GOAL: To manage our time effectively so that all of the things that are a priority in our lives are happening in a non-stressful way on a daily basis. By Bobbi Reed
Time is a very difficult thing to manage, especially as a single parent. You are most likely working outside the home, doing a 2-parent role inside your home, while still trying to have a few minutes to recharge yourself every day. There are only so many hours in the day and you must get sufficient rest each day. Many single parents do not adjust their time each day and try to do as much as dual-parent homes. Also, you have to factor in that your children will be gone approximately 50% of the time at their dad’s home if they are in the picture.
The first thing that you should do is sit down and write a list of your priorities in your home with you and your kids. What are the things that MUST be done? What are the things that you would like to do if you had the time, and if you did them would they put you in a stressed environment? What are the things that you absolutely don’t have to do? IF your children are young, you will be deciding these things for them. If they are older, make sure to get their input. Talk to some other single mothers that you trust and see what their must-dos, like-to-dos and don’t-have-to-dos are.
After making these lists, study them. Do you feel tired looking at them? Well, that makes sense. Written on the paper is a visual representation of everything you are attempting to do. Now you can understand why most days you feel so much pressure. Like everything in life, if you make a plan and set goals, you will be in better control of your time and your energy.
Now that you have this list, study it and figure out some things you can say no to. Circle the things that you feel you have to do. These can be regular activities that keep your household running well, as well as keep your children healthy; mentally and physically. The next step is to learn to say no! You must limit the amount of activities your family is involved in. In addition, if you are used to saying yes to everything and then trying to figure it out later, STOP! Learn what will fit into your family’s schedule and what won’t. Once you say no to something, move on. Do not think about it later, or contemplate how you can fit it in. Once you decide it won’t fit into your families schedule, say no and move on.
In figuring out what works for your family in time management, you must also think about you and your kid’s personalities. Are your kids able to go from activity to activity or do they need some rest time? Are you able to continue to go from activity to activity? You must remember that as the adult and the one in charge, that you must take pauses during the day to rest and recharge. When you are raising multiple children and constantly on the go all day long, it is easy to forget this. You are not going to be functioning well on a low reserve. There must be times in your day for a few minutes to sit still, pray, read the Word or whatever it takes for you to recharge.
One thing that is also factored in are what outside activities can be done by you and your kids, depending on your finances. If you don’t have extra money for your children to participate in sports or other outside activities after school, then you will have to limit those. If you do have the funds, still try to limit their outside activities/sports to one per semester. That will keep it manageable and they will be more thoughtful of which one they want to choose.
Another factor in time management is which activities are going to build good character and self-esteem. You want your children to grow up to be great citizens and to feel good about themselves. Be careful not to compete with any other family! This will not work and it will only stress yourselves out more. Know what is great for your children and your family, and work on those things. Live your lives to the fullest, and don’t try to live someone else’s life.
The most important activities are those that are done as a family! Being present in the home with your children is what they will remember. Try to make sure that you sit down for dinner as many nights as possible. It is a time that everyone in the family knows that they will see each other, get to visit, and share what was important in their day. This sharing will build that self-esteem along with family unity. You are a team, and many times it will feel as if it is you against the world. Building that trust in your relationships, and letting the children know they can always come to you as their parent, is priceless!
Another thing besides dinner time that can build a solid foundation for your family, is helping others. Find activities once in a while, especially during the holiday season to help others. Do these activities as a family. There are some very valuable lessons to be taught during this time along with it giving you more family bonding time. It is important to teach your children that no matter what little time or money they think they have, there is always someone who is much worse off. The concept of paying it forward is an important one to teach to your children. Being grateful and content in what we have as a family is a key lesson for them to learn too.
The key to having a great family unit is closeness, building self-esteem, learning and guiding them as they grow up. What is said teaches them a lot, but what is done teaches them even more. They watch very closely how we act around others, how we treat others, and what is important to us by our actions. One of my life-long sayings states, “Action speaks louder than words”. You can say things all day long, but what are you actually doing teaches your children what is most important to you. What are you spending your time on each and every day? What are you showing your children that is important to you by your actions?
Showing them love, discipline and taking the time to spend it with them will let them know how you really feel about them. I get it, we all are so busy, especially if we work outside the home. Your presence means so much more than the things you can give to them. Don’t substitute gifts for time. Sure, shiny objects excite them, but they will tire of them. They will never tire of the time that you spend together; sharing time and activities. What you may lack in money you can make up with time. Do crafts, games and take walks. These are all things that don’t cost much money but will show them you are choosing to make them your priority.
Take the time to build the foundation in your family. When the storms come; and they will; you have built a strong foundation with get through them together. The relationships that are built are the most important and what they will remember. The activities in their lives they will remember most are those that you took time to be together. No matter what happens outside of your home, it will not rob them of their self-esteem and high self-worth because of the foundation that you have built for them. When they have troubles, they will come to their family to help solve them.
Never lose sight of your long-term goals for your family. No matter what happens in this crazy thing we call life, continue to build your family and lead them towards the goals you want. Many things can side-track us, but don’t let them. Make sure that your time management reflects what those goals are. There will have to be some adjustments along the way, some times re-thinking your yes’ and nos, but in the long run, stay the course. It will definitely pay off in the end.
- What is important for you to get done every day? Make a list?
- Do you have enough hours in a day to do all these things on your list? If not, divide the list up into priorities.
- Do you say “yes” to too many things”? List your “yes’” in order of importance to your life.
- In your busyness of your day, are you allowing some quality time for your family?
- What do your kids like to do as a family? Are you incorporating these into your times together each week? Are you also considering their personalities when planning these activities?
- Are you making sure that you have a few minutes a few times a day for you to be alone, recharge and do some deep breathing.
- Are you keeping lists of things that need to be done, and checking it regularly.
- What are some things that you are currently saying “yes” to that you could say “no” to because they don’t align with your family’s priorities and time allotments.
- Are you giving gifts to your children out of guilt because you are not spending enough quality time with them on a regular basis?
- Are you allowing yourself to set goals, and putting them into your daily time management?
- Are you feeling very overwhelmed and stressed at the end of the day? What can you do to manage your time more wisely?
- Have you researched resources that can help you to manage your time and refocus on your most important priorities?
- Find some resources that can help you to prioritize what is important in your life.
- Set up a schedule for the most important things you need to do every day. Allow time for pauses/breaks to recharge.
- Set up monthly meetings with the family to re-prioritize or come up with new ideas.
- Make sure you are getting equal amounts of business, family and fun things done.
- Reassess frequently your “yeses” and your “nos” so that you can make best use of your time while staying true to your priorities.