Dancing through a 'Dynamite Day'!

Do you have one of ‘those days’ ? You know the type, they are the kind of day that is jam packed with events / appointments / things to do and if one part of the day fails to run smoothly, it can make the whole day explode! My ‘dynamite day’ happens every Thursday.

At least I know it’s coming! But on a Thursday my day starts at 5.20am when I wake to get ready for a business breakfast meeting so I have to be out of the house for 6am. My breakfast meeting runs from 0630 to 0830 but I often don’t get away until 0900 and then I have a days’ work to fit into five and a half hours.

I do the school run every morning except Thursday, because I’m out of the house so early, so I have had to put a framework in place to allow Thursday morning to run like a military operation, without me. But because I am a ‘hands on’ mum, I choose to finish my desk work / meetings by 2.30pm on a Thursday, so I can collect my daughter from school. I still have a full 8 hours work to do (and often more!) but on a Thursday, my capacity is shorter, so my activities are more jam packed - but the day doesn’t stop there!

After I collect my girl from school, I try to beat the ‘mums rush hour traffic’ back up the main road to get to my mothers house where my toddler son has spent the day. My mum has had the kids since about 0730 so she is exhausted and ready to hand them over, so it’s kids,nappy bags, school bags, gym kits, coats, scarves and hats loaded into the car and back home for a 30 minute pit stop. During this ‘break’ (if you can call it that!) I have to get the children a snack (notice how they are hungry when they get back to you!), get my son’s nappy changed (Grandma always fastens it quite tight bless her, but I don’t like to say; she’s doing me such a favour by having him for me all day!) and I need to get my daughter out of school clothes and into ‘civvies’.

The next event is swimming lessons! My kids will watch TV for the 30 mins it takes me to feed them, change outfits etc and during this time I like to get the tea on if I can too, so there is something waiting for us after swimming, but it’s not always possible. However when I plan the weekly supermarket shop, I try to plan ahead for Thursday so I can either get the slow cooker on first thing in the morning, or else get a casserole into the oven to be ready about 1 hour later.
We set off for swimming at 4.15pm and I have my daughter in her swimsuit, sat by the pool ready for a 4.30pm start. My son and I watch from the poolside where the parents are allowed to sit, and I have to confess that I’ve even multi-tasked a swimming lesson before now - when I have had an urgent client call to make or a piece of work that’s needed my approval. I always have my BlackBerry on me so I can keep on top of what I choose to, so calls have been made from the poolside (clients never know that I’m not at my desk, I usually have what I need to hand) but the 30 minutes that the swimming lesson is on, is never spent ‘relaxing’ - it’s mostly spent chasing an active toddler around the spectator section if I’m not making a call. However after the lesson, my daughter gets a shower and my son and I drive the pushchair back into the changing rooms to meet her so we can get her dressed again. If it’s a week where she has successfully completed the next swimming level and will get a badge for it, I’ll have to have the cash on me to order the badge at the counter before we leave. Once we’re all in the car, we head back home for the food I (hopefully) prepared earlier!

My husband usually arrives home once we’re all eating so he’ll heat up his plate, and once he’s home I can get him to take over feeding the toddler who likes to throw his food out of the highchair or else smear it all over his face! At least once Simon gets home I can sit down and eat myself! However the day doesn’t stop there!

After tea it is bath-time and bed routines and once this is over I will either collapse onto the sofa or, every two weeks I have a meeting of Toastmasters to attend. This is a group I have joined to develop my public speaking skills, as I regularly deliver talks on my enterprise journey, so if it is a ‘Toastmasters’ day, I will have a 30 minute drive to the meeting then participate for 2.5 hours then drive home! After that I collapse into bed!

So as you can see, Thursday is a really busy day in my weekly routine, and this is pretty much the format week in, week out. So I need to be prepared for Thursday because it’s already a stacked day, and this is without any room for contingency.

How I ensure that I ‘dance’ through the day (and how you can too) is to prepare myself the night before. I mentally ‘walk through’ my day starting with the breakfast meeting, so I get out the clothes I’ll wear and also my make up and hair styling products. Then I will take these downstairs to my living room (as it would be too noisy for the rest of the family if I got dressed upstairs on a Thursday morning!) After this, I put my breakfast meeting folder into the car, along with any extra items I might need for the meeting. Before now I have taken props to the meeting such as a desk-phone, to illustrate my Virtual Receptionist service to the other people in the room. I then check my diary and see what meetings I have. Once I know who I’m seeing, I can take their client file with me - this all gets put into the car beforehand, so there is no chance of forgetting it if I sleep in or whatever!
Thursday is an ‘eat on the run’ day, so I always have a bottle of Slimfast milkshake in my cupboard as a meal substitute. I don’t buy this to lose weight, but because it’s handy to have on hand in case I cannot get a sandwich. At least I’d have something to stop hunger pangs if I’m nowhere near food, so the Slimfast goes into the car too!

Once I’m sorted, I get the kids things ready. Uniforms are laid out, clothes chosen and bags prepared for the next day, so my husband can do a smooth transition from our house to Grandmas. Then I pre-pack the swimming bag complete with a drink for my son, and hang this in the hallway on a coat-hook, ready for the next afternoon. Then I’ll consider the evening meal, and defrost any meat that needs to be ready for Thursday.

Lastly, I’ll do my ‘re-stocking’, and by this I mean staple handbag items that I carry round with me every day, because otherwise I’d be caught short. I re-stock my business card wallet so I never miss an opportunity by not having my cards to hand. Then I’ll check I have a pack of tissues, a tampon (guys - you have no idea!), enough cash in my purse to get anything I might need such as petrol or a loaf of bread (although I try to fill the car early on in the week so I don’t have that to do on a Thursday) and I also ensure that my diary is in my bag with a working pen.

If this sounds like a lot of preparation, it is! But you get used to it and the benefit is that I usually sail through Thursdays without getting stressed. If you are not prepared for your day, little things outside of your control like roadworks on the way to the meeting or the school run, can put you over the edge. Arriving at meetings flustered and apologetic is never a good look and unlikely to win you the business, whereas unflappable, calm and prepared usually impresses!

I know what I’m like; being hungry, cold or tired usually puts me in a bad mood, and I’m sure you are not at your best when suffering any of these either! So by being uber-prepared, I’m never cold or hungry - I have what I need to hand. I’m sometimes tired, but as I get my energy from being around people (a born socialiser!) I can usually handle it until I collapse in bed! Luckily Thursday is my only dynamite day. Other days of the week can be busy too, but I can schedule myself so that I’m not over-extended. It just so happens that Thursday for me, contains a lot of regular events that have been set by someone else. I had to get my daughter into the swimming lesson on the day that it runs, so I couldn’t control what day it landed on.

I hope that this story has helped you think of how you can tackle your own dynamite day, and remember -if you want to know anything about juggling a busy life, just ask the Time Management Mum!

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