Time Management for Families

June 28, 2010 at 7:11 AM 7 comments


Shara Lawrence-Weiss

One of the biggest challenges every family faces is Time Management. It’s easy to think that this gets worse with each generation but I’m not sure that’s the case.

Consider the parents who traveled by wagon across country. They didn’t have computers, kids in school, homework to grade or social media to attend to, true. However, they did have manual labor, home-schooling, gardening, animals to heal, water to locate for bathing, babies on the way while traveling 24/7 through rough terrain and so on.

Safe to say that Time Management has always been an issue for every family, in every generation.

Today our schedules play out something like one of these situations:

  • Get the kids up, eat breakast, drop to school, rush to work
  • Rush home to clean, organize, sort, get meals ready
  • Rush off to a volunteer shift
  • Care for the younger children, not yet in school
  • Drop the kids to day care and then rush to work
  • Kids to school, home to clean and take care of more kids, back to school, errands, sports, dinner, homework, family time, clean up, bed

For my husband and I, we are dealing with the following:

  • We both work from home
  • No sitter at the moment
  • Three kids to go between, feed, entertain and raise
  • A home to keep tidy
  • Meals to prepare
  • Volunteer shifts
  • Pets to care for
  • Local town events that we assist with
  • Three busy businesses to run
  • Social Media, article writing, emails to answer, calls to return
  • Websites to build and maintain
  • Traveling when needed for meetings, medical purposes, etc

It’s not easy and people often ask me how I manage my time. I’ve found that planning ahead usually renders the best results. If we discuss our week on Sunday evening or Monday morning, we can jot things down on paper in an attempt to organize our thoughts. My husband and I will ask each other, “What’s your biggest priority this week? Who needs your attention the most, work wise? What can I do to help you?” If one of us needs more time for work than the other we try to honor that and the slower-paced business steps back for a few hours or days, as needed. Ebb and Flow, if you will.

My advice for Time Management:

LISTS

Lists are a friend of mine and I often pull out pen and paper and write down what needs to be done, what our schedule looks like and what free time we can plan on for the park, library, eating out and so on. Some people enjoy using sites like Cozi, Google or Yahoo. I still prefer pen and paper – Old School style.

Take a Break

We all needs breaks. Don’t schedule your day (or your child’s day) so much that no free time can be found. Free time gives you the opportunity to think, dwell, reflect and self entertain. Grown-ups need that and so do children.

Free Time

Use your free time wisely. Think ahead about what free time your week will offer and how you might like to use it. Will you have a picnic? Go for dinner? Visit the zoo? Attend a play or musical? Walk the beach? Explore the woods? Watch a movie? Read a book? If you have limited free time you’ll want to make the most of what you’ve got.

Laughter

Everyone needs to laugh. It’s good for our health, sanity and it’s a great (free) way to relieve stress. After a nice long laugh you’ll find it easier to plan for your week or day without feeling so overwhelmed by the countless to-do lists.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Did you plan to get something done and it just slipped past you? Don’t dwell on that. Why waste energy on things you can’t un-do? What’s done is done. Say sorry to the person you forgot about (if that applies) and move on. We’re all busy and most moms/dads/business owners understand that everyone has bad days.

Be Content

One of the most effective ways to be happy is to be content in your current circumstances. If you can do that…you will always be happy! Even if you long to have a clean house (I long for this myself), remind yourself, “I have kids who are happy, healthy and playful. They want to explore and learn new things. This is GOOD. This is what I WANT. It gets in the way of managing my time, yes, but would I want things any other way? No. There will come a day when the kids are all gone and then I’ll have more time to myself…and I’ll miss them being around making those messes. The house will go quiet and I’ll long for the days of noise and commotion.”

Every family has its’ seasons and each one will come with new and challenging Time Management issues.

Take each season as it comes along, embrace it, and do what you can to work within the chaos and calm.

In one line, my personal Time Management Strategy is as follows: Battle through the storms and plan during the calm.

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