10 tips for time management in parenthood

As if time management hasn’t been a difficult enough task, parenthood adds a tad more challenge. Life is chaotic enough even without children in the background, so parenthood and time management can be a combination of disaster.

Nevertheless, fear not! An element that makes parenthood effective and less exhausting than it is -because parenthood is an utterly strenuous job- is the correct and clever use of time, which corresponds to and covers our family’s needs. Time management may look different in every family; however, there are some tips everyone could use to establish a less chaotic and more enjoyable family life.

10 tips for time management in parenthood

1. Set your priorities

What do you value most? What is more important to you? Set your priorities straight. If you are planning on adding an extra activity on your calendar, be it a book club, fitness program or a new hobby, though simultaneously you don’t want to miss family dinners or putting your child to sleep, then you need to prioritise. You can’t have or do everything. What matters to you the most? Take your pick and stay true to it without feeling remorse or guilt for the choice you sacrificed.

2. Say no more often, so you can say yes easier

There is something magical behind this little word “no”. Something liberating. If you are one of the people that cannot say no, please tell me how do you cope with your time management and stress levels. Chances are that you are emotionally or physically worn out. Every time you say “no” to an activity, you basically say “yes” to something that matters more. You say “no” to yet another meeting with parents because you say “yes” to spending quality time with your family or to some me-time. 

3. Calendar and to-do lists

Keep your daily life organised and avoid unnecessary stress by using a family calendar, preferably a physical rather than an online one. Put it on the wall of the room you use the most, which more often is the kitchen. Use colour coding and jot down all the appointments, school meetings, extracurricular activities and family tasks. Who does what and when? Who is cooking dinner this Wednesday? Who is visiting this weekend? And who is ironing on the coming Friday? Realising how much time and energy we have been wasting trying to stay organised, we purchased a wall calendar from wunsch-kalender.de. We personalised it with our names -including our dog’s- a to-do list, and additional notes. Each of us has a different colour marker for writing on the calendar. Frankly, this calendar helps us to stay organised and effective.

Create a realistic and SMART to-do list. However, as these lists tend to expand instead of shrink as the days pass, invest in a today-list. Be precise about the tasks you and your family need to accomplish daily. Assign these jobs on specific days in the family calendar while focusing on what needs to be completed tomorrow. This way, everyone knows what to expect, and the time they need to invest in each task.

4. Everyone contributes

Parenthood is about teaching our children life skills and gradually introducing them to the real world while keeping them safe. Keeping a household running is a huge task, but it isn’t a job just for mum or dad. Whoever belongs to the household should contribute. Children learn to tidy up after themselves or help with meal preparation from a young age. They build these skills progressively from an early age while parents model the way. We cannot expect a child to put their shoes in the shoe rack if we tend to leave them in the middle of the hallway. With every family member contributing, valuable time is saved and then invested in leisure, creativity or relaxation.

5. Never leave for tomorrow what you can do today

After having my baby, I swear by this advice. If you think you will have time to organise this wardrobe tomorrow, think twice. I strongly advise against this mindset because tomorrow is a new day with new tasks. If I am scheduled to clean the bathroom this evening, I do it despite my tiredness. And I thank my determination the day after, realising that there would be no time left for yesterday’s task. This is why we need to keep our daily goals realistic and specific; so we can easily accomplish them.

6. Family routines

A family without routines struggles significantly with time management. Everyone loves routines. They are the comfort zone that keeps us on track and helps us get through each day. Children cannot function without routines, neither at home nor at school. After each meal, we clear the table and put our dishes in the dishwasher or wash them in the sink. After playtime, we always tidy the toys away. After school, we do our homework. We shower before bedtime and put our pyjamas on. Rest occurs at a particular time each day. In routines, everyone knows the expectations without begging, fighting, or convincing. People work on autopilot, which for once, isn’t a bad thing. 

7. Declutter

The less stuff a household consists of, the less time for organising and cleaning is needed. Therefore, more time for what truly matters.

8. Let the kids get bored

We teach our children to embrace boredom, accept boredom and refrain from 24/7 entertainment. We show our kids that “having a nice or fun time” is not solely attributed to an outside-home activity. On the contrary, children can have creative experiences and fun moments at home with the things they own or can create themselves. We teach our kids to have a good time even alone, without a play companion. We let them get bored; that’s also fun and much-needed. An overstimulated child tends to get agitated and is prone to outbursts and fits. It’s not the parent’s job to provide non-stop entertainment.

9. Early bedtime

We have heard this numerous times. The benefits of an early bedtime, without scrolling, are repeatedly proven through research. I used to underestimate the early bedtime. But having an infant that requires all your energy and time taught me to appreciate the early bedtime and its miraculous assets the day after. 

10. Ask for support

We want to manage everything and prove to ourselves -or others- that we can do it. We can look lush, have a rising professional life, be excellent friends, outstanding partners, and exemplary parents and keep the household running smoothly. Piece of cake. I am sorry, but after a long day at work, I would love to pay someone to clean my house once per week/fortnightly/month. There was also no time or energy to cook, so let’s order some take-out. And this friend who offered to spend some time with my child, you go ahead and have a wonderful afternoon together. I am happy to hire a babysitter to have a stress-free evening with my spouse or friends. There is no harm in acknowledging that we cannot do everything, but there is an excellent deal in asking for help or accepting the offered assistance. 

The above tips work for every family type. They also work for individuals or families without children; yes, you can still be a family without having kids. I had my family even when only with Christoph or afterwards when Winston, our dog, joined us. Our baby just expanded our family. Overall, the key to time management in parenthood is to stay organised. It is simpler than it sounds.

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