Time-Management for Busy Parents
Now that school has reopened, are you struggling with your busy schedule? We have some time-management strategies for busy parents that we think can help.
Here are ten time-management strategies for busy parents:
1. Know your priorities.
What is important? What are your priorities? Getting the kids to school on time? Ensuring they have proper meals, a good school lunch, time for rest and time for homework? Making sure you have time to work from home, shop for groceries, enjoy some quiet time by yourself, catch up with friends?
If you are presented with opportunities to join a committee or volunteer for a community group, look at what’s important to your life first. Remember to say ‘Yes’ to one thing, you must say ‘No’ to something else.
Consider whether these activities will require time including travelling time and so forth. If you can fit it into your schedule and still be able to do all the things that are important in your life, then you can go ahead and offer your assistance.
Decisions are easier to make if you have defined values of what’s important in your life now. You should uphold these values so you can be a happier person and a better parent to your kids.
2. Do enough for the kids but don’t do too much.
You are not a bad parent if you cannot fulfil every whim and fancy. Kids should have stimulation outside the school and extracurricular activities like swimming, gym, dance, music, and sports are good for their physical, mental, and social well-being. That does not mean you have to enrol them in every class in town.
Limit after-school activities to a few on weekdays so your kid has a chance to recover from the physical demands of school. Instead of spending time driving the kids from activity to activity on weekends, keep some time free to do fun family things together.
The best way to decide what extra-curricular activities to enrol your kid in is to ask for their input and to involve them in the decision making. If your child is doing something he or she likes, they are less likely to drop out and more likely to excel.
3. Plan ahead.
Planning can save you time. For example, if you prepare the school lunches and pack their school bags in the evenings, you will have time in the morning for crucial activities like getting them out of bed, dressed and ready for breakfast and school.
If you are working from home, schedule meetings during school hours so you have time to focus on the children when they return from school. Use a calendar to keep track of important events, for example, doctor’s appointments and so forth so you can make plans to accommodate a schedule change.
4. Be flexible.
Be prepared to be flexible. Even the best-laid plans can sometimes go astray. Your kid could get sick and you may have to go to the school to collect them, your meetings could be rescheduled. Your mother-in-law may call in unannounced. Your neighbour may need to ask for your help in picking up her kids.
When the unexpected happens, don’t get stressed by the changes. Stay calm. Make quick adjustments to your schedule and continue doing what you do best: Being the best parent for your child.
5. Organise your home.
Looking after the household can be time-consuming especially if you are balancing work and school as well. Small tasks can easily add up to take away precious time. Here are some things you can do to save time:
- Plan to do household chores on weekends or when the children are at school.
- Practise a redundancy principle. Put things like keys, school bags, shoes, and so forth back in the same place all the time. Get the rest of the family to do the same so you are not rushing around trying to find things during the school run.
- Enlist your spouse and the children to help with housework. Encourage kids to tidy their rooms.
- Prepare meals ahead of time that you can easily reheat on busy days.
- Pack school lunches and school bags the night before school to minimise a last-minute rush.
- Have school uniforms, socks, shoes, and hats ready in the evenings so the kids can easily change into their uniforms.
- Use an alarm to wake the children in the morning.
- Set the breakfast table the night before.
6. Set routines at home.
Routines are important if you are a time-poor parent. A regular daily schedule can help you run your household smoothly and efficiently. Children have internal clocks that can easily adapt to a routine so don’t hesitate to set time for sleeping, homework, meals, and relaxation.
7. Don’t strive for perfection.
It is okay if the house is slightly untidy during school days or if the bathroom is not as sparkling as you would like it to be. If you are rushing for time, you may not have the luxury to do things until you get it perfect. Be prepared to give and take so you can have more time for quality pursuits like playing with the children, taking the kids outdoor, or spending time on your own to recharge your energy.
8. Delegate duties.
You can delegate quite a lot of household tasks to your family. Get your spouse to do some of the housework like vacuuming or washing up after a meal. Children can set tables and older kids can mind younger siblings to give you more time.
9. Keep a to-do-list and a calendar.
To-do-lists are great to keep on top of things. Create a list of all the important chores that need to be done each day and make sure you keep this list updated. Use a calendar to keep track of important dates like dentist’s appointments, grocery shopping days, school events and so forth.
10. Be aware of time-wasting.
If you are conscious about time, you can take the steps to prevent wasteful activities. Don’t spend too long in the supermarket or the chemist. Give your neighbour a quick wave each morning and resist the temptation to chit chat when you are rushing the kids to school. Similarly, a quick word or two with other mothers picking up their kids from school is enough if you have other things to do after school. The more effort you make in preserving time, the less likely you will become overwhelmed by the events of the day.
Most of us have worked in a professional setting in our careers. At work, we know how to manage our time to meet deadlines and deliver outcomes. Treat your home like a professional workplace and apply the time-management skills you have to make school days more manageable and enjoyable for the family.