Three Hands And An Action Plan~I’m A Mom On The Go!

Action plan with the kids

Three hands and an action plan, that’s what I have because I’m a mom on the go. Any mom will tell you there’s never a dull moment and always something that has to get done and something that needed to get done yesterday. Welcome everyone to Katrina’s life as I share with you how I manage my time with my career, my kids and my personal finances.

‘I don’t know how you do it’, ‘I wish I had your energy’ and even ‘You’re crazy!’ are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the last 3 years. Crazy sounds accurate to me some days and I can honestly say I do not always know myself how I do it!

I’m a single career mom who works on average 30 hours a week, landscape on the side to make extra income and care for my two kids on my own. On the home-front although I do not own my home, I take care of the entire property and as much of the home maintenance that I am capable of. I also started couponing about a year ago with Coupon Christine who introduced me to Mr.CBB at Canadian Budget Binder.

It wasn’t long until I was hooked on the idea of doing a lot more with the money I earn and my personal financial health. Mr. CBB and all the great fans have helped me more than they even know. I’m still learning about personal finance everyday but in my already busy life finding the time to budget and stick to my budget has been a bit of a challenge.

So how do I do it?

Excellent Time Management…that’s how right?..

Ha! You would think ……This is where I struggle and what contributes to most of the “crazy factor” in my life. There is never enough time!!!! In a day, a week, or even a month! There is always something to do and I drive myself nuts sometimes just thinking about all the time I don’t have that I need to do everything !!!! Like breathe…….

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with my life and I enjoy keeping busy. I love to work and the flexibility of my job allows me to spend a lot of time with the kids. Working 30 hours a week though it doesn’t take long for things to get away on me, like the never-ending cleaning, planning and preparing proper meals and most of all sleep!

Thoughts Running Through My Mind…..

In between cutting the grass or getting wood for the wood-stove the dishes can pile up and there’s some clutter here and some clutter there. Oh yeah I have to feed the kids…time to make dinner.

After dinner do I clean up or spend time playing with the kids? We need groceries. When am I going to make my list…with my coupons of course?  I need to pay some bills….you can see where I’m going with this as my mind is always on overdrive. I know I am capable of being much more organized and effectively managing my time.

What I am guilty of…….

  • Thinking too much about all the things I need to do around the house that nothing gets done
  • Starting something and not finishing it
  • Procrastinating….I am joining the Grocery  Game Challenge I swear!!
  • Giving up a lot if not  all of my me time.
How Am I Regaining My Sanity?

There are just some things I can’t give up but other things that I know I can change to regain my sanity and make my life run efficiently. Decreasing my hours at work or even giving up my landscaping are two things I will not even consider. My goal in life is to provide a good life for my kids and to save for their future.

This requires money! So how am I going to do all of this, I’ll tell you how… with an Action Plan!

Set Achievable Goals

I need to be realistic. As much as I would love a spotless house everyday, while still making proper meals after getting home from work it’s not going to happen. Instead of wasting time thinking about everything I need to do I’m just doing it!

I’m setting 2 small and one medium goal everyday for myself. For example, my small goals could be to clean the bathroom and clean/vacuum the living-room where my medium goal could be getting out to cut the grass (takes over an hour).

I might clean the kitchen, clean the shelf in the dining room where clutter loves to build, and make my grocery list to reach my goals. I like to plan to my grocery shops and am working on improving my meal planning so I considered this a medium goal. Getting the garden shed cleaned out and painting my gazebo are large goals that I will be leaving  for when the kids are at their dads.

I really want to get these jobs done but I know I will not get them finished with the kids around so I use my time effectively when the kids are home to finish multiple smaller jobs.

If that means that I have to multi task then that’s what this Mommy does. If I am able to get more than my daily goals done great! If not then I can at least go to bed feeling like I had a productive day and staying on track so the things that need to get done are getting done.

Involve The Kids

Being the only parent at home with the kids I need to balance between how much time I spend cleaning, preparing meals etc…and spending quality time with the kids.

I like to involve the kids in a lot of the chores I do inside and outside of the house. At this point, being 2 and 4 they still think it’s fun to help Mommy! I hope that never changes but realistically as they grow up I know the interest will gradually decline. They are young so I need to be able to still keep a close eye on them while being productive still.

My kids know that the mess they make in the living-room with their toys is their mess and they are responsible for cleaning it up. After dinner we all participate in the clean-up.

I rinse the dishes while my 2-year-old fills the dishwasher, she’s pretty good at it too! They also love to help load the laundry and both are always very eager to take their folded clothes and put them away in their rooms.

On the cold winter weekends we are up early in the morning getting firewood so we can bring enough home to last close to a month. We have a large pile of firewood here on the farm but it still has to somehow make it to my house. We all pile in the truck together and head off to the woodpile. The kids grab the smaller stuff that we use for kindling while Mom loads up the bigger pieces.

I don’t know many kids that don’t like to dig in the dirt so gardening is something else we do together. Even if they decide to just dig a hole in the garden rather than pulling the weeds, they are still having fun, we are spending time together and I am being productive and getting something done!

I usually have Mondays off during the day when my son is at school. We have a pair of noise cancelling earphones and I take my daughter out with me on the riding mower, she thinks it the coolest thing ever and it’s one more thing off the list.

My kids spend more time with me than anyone else, so being the main role model in their life I also use this as a way to teach my kids good work ethic and that things do not get done by sitting around all day playing games and building mega blocks towers. They still get to be kids as I do not force them to do anything of this with me, we have fun with it so they like to help!

To-Do List Katrina

Action Plan

Doing this on my own I always seem to have a long to-do list of things that need to be done around here. The to-do list is a great time management tool that I use to keep me on track and on top of what needs to get done.

I am now backtracking on 4 almost 5 years of getting stuff out and getting my house to the state I want it to be as my ex husband only added to the mess and never helped. Every time I find something new that I need to get done I add it to my list.

When setting my daily goals I refer to this to-do list and gradually the list gets smaller, until I add more things I’d like to get done. This helps me to relax and to relieve some of the stress of always having so much to do. I am able to see that things are actually being accomplished.

Mommy Time and Money

Effective time management also means finding the best time to get the most productivity out of someone. I aim to finish my daily goals before the kids go to bed, this way when they are sleeping and the house is quiet , I can think. This does not always happen but I’m getting there.

This also becomes my ‘me’ time. Being a single mom, once the kids go to bed I can’t leave unless I pay a babysitter. I could just sit and watch TV every-night but I am really not a TV person.

While learning how to manage my time effectively I really started to think about money especially around 9 months before I separated from my husband. I knew where things were heading in my relationship so I wanted to make sure money and me made sense. I will tell you that I wish Mr. CBB and Canadian Budget Binder were around sooner!

I’ve almost become addicted to seeing how much I can actually do with the money I earn. Stretching the dollar has taken on an entirely new meaning but in a good way because I understand what I need to do in order to become financially independent and debt free.

Just a year ago I would laugh when someone would mention saving money. Since interacting with fans I’ve been able to start saving for the kids education through an RESP and some for myself.

Also, I am usually too tired most nights to even think about going out. I limit my social time to my kid free weekends, with the occasional exception. I get a chance to be rested, not have to pay for a babysitter and enjoy some time out! Works for me!


I am due for some time away! I need a vacation! I’m feeling a little bit of financial freedom. After reading Eva’s amazing budgeting story about how she uses the envelope system, I was inspired to make a ‘vacation’ envelope.

I am hoping to go out West late this summer as I have had a great landscaping year so far and just got another call today! My budget does not include this money as it’s not a constant income, rather it’s extra income. I have a few things to take care of around here but the extra money will all be going in that envelope!

Oh and call me crazy again but I’m driving!! I prefer adventurous! After crunching some numbers I found that I can drive and plan an awesome road trip and visit with my friends and family for around the same cost it would be to just fly! It’s going to take some serious planning and a good service on my car, but I’m excited, we are going!!

Not everyday goes this smoothly, although the very stressful days are becoming few and far between. I’m going to keep working away at perfecting my time management. I like to motivate myself  with daily reminders that as a single working mom on the go I am happier in a clean house and overall much more relaxed when I have an action plan.

What do you to in order to manage your time?

Post Contribution By: Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and working in a sales and marketing position, Katrina runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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  1. Realistic goals are important for me as well. I like to aim just a bit higher than what is achievable or realistic, just to give me an extra push. But I used to be a lot more lofty and hand-wavey in my goals, and as a result, many of them did not get done.

  2. It’s such a wonderful idea to involve your children when it comes to doing chores. That way you get to spend time with them, it’s educational, and you do what you need to do (though it takes longer). good for you!

  3. Good for you, Katrina, for managing your life so well. My mom was a single mom of three, so I have some idea from watching her of the amazing amount of work it takes to balance life as a single parent. And I think it’s so great that you realize the importance of taking time for yourself too. You’re doing great!

    1. Hi Kim! That’s my goal, letting them still be kids but learning that things don’t get done by themselves.

  4. Loved the article Katrina!!!! Our daughter is in much the same boat being a single mom to a strong willed 3 1/2 yr old!!! It’s so busy when the kids are small, and the good part here is the kids are already helping you get things done…. let it become a habit and they just might keep it up. I don’t have a dishwasher but the kids dried for me. As adults still at home the boys still help out a lot. If I have to take off in a hurry (their father is not well) I come home to things cleaned up, washed and if I’m late enough coming back, supper is likely to be started…. With hubbys health issues I can take care of him and the boys look after me!! My older boy has been known to joke that some day he will make a good little wife!!!
    I used to do lists for years….. still do. Short term lists run day to day, longer term if it’s something major like going out of town for a few days, the run up to Christmas (especially when the kids were small and I made gifts) or those times we were moving…I swear we would be lost with out our to do lists!!!!!!
    I really hope you enjoy your trip out west!!!! You deserve it!!! We’re all in this together and we support each other……… You’re an awesome Mom!!!!!!!!

    1. That’s awesome Christine! I really hope my kids continue to want to help out! My son already says things like mom should we clean the basement today, I love it! Thanks again for your kind words as always 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing your story, Katrina. It certainly sounds like you have an incredibly busy life, but you also sound very happy and that what matters! I enjoyed Eva’s story too and I’m glad she inspired you to set-up a vacation fund! Rewarding yourself is important too. 🙂

    1. Planning it is going to be a lot of work but so worth it in the end! Keeping busy it what keeps me going these days! Thanks for reading and your comment 🙂 Do you have any time management tips to share?

  6. Great post Katrina! My wife and I run our own business out of the house and have three little ones running around so I can relate to this and there’s two of us to handle it. I can only imagine what it’s like on your own. We use many of these tactics ourselves to keep on task and get things done.

    1. Thanks John. It really comes down to doing what I have to do. If I don’t who is going to right?

    1. Thanks! Our vacation is going to take some serious planning but I am so looking forward to it!

    1. Thanks Christine, I won’t say its been easy but I’m trying to make the best of our situation!

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