time blocking for moms

Time Blocking for Moms (+ Free Printable!)

As someone who loves to feel productive, I struggled as a stay-at-home mom for a while.

There were many days when I felt like I was busily accomplishing tasks all day long, but then I’d realize at the end of the day that I’d barely even spoken to my kids at all, except to ask them what they wanted to eat. Or there were those other days when I spent the day playing with the kids, but I didn’t even do the bare minimum around the house – dishes were piled in the sink, books and toys were scattered everywhere…

I had such a hard time finding any sort of balance between spending time with my kids, keeping up the house, and doing things for myself.

My main problem was that things were falling through the cracks because there was no designated time to do them. There was no balance. I was stressed and overwhelmed by all that needed to get done, and I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to keep everyone happy – my husband, my kids, and myself. Messy house = unhappy husband. Clean house = kids get no quality time with mom. Somewhere in the middle = mom gets no time to herself. I couldn’t win!

At some point, I fell into time blocking, and it has changed my life – seriously. I get more done for my family and for myself, but I also spend more time being present with my kiddos.

Do you feel like I used to feel? Are you overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done? Do you have a hard time balancing all of the different aspects of motherhood? Read on – let’s learn about block scheduling and how I use it to maintain sanity in my own life and how you can use it too!

What is Time Blocking?

Time blocking, also known as block scheduling, is a time management method in which you segment your day into defined chunks (called “blocks”) of time to accomplish a specific task or group of tasks. You aren’t held to a schedule that’s organized by time – you can look at the natural rhythm of your days and plan your blocks around meals, school pick-up and drop-off, and naps. You schedule specific types of tasks within these time blocks rather than just having a random to-do list. Within the time blocks, you can create specific to-do lists. It’s the perfect system for schedule-haters because your day isn’t planned out hour by hour. One of the beautiful things about this method is that you can also schedule specific time for yourself.

Why Should YOU Use Time Blocking?

  • It helps create more realistic to-do lists because you can see how much time you really have in your day. 
  • It allows you to break down your daily goals into smaller pieces and work on them throughout the day.
  • It can free you from the stress and worry of not getting everything accomplished. 
  • It provides structure and routine, yet allows plenty of flexibility.
  • It gives you a way to be more present with your children while still accomplishing everything needed to run and home and/or a business.

Kids can be unpredictable. Their sleep schedules vary from day to day. Sometimes they play well independently; other times they’re clingy and whiny. Time blocking is a viable solution to staying productive even though every day looks different.

A common misconception is that stay-at-home or work-from-home moms do not need to manage their time as effectively as moms who work outside the home (because we’re home all day, we must have plenty of time to get things done, right? ::eye roll::). In real life, moms wear a lot of hats, and we most definitely do need an effective time management strategy to get through each day. This is why I recommend a time-blocking schedule!

Block scheduling helps me structure my days while still allowing me to be flexible when needed – because, as we all know, life rarely goes as planned, especially with littles around. This system is perfect for helping me to stay on track and get things done.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or burnt out… If you’re struggling with the flow of your days, wondering how it’s 9:00 p.m. already and nothing got done… If you feel like you need more structure and routine, but you know that you can’t possibly stick to a minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour plan… Time blocking just might be the system for you!

What Do You Need to Get Started?

Honestly, not much! You can use my free printable, but a regular planner or notebook is fine. You can color-code your tasks using different colored pens, but I don’t – it feels like too much work for me. There are also apps out there to help!

Time Blocking for Moms: A Simple How-To Guide

Kids, especially babies and toddlers, can be unpredictable. A mom’s schedule can vary from day to day and from week to week, whether you’re staying home, working from home, homeschooling, or some combination. So how do we make time blocking work for us? This is my step-by-step approach. It gets easier after you do it for a couple of weeks because you don’t have to think so hard about your weekly tasks.

Grab your freebie here, and let’s get started!

STEP 1: List all the tasks that you need to accomplish on a weekly basis.

The first step to block scheduling is making a list of EVERYTHING you typically need to accomplish in a week and categorize each item. These will be things that don’t change much from week to week.

Think about your typical week. What needs to get done? What chores do you do each day? What is your workflow like for your work-at-home job? What outings and errands do you do every week? What do you need to help your kids with before or after school? Do you meal plan? Have budget meetings with your spouse?

As you’re thinking through your typical week, sort your tasks into categories. My categories include Home, Family, Work, and Homeschool / Outings.

STEP 2: Use the general rhythm of your day to break it down into blocks.

With kids, it’s hard to set things to specific times. Time blocking works best for me when I look at the flow of my day and go from there. Create and name your blocks based on the time of day or the activity. This can be as flexible or as structured as you’d like! What matters most is that it helps you feel productive and good about your day.

I do attach times to my blocks, but those times are guidelines. My blocks look like this:

  • {6:00 – 7:30 a.m.} Early morning (before the kids wake up)
  • {7:30 – 9:00 a.m.} Morning (after the kids wake up, but before school)
  • {9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.} Homeschool or outing (this block includes a quick lunch)
  • {3:00 – 5:00 p.m.} Afternoon
  • {5:30 – 8:00 p.m.} Evening
  • {8:00 – 10:00 p.m.} Night (kids’ bedtime and beyond)

As part of your time blocking, you can schedule buffer time between your blocks. These buffers help account for any interruptions or for tasks that go over your allotted time. If you get everything done during your time block, you can use your buffer for a break!

The only built-in buffer that I use is between my afternoon and evening blocks – I want to be sure that I get time to finish everything up (or just sit for a minute) before the craziness of dinner prep, husband getting home, family time, and bedtime! Otherwise I don’t find them necessary – but you might love them!

STEP 3: Batch like items together into your time blocks.

Now that the time / activity blocks are created, grab that list of weekly tasks and figure out where they best fit in the rhythm of your days. Try to batch similar tasks together for efficiency.

If you’re in the car dropping kids off at school, run your errands while you’re already out of the house. If you have a napper, schedule personal time, cleaning, or work during that time. If you’re already on the computer in the afternoons, maybe it makes sense to pay bills at that time. If you’re cleaning up the kitchen after lunch, you can throw another quick cleaning task in there.

Don’t forget to add things that need to get done – making dinner, dropping off the kids at school or at their activities, laundry… Also include the things you really want to be doing but haven’t made a priority – exercise, reading, crafting, etc.

When I do my blocks, I have times written out, but the day is flexible. Some blocks end up being longer, some shorter.

In the appropriate time blocks, write down when the important parts of your day happen. When you’re thinking about what tasks go where, ask yourself these questions:

  • What can you get done before the kids wake up?
  • What do your kids need to do before school?
  • When would you like to run errands?
  • Do your children nap? When and how many?
  • When are you most productive? Least productive? When do you have the most energy and creativity?
  • When do you need downtime the most?
STEP 4: Add your one-off tasks too!

When I’m planning the week ahead, I also categorize the one-off tasks – these are things that need to be accomplished, but that I don’t do every week.

I also keep my more in-depth to-do lists elsewhere, sorted by category. I have about a million blog-related tasks, and I don’t write them out on my basic block schedule. Same with my homeschool plans and deep-cleaning tasks. Any errands that I have to run will be piggy-backed onto our outings so that we spend less time out of the house. When I’m filling out my block schedule for the week, I’ll add a few tasks to the appropriate time block.

If I need to get my car’s oil changed, I do that during an errand block. When I need to complete a special project for work, I add that to my afternoon work block. If I have a closet to clean out, that will go in my home care block.

When you do this, you don’t necessarily want to put ALL of your to-dos in one week – that can be super overwhelming. Focus on adding only 3 to 5 “extra” tasks to each day of the week in the appropriate time block.

Time Blocking for Moms: Some Tips and Reminders

  • Actually follow your time blocks. If you do all the work to put a block schedule in place, but then let the tiniest hiccup derail you, you won’t be giving this time management method a fair shot. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s important to STOP when your block of time ends. Because you’re being so productive, you may be tempted to keep going, skipping break times and working past your scheduled end time. Don’t do it! Simply committing to following the time blocks for a few weeks will bring success!
  • YOU get to control the blocks. Moms often feel like their schedule doesn’t belong to them. Time blocking allows you to schedule times for things that matter to you, like reading, exercise, date night, or even a nap 😉 You can schedule Netflix time knowing that there’s going to be time to mop those floors later. Plus, if you find that your blocks aren’t working for you, you can change them around! Stick with what works for you and change what doesn’t.
  • Schedule breaks. This is one of the coolest things about block scheduling – you won’t be running around all day like a chicken with your head cut off because you have scheduled breaks! Put in a couple of short daily breaks, but don’t forget to give yourself a longer break a couple of days a week! Give yourself the time you need to relax and refresh – you can’t be 100% productive ALL the time.
  • Remember that each section of the day has its own purpose. It’s designated for something in particular, so stay focused on what you’re supposed to be doing during that time block. When it’s time for the block to be done, move on to the next. Anything that’s left undone can wait until the next day.
  • Time blocking is going to look different for every mom. As a homeschool mom, my days are mostly spent at home, with outings a couple times per week for errands and for the kids’ electives and friend get-togethers. I don’t have school drop-off / pick-up. My kids no longer nap. I need a large block 3 days per week for school, and those school days are flexible because we like to play with friends and the days we do that can vary from week to week. Don’t worry if your schedule doesn’t look like mine – it’ll still work 🙂
  • Skip the weekends. I don’t use block scheduling on the weekends. I do work off of a to-do list, but I also relax a lot! This way, I have lots of family time while my husband is at home – we can be spontaneous, we can lounge around and have movie marathons, or we can do productive house things. I tend to do a lot of the bigger cleaning and organizing projects on the weekends – I can more easily dedicate an hour or two to thoroughly cleaning out some closets when my husband is home to handle at least some of the kid interruptions.
  • When you feel unmotivated, do it anyway. Most of the time, all it takes is just getting started, and then you’re over the hump and have no problems continuing with your task.
  • Your day will be interrupted. But when you have a designated time to take care of those interruptions, they won’t seem so urgent. For example, when a work-related email pops up during family time, you can make a note in your work block and forget about it until then. As Kayse from Anchored Women says:

There’s power in being able to say, “This is not the time for that. This is the time for this.”

  • Be flexible. Not every day will go as planned. Kids will be sick. Cars get flat tires. You just won’t feel like doing anything. That morning pool party will turn into an all-day event. Life happens. That doesn’t mean that the whole effort has to be cancelled. Start over at the next time block. Or the next day!

Time blocking makes my life so much easier. I never have to wonder when things will get done. If I missed something today, I don’t stress about it – I know which block it will be in tomorrow. If our outings run long and cut into my work time, it’s not a big deal. I move into the next block anyway because I know that I also have a work time block tomorrow afternoon.

It’s not always perfect, but that’s okay! You might spend a few weeks trying to figure out what rhythm works for you and your family, and each day might even have its own rhythm, especially if you have a schedule that changes on a daily basis.

By giving each important part of your day its own designated time, you’ll be able to cut out distractions, be more present, and find the calm in the chaos.

How do you stay on top of your daily routines? Have you ever tried time blocking? Let me know in the comments!

time blocking for busy moms

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *