As a parent of two young children, I feel I can almost start and end this right now by saying, if you have kids of a certain age, your schedule is going to get derailed all the time. That’s the way it is.
So, is it even worth writing about time management for parents?
I might as well just say, yep, forget ever being on time again.
Forget those moments of reflection for yourself.
Your time is no longer your own.
I mean, there are times when you can’t even use the bathroom in peace, so what hope do you have of completing that report when you’re at home? [Tip: don’t take your work home with you.]
I started writing this post at 6.35 am on a Saturday morning. Don’t ask me when I finished it, because that is a whole different story.
I got up at 6 am, a habit which I think has started to stick after implementing it a couple of months ago, did my exercises and yoga and thought I would work on a post while everyone else slept.
Except it didn’t work out that way.
Kids woke up – earlier than they normally do on a school day, of course – and demanded breakfast.
A couple of pieces of toast with jam/peanut butter and job’s a good’ un. They go off to play and I can get to work.
I’m getting bugged to fix Barbie’s hair, change the batteries in their Disney wands and all manner of other random questions and requests interrupt my flow.
Before I know it, it’s 08.45 am. Two hours gone in the blink of an eye and barely a couple of hundred words written.
So, yes, it’s true that kids take up a lot of your time and energy and can frequently derail your best-laid plans. But that doesn’t mean you have to live in chaos.
Some Things You Can Do
Juggling school activities, household chores, family time and your own schedule if you’re working yourself, can be quite the challenge.
Basically, if you’re a parent, time management just got harder.
But it is not impossible. Granted, it will be significantly more difficult to implement the kind of tips you can find here when your time no longer belongs to you, but it’s still doable.
Here’s nice round ten quick tips to help you manage your time better as a parent.
I know, I know, one of the first rules of time management is “don’t multi-task.”
And I think that in most situations, that advice stands. But when you’re parenting, most of the rules go out of the window if for no other reason than sometimes needs must.
And the reality when you’ve got kids is that you’re gonna have to multi-task more often than not. That might mean that not everything gets done as quickly or as effectively as you might wish, but that’s okay. Unless you’ve got plenty of help – either paid or family – that’s the way it’s going to be.
2. Ask for help
Many people are not good at asking for help, but if you want to remain sane when you’ve got kids, it’s an important life skill.
As I hinted at in #1, having help will make a huge difference and will free up time during the day.
3. Delegate chores and tasks
In addition to asking for help, delegating and sharing tasks will save you a lot of time. If you have an older child who can take care of certain tasks around the house while you see to the younger one(s), this can help you get more done in less time.
4. Keep things in their place
This is a basic organizational skill that might just stop you being late more often than you realize.
How often do you go to leave the house and discover you can’t find your keys?
Or your purse?
If you always put things back in their place, it’s going to make your life that bit easier, so do yourself a favour and be nice to yourself.
Do as much advanced planning as you can. Have school bags packed and clothes ready the night before. Thinking ahead is crucial as a parent to keep a family functioning. Having contingency plans also useful, but often as parents, we end up improvising – a lot.
That’s just part of being a parent, I guess.
6. Communal calendar
Know everyone’s whereabouts and schedules.
Having a visible schedule or calendar on the refrigerator or a corkboard somewhere will enable everyone to see what’s going on and there won’t be any surprises. Like when Dad finds out he is supposed to take his eldest daughter to a re-scheduled dance practice just as he is heading out the door to meet a client.
7. Make concessions
Tidying up after kids can be a never-ending task. Quit trying to tidy up after them and just schedule a time each day. Yes, it may mean you are living in a mess in the meantime, but let it go and use the time to focus on other areas of parenting and your own schedule.
8. Help Teach Your Kids About Time
Children younger than the age of about 7 or 8 don’t really understand the concept of time. They understand the sequential nature of events, but “we’re late” or “we need to be ready in 10 minutes” never seems to create the same level of urgency in a child as is does in an adult, simply because it is meaningless to them.
The earlier they can understand this though, the quicker they are going to be able to get on board with your attempts at managing your time better.
Check out this post: How To Teach Kids Time Management
9. Drop the time-wasting activities
If there were ever a good time to drop pointless time-wasting activities like Facebook and Twitter, it would be when you’re a parent. Time is short and your kids grow up fast.
Spend time with them instead of making pointless exchanges with a bunch of strangers on social media. Prioritize face time with your kids.
10. Pick your battles
There are going to be times when your kids don’t co-operate with you and it is usually at times when you’re already running late.
For example, when you’re about to leave the house and your child decides to throw a tantrum because they don’t want to wear the shoes or the coat you want them to wear, do you need to win this battle or can you let it go this time?
From a “good parenting” perspective, I don’t if this is right or wrong, but sometimes when we’re faced with this situation, we will give in to our kids’ demands, just to avoid being late.
We don’t make a habit of it, because we don’t want them to think they can get their own way all the time, but sometimes, it feels better to be more selective about your battles.
Time Hack Hero Takeaway
Time management is hard at the best of times, but it is made that much more difficult when kids are in the picture.
Before I had children, I can’t say that my time management was exemplary, but I was mostly on time and never felt I was never rushing to get from one to place to the next or that I was particularly disorganized.
That situation changed enormously once we had two kids on the scene. Never seemed to arrive anywhere on time. The place was always a mess and didn’t know whether I was coming or going half the time.
Things got better over time, but if I had implemented some of these tips myself back then, it would have made things a lot easier for sure.
Check out this post: Time Mangagement For Teens: Tips For Parents