When I went to write this post, I originally was going to title it:
"How To Get it All Done as an SLP and Mom."
Then I realized a more accurate title would have been:
"How To Get it All Done as an SLP and Mom...Hint, You Can't."
I then asked myself: As a mom, an SLP, and a million other shoes to fill - what do YOU want out of your week? What is your goal?
Well, if I'm being honest, I just want to make it out alive.
They say there are seasons of parenthood. I've heard from many that it doesn't get "better", it just gets hard in different ways. As the mother of a just-turned-two-year-old and a four-and-a-half-year old, my struggles differ from those of parents of teenagers, or those with four kids needing to all be at practice at the same time, or those applying to college. That sounds hard. I don't envy you. Those sound like hard years. These feel like hard years. Parenting is hard.
Reasonably often, I hear comments like, "I don't know how you do it all!" "You do so many things! How do you have time for it all?" The answer is, I don't. I don't get it "all" done, and those things I do get done, I don't always do well. And that's okay.
However, over the last few years, I've found a few hacks (and yes, investments) that have helped me immensely to get through the week alive and to reduce the anxiety I feel about getting things done.
1. Get Rid of any "Energy-Sucks"
No, this isn't a new concept. It's talked about, from a business perspective in the book Smarter, Faster, Better, by Charles Duhigg (a must-read IMO).
The concept is this: all tasks and responsibilities falling on a continuum with their output (i.e., benefit to you), as well as their input (i.e., how much energy or time it takes for you to do it). This can be considered from a business standpoint (i.e., time vs. money) but also from an emotional standpoint.
When you think about a task that is a huge energy or time suck for you personally, consider carefully what the benefit is. If the benefit to these "sucker tasks" is not that great. Don't do them. For me, this would be things like holiday decorating, if I'm honest - though I know for others the emotional benefit to this type of thing might be different.
Conversely, if the benefit to these "sucker tasks" is big - find a way to reduce the time or energy they take. Spend your time getting efficient with these things. For me, laundry and cooking dinner are two huge time and energy sucks in my life. So, I've found a new way to deal with them both that has changed the weight they hold over me every week.
Thinking about this concept will really help you realize what's dragging you down, what can be let go, and what is worth the time trying to improve.Whether it's a task or a physical item, if that thing is sucking up your time or energy and provides no real benefit - let that thing go.
Get rid of those items (therapy materials, knick-knacks at home, or honestly, people) which don't bring you joy and stop doing the tasks that don't either.
Marie Kondo that stuff.
2. Surround Yourself with People Who Lift You Higher
"Stop glorifying busy." I've seen that all over the place lately and I think it's wonderful. (Do as I say, not as I do 😉). Whether it's in person or in a more virtual way, connect with others who are also looking to improve their lives in a similar way.
I'm in no way associated with Shannon from Speechy Musings, other than completely respecting her as an SLP as a person, but I'd highly recommend her e-mail series SLP Thrive e-mail series. It's completely free and she will send you little tidbits and resources via e-mail on all sort of topics to help you manage your hectic life in a healthy way.
Nicole from Speech Peeps also has a great newsletter series on doing excellent therapy without all the bells and whistles, called the Minimalist SLP.
Even if those particular newsletters aren't for you - following them or people like them on social media is a great way to connect with others who are self-admittedly looking for (and finding) ways to spend their time in the ways that make them happy.
3. Outsource, Outsource, Outsource
I mentioned above that laundry was a big time-suck for me. It took tons of time, however, it's a pretty necessary thing. So, I asked my husband to start doing it. All of it. All the time. And he did. See what I did there? I asked for help. I knew that I'd have more time to spend on things that weren't as draining to me, if he could take that over.
Now, there is a flip-side to this, which is that I also had to learn not to micromanage. No, the laundry is not done the same as if I'd have done it (the right way, of course), but is it done? Yes. Do I have hours more time to work on other things? Yes. Are my children clothed appropriately? Most of the time.
4. Food Delivery
We get our groceries delivered through InstaCart, which saves us time - since we don't have to go to the store, tears - since we don't have to drag two kids with us, and money - because we can sit at home and compare prices and check the cupboards as we leisurely put together our list.
We use meal delivery services like Plated and Sunbasket. We've tried them all, and these two are by far our favorites. Sunbasket has the best variety of meals including lots of different types of cuisine. Plated has the best flexibility - it's the only plan, to my knowledge, with a 3-person option which works well for our family of two adults and two young children.
If you want to try Sunbasket, you can get $40 off your first box here.
5. Online Shopping
This one really doesn't need a whole lot of explanation, because let's be honest, who hasn't discovered online shopping yet? However, I think a lot of people get hung up on ordering clothes, in particular online.
For me, clothes shopping is a huge energy suck. I don't really enjoy it. On top of that, it's pretty rare that I've got hours to spend alone wandering around a store without two littles hanging off my ankles or trying to open the fitting room door while I'm changing.
I'm sure you've heard of Stitch Fix, where a personal shopper will send you items to try on at home before you decide to buy. I've done this a few times and it's worked out really well - especially for the beginning of a school year or going into a new season. You can get $25 off a box here.
I've also had a lot of success with clothing rental services like Le Tote (loved it at first, but I feel like their selection has really dwindled lately) and more recently The Ms. Collection. Now, I know the idea of spending money to rent clothes sounds crazy, but I've found this to be a perfect solution for me when my sizes have been changing a lot between and after having kids and also for special occasions.
6. Remember Your Why
I guess this has really become a cliche phrase these days, but that's probably for a reason. What it means to me is this:
Yes, there are things that pop up in my life that make me go, "Hmmm that sounds fun, maybe I should....."
But I need to stop myself and remember the things I want in my life. I want to travel more with my family, among other things. Spending time on things that don't get me closer to this goal or other things I want for us, just takes time away from things that do.
This isn't to say that every single thing you do has to push you closer to a goal, just that you need to be intentional in how you spend large chunks of your time. If you want to spend your time reading a book, doodling, or even scrolling aimlessly through social media - by all means, do it. I certainly do. But, if you're considering going back to school to get a Ph.D., you're probably best to think about your end-game first and make sure that that kind of investment of time and money fits in.
7. Foster Independence with Your Children
While it admittedly takes work on the front end, getting your kids involved around the house makes all the difference. One of the things I've learned from working in a Montessori classroom some days is how much we except our little ones to do...while asking them to live in an environment that's inherently adult-centric. Of course they can't get their own drinks at home - the sink is too high and the faucet is too far. But, if you fill a pitcher of water and make sure that it is small and light enough for a child to pour from, then all of a sudden that's one less thing (well actually, 753 less things) you need to do. Independence equals freedom, my friends.
When you're trying desperately to stay on top of the daily grind, it's hard to even consider growth - in any area. However, there are things that I want to get better at, learn about, and areas in which I want to grow - so that when I come out of the craziness that is this stage of my life, I have a foundation I can build on. I have a 30-45 minute commute each day and I have learned so much in the past two years by listening to podcasts in areas that interest me - from business to speech to budgeting. I'm not even going to recommend any specific podcasts here, because the entire point is that podcasts can serve you in whatever it is you want to learn more about.
9. Books on Tape
I know books on tape make you think of old people, but in the same way that podcasts have helped me - books on tape do the same. I use my time in the car to listen to books on tape and I find that I can read more non-fiction books this way (when compared to reading them myself). My favorite books recently:
Non-Fiction: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, by Daniel Pink
Fiction: The Extraordianry Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugioni
I used to be a huge fan of Audible, which is a monthly subscription for audiobooks, but I have recently discovered the Libby app, which I have connected to my local library and from which I can borrow audiobooks for FREE.
"Making it out alive," isn't just about finding time, it's about keeping sanity. In the past, no matter how much money we did or didn't have - how much we were making, or how much we were needing - it was a constant source of anxiety. Even when we had plenty in our accounts - not having a clear picture of what was needed and when stressed me out. I'd avoid thinking about it then spend hours in a session getting it all figured out at once. Budgeting software didn't work for me because even though my budget said I could spend $600 on groceries in a month, that didn't tell me how much I had to spend on groceries today.
Enter "You Need A Budget". It changed the way we budget, spend, and think about money. Even if we're tight, I rarely feel stressed about it anymore because I know what job every dollar is assigned to do. It's a good fit for us, and I'd encourage you to find a good fit for you and get both the time and mental energy you spend thinking about money.
If my mother reads this, she's going to be happy. As she should be.
I'm not talking intense "ohm" stuff here. However, in the few yoga classes I've attended (think between 10-20 in the last 2 years), I've learned one thing in particular. That time at the end of class where you just lay for a few minutes.....it's everything. You can't understand it until you've experienced it. It's not as woo-woo as it may seem, I promise. It's just a minute or two of being. Of somehow checking out to another place, or no place at all.
Learning to do this has allowed me to reign in anxiety it moments of stress, calm myself before seeing students at work, and get myself focused before a work session.
Perhaps most importantly, it's allowed me to sleep better.
And let's be honest. If there's one thing we all need more of to make it through the week, it's sleep.
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Let me start with how Kiwi Speech got its name. I currently live in Pittsburgh, but it took living in a few different states and countries to get here. One of which (and the one that is truly "home"), was New Zealand. When I was first starting my business, I wanted a name that represented who I was, but was also catchy and kid-friendly. A person from New Zealand is colloquially referred to as a "kiwi", hence, Kiwi Speech was born.
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