If there was enough TIME in the world, everyone would be a superstar in his own right. Sure, some of you might already be those rare superhuman parents, easily juggling work and home. But there are a LOT of parents who have a hard time balancing the ever-increasing demands of work and home, and the seemingly decreasing number of hours per day. The to-do lists are becoming endless and the time in which these must be completed is suddenly, surprisingly short. Time management is the essence of a well-run household, and that's what this AptParenting article will tell you about. By following simple time-saving tips, full-time working parents can not only manage to get all the work done in time, but also have some time to spare.
Just the thought of having to get so much work done after a long day at work can seem like a monumental task to a lot of parents. While one cannot completely disqualify the amount of housework that could crop up, it is also true that it is not as difficult as one may think. So, the main thing you need to do is calm yourself down. Once you leave the office building, sit in your car for a few minutes and clear your mind. Once your mind is clear, slowly begin to think about all the things that need to be done. Keep a daily planner which will help you schedule everything properly. Once you see that you have everything under your control, you can relax and get to them one by one.
Don't Bring Work Home
One of the most common, and sometimes unavoidable, mistakes that working parents make is they carry their work home. This causes frustration, not only to the parents themselves, but also to the children. The parent/s already have work on their mind when they enter home, and the prospect of having to carry out household chores in addition to it will only make them more anxious. The stress of it all will get to them and as a result, the focus is divided and nothing gets done properly. Arguments with kids ensue for work not done, they get more agitated and snap or disobey, thus ruining an entire evening. What you, as working parents, can do is make sure that if the need arises, only one of you should let work consume your time at home.
Better yet, if you know your work is going to keep you busy at home, stay back at work, finish it off and then get home. You'll be able to focus better at office and you'll get it done quicker. Meanwhile, your spouse can take care of the work at home by getting home a bit early if possible. Don't make it a habit though.
Plan the Meals
The most worrisome aspect of household duties is the meals. Making sure that everyone eats right, and on time is no doubt a challenging task. Plus, as a parent, you need to know who likes what, who's allergic to what, and have suitable meals prepared. To make this easier, on Sunday evenings, the entire family can sit together and decide the meals for the entire week. Have a meal planner, keep an hour for planning, and plan the 3 meals for the next 7 days. After you're done, paste it on the refrigerator and get to the necessary shopping for the entire week.
- Keep the coffee maker ready the previous night to avoid that early morning rush.
- If the next day's meal involves a little extra prep time, cut and clean the main ingredients like the vegetables or meat the previous night and refrigerate them.
- Keep breakfast simple; something that your children can prepare for themselves. You can alternate easy-to-make items like cereal, pancakes and toast throughout the week.
- Make food items in bulk and freeze them if you wish.
- Try out different recipes to make from leftovers.
First Work, Then Play
Your children will get back home from school before you. You need to make them understand that they need to finish all their homework, and only then play. While doing this, make sure that you assign reasonable deadlines to them like when they must finish their homework, according to their age and the amount of homework they could have. Once they begin to follow this routine, things will function smoothly and your children will get their work done before you get home.
- Ask your children to keep everything ready for school the previous night.
- Clothes must be picked out, ironed and ready on the hanger.
- Tell your children that they'll be woken only twice, after which they'll have to manage to get to school on their own if they're not at the table for breakfast 15 minutes before leaving time. Do it once and they'll know that you're serious.
Divide the Chores
You don't need to be a supermom or superdad by doing everything yourselves. Children can and should help out with household chores. This will reduce the burden on the two of you; plus they become more responsible. Chores that your children can manage must be divided among them according to their age. You can have a chore chart pasted in their rooms or in the kitchen, from which they can tick off the chore once it is complete.
Don't permit procrastination of any chore unless there's no other option. Division of outside chores like grocery shopping, picking up laundry, etc., among the two of you is another great way to save time. These chores could be divided according to the proximity from the workplace and the time at which you get home. For instance, if the laundry is on your husband/wife's way home, and it's open till he/she leaves from work, he/she can pick it up while you get to the supermarket.
- Make sure that your children complete the chore on the day they're supposed to. Use negative reinforcement techniques to focus on the discipline aspect of the chores.
- Punish when necessary and they'll get the point.
- It takes everyone to work as one to make a family function. Don't feel guilty about being hard on your children about chores and end up doing it yourselves. They have to learn someday, so why not today?
Running a family along with a career involves a whole new level of multitasking. It is a job that requires your attention 24/7, and can go really wrong if not managed properly. Throw in a few unprecedented events now and then, and you have a wonderfully chaotic atmosphere. To avoid wastage of time, even in the face of unprecedented events, there are some simple things you can do.
- Keep a couple extra of everything in the kitchen, in case of situations like broken eggs, a moldy bread loaf, spilled juice, etc. So you just have to take out the extra and eat it rather than waste time thinking about what to make or stopping for breakfast.
- Always keep first aid at hand, in case of minor cuts, bruises and injuries, so you don't have to waste time looking for it.
- Have emergency numbers pasted in a perfectly legible hand on the refrigerator. These should include: your cell and work numbers, the national emergency number, your family doctor, closest relative, neighbor, babysitter, utilities person, etc.
- Prepare a detailed timetable for all the work that needs to be done, keeping a buffer for extra contingencies.
- Encourage car pooling, play dates, study groups and other such interactive and constructive activities. Not only are these beneficial for your children in more ways than one, they will get them out of your hair and give you some time to either catch up on some pending work or just some alone time.
Keep Aside Family Time
Having everything under perfect control is not always possible. However, that does not mean you need to be occupied in your household chores all the time. So, one of the best tips for full-time working parents, is to make some time for yourself and your family. A meal, a movie, a game, anything that will make the family sit together and spend some quality time. This will instill a sense of calm and create a friendly atmosphere which is very important if you want your home to be hassle-free. When you get along with your family, the work gets done miraculously fast. Everyone understands each other's requirements and commitments, and works together to ensure the smooth flow of household chores and other work.
The key to managing time effectively is to prioritize all the work that you have. Once you attach a level of importance to each task, you know how much time you need to give it. This way you can easily and systematically plan everything and see how quickly and effortlessly it all falls into place. All these will undoubtedly take some time to function like clockwork, but it definitely will. So hang in there.