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6 Time-Saving Tips for Working Parents

6 Time-Saving Tips for Working Parents

There are never enough hours in the day for working parents. One of the first things I noticed when I went back to work after having my first child was that I had to start keeping track (in minutes) of how long it took me to do anything, because if it took any longer than planned, the delicate balance of working and child rearing would fall apart. If you’re a working parent, here are a few things you can do to capture some time for yourself each day.

Shower at work

If your office has shower facilities, consider using them! Just pack a gym bag for yourself with the next day’s clothes and other items before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, pull on comfortable loungewear so that you can quickly and conveniently get your kids ready. Drop them off at school or day care while not worrying about spills or having to go back home to change your clothes. Your dry cleaning bills will drop too. Not planning on using the gym at work? That’s okay; it’s perfectly reasonable to drop in just for the showering facilities–they are there for you to use!

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Get ready at home after you drop off the kids

No showers at work? This is likely if you work at a smaller office or your company doesn’t have the space or plans for an onsite gym. Instead of waking up early to shower, wake up and get the kids ready first. Then drop them off and come back home to get ready and shower…in peace. This works if your kids go to school or daycare close to home.

Have everything ready to go the night before

This means that you’ll have to take an extra 15 to 20 minutes in the evening to pack up lunches (put all non-perishables in the lunch boxes, perishables in the fridge already packed to grab and go, and water bottles pre-filled), set out clothes for the next day (yours and your children’s), and, if your car is parked in the garage, put everything that you can into the car. The less organizing you have to do each morning, the faster you can get out the door and the less stressed you are to deal with your four-year-old spilling milk five minutes before it’s time to leave.

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Order school hot lunch if it’s available

Hot lunch can seem expensive at four to six dollars a pop, but when you consider the time and effort it takes to pack a lunch, as well as the rising cost of most food at the grocery store, hot lunch may be a good option. There are more healthy alternatives out there these days with schools contracting with catering companies focused on providing wholesome nutrition for kids. And your kids may love hot lunch; it’s something different than the cold leftovers from last night’s dinner.

Hire a nanny that can do drop offs and pick ups

Even better, have them arrive when the kids wake up so they can manage through all the early morning getting ready routines, like teeth brushing, bathing, and dressing. Keep them an hour or two after pick up to help with snacks, dinner prep, and homework help. This way, you’ll be able to get ready and commute to work without the worry of getting kids out the door on time (unfortunately, depending on your job, this time may or may not be stress free). You’ll have more time in the mornings and evenings to catch up on work, grocery shop, or even hit the gym.

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Bathe the kids at night

Kids don’t need to bathe in the mornings, they aren’t aclimated to it. Until they are in middle school, you can probably get away with keeping your bathtime routines in the evening when time pressures and impending work stress are out of the way.

Featured photo credit: Families/normalityrelief via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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