Time is known to slip away so fast you can only shrug your shoulders: I did intend to spend some quality time together with my family, but… Nevertheless, although time waits for no-one, there are tricks you can play on it to make it serve your purposes.
Needless to say, work, the necessity of cooking and doing laundry all take up bundles of time, so the things you do for your family prevent your being with the family. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house work takes about as much time with men as with women, proving that both parents are usually up to their shoulders in chores. You can’t very well forgo all of them, it’s just that you don’t need to feel as if you had shackles on your hands and feet. There are ways to combine happily your obligations and your desire to allot more of your time to those you love.
Go through this week’s to-do list
Pick up your sheet with the to-do list and consider the entries: they can be categorized under headings Do, Don’t and Delegate. First of all, there are entries which you would like to do, but in your heart of hearts know that you won’t get round to them. Do they have to stay? Pause for a moment and ponder what the outcome may be if you fail to do them. There are things we do moved by habit only, or a sense of guilt – why don’t you move these items under Don’t? The tasks you can ask other people to do for you can be moved under Delegate – your husband, neighbor or babysitter could probably help you out. Then deal with Do – draw a smiling face against things you like to do, draw a dollar sign against points that bring or save you money, and a clock face if the chore may save some time later as a reminder why you think these tasks are important.
Make better use of your resources
Think how you can use whatever help you can get to the full. See if the babysitter can help with cooking, put the toys in order, bring in extra diapers. Can you arrange for a laundry service or have diapers delivered to your doorstep? Can your dry cleaner collect clothes and deliver them? Plan your drive-outs so that you can visit more places at one time. There is sure to be someone who can help you, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. You know what must be done, issue specific orders so that your helper understands clearly what they are called upon to do. Try not to overwork them and make sure they understand how much you appreciate their assistance: why not invite them to dinner on a convenient day?
Call the children in
Certainly you can do things much faster and better than your preschool kid, yet the idea to rope kids in is highly advantageous. This way you teach them household skills as well as strengthen the bond between you. You’re actually teaching the child to be a helper and become more independent. There are things a small kid can do, like put away his toys. You can arrange a competition and take him on to clear the floor of toys faster than you can do it, or compose a song to be sung when you set to work together.
Find out what makes you lose time
Are you in the habit of mislaying things and afterwards go looking for them all over your place? Find a way to get the precious time back by setting up a system of placing things that could be lost at designated spots. Put up hooks for the keys near the front door. Get stands for smartphones. Set places where clean clothes can be found and places where spoiled clothes will be disposed of. Attach names of all family members to baskets where small things like gloves or rain boots can be kept. By checking these designated places before you go to bed you make sure you won’t be getting stressed the following morning because of misplaced items. Get up a little earlier and check your emails before the kids wake up or stay up after they have fallen asleep to answer your mails and call back people whose calls you failed to take.
See how your job can help
If you step on the gas at work, it can result in more free time at home. It’s time to rearrange your work schedule (or try to): maybe your boss will allow you to come in later or leave earlier, or even work from home on some days enabling you to save commute time. A good idea is to have a talk with your co-workers and/or with someone at Human Resources to learn what suggestions would be the most appropriate ones. If you have to travel a lot, cast about for means to reduce traveling – somebody could stand in for you, you could travel alternating the trips with a colleague of yours, or you could settle the matters employing Skype or conference calls. At the end of meetings make sure of the following steps to avoid checking them later via emails or calls.
Let technology work for you
The city’s and the kids’ school’s information may hold important cues for you, so sign up for them to learn about alerts and get important messages on your phone or in the mail. Make your plans accordingly. Visit shopping sites that sell all kinds of stuff thereby saving money and time ( like Diapers.com or Soap.com). You can use your smartphone calendar for a more effective scheduling – it will allow you to schedule well in advance, avoid overscheduling, get instantly reminded about business trips and school events, and learn at a glance when you are going to have time for yourself. There is an app that allows you to sync your calendar with those of other people in your family.
Cook food to be used later
When you are preparing food, think about how you can put some of it away to be used on the next day or in a few days. Double up dishes so you can have the same kind of supper in two or three days; prepare more vegetables which you can turn into a different kind of salad the following evening; use leftovers from dinner for morning sandwiches. Get a list of recipes that are easy on your time and efforts. Let your freezer be stuffed with vegetables and fruit that will save you a lot of time and hassle and won’t have you running to the grocery for one extra bit of food. Keep frozen lasagnas or pizzas for the evenings when you will be flooded with work or otherwise unable to go out for food or meals – and pick those with more veggies for healthier nutrition.
Keep your priorities in mind
If you find yourself tied up for time, it often means you are trying hard to make a perfect mom. A super mother who keeps her work and home life in perfect balance is only an exemplary image that never existed in real life. Instead of going out of your way to attain the impossible, stay focused on your own priorities. They are your essential characteristics, helping you deal with the stress and make yourself happy. You like to have a spotless order in the kitchen? Get the kids to help you with cleaning it up and enjoy the result. Or you can get engaged in cooking instead, choosing a recipe that your little ones can help you with. Don’t go about wearing a frown because you will have to do something that you hate – think and change the chore round to fit your lifestyle. You should do what you feel is important, not what you think is important. Create and uphold a life that is your own.
Set up your own family traditions
You want to be with your family, arrange for it without waiting for the weekend or vacations. Get your family around you for an evening of games on Friday, for a spot of work in the garden in late afternoon, do shopping together or set a day when you dine out, so that everyone in your family remembers about the event, looks forward to it and schedules their time accordingly. Let your family members know that it’s family time, that they should honor it and get together just for being a family. Put aside your computers and phones, switch off the TV set and have fun talking and bonding. This is how you will grow to appreciate life and living together more and more with each family traditional event.