How do you manage time with your kids? Do you have a system for staying organized? How do you keep track of appointments? Do you jot down important dates?
Or do you rely on your memory? Are you spontaneous like my husband? Do you like to go with the flow? Is the day often gone and you haven’t gotten much done?
Having a system for managing your time and staying organized will help decrease your stress as a parent. Time management for busy parents is a must if you want to keep your stress and anxiety levels at bay. Even if you are a free spirit and like to do things spontaneously, it helps to have a method for controlling chaos.
In this post, I’ll go over:
- The importance of time management
- How to become better at managing your time
- Tips for managing your time
- Ways to easily become better at time management
The Importance of Time Management
I always knew time management was important. It was repeated over and over to me as a child growing up. “You need to manage your time or you’ll never get anything done.” I thought I was decent at managing my time before I had kids. Not until I had two toddlers, I realized how important it was to manage my time wisely otherwise the day could easily slip by.
The day can go by quickly when you’re feeding, changing, and chasing after two little toddlers. Before you know it, the day is done and you haven’t gotten anything done. That’s why it’s important to manage your time wisely.
You want to manage your time well so that you can be productive, have less stress, and have more free time to do what you love. You want to spend quality time with your kids and partner and also have time for yourself. If you’re letting time slip by throughout the day, you’re left with no time at the end of the day to do anything for yourself.
How to Become Better at Managing Time
With all lifestyle changes and habits, it will take commitment and time. You will have to stay committed to wanting to make a change. And you will have to make small incremental changes. You could go all in and use all the time management tips I provide or you could just take it one step at a time.
The benefit of taking it one step at a time is that you don’t get too overwhelmed all at once. To make a habit stick and to make it work, you want to slowly ease your way into it.
Time Management Tips for Parents
Jot Down Appointments and Events on a Calendar
Calendars are a great way to keep track of your monthly and weekly events. There are many different types of calendars that you can use to fit your lifestyle and aesthetic.
There are magnetic calendars that can hang on the refrigerator so that it’s easy for you and everyone to see. Monthly wall calendars are another option that can be hung in an easily viewable place. There are whiteboard calendars that are easy to wipe clean when you’re done with them at the end of the month. Or you can use a good old-fashioned paper calendar with different images for each month.
If you’re a tech-savvy person, there are calendar apps that you can download on your mobile devices such as Google Calendar and Cozi Family Organizer. These mobile apps can be synced with your husband and kids so that everyone is updated on events and appointments. You can also share grocery lists to make shopping easier and also have reminders sent to everyone before a big event.
Calendars are a must for keeping track of your family’s events, appointments, practices, and life’s busyness. Whether it’s a good old-fashioned wall calendar, an easy-to-read magnetic one, or an electronic one, a calendar will help manage your time as a family.
Write a Weekly and Daily To-Do List
To-do lists are necessary to keep track of everything that needs to get done. Write a to-do list at the beginning of the week and the start of your day. This will give you a visualization of what needs to get done. You can see everything that needs to get done and group similar items together.
For example, if you need to go grocery shopping, return library books, and pick up something from your Amazon locker, you can designate an afternoon to do all of your errands. Instead of making three separate trips at different times throughout the week, you can allocate a date to do everything together.
This can also work for getting chores done throughout the house. See what chores can be done together at the same time. Can you wash your clothes while preparing dinner? Can you clean the kitchen while letting the Roomba vacuum the living room? Group similar tasks together so they can be completed at the same time for efficiency.
Color Coordinate Important Events
When you’re writing down important events and appointments on your calendar, color coordinate them using a highlighter or different colored pens. Important events that cannot be missed such as doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, and car tune-ups can be written down in red.
Work meetings can be written in regular black ink. Boy’s sporting events can be written or highlighted in blue. Girls’ gymnastics practice can be written in pink. Date nights can be circled with a heart in purple.
The reasons why you want to color coordinate your calendar and to-do list are:
- It makes your calendar easy to read at a glance
- It’s aesthetically pleasing for you to look at
- It’s fun color-coordinating your calendar
- You can decorate it with stickers and simple drawings
A good calendar should have a balance of different scheduled activities. That means that everyone has a little bit of something going on. A well-balanced calendar should also have dates scheduled for family nights and date nights. Everyone in the family should receive attention.
Set a Consistent Routine
Routines are wonderful. I love routines.
Do you know why I love routines?
They set you up for success.
Routines are great because they are a consistent and organized system for getting things done. It doesn’t matter if it’s your professional or personal life. A good routine will allow you to mindlessly auto-pilot through the non-important stuff so that you can use your brain power and creativity for more important things.
You probably have a morning routine for starting your day such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and having a light breakfast with your coffee. Or an evening routine where you unwind and relax at night. A good routine will allow you to be productive, have time to practice self-care, and also relax.
Creating a weekly routine for your home will help you get the most important things done at home. You may want to create a weekly cleaning routine where you designate certain days to do laundry, clean the bathroom, and clear out the fridge. If you know those days are reserved for cleaning, you know which days will be “free” for family events and going out.
You could also schedule one day out of the week which is family night. You won’t do anything that evening except spend time together. It can be spent inside the home or going out for dinner. It can also be a spontaneous family night where you decide on a whim what to do. The point is that you schedule your “on the whim” night.
Prioritize What is Most Important
You need to prioritize what’s most important and what’s not. When you prioritize what is important, it will make it easier to say no to things that are not important. If your kid’s school is asking you to volunteer for another bake sale but you’re busy with soccer practice and other family obligations, you can politely decline.
There is only so much time in a day and in a week. You cannot be everywhere all at once. You need to prioritize what gets your time and attention otherwise you will spread yourself thin.
Learn the Art of Saying No
Being a people pleaser, this was a hard lesson for me to learn. I always felt bad saying no or turning down events. But after I had kids, I learned that I had to advocate for them and that often meant saying no to playdates that would cut into their nap times or turning down family parties that would cut into their sleep.
Learning to say no is also a form of self-respect and self-care. There will be moments when you will need to politely turn down an event or opportunity because you simply cannot be there. That’s okay. There will always be another opportunity.
When I was younger, I always felt bad for saying no. I never wanted to miss out on a party or a social gathering. Times have changed and I value my time in solitude more. Learning to say no will allow you to have a balance of social and solidary time.
Learning to say no may take some time and practice. You don’t need to feel bad for saying no. I’m sure the other person that you’re turning down will hardly feel bad. They probably won’t even give it a second thought so don’t beat yourself up for putting yourself first.
Keep Your Home Organized
Keeping your home organized will help you remember where everything is so that you don’t waste time looking for misplaced items. Every item in the home should also have a home.
House and car keys should have a designated place where they are placed every time you’re at home. Keys should not be misplaced in random areas of the house. If you place them in random areas of the house and forget where they are, you could lose valuable time searching for them when you need them to get ready to leave the house. This could cause you to be late and rush out feeling anxious.
Sweaters, jackets, and shoes should also have a designated location where they stay- preferably near the door. It will be easy to put on shoes before leaving the house and take them off when you get home. Kids should also have a designated area for their toys such as in a toy box or playpen. Important paperwork should be filed away in an area that is easily accessible when you need them.
Clean as You Go
Clean the house throughout the day. Pick up random toys that are laying around on the floor and place them back where they belong. Wash the dishes throughout the day instead of letting them pile up in the sink. Wipe down spills immediately.
Cleaning as you go throughout the day will help to prevent a massive pile of items that need to be put away at the end of the day. It will also feel less overwhelming to clean in the evenings.
If you get into the habit of picking up little things here and there, you will do it automatically. You won’t let things pile up and feel overwhelmed afterward. This can also help reduce stress and anxiety in the evenings and can give you more time for a self-care evening routine.
Work With a Sense of Urgency
If you were to watch how I work in the evening, you will notice that I most certainly have a sense of urgency when I do things. I’m almost always in a hurry to get things done. I’m not casually washing the dishes or leisurely wiping down the kitchen counters.
As I’m wiping the kitchen counters down, I’m also scouring the living room and play area to see what needs to be put away next. I’m working quickly to get the task at hand done and I’m thinking about my next task that needs to be completed. There is a constant cleaning checklist that is going off in my head and I’m working hard to check it off as I go along.
Work quickly to get things done. The quicker you work to get things done, the sooner you finish everything and can relax. You can move on to doing something else or just retire for the night.
Make Use of Waiting Time
We spend a lot of time waiting throughout our day. There’s time spent waiting in traffic, commuting on the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting to clock back into work after you’re done eating lunch, and waiting for food to warm up in the microwave.
What do you do when you’re waiting? Do you tidy up the space around you? Do you listen to a good audiobook or motivational podcast?
Or do you scroll through your phone on social media? Do you stare off into the distant abyss? Do you daydream of your next vacation?
If you add up all of the small increments of waiting time together, you’d be surprised that it could equate to over an hour of productive time that could be put to use. When you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in your car, you can listen to an audiobook and learn something new. Or you can listen to some guided meditation to help reduce stress and anxiety.
When you wait at the doctor’s office or return back to work from lunch, you can use that time to respond to emails, send thank you cards, or review bills for the month. When you’re at home and waiting for food to finish warming up in the microwave or cooking on the stove, you can start washing some of the dirty dishes or wiping down the kitchen counter. Clean as you go.
Be productive and mindful of the time when you’re waiting. If you spend 10 minutes here responding to emails and 15 minutes there going over bills, it gradually gets done. Breaking up tasks into little chunks of time throughout the day will make it less overwhelming and you’ll get things done a little at a time. You will be surprised by what you can accomplish in 10-15-minute increments.
Tune Out of Social Media Until You’re Officially Done
Social media and chatting with friends are great for connecting with loved ones and friends. However, it can also be a total time stealer and energy drainer.
How many times have you logged into Instagram and said I’ll check my messages for two minutes really quick? But do those two minutes turn into 30 minutes or an hour later?
By the time that you look up from your phone, you’ve spent an hour mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, watching other people’s stories, and rewatching a new chicken bake recipe. That was an hour that could have easily been spent doing something else productive.
Don’t turn to your phone and open your social media apps every time you’re bored. It can easily go from two minutes of relaxing time to 50 minutes of wasted time. You could’ve spent that time preparing dinner or cleaning out your closet.
If you do have a habit of spending too much time on social media, you can set an alarm or time limit on your phone. It will notify you when you’ve reached your daily max limit and will log you out of the app.
If that still doesn’t work, you can completely delete the app until you’re done for the day. You will just need to redownload the app from the app store to use it again at the end of the day. The inconvenience of not having the app readily available for you to log into may deter you from using it and you may go do something else with your time.
Learn to Time Manage a Little At a Time
Learning to time manage and stay organized is an important life skill. It will help to manage your personal and professional life easier. As you continue to work on managing your time, you can also teach your kids the importance of time management.
Start by getting a planner with a to-do list and a cute set of pens. Put it up where it’s easy for you to see. And then designate a time each week where you make your plans and to-do list for the week. Prioritize what’s important and schedule a free family day where you can do something spontaneous. The point is that it’s a scheduled event and you are making time for it. You will notice that you will be able to get a lot more done with a routine set in place and a schedule for getting things done.