By Mutryce A. Williams
Becoming a parent is a major life adjustment. It means being responsible for the life of another. Most importantly, it means taking care of one’s self so that one would be in the best mental and physical health to care for the life of another. This requires TIME. I have learned many key parenting lessons from friends/mentors. I was counseled about applying the same diligence and focus to parenting that one would to any other area in one’s life. Additionally I was told that if one wanted to flourish in this area one would have to be very vigilant with one’s time.
In last week’s edition of Navigating “Island” Parenting we took a look at time, and evaluated how we were using our time. This week we will look at a few time saving strategies. Here are a few tips that may be worth a try.
• Make a pledge to get organized.
• Make a pledge to stay organized!
• Wake up a little earlier than your child/children in order to get the day started.
• Grocery shop just once a week.
• Prepare the night before, iron or set clothes out for the next day.
• Cook ahead on the weekend.
• Keep a “To Do List.”
• Have Routines.
• In all of the planning, leave a window/block of time for mishaps.
• Plan each day, prioritize your tasks and say no to nonessential tasks.
• Delegate. “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else delegate” (John Maxwell).
• Focus on the task at hand. Stop stressing about what you didn’t get done or need to do.
• Try not to multitask too much. This can be counterproductive, instead take the time you need to do a quality job. Doing work right the first time may take more time upfront, but errors usually result in time spent making corrections, which takes more time overall.
• Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. Work on them a few minutes at a time until you get them all done. This can be the case with housework. One can a lot some time each day to tackle chores instead of trying to fit them all into one day.
• Limit distractions. In some cases you may need to let a phone call go voicemail in order to complete a task. If you are feeding your child, the phone can wait.
• According to the Mayo Health Clinic one should get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
• Schedule time to replenish your energies as needed.
• De-clutter and simplify your life. Get rid of those individuals who leave you drained and debilitated. Make room for those who uplift you and leave you feeling refreshed with a new vigor, insights, and tools for parenting.
• Ask for help if you really need it.
• Remember to make some time to play with or enjoy your children.
• Value and respect your time!
“Respect Your Time and Make It Respected.” Anonymous
What Works for Me
Here is what works for me there is no Facebook, MSN, Whassap or the varied social media. These I have found to be great distractions. One may sign on or in with the intent of chatting for five minutes and before you know it hours have passed. You now realize that you have accomplished nothing on your “To Do List” and now have limited time for task completion, you get frazzled, overwhelmed, and even impatient with the kids, and complain about not having enough time. You run yourself ragged trying to accomplish these tasks, having to do them over because they were rushed.
Phone calls are business related and personal calls are reserved entirely for the key people in my life. There is no time for frivolous talk, shooting the breeze or gossip, and I am very guarded when it comes to this. Moms, we have all been there. I am almost certain of this. You are on a call with a friend who is sharing juicy gossip or complaining for the millionth time about her problems, not paying attention to the children and when you have finished there is sugar all over your living room table, or there is flour all over the kitchen floor and the children, or the bedroom is a total mess as all the toys are strewn over the floor. Now ask yourself as I have, is a few minutes of gossip or senseless chatter worth hours of clean up which might I add, adds to your stress. Is that friend going to come over and assist you with the clean up?
Don’t get me wrong, social contact is good, but it ought to be good social contact. Friends ought to understand when you say, “I am sorry I can’t talk right now. The children are demanding my attention. When I have the opportunity I would give you a call.” However in our culture it appears as I have been told, “The child don’t run the show, make him sit still.” Those of us who have been there knows that this doesn’t really work now does it, as all a child needs is to see his or her parent distracted, and this give the opportunity for mischief or to break a rule that this child knows he or she shouldn’t. You are going to constantly hear from family and friends, “You have no time for me.” There will be guilt at first but when this happens remember this, a few minutes of gossip can lead to “chaos in your camp.”
Think about this, please do. Time spent on tasks that aren’t helping you with your goal of being a better parent or enhancing your quality of life in any way ought to eliminated, and this is a reality that many mothers have to face but really don’t want to, try this and see how much stress you have eliminate and how much quality time is “freed up” to do more constructive or important tasks.
I am also very guarded about how I chose to spend my free time. There are always the offers of, “Let’s meet up or let’s have lunch. We need to catch up.” This may come from someone who is a mere acquaintance, and not wanting to hurt that person’s feelings we agree and end up spending that time doing something we may not have wanted to do in the first place, and end up anxious after because we still have tons of uncompleted tasks.
At the start of my parenting years a close friend from Jamaica who I will call Jane gave me a lecture on time and time management. She recalled a story of a friend inviting her to have drinks on a Friday evening. A Friday evening was ideal for her friend because of her busy schedule and this was her time to unwind. According to Jane no consideration was given for her busy schedule, but she said she decided that a night out would be good so she made the time. Jane said that it was a rather stressful day at work. She went home, changed, gave the babysitter, who charged $15 an hour, the instructions for her kids, went to drinks which turned out to be dinner, spent an exorbitant amount on what she could have spent on one week’s worth of groceries, and sat for four hours listening to her friend complain about her personal life. She said, “I didn’t even get a word in. There was no benefit for me. I had things that I wanted to vent about too, and to make the situation worse, when I got home I had three little ones waiting up for me, and bouncing off of the walls, while she went out dancing.”
Jane informed that that evening taught her a valuable lesson. She realized that spending “that kind” of time was not only a waste of her limited time but also very costly. She said that from there on in, any friend or acquaintance who wanted to meet up would hear, “I will be at the playground at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, feel free to drop by. We can chat for a few minutes while the kids play, but that’s it, that’s all the time I have to give away.” For Jane it was no more going out of her comfort zone or already harried life to accommodate others, especially when there was a financial and time deficit involved.
The truth is as parents as much as we would like our life to remain the same, the reality is there has been a profound change. Money spent on a babysitter or a night out MUST be worth it. The company that we keep as well ought to be worth it, and these are the lessons that my Jane tried to emphasize to me in our conversation. Jane said, “After that night out I began to evaluate my friendships. I realized that a friend would have understood that I have three children and that a five course dinner isn’t something that I could rightfully afford; a friend would have understood that a babysitter would be costly to me, and a real friend would have offered to drop by and help with the children so that I could get some much needed rest.” She said, “I am telling you all of this so that you don’t fall into these snares. As women we tend to be pleasers and not very guarded with our time, so we go along not wanting to cause other’s discomfort or displeasure, however this is often to our own detriment. If you don’t respect your time then no one else will.”
Time Management Quotes
• “To do two things at once is to do neither.” Publius Syrus
• “People always make time to do the things they really want to do.” Anonymous
• What comes first, the compass or the clock? Before one can truly manage time (the clock), it is important to know where you are going, what your priorities and goals are, in which direction you are headed (the compass). Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what’s urgent, learn to focus on what is really important.” Unknown
• We realize our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically a problem of priorities. We confess, we have left undone those things that ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.” Charles E. Hummel
• “One of the greatest resources people cannot mobilize themselves is that they try to accomplish great things. Most worthwhile achievements are the result of many little things done in a single direction.” Nido Qubein
• “Time has no meaning in itself unless we choose to give it significance.” Leo Buscaglia
• “He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” Victor Hugo
• “I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.” Golda Meir
• “He who lets time rule him will live the life of a slave.” John Arthorne
• “A man must be master of his hours and days, not their servant.” William Frederick Book
• “It’s how we spend our time here and now, that really matters. If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time, change it.” Marcia Wieder
Mutryce A. Williams, a native of St Kitts and Nevis is the mother of 4-year-old Daniel and 3-year-old Nicholas. She not only values the many facets of West Indian parenting but also thinks that there is vast room for improvement. A former educator and a child/youth advocate, Mutryce firmly believes that children should not only be seen but heard.. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org