience doubled. And I found an extra 1-2 hours of my day to get other stuff done because I wasn’t doom scrolling on Instagram. It may be one of the biggest things that contribute to being a better mother in my own life. I highly recommend it.
Can’t ditch it completely? Do what I did at first. I allowed myself to log in once a week for an hour. On Sunday I could sit down at the computer, or download the apps I wanted, and scroll and share for an hour. After that hour was done, I was done for the week.
Get Your Groceries Delivered
If you’re not already getting your groceries delivered, hear me out. I know it sounds lazy and expensive, but let me tell you why it’s going to change the game for you.
How much time do you spend going to the grocery store? Do you go once a week? Twice a week? How long does it take start to finish? Probably at least 2 hours? When you’re a busy mom, the last thing you need to do is buckle up the kids and wrangle them through a grocery store.
Grocery delivery actually saves me time AND money. How? First of all, I spend my time meal planning instead (30 min or less a week) and leave the grocery shopping to someone else. By meal planning, I’ve already saved money because I’m not just buying random stuff. But I’m also saving myself more time throughout the week because I know I have all the ingredients I need on hand.
How does grocery delivery save me money? Let’s talk about those spontaneous purchases. When you’re adding everything to your cart in your delivery app, like Instacart, you’re seeing the total as you go. You’re naturally editing things and removing things to make it fit within your budget. And you’re not walking the aisles and grabbing a random $5 bag of chips or $10 in other snacks to your cart because you happened to pass them.
If anything, I’m either saving money or MAYBE spending an extra $10 maximum. Worth it.
Find a Support System
We used to have a village, mama. Seriously. Before technology took over, most families lived with or near their own families. They had grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, etc. helping.
Now? Most of us don’t have that kind of support. We have family members across the country checking in on social media and sending $20 to the kids on their birthdays. A lot of us don’t have a neighbor dropping off dinner or grandma/grandpa living in the same house or next door. It’s normal to feel alone, but you might be able to create a village for yourself.
So you need to figure out how to find a support system. Some ideas:
- Join a mom group: Feel out a few mom groups and see if you can find mom friends! There’s nothing like support from another mom in the same season of life as you. This was HUGE for me after my first child. I happened to find a group of moms I loved and we spent several days a week together at each others houses and at parks.
- Ask family and friends for help: If you have friends or family nearby, ask for help. Sometimes all you have to do is reach out.
- Hire help: If all else fails, you can hire help. A weekly house cleaner, a once-a-week babysitter, anything that lightens your load and makes you feel less overwhelmed.
Create Systems in Your Home
Systems help you streamline your daily tasks and reduce decision fatigue. Think of your home and your family like a business for a second. What are some things you do regularly that you can optimize? Here are a few tips for creating systems in your home:
- Establish Routines: Routines for yourself and your family can help you stay organized and on track. Create a morning, bedtime, and mealtime routine that works best for your family.
- Use Checklists: Checklists can be a lifesaver when it comes to keeping track of tasks so nothing falls through the cracks. Create checklists for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, and keep them in a visible place, such as on the fridge or a bulletin board.
- Find a Home for Everything: Everything in your home should have a home! From your keys to your kids toys. This will help you reduce clutter and save time searching for things.
- Mail & Paper System: How can you handle mail or paper clutter as it comes into the house? Throwing it on the counter or dining table doesn’t count!
By creating systems in your home, you can simplify your life and reduce the amount of time you spend feeling like you’re running around getting nothing done. Start small and gradually incorporate more systems into your daily routine. You’ll find that your home runs more smoothly and you have more time for your favorite things.
This may be one of my best tips. Striving for perfection can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. You’re spending so much time trying to make things the way they “should” be, instead of accepting the way things are. It’s important to accept that imperfection is a natural part of life and embrace it.
Here are a few ways to accept imperfection:
- Remember your home is lived in: When you have kids, your home is going to look lived in and that’s ok. There’s a difference between daily messes and a dirty house. Your home is lived in and accepting that it won’t look like staged homes in magazines will make a huge difference in your mindset.
- Change your mindset: Instead of striving for perfection, focus on progress. Recognize that mistakes and setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning. Celebrate small victories and keep moving forward.
- Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. When you start to feel critical, consider how you’d talk to a friend in your position. Would you tell them they’re doing a terrible job? Probably not!
- Let go of comparison: Comparing yourself to others can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. One of the reasons I ditched social media was to avoid this trap. Remember that everyone has their own unique journey and struggles. Focus on your own progress and don’t worry about what others are doing.
Simpifying mom life is really about letting things go. When you know what the most important things are in life, you will find that you can have a bit of breathing room and way less stress and overwhelm. Since I started implementing the tips above, I even have time to read!
Full transparency: My husband is a stay at home dad, so he does help out a lot. However, I’m still a mom, and I work from home, so I’m definitely deep in mom life. I promise that there is another way than being touched out, stressed out, and ready to lose it at a moment’s notice.