This post might have been called “Time Management for Parents,” but to many parents of primary-school children, that phrase is a contradiction in terms. Just when you think you’ve finally achieved some semblance of balance between work, parenting, and personal time, someone scrapes a knee or needs help with a last-minute homework assignment—and there go your plans for the next hour.
There are no guaranteed ways to eliminate that scenario completely, but with a little proactive thinking, it’s not that hard to free time for your personal goals.
Eliminate Perfectionism From Your Mindset
A perfectionistic parent is an unhappy parent with an unhappy household. You don’t always have to finish “everything” else—and get it all 100 percent spotless/polished/wrinkle-free—before taking time for a hobby, hot bath, or evening class. In fact, you’ll be more effective and easier to live with when your life has frequent “want to do’s” balancing out the “have to do’s.”
Let Children Help You and Themselves
Close kin to perfectionism is micromanaging. If you don’t trust anyone else to set the table “right” or get their own snack, you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself overworked and constantly interrupted with trivial questions. Reduce those frustrations by:
Sharing the chores and being willing to let others do their part to their
Having a place for everything and everything in its place—with everyone in the household being clear on where those places are.
Teaching your kids the basics of problem solving (including for boredom problems) and trusting them to apply that knowledge.
Establishing boundaries for work and other times you should be interrupted only for emergencies—and leaving adequate “together time” and “listening time” outside those boundaries. (Children often do pester their parents as a reaction to feeling ignored and forgotten.)
Be Clear on Your Personal Goals
If you aren’t clear on what you really want to do, you’ll never feel you’ve done enough. Never mind that you had more time to pursue your dreams pre-parenting: even one segmented hour a week is significant when used well. Make regular appointments with yourself to work on your goals while the kids are in school, in bed, or otherwise occupied.
Plan and Organize
While life can never be made 100 percent predictable, being in a rut usually does indicate disorganized, “reactive” habits. Use the following hints to maximize effectiveness and minimize inconvenience.
Schedule necessary items in “bunches”—all errands on one day, all yard chores on another day, and so on.
Make written to-do lists in advance. Last-minute “organizing” almost guarantees you’ll forget something.
Clear your house (and computer monitors) of unused items: they only distract from the task at hand.
Help your kids set aside time and space for homework and hobbies. They deserve an early start on the getting-things-done habit!
Note to Teachers
When you have a student who never seems to finish assignments on time, understand that there may be reasons besides “laziness” or “learning disability”: perhaps a stressful home life, or simply under-practiced time management skills. Incorporate practical lessons on organizing and prioritizing into class curricula—and make a point of keeping your observation and empathy skills well-honed.
SHADY OAK DOES RIGHT BY OUR STUDENTS
At Shady Oak Primary, teaching doesn’t stop with academic skills. Our 6 Pillars approach also educates children in collaboration, committed problem-solving, communication, connection, creativity, and critical thinking—all the skills they need for lifelong, all-around effectiveness. Contact us to learn more or to ask about enrolling your own child.