Before I had my kids; I slept through alarms, arrived late to appointments and didn’t know how to manage my time. Five years on, I now arrive early to appointments, rush the kids out the door on school days and successfully balance housework as well as time with the kids.
Once you become a parent, you are forced to acquire the skill of multi-tasking and I think the addition of another child can improve these skills even more so. And the circumstances for us have also differed a bit to others – hubby and I have looked after our kids every single day for the last 4 years, so we have tried and tested many methods when it comes to managing our time.
Share the housework between the two of you
One of these methods is understanding how important it is to share the housework. Doing so increases time efficiency, which means more alone time together and more time with the kids. Although Lawrence and I both have the ability to cook, he generally cooks dinner while I play with the kids. We’ve found that not is it simpler to separate the tasks that way, but it means that the kids always know that they are appreciated and loved. As our girls both have speech difficulties, we try to maximise every moment we have with them as we know that every minute counts.
Once Lawrence finishes cooking dinner, we all eat together at the dinner table then he begins washing the dishes as I put the kids to bed. When the kids are in bed, I’ll help him with the cleaning of the stove, kitchen bench and dinner table. Doing this means we are working together, which not only decreases the total time spent on housework but that we are both contributing. I think this is essential to running a household and also in maintaining a healthy marriage.
Set deadlines and stick to them
Setting deadlines can also help you focus on the task at hand. Lawrence and I usually give ourselves half an hour to finish the cleaning up. Doing so might put a bit of pressure on yourself to finish, but such pressure will be made worthwhile when it’s an extra 30 minutes relaxing time later!
Do housework first, then relax later
Hubby believes that meeting me has taught him the value of time. He is a self-confessed procrastinator and was previously a fan of “play now, do later” but just like me, he has learnt that doing the important things first, such as housework, can make you feel more accomplished. Plus, it means you can relax with the kids and not have to worry that you have things to do later!
Follow a routine
Another way to effectively manage your time is through routine. It is much more time efficient to always follow a certain order within a certain period, as it means that the kids are fed and put to bed on time. Following a set routine can often feel repetitive, but it means at least things get done on time and nothing is ever forgotten.
Do a weekly shopping list and plan the dinners in advance
Planning what you eat can also be time efficient. Our family does a weekly grocery shop which I write up every Monday. I plan the following week’s dinners in advance which not only saves money and keeps my family eating healthy, but it reduces the stress as we always know what we’re eating days before!
Set alarms for appointments
There are also day-to-day struggles to manage, like trying to make it to appointments on time. I always give us 1 and a half hours to get ready each morning. If we have to leave for Kindy at 8am, I will set the alarm for 6.30am so me and hubby get up to make our bed, open the curtains around the house, prepare the kids’ breakfast, Alisha’s lunch etc. We then wake the kids up just before 7am so they have half an hour to eat breakfast, with another half an hour assigned to cleaning up. Meanwhile, Lawrence and I will each have a shower, get the kids’ shoes on and we’re out the door by 8! Although it may feel a bit rushed to some, we do it for the benefit of having more sleep in the morning and more relaxing time after we come home!
Although there are many ways to improve your time management skills, I believe these latter methods are very useful in balancing your life as a parent.
So, in order to manage your time well, try to:
* Share the housework between the two of you
* Set deadlines and stick to them
* Do housework first, then relax later
* Follow a routine
* Do a weekly shopping list and plan the dinners in advance
* Set alarms for appointments
In our household, we may place a lot of emphasis on getting things done on time, but it is very important to note that with children, this routine can be thrown out of balance. You want to make sure that you appreciate the time that you have with your children. So if the kids want to show you the drawing they’ve done or the puzzle they’ve pieced together, it is much more important to switch your focus to them than to keep doing the dishes!
It is much easier said than done, but you must remember that being a parent is not only about managing the household and doing the housework; but being a motivator for your children. Kids are too young to understand that you are stressed from not having done the dishes; but if you can manage to find a balance between the housework and your kids, then you are doing a tremendous job!
Copyright © 2012 Thuy Yau
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Thuy Yau is a writer in Perth, Australia. She wants to make a positive difference in the world. She is the author of the eBook, ‘How 5 Experiences Turned My Life Around’. She juggles her life as a busy mother of 3, with her incredible passion for writing.