Here are 5 tips for time management for parents, to help you keep organized so daily life runs more smoothly for yourself and your kids.
Everyone is busy, whether you've got kids at home or not, but when you've got kids you've got to not only manage your own time, but to help manage theirs as well.
This can add more complexity and difficulty to the task of getting it all done.
That's where time management comes into play, and these 5 tips and strategies will help you improve your daily life, without the panic of missed appointments or days that are too long and exhausting.
There is no way you can plan your day, or week, if you don't know what it is you need to do. That's why a calendar of some variety is so important, be it a paper one or an electronic one, or a combination of the two.
When you have to coordinate more than one schedule though it increases the difficulty of this task, so a family calendar becomes not a luxury, but a necessity.
There needs to be one place where everyone can look to see who needs to be where, and when. Otherwise double booking or overbooking is inevitable, and that is something you want to avoid.
With multiple people's schedules to account for an online calendar, like Google calendars, that can be synced amongst the entire family may be your best bet.
You may need to also keep a paper calendar though for those family members without smart devices, or so everyone can look at the calendar together at the breakfast table each morning and plan the day as a team.
You can get more information about how and why to keep a family calendar here, in my 52 Week Organized Home Challenge article devoted to the topic.
In addition, many people like to keep their family calendar, along with a lot of other information the whole family needs to share and be aware of, in a central place in the home, often called a "command center." Here's my article with lots of real life ideas for command centers ahd home
One thing I can guarantee is that you and your family will want to eat. Every. Single. Day.
Yep, it's inevitable.
Since meal preparation takes a significant part of each day it is best to go ahead and make your plans now. It will help you with time budgeting, as well as money budgeting at the grocery store simultaneously.
When you've planned your meals you can buy everything at the grocery at once to save yourself more trips to the store, do any prep ahead steps early enough, and make sure you're choosing meals that fit how much time you've got to fix and eat them during that day.
Sit down at least once a month, or perhaps each week if that works better for you, and create a basic menu plan for at minimum your evening meals.
If you have a plan for breakfasts and lunches that is even better.
If you have a monthly plan you can break this up by week for grocery shopping needs, or do large batch cooking events once a month so your evening meals only require pulling a freezer bag out, thawing and popping into the slow cooker.
You can get a lot more information and resources about meal planning for your family in my healthy meal planning article here on the site, which is also part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge.
In addition, here's a couple of free printable resources on the site that can help you plan your meals.
Weekly Meal Planner Template
Menu Planner Form + Grocery List
It is so easy to get sucked into a time warp when you are focused on a task, whether that task is fun or not. You look up and have no idea how much time has passed, and are often surprised by how quickly time seemed to pass (or how slowly it crawled, if it wasn't a fun task).
The fun stuff that can be a time suck includes social media, watching something on TV, or even reading a good book. But you can also get bogged down in more tedious chores, or not want to even start them because you feel like you won't have enough time to finish.
I've found that using an alarm or timer can help you with either of these problems.
Give yourself 30 minutes to surf social media, for example, and then get off to do something else, so you've had a good mental break but don't waste too much time.
On the other hand, if you're overwhelmed with a task break it down into smaller tasks and then set your alarm.
That's the exact strategy we use in the Declutter 365 daily missions, to slowly, over the course of the year, get your entire house decluttered. It works for that overwhelming task, and it can work for any other overwhelming task you've got to tackle.
You'll be surprised how this simple trick can help you get so much accomplished in and around your home.
One of the keys to time management is understanding that we do only have 24 hours in our day, and we can't overfill it more and expect it to all get done.
Just because someone asks us to do something doesn't mean we have to.
We need to be able to say no, so we prioritize things we want or need to do, over what others want us to do.
Make sure anything you say yes to fits your agenda, not just theirs, if you are going to do it.
You can utilize your family calendar to help you with this by making sure you don't overbook or double book yourself, especially by scheduling in family time, or personal time, to make sure these things don't get neglected.
Just say no to things that aren't beneficial to you or that do not bring you joy.
I mentioned above that you need to say no more often, and that's true.
I was, of course, referring in that tip to saying no to others who try to get you to do things they want you to do, but that you realistically don't have time or desire to do.
But sometimes there is someone pressuring you more than an outsider, and that is yourself.
You need to be able to say no to yourself as well, because sometimes you are the person who is trying to get you to do too much.
Often that too much is in the form of a to-do list that is way too long to realistically get done.
When you don't make a realistic to-do list you are setting yourself up for failure, and it is demoralizing. So instead, use your timer consistently, to help you understand how long various tasks take, and then calculate how long each of the tasks on your to-do list will take you.
If you've got three hours to work on your to-do list, and five hours worth of tasks, go ahead and prioritize right now before you begin and mark some things off.
In addition, always give yourself "margin" when planning your to-do list. Margin is some extra time to finish each task, to account for unexpected events and interruptions that can make it take longer.
Once you prioritize and have a more realistic idea of what you can accomplish you're more likely to actually get it done and to feel better about what you have accomplished.
You can learn even more about tips for making and sticking to a realistic to do list here.
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How do you try to manage your time better as a parent? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!