If you are working and have children, be assured that you’re part of a growing majority. With nuclear families on the rise, almost each family has both parents working hard to bring in the bread and butter; not to mention striving for a sustained lifestyle, saving up for their retirement and children’s education. Juggling the priorities of a work life and raising children can seem a daunting task for many of us. However, when you sit down to think about it, you will realize that there are ways to ease the pressure we all face by doing some planning, delegating and some optimizing.
Make a list of chores that do not need your expertise. Prioritize them based on your motivation to do it, your children’s preferences and other constraints. Narrow it down to broad categories like the below:
- Chores you can delegate to others.
- Activities that are emotionally or monetarily rewarding to either you or your family.
It is very important that you make your peace with the fact that you can’t do everything. This is why prioritizing your tasks is crucial to stay sane in the mad rush.
CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES
All of us would like to do everything for our kids, even to the point where it drives us crazy. But let’s face an important fact. Your children would appreciate your ability to give them a good standard of life in the long run than whether or not you ironed their clothes every morning for twenty years. Once you set this perspective right, the word ‘choice’ takes on a very empowering meaning.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Delegate tasks at work or at home if they can be handled just as right by someone else. Remember that your time is better spent in activities that are important for you and your child.
If something is important and ought to be remembered, calendar it. It doesn’t mean you are forgetful or growing old. It simply means you know what you should burden your mind with and what you can take the help of a gadget for. And when the reminders start buzzing, remember that the snooze buttons do not exist for parents!
Always stockpile medicines, warm clothes, and quick food. Imagine shopping for any of these three with an irate child hanging on your arm with a deadline looming over your shoulder.
Whether it is a meal the next day, or school post the weekend, make sure you plan ahead. Make a weekly calendar of the family’s meals and finish your grocery shopping in advance.
When you are in the thick of things, making decisions can drain you– what to wear in the morning or what kind of lunch to fix for the family. Drained mental energy can end up making you feel physically exhausted. Decision fatigue is one of the main reasons planning becomes crucial for busy souls like parents.
Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will. When there are children in the picture, there are bound to be surprises. The day you dress up and leave for a family wedding will be the very day that your toddler decides to throw up on their outfit en route the venue. So always keep a change of clothes stashed in your car, or other frequently visited places like your mom’s. Also, carry medicines even if you are away for just a night. Trust us, they always come handy!
Every day, you will go through something that will make you wonder why you hadn’t thought about it before. Keep a notepad on your phone or in your bag to note such things down. Try to look at it from time to time to cover such eventualities in your planning activity. As a parent, you will realize that the days do not go as planned but have a way of jumping off the course you have charted. This iterative learning keeps your planning measures grounded to reality as against wishful thinking.
FIND WAYS TO DO THINGS FASTER
You may have slow cooker recipes that your grandmother handed down to you that need roasting of the vegetables for a couple of hours. Save those take-your-own-time recipes for occasions. Try to find ways to finish things faster on a day to day basis. The best way to find out new ways to do something faster is to take some time talking to others who are in your shoes. You will be surprised how many tricks you will end up learning. Some common ideas are:
- Pay bills online
- Auto-debit wherever possible
- Shop online
- Stock up on things based on usage and restock when over
THE BEST TIME IS NOW
If you have time, finish whatever chores you can do. You never know when an emergency may strike. The mantra is that the best time to get anything done is the present.
The idea is— if you squeeze yourself to do something at the last minute, you brace yourself for a situation where you have some other pressing emergency which needs your immediate attention. This calls for a state of mind where you realize that the best time to get things done is when you have the time to do them.
DEAL WITH GUILT
Many parents run pillar to post to make ends meet and provide a comfortable life for their families. However, they do not take some time to understand why they do what they do. Instead, they are ridden with guilt over how much they have to stay away from their children.
Try to take your decisions logically and stick to them. Be gentle with yourself as it is important for you to be a peace with yourself to parent a pint sized person who looks up to you for everything.
STICK TO A PATTERN
Once you decide what your priorities are and what tasks you plan to delegate, set a schedule for yourself and your family. Stick to this schedule as much as possible. Children adapt to almost anything very quickly. However, it is important to provide consistency and stability to their life by sticking to a schedule. This will help them adapt better as they know what to expect and this gives them a lot of security.
COMMUNICATE TO THEM
When you spend quality time with your children, try to help them understand what your motivations are to do what you are doing. Your motivation doesn’t have to be altruistic in nature. Children learn the art of self-assurance, time management and self-love from parents who know what they want in life and set an example of how to go about achieving it.
BUILD A SUPPORT SYSTEM AROUND YOU
We are all social animals and are part of a huge network that is all the richer for its sheer number. You will be surprised how many other parents out there have the same trials and tribulations as you do. Reach out to like-minded people and form your own network. This will in time be a support system you can contribute to as well as benefit from in the long run,especially during emergencies.
But remember this. You can do all this and still feel like you are gasping for air from time to time. This is when you have to remember to be very gentle with yourself. Putting the needs of someone elsebe it your child or your family above your own is a commendable job and every day you choose to do so is a day that you deserve a pat on the back.
In the humdrum of daily life, do not miss out on the day your daughter jumps in glee just because the sun is a red ball in the western sky. These are the days that make the madness worth enduring. So learn to savor this and recharge your batteries from time to time with a liberal dose of infectious laughter, sunny smiles, and warm memories.
Are you a busy parent? Share with us your unique tips and advice that help you be a better parent every day, in the comment section below.