Time Management for Parents

squeezed time

Better time management for parents is something most of us with kids are looking for.

Children are one of life’s greatest joys, but there's no doubt about it -- taking care of them is also one of life’s greatest challenges!

Parenting is hard work, and there are no real short cuts - you can't cram relationships.  But there are ways to make family life run smoother, and one of those is through better family time management.

Here are 14 ways you can do that:

1. Be There

Make every minute at work count.  Every minute wasted there on low value or unproductive activity means less time is available for your family relationships.

Whether it’s paid employment, voluntary work, even household chores, do it as efficiently as possible to create as much time as you can for your children. 

Better time management at work is usually possible for all of us.

2. Plan Your Week

An easy to access weekly planner is essential.

Why a week? Well, 7 days covers most scheduled activities and it means everyone can see what’s coming up, particularly if it’s put somewhere visible.

Whether you use a wallchart, planner or diary, make sure it’s usable and visible.

3. Good Time Management for Parents Means Learning to Delegate

As they get older, give children roles and responsibilities. It seems to work more effectively than the reactive habit of asking/telling them to do something.

When they have roles they’re accountable, although it’s fair to say that a good amount of patience is still needed!

4. Buffer Requests

Want them to do something?

Try putting in a time buffer.

For example, next time you walk into your child’s messy room, try saying...

‘Would you please tidy this up in ten minutes time?’

Taking away the immediacy of the request or demand increases the chances of it getting done.

5. Plan Meals

So much time and effort surrounds meals. Shopping, preparation, and cleaning up all take up a significant chunk of each day, and it’s easy to end up cooking to order for fussy eaters.

Instead, build menu planning into your weekly schedule. Get everyone involved with decisions and jobs.

6. Create Anchor Points

If your weeks are chaotic, trying to organize everything will make your head explode!

Instead, try putting in one or two scheduled anchor points in the week to create just a bit of stability.

Whether it’s a meal, meeting or chore, start with one anchor and see what effect it has on the family.

7. Write Things Down to Capture Them

What gets written gets done.

Well, that's not always true, but it's much more likely than if you only rely on your memory.

There are a number of essential tools to make sure you do this. Pick whatever works for you and get into the habit of using it.

However you capture your thoughts, don’t rely on memory to do it for you.

8. Fence Off Your Rest

As a parent, you no doubt appreciate what rest you can get.

But one principle of time management for parents is that 'hard' time pushes out 'soft' time.

In other words, work can seep into your down time, often without you noticing the effect it has.

Fence off some time each day for yourself

9. Consider Outsourcing

Is it worth getting someone in to do jobs around the home?

Hiring a cleaner, gardener or someone to do the laundry may seem like a luxury, but how many people who get outside help ever regret it?

Work out what your time is worth. Could you use the time saved more profitably?

10. Prepare in Advance

Avoid the last minute panics where possible. Preparing for school the night before when you’re tired is often an effort, but it’s far better than doing it when you’re rushed in the morning.

Make advance preparations part of your weekly schedule so you don’t have to think about it.

11. Have a Screen Policy

This is a major issue. Computers, TV, games consoles, phones… they’re everywhere.  Communicate with each other to establish fair use limits.

The time taken to work out who uses what and when is time well spent.

Use a timer to make sure limits get stuck to and a buffer to give them fair warning that they're approaching theirs.

12. Use a Will Do System, Not a To Do List

The typical to do list is a long list of all the things you ‘need’ to do. But how many of them ever get done?

Instead of cherry picking the priorities and feeling bad about all the things you haven’t done, make a ‘will do’ list.

Only write down on your list what you will do today or tomorrow.

13. Time Box Tasks

Time management for parents often means setting limits on activities that could go on  (phone, tablet, computers etc.)

At other times it means cajoling kids into doing chores or tasks that they’re less keen on.

Whichever it is, time boxing is a great way to get started or set limits.

14. Communicate

Many work meetings are a waste of time, but family time management benefits enormously from scheduled get-togethers.

They don’t have to be formal affairs, but it does help if there’s some sort of agenda to work to -- and a bottle of something nice to drink seems to help make it an effective meeting!

* * *

Time management for parents is tough from the start. When they’re young sleep patterns dictate who does what and when.

As they grow up, life can seem to revolve around screens, study and social activities.

Whatever stage you’re at, try these time management for parents tips to help you manage the most important years of their lives so you can look back at some of the happiest and most rewarding of yours.

Do you need to get a better balance in your life?

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