19 August 2015

Timely Tip for Parents

Juggling motherhood

Juggling Children and Time

I truly believe that bringing up children is one of the toughest assignments there is – and one of the most important. It’s not for those who crave instant gratification – you sign up for the long haul and there’s no sending the squalling, dirty, and often unappreciative merchandise back. And as for time management – that seems to be an alien concept when you’re in that frenetic time of life.

If you fit into that category, here are some more time tips for working parents, following on from last week’s article.

Delegate!

Wherever possible, give kids responsibility for getting themselves ready.  Any school-aged child can dress themselves, make toast or pour cereal over milk, wash their face and brush hair and teeth.  See your role as Project Manager – you oversee, check everything has been done and trouble-shoot, but leave “operational” issues to the troops themselves.

Turn routines into games

Karen and her family developed a fun game. She called herself “Mission Control” and her three children “Red 1”, “Red 2” and “Red 3”.

Morning conversations go something like this:

“Mission Control to Red 2 – do you copy, Red 2?”

“Red 2 to Mission Control – I read you loud and clear.”

“Red 2, please report on status of breakfast.”

“I had toast and peanut butter.”

“Thank you, Red 2, and what is the status of your shoes and socks?”

“Umm … just about to put them on, Mission Control”

“Thank you, Red 2, make sure you do. Over and out.”

She added: “It started as a bit of a joke, my husband calling me ‘Mission Control’ as I was organising everyone in the mornings, but it turned into a very useful tool.  The kids get into role and report back any status requests from ‘Mission Control’”.

Be realistic

Don’t try to achieve too much in the mornings.  Unless you’re an early morning person who thrives on 5 am starts, your morning milestones should be as simple as possible.

Similarly, don’t leave yourself too little time.  Setting your alarm too late or hitting the snooze button one too many times will mean you’re panicked and on-the-hop from the moment you get up, setting a rushed tone to your whole day.

Give yourself a safety margin. Work out how long you and the children need to be out the door at a comfortable time, then allow a further 15 minutes.

And DON’T do that one last thing – I can guarantee it will make you late.

Prepare the night before

The key to a relatively sane morning is to do as much as possible the night before: lunches, ironing shirts sewing on buttons, finding a mysteriously vanished pair of trainers or pantyhose without a ladder, and packing school bags.

Hopefully you buy clothes that don’t need ironing. However, many men’s shirts still need a press. An ironing session once a week is more efficient than doing a little bit every day – you only have to get the equipment out once. Or, at the very least make sure that what you need for the following day is ironed the night before. Some families use an ironing service – they will pick up and deliver.

Transporting children

Always carry hairbrush and a wet flannel when you’re transporting kids. If you’re really running late, pass it around the car and let the kids have the first go at cleaning grubby faces and hands. (This was my non-negotiable travel tip when raising my six children – they all arrived within nine years, even the slightly older foster son. We seemed to always be rushing out the door not quite ready!)

And amidst the chaos, you might like this lovely thought from C.S. Lewis.

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work”


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