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Parental Time Management Hacks that Work

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Parental Time Management Hacks that Work

Parents who work full-time provide a little magic and grace throughout the day. The pandemic punishes working parents when it comes to time management.

Parents who work full-time are the best people to provide a little magic and grace throughout the day to their own children — But don’t underestimate the care they take with your team, either.

Parental Time Management Hacks that Work

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it almost impossible to be productive and totally engaged at work for working parents. Although everyone is ready to return to normal, even a “new normal” after the pandemic, working parents will likely feel overwhelmed and stressed.

These hacks are tried and tested and have helped many manage a busy household while helping people and teams maximize efficiency and productivity for decades. Add all of your duties and on your Calendar each month. 

Do a time audit every month.

You know that a lot of time is wasted, but most parents don’t spend the time evaluating what could be done differently. A “time audit” is a process that helps you identify where you are wasting your precious time. A time audit is like a financial-wellness audit that a financial advisor might recommend.

Take a copy of your calendar from the previous month, go through each activity and ask these questions:

  • Was this an efficient use of my time?
  • Could this be outsourced, delegated, or simplified?
  • What should I do to respond to this request?

A time audit helps you save time and money in the long term. It is too easy to fill up our calendar with requests and priorities from other people. But if we want to take control of our time, we need to take a proactive approach. Know how you use your time and assess how you use your time.

As a boss, if you are also doing a time audit — keep in mind the office chatter, the water cooler trips, and the lunches, and don’t count those “times” against your “at home” working parents.

Establish work-life friendly team ground rules

The biggest obstacle to setting boundaries about how late you can work responding to emails and other after-hour chores — or working on vacation lies in the legitimate concern that these boundaries might not be compatible with the corporate culture.

All of the extra-long-hour work you did before children are the reason you’ll want to have an essential conversation with your team.

While it is one thing to have your own habits or practices to help you leave work at home, it’s another to be able to discuss these issues as a team and set boundaries that they can all agree on when you have half the team at the office and the other half at home.

Some examples of ground rules could include:

  • Meetings after 3:00 p.m.
  • End times for meetings have always been met — keep it that way. 
  • Please leave work at work—no emails or calls after 7:00 p.m.
  • Vacation is vacation. Emailing while you are sick or on vacation is not permitted.
  • All critical path activities will have backup owners.

These “rules” might not work for you, but it is vital to have a group discussion about how your team can support each other in achieving work/life balance and good time management. 

Turn Waiting Time into Audio Book Time

Remembering to turn on an audiobook is one of my favorite gifts, and it doesn’t take any extra time. So many individuals have a long list of books we want to read. But who has the time? 

Tuning in to the value of audiobooks was transformative for me. The practice has turned a lot of my regular wait times into audiobook listening time.

These 15-minute listening sessions have been a big part of my self-care and my professional and personal development. Listening to audio is a regular part of my daily life, especially while waiting in the carpool line or grocery shopping; it energizes and gives you new thoughts and vision for your work.

Many people would find commute time to be an excellent opportunity for audiobooks or podcasts. It’s simple to take advantage of the downtime throughout the week and read at least one book per week. One book a week has had a significant impact on my life and makes for exciting conversations in all parts of life.

Contrary to popular belief, consuming every minute of your day with an activity (regardless of whether it’s enjoyable or not) isn’t healthy and doesn’t feel like self-care. Your body is the best timekeeper you have. So you will know how much time to spend on this new venture.

Coming out of Covid — you don’t have to accept every party invitation for your kids’ happiness.

You’ve probably accepted a birthday invitation because your child wanted to go, but then you are dragging them around all weekend you haven’t taken care of yourself. 

Many teens want to stay in bed and play vids until noon, which isn’t always a bad idea — but you need help with the house cleaning and pick up so that you are refreshed to get back to work on Monday.

It’s all too common to look at the kid’s invitation with the party theme and be excited for them — but then you don’t get your weekend catch-up done, and maybe you should consider other priorities like extra sleep, lounging, downtime, or additional sleep.

You might want to pause before accepting invitations if your weekends are not relaxing and reenergizing but rather too busy.

You can wait until the day before the party to make a decision or even suggest writing a fabulous birthday card to your child instead of going to the party.

Time Management For Work-Life Balance

You need to have downtime as a working parent and good time management can help you schedule that downtime. But, when weekends are too busy, even with pleasant events such as birthday parties, you won’t have the opportunity (and need) to recharge your batteries — the batteries that will sustain you throughout your l.o.n.g week.

Sometimes, small incremental changes can lead to significant changes in your power and energy.

No one magic bullet will give you a lot of extra time, even for busy professionals.

Parents who work full-time will struggle to prioritize and make it all work. Therefore, it is essential to be thoughtful and intentional about how you spend your most valuable resource — time.

How Parents Should Spend Their Time With Kids Back in School

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How Parents Should Spend Their Time With Kids Back In School

A lot of parents really look forward to the first day of school. Not only do they support growth and learning, but it’s also nice to have the house to themselves for a few hours each day. Summer can get pretty hectic, and school hours provide a much-needed respite.

For stay-at-home parents, those school hours provide a lot of opportunities. The question is, how do you fill up those empty hours in your Calendar? Here are a few ways parents can make the most of the time the kids are away at school this upcoming scholastic year:

Reverse the Damage of Summer

First things first, staying on top of messes during the summer can be quite tricky. However, now that your kids will be spending most of the day at school, you have plenty of time to pick up the slack left in housekeeping. Just a few days of elbow grease should be all you need to reverse the majority of the damage left by summer festivities.

Sure, it’s helpful and even developmentally beneficial to have your kids pitch in with the cleaning, especially if they’re responsible for the mess. However, school can often be a stressful time, and you don’t want to overload them too much if they’re struggling during their first week. Besides, you work much more efficiently than they do anyways.

Prepare the Afternoons

When your kids get home from school, they are going to be tired from sitting all day in a classroom and participating in any after-school activities they’re enrolled in. They won’t always be super agreeable or cooperative, especially if a long day was equally difficult. Preparing the afternoons for them is a great parenting gesture that requires little effort but goes a long way.

For example, let’s say you know one of your sons is coming home from football practice, and your other son is stressed about an application for the Honor Society. Before they even walk through the door, they have everything they need set up. Layout a change of clothes and set up a study area. The little things like this you can do will pave the way for your children to succeed no matter what they do.

Do Some Meal Planning

If there is anything kids can do well, it’s eating and eating often. Of course, they’ll be expecting dinner to be made for them as they return home and some sack lunches to take on a day when the cafeteria is serving mystery meat. So to avoid kitchen burnout, use your time while everyone is at school to do some meal planning.

By planning out your weekly meals, you can do your grocery shopping more efficiently and even cut down on cooking time. Leftover dinner can provide lunch for all your kids the next day or even provide some meal variations for the entire week. If you’re deciding what to cook at three in the afternoon, you’re already behind.

Nothing will make meal prep as easy as an online calendar. List out the meals you want to try throughout the week and plan around your shopping trips. You can even coordinate with other families to share meals with some of your kids’ friends.

Enjoy the Alone Time

Let’s face it; you’ve earned some ‘me time’ and should start cashing it in. The extensive family time in the summer is incredible but admittedly exhausting. So kick up your feet for a spell and enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet after months of chaos.

Try to make your alone time a little productive or at least enjoyable. Opt for reading a book or picking up an old hobby before binge-watching the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy. If it helps, use your Calendar to intentionally plan solitary activities that will ensure the entire afternoon isn’t spent napping.

Improve Yourself

As an extension to that alone time, you can take a page out of your kids’ schoolbooks and look for some ways to improve yourself. For example, you can brush up on your math skills to help with homework, or even continue your own education using the plethora of online classes available through universities around the country.

Other ways to improve yourself include getting more exercise or maintaining your mental health. With kids out of the house, it will be much easier to fit in a long daily workout or book a Calendar appointment with a counselor or therapist.

Not sure what challenge you want to face? Check out the app store on your phone for some simple ideas. Some apps can teach you new languages, give you creative writing prompts, or even how to do basic coding.

Start a Side Hustle

Being a stay-at-home parent is both admirable and awe-inspiring. However, it can be noted that some of these parents sometimes don’t feel completely fulfilled when their kids spend long hours away from home. One way to fill up the time while providing for both the family and society as a whole is to start a side hustle.

Some side hustles are easy to get into, like downloading a food delivery or ridesharing app and picking up the odd job around town. Others require more creativity but can be more rewarding, like selling arts and crafts online. There’s really no limit to what you can do, from baked goods and homespun clothing to lawn care and painting.

Thanks to the magic of technology, it’s also easier than ever for stay-at-home parents to pick up a part-time job. In addition, working remotely opens up many more doors from employment with flexible schedules for even the parents with jam-packed Calendars.

Challenge yourself to do more with the time you’re being given this school year. Set goals using your Calendar and work alongside your children to become better people every single day.

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