Why does it so often seem like you turn around and it’s midnight when you’re raising your kids? It seems like no matter what you do sometimes, there’s still a lot more work to do by the time you are ready to go to bed. What can you do?
The first thing you need to do is figure out where your time is going each day. Try making notes one day about what you do and how long it takes. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can try this for a week, since every day is going to be different, but even one day will give you an idea as to where you’re using up all your time. It may feel like you’re wasting time writing these things down, and they will slow you down a bit for that day, but it can be a big help.
Take a look at what you spent your day doing. Now assign a priority to each. How much time would you prefer to spend on each?
Now if you add all these up, you’ll probably find out your day is more than 24 hours long if you include time to sleep. That’s how it is being a parent.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what items can be done less often. Can you stand a little mess in the house? Can everyone else? Can you get more help from your spouse and the kids in keeping the house clean? You’ll have to decide which solution is right for you.
What about time spent surfing the internet or watching TV? Give yourself time limits on each of these. If you have a Tivo or a VCR, try recording your favorite shows and watching them a little later, skipping the commercials. Not only does this allow you to choose the time you watch your shows, it can cut down their length.
Sometimes it can be hard finding enough time in your day to be with your kids, yet most parents will call this a priority. Just remember that time with your kids isn’t just about having fun. Even small children can help out with making dinner, which can be a great time for talking with kids of any age. My three year old daughter has been helping make salads since she was two. The lettuce ends up in either rather large or very small pieces, but she has fun helping and we get some great time together. Older kids may or may not appreciate this time, but it’s good for them to help out.
I definitely do not recommend cutting back on whatever meals you insist on eating as a family. This is a great thing to do as a family, and if you aren’t making time for family meals, find a way to do so! Even if it’s just dinner one night a week together, no activities or sports to run off too, your family needs the time to relax together.
Finally, are there things you can cut out all together? If you feel as though you’ve been pushed into doing things for others because you’re at home and “have time,” don’t feel guilty about telling people that you do not have the time to do things they want you to do. Your family comes first. If you really want to volunteer, think about either cutting back the number of hours when you need more time for yourself or your family, or volunteering for something you can do as a family.
There are only so many hours to a day, and so many things you’d love to get done. Take a good look at what you need to do, want to do and don’t really need to do, and you can find ways to feel a little less overwhelmed most of the time. You’ll go through times where there just aren’t enough hours in the day even when you know your priorities, but you can cut down on the less important stuff and relieve a lot of your stress.
Stephanie Foster is the owner of Home with the Kids, a site for stay at home parents. If you want to learn more about time management as an at-home parent, please visit http://www.homewiththekids.com/time-management/