TRYING to fit in your needs, your children’s needs, work and all the day to day jobs we all love to hate can be exhausting.
There is a saying that goes “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” And who is busier than a working parent?
However, there is a difference between being busy and being frantic. If you’re struggling to find time to enjoy your children who, after all, are the most important thing in your life, then a little reorganising wouldn’t go amiss.
If you want to find more quality time in a day for your family, try some of the following ideas:
» Use a weekly planner. This may sound basic but many people forget to plan out their week in relationship to their children. When notes come home from school with activities that you are required to attend, block them out as you would a meeting. Set aside family time in your diary before anything else.
Create regular family moments. There are many planners that fit the needs of a family. Marking in your family’s different outings and activities also helps to manage their time better. Consider placing it all on the computer and printing out mini schedules for each family member every week so everyone knows who is picking up and dropping off each other over the week.
» Make your child responsible for his own schedule. This can often start earlier than you think. My six-year-old and eight-year-old are responsible for checking which days are their swimming, library, or other activity days and to ensure that they have the right equipment or materials for each.
They have also been taught how to pack an overnight bag by themselves and are completely responsible for the contents of their school bags.
On top of this, they are responsible for getting the three-year-old ready in the morning. This has all contributed to giving me more time to arrange other tasks.
» Get a whiteboard. If your family is often scattered all over the place, a whiteboard can be used as an in/out message board. The trick is everyone in the family needs to use it.
This is a great place for teens to put a contact number of where they’ll be, and it’s a good practice for when they are working in a company and need to be accountable for where they are and estimate when they’ll be home. It’s a good place to leave communal messages as well.
» If you find that there is just too much going on, try an online programme for important dates such as www.rememberthemilk.com. This programme helps you plug in all those important dates and events – and then reminds you about them.
It’s a virtual to-do list and its very user friendly.
» Outsource the awful bits. You know you can. In fact it’s great for the economy. Write down your five most hated jobs and find someone else to do them.
The energy we expend from avoiding our most disliked jobs is best used doing things we love. Get a cleaner, or find someone to do some of your administrative duties. Reduce your stress, and not only will your productivity increase, but your family will have a happier you.
» Reevaluate your own priorities. If you’ve done everything you can and are still struggling to find any family time, then take a look at the long term cost of your current lifestyle.
It’s no use being absent in your children’s lives so they can have material possessions or a slightly more expensive school. Children thrive best in a family where their parents have time to talk to them.
In fact, having fewer possessions often just creates a hunger for them to succeed – as everything isn’t handed to them automatically. Your decision to spend more time with your children is a lasting investment in their lives.
Rachel Goodchild is a presenter and writer specialising in relationships of every concoction from family to dating. Her book Eighty Eight Dates was released by Penguin in Feb 2009, and she is currently appearing on TV3 in New Zealand for “Rachel Goodchild’s Good Advice”