Managing school schedules, music lessons, sports teams, church activities, playtime, meal time, bath time, bedtime, homework and after-school jobs is hard enough to do with multiple children in a two-parent household. It's even more daunting when all this responsibility falls on the shoulders of one person instead of two.
Here’s a revelation — you don’t have to be running everywhere and doing everything to be a successful and “good” parent. Most parents would agree that they’re not even entirely sure what those two adjectives mean.
There’s no manual or how-to or best-practices guide to parenting. It’s simply a lesson in learning what you can, and then making it up as you go along as life lifts its totally unpredictable head.
But the below time management tips will help with all the responsibilities that come with single parenting.
Time Management Tip #1: Master Multi-tasking
Multi-tasking doesn’t mean carrying a bunch of things from one room to the other with the intent of putting them away and then getting sidetracked with all the other things you discover need to be done in each room.
• doing a little gardening while the kids are playing outside
• cleaning the bathroom during bath time (great time for laundry too if your laundry room and bathroom are close together)
• Coordinating homework time at the kitchen table while you tidy up
Time Management Tip #2: An Earlier Start Means an Easier Start
Waking up just 20 minutes before your children do will give you a bit of take-care-of-me time before being thrust into the taking-care-of-kids time. If you feel more ready for the day, instead of just being thrust into it when someone jumps on you in the morning, you will fell less stressed and more capable of taking on the challenges of life.
Use that extra 20 minutes for a shower, quick tidy up, breakfast planning, reading, meditation and prayer, putting on a load of laundry—whatever you need to help get your day started.
Time Management Tip #3: Ask for Help
This may seem like a no-brainer, but, next to learning to say no, it can be the toughest one for single parents. Bring in a housekeeper or nanny or dog walker. Having those chores taken care of can relieve a lot of stress from your shoulders and mind, and leave you more emotionally available to look after your kids.
Time Management Tip #4: Prepare Before
Use the beginning of the week and the evenings to prepare clothes and meals for the rest of the week and the next day. Doing these things ahead of time will not only save you time in the morning, but will also reduce the stress mornings tend to bring. So…
• Make all the sandwiches, wraps ... whatever ... for the week. Cut all carrots and celery sticks so they’re ready to pick and pack — and ready to munch! Place other Tupperware-worthy foodstuffs in their containers for easy packing.
• Instead of putting laundry away in the drawers, create outfits for the week and set them out for quick and easy access in the morning.
• Plan your meal menu.
• Review your schedule for the week.
• Put your keys, backpacks, laptop case, etc., by the front door.
Time Management Tip #5: Learn to say “No”
Allison Schwartz, life coach and time-management expert at AlliumCoaching.com says, “Single parents often feel guilty and end up trying to give their child everything, like it’s their birthday all the time ... But it’s OK to limit the number of activities a child participates in.” (4)
Not only does overscheduling stress out a single parent, it also stresses out the kids and coupled with homework responsibilities, may overwhelm everyone. You all need down time, too — time where there’s no responsibilities or stress or running, time just to relax. This is particularly true if you have children with special needs who need more downtime than neurotypical children.
• Try to limit your after school evening activities so that you’re not out every night (for our family it’s no more than one night out a week).
• Choose activities that your child is genuinely interested in and has fun doing. If your child ultimately decides that activity is not for him/her, then don’t force the issue.
1) Time-saving tips for single moms. Rose, Jacinta. SheKnowsCanada. Web. Aug 15, 2013.
2) Time Management Tips for the Single Mom. MoneySavingMom. Web. Aug 15, 2013.
3) 10 Sanity and time-saving tips for moms on the go. Ellis, Kori. SheKnows Parenting. Web. Aug 15, 2013.
4) Time-Management Tips for Single Parents. Hashe, Janis. Parenthood.com. Web. Aug 15, 2013.
Reviewed August 15, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith