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Big List of Great Time Management Hacks for Busy Parents

Big List of Great Time Management Hacks for Busy Parents

They say time is money. If that is true for parents as well, then let’s all face it: we are pretty much broke.
Here’s the good news: with a few simple tweaks you can stop losing time, and start saving time and sanity.
As a veteran mom of over 20 years for 7 children here are my top 10 time and sanity saving hacks, after all, it takes more effort to be disorganized than it does to be organized.

You don’t have to be a slave to all systems. However, if you want to retain your sanity put as many of the following hacks into place.

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1) Have bedtimes for your children

Getting the children to sleep on time is the best win-win I have heard of. Children do better in school with the correct amount of sleep and it makes the mornings way easier, dealing with children who are well rested. Guess what else? Parents do better when they aren’t spending their evenings cajoling exhausted children into bed. Don’t feel bad, 80% of children do not go to sleep on time. Need a primer? Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Weissbluth is a must read.

2)Meal plan

Stop playing ‘guess what’s for dinner?’ with the 4 remaining non-mouldy ingredients at the bottom of your fridge. Force yourself into making a one week meal plan? No idea where to begin? Think of last week’s dinners! Write them on an index card and paste on the fridge and try it out for a week and tweak.

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3) Bulk shop on the weekends

Yup. Make your meal and snack lists ahead and buy ahead so you can cook like a pro.

4) Get as much delivered as possible

However, before you head out the door make sure you have leveraged Amazon subscribe and save, Costco.com and any other delivery service place of your choice so that you are not schlepping items that can be delivered for the same price. Your time and energy is precious.

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5) Bulk goods area

However, before you become the queen of all things delivered to your home make sure have created a bulk goods space – your very own mini Costco. If you are tight for space consider going vertical and making a shelf up high in a laundry area or similar unused ‘up high’ space. Word to the wise: hide those bulk chips up high away from little fingers or Mama’s midnight munchies.

6) Kitchen Gadgets all time-savvy parents need

All productive parents will require a crock pot, a rice cooker and an immersion blender. Extra credit for a cookie scooper and a copious quantity of gallon Ziploc bags and a sharpie marker (keep it up high!)

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7) Make your freezer your best friend

You will be spending more time preparing food than you ever expected. Make your freezer your best friend. It is literally freezing time. Start with seasoning fish and freezing it, chopped veg, soups and then progress onto more advanced items. Consider doubling your meal recipes and cooking one portion and freezing the other. Wrap items in aluminium foil and a Ziploc bag and write in permanent marker both on the outside and on a piece of paper taped onto the aluminium.

8) The Ultimate Kitchen Time Hack

Bulk preparation meets freezer meets crock pot. You will never catch me staying up all night reading a thriller, but a cookbook on bulk cooking for the freezer and pairing it with a crock pot? I will be up all night! Start with making a slot in your calendar for bulk preparing of meatballs ( vegetarians please forgive me) use a cookie scooper to freeze them onto parchment paper on cookie sheets. Freeze them for a full day and then put them into double gallon Ziploc bags. Once a week before you leave to work put the meatballs together with the marinara sauce of your choice and half as much water into your crock pot. Set your timer on your rice cooker and voila. Or make pasta when you walk in. It’s a win-win either way

9) Back to the ice age

Most people don’t realize that even the most basic of ovens manufactured within the past 10 years have a preset button on it. This preset button is a delight as it allows you to put dinner into the oven ahead of time and preset it to go off at the time of your choice. This can be a simple dinner such as fish sticks or a less basic chicken marsala. If you are concerned that the food will be in the oven ‘waiting’ for too long you can leverage those ice cubes by covering your chicken with them. If you are concerned that your dish will be too watery consider resting your pot on a tray full of ice cubes for the benefits of the chill without your food getting watered down.

10) Landing Spot

With a small tribe there is a lot of coming and going. Make sure you have a landing spot near your front entrance way that supports that. If you live in a cold climate then create an efficient spot for all those boots, jackets and snuggly paraphernalia. Live in the warmer states? Then make sure the bug spray and sunscreen is all good to go. Have a spot for book bags there too. Same goes for any projects/show and tell/things to return to friends that have to make it into the car on those busy mornings.

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

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