By Mutryce A. Williams
In polling mothers, I asked, “What do you wish you had more of?” The answer was almost unanimous, TIME. One mother I would call Ann put it best, “If I could have one wish, it would be to have a stop clock. I would press it and everything would freeze. There would be no children making demands or squabbling, as I am trying to get things done. I could make the house spotless, cook a meal, do the laundry, and run errands. I would also find some time to take care of myself and go get my hair done. I could be that lady in the IKEA advertisement, who has it all together and still manage to look chic. I could be everything to everyone, and be it tremendously and superbly.”
Now more than ever, mothers are what I term “time poor,” exhausted, and overwhelmed. Running around in circles like chickens with their heads chopped off, moving from one task to the next, and juggling or “multitasking” as best as they know how to, and some are even running on empty because there is no time to refuel.
As we have moved to a more independent or individualistic society mothers are finding themselves in a position where they are faced with having to do it all. They have to ensure that the home environment is immaculate for their families. They have to ensure that their children are clean, clothed and properly nourished. They have to ensure that each child receives his or her individual attention, feels nurtured and loved, and most importantly that he is or she is being sculpted into a proper and responsible human-being.
Mothers have to worry about shelter, finances, job security, and getting ahead so that they may be in a better position to provide for their families. They have to deal with finding the appropriate care, education and development activities for their children. They have to worry about all of the other commitments that are vying for their time. They have to worry about whether or not they are doing a good job as a parent, partner, sister, daughter and friend.
The remarkably amazing thing is that there are only 24 hours in the day in which they have to accomplish most of these tasks or be all these things. In these cases what are mothers to do, especially single working mothers? I have heard many remark, that this is nothing new that mothers have been dealing with these issues for eons, so why the fuss?
Although this may be true, I can say that an important dynamic has shifted or is shifting in our culture as, gone are the days when the village or even the extended family literally helped in raising the child. In many cases there are no grandmothers, aunts or fathers who would assist in alleviating some of the burdens of parenthood, and because we are so protective of our children as the frightening statistics show that children are more than likely abused by someone who is known or intimate to the family circle there is this added guard of not letting our children out of our sights.
Leaving our children with a neighbour or relative is often not an option. Additionally even if family lives close by, because everyone is preoccupied with has his or her own priorities, one would not want to impose. Gone are the days when many grandmothers would revel in having their grandchildren around, bouncing on their laps. Many grandmothers are still quite young, and some are quick to remark that they have already raised their children so “it’s their time now.”
Another dynamic that I might add is the pressure for mothers to appear as if they are “Super Moms”, as if they have got it all together, and as I have realized and I would tell any mother, “Super Mom” has a team, so it is just not possible without lots of help. The mother of today has less familial or even a societal support structure, and she is being pulled in many different directions. What is she to do, grin and bear it as usual, as it all comes with the territory or should she be realistic, strategize and try to find innovative ways to manage her time more effectively so it could relieve some her burden?
For this issue of Navigating “Island” Parenting I have chosen to share some quotes with you with the intent of causing you to look at how you currently use your “time” and reflect on ways or things that you can do to de-clutter your life so it may free up some much needed time. When I make the time, as opposed to find the time, as Charles Buxton clearly points out, I will share some of the time management tips that I have researched and found effective, but as I noted this issue of Navigating “Island” Parenting is to cause you to assess/evaluate how you spend your time. This has to be done first before you implement any time saving or time management strategy.
As a mother of two boys, Daniel is 4 and Nicholas is 3, I am constantly trying to find, create or manage time. My life “pre-boys” as I like to term it was quite “organized.” I knew, after having my sons that there would be changes, however there was a bit of naiveté, as I have now learned that children do things in their own time, and sometimes no matter how organized you may be, things may not go according to plan.
For example prior to having children it may have taken an hour to get ready for an appointment, engagement or event. Post kids it takes three hours to get ready, and one has to factor in some time for little mishaps such as the second your back is turned so that you can assist one child, the other takes the powder and pours it all over himself, so you have to start the process of getting him ready all over again. It has happened. Murphy’s Law, often kicks in, be it the flu or some unexpected ailment that blows your entire schedule to bits.
What I have learned in the past years as well is that you have to be guarded and vigilant with your time. If you want to be less frazzled, and a better parent you are going to have to make some difficult decisions as well, especially if you have young children. The ability to say No, or put your foot down is one of them, and I don’t mean to your children but to others who demand your time especially when you don’t have it to give. I can do a treatise on that one.
In thinking on this time management conundrum, I came across Dan S. Kennedy’s quote and it resonated with me.
But time is democratic and just. Everyone has the same amount by Dan S. Kennedy
“I am told by people all the time that they simply do not have time to read and listen to all the material they have purchased or subscribed to. But time is democratic and just. Everyone has the same amount. When I choose to read with my mid morning coffee break and you choose to blather about trivia with friends, when I choose to study for an hour sitting on my backyard deck at day's end but you choose to watch a TIVO'd American Idol episode, we reveal much. When someone says he does not have the time to apply himself to acquiring the know-how required to create sufficient value for his stated desires, he is a farmer surrounded by ripe fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and a herd of cattle on his own property who dies of starvation, unable to organize his time and discipline himself to eat.”
After reading the quote instead of complaining, it caused me to reflect on and assess how I was using my time. It prompted me to take action to eliminate the clutter in my life, and get properly organized. His quote also caused me to imbibe Brenda Johnson Padgitt’s quote, “Your Purpose Should Dictate How You Spend Your Time
” and Charles Bruxton’s quote, “You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it
What was my purpose? It is to be a good mother, and incorporate all of those things that “Super Mom” wants to perfect, therefore my purpose is to set realistic goals, as “Super Mom” is a fallacy and find effective and efficient ways to manage my time and the day to day tasks that comes with parenting. Anything that does not align with this purpose needs to be re-evaluated.
There I was complaining, “I would love to find more time to write. I would love to submit my column. I would love to finish Tony Blair’s memoir, the “Journey” and the list was endless. Re-evaluate your purpose as a mother or the woman you want to be, and make the time if you want it. You may say that it is easier said than done, or as my African friend Ufuoma likes to say, “You can’t squeeze water from stone, sister,” and I agree; however, trust me if you eliminate some non-essential things such as that friend who calls always wanting to gossip and adds nothing positive or uplifting, you will find a little time.
Making the time may mean less time watching television, (ABC’s Scandal, can be the exception), less time talking/gossiping on the phone, or engaging in the myriad of social media, saying “No, I am sorry I don’t have the time, a shorter lunch hour so that you can utilize your time more efficiently. Making the time may mean waking up an hour earlier to complete tasks. Making the time may mean narrowing your inner circle and eliminating negative people who sap your time and energy and adds nothing positive to your life, a decision that many women have a very difficult time making.
As a mother, you are already “time poor.” Your time is precious. You have to be judicious with it. Spend your time wisely.
Quotes – Time
“The secret to your future is hidden in your daily routine. You have to be self-disciplined to spend your time wisely.” Michelle Moore, Selling Simplified
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Peter F. Drucker
“Time equals life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” Alan Lakein
“If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors.” Elizabeth Grace Saunders, The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: Achieve More Success with Less Stress: Foreword by Cal Newport, Author of So Good They Can't Ignore You
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. William Penn
If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got. Lee Iacocca
Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves. Lord Chesterfield
The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. Michael Altshuler
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. Carl Sandburg
Learn When To Say No by Elizabeth Scott MS
“Learning to say ‘no’ to people’s requests may be an obvious time management tip for moms, but that doesn’t make it an easy one. Mothers encounter many different worthy requests for their time and attention, that saying no will often disappoint someone. However, what we don’t always realize is that when we say ‘yes’ too much, people also get disappointed because we can’t do our best when we’re spread too thin. That’s why it’s important to look at your priorities
and learn to say no
to time demands that aren’t absolutely necessary.”
Mutryce A. Williams is a native of St Kitts and Nevis whose writings embrace and mirror the West Indian life. She holds a Masters of Politics degree and is a doctoral candidate pursuing studies in Public Policy Administration with a double concentration in Terrorism, Mediation and Peace, and Homeland Security Policy and Coordination. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org