A few years ago while at a gathering of several families with young kids, a mom I didn’t know very well casually mentioned her weekly “mommy office hours.” I stopped dead in my tracks and asked her what she meant. She explained that once or twice a week she spends an hour on necessary mom-related tasks, such as responding to birthday party invitations, after school sport sign-ups, and updating the family calendar. She mentioned she’s naturally very disorganized and forcing herself to set aside these time blocks make her a better mother.
A New Strategy
The woman is a genius. A genius! I am an admitted Type A perfectionist, an Enneagram 1, and I like my ducks in a row. It drives me crazy when people don’t RSVP, won’t sign up on the SignUp Genius, or don’t know when or where to go to see little Susie’s piano recital. But I want to appreciate the beautiful (albeit frustrating) truth that there is great diversity in motherhood, and not everyone loves organization and planning like I do.
The more kids I have, the harder it is keeping track of everything. I needed a new strategy. This concept of the mommy office hour works for all of us.
What Is The Mommy Office Hour Exactly?
The mommy office hour is easily adaptable for the working mom, the stay-at-home-mom, the mom with one child, and the mom with ten children. We all have 168 hours in a week, and we all want to use them well. The specifics of what needs to be done varies, of course, by age and stage of kids, interests of the family, and type of schooling.
The premise is the same for all moms: use a short block of time wisely to accomplish office-type tasks related to kids. Thanks to that mom’s genius idea, I’m a proud proponent of the mommy office hour.
My Mommy Office Hour Advice
1. Use an Actual Computer
To me, the most important part of mommy office hours is actually getting out my laptop and not trying to do things on my tiny phone screen. I am so much more productive and efficient this way.
2. Decide What Tasks Qualify
Decide–at least generally–what tasks do and don’t belong to this time. For example, I pay the bills and handle most of the financial paperwork in our household, but to me, that doesn’t fit under the mommy office hour. I also spend a large number of hours per week on my computer because of my job as a college professor, but I don’t let myself do any of that stuff during this time. I could do all my home-related computer work at once, but I choose not to. The point is that you should decide for yourself what qualifies.
I typically do the following things with my mommy office hour time:
- respond to emails related to kids’ activities,
- sign up for sports or other extracurricular activities,
- check for events we might want to attend (such as events at the local library),
- RSVP for birthday parties or similar events,
- order a gift for said party via Amazon, and
- add games, classes, and field trips to my calendar if new information has become available that week.
3. Choose a Regular Time
I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour a couple times a week catching up on mom tasks. When I do it two times a week, the to-do list isn’t as long. I can also respond to things more quickly.
For instance, if I get an email invitation for a child’s birthday party on Monday but don’t look at those emails until my mommy office hour on Sunday night, then I’ve waited six days to respond. That, in turn, makes my Type A self feel guilty about being slow to respond. But if I split up my hour into two evenings (say Wednesday night after the kids are in bed and Sunday afternoon while they nap/rest), then I can respond to time-sensitive issues more quickly.
4. Keep a To-Do List
I keep a list for my mommy office hours on my “Tasks” bar in Gmail. It organizes what needs a response. I also flag emails as “Important” if I need to respond but can’t when I first see them.
Additionally, I keep a pile of relevant hard copy papers in a certain location in my kitchen. This makes the actual office hour time quick, because I am not searching through my entire email stream (or the terrifying mess that is my child’s backpack) searching for a certain item.
Short and Sweet
It’s probably a misnomer to use the plural of the word “hour” here, as most weeks it’s not necessary to spend multiple hours on these tasks. I generally can sign up for ballet lessons, pay monthly piano lesson tuition, RSVP for a birthday party, and sign up to bring snacks to Sunday School in 30 minutes or less. If I am researching, say, summer camps, or trying to find an opening for swim lessons (wish me luck), then I spend longer. Thankfully those tasks are not weekly.
How do you keep your mom life organized? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!