Article Summary:Using time management at home can help you beat the morning rush and make for an easier start to the day for parents and children.
Whether you are married or a single parent, getting ready for work each day can be quite a challenging feat when you have children. Gone are the days of hitting the snooze button on your alarm repeatedly, then quickly showering and eating a Pop Tart® on the drive to work. Your alarm clock has been replaced by giggling children or whining sleepy-heads who await their orders for the day: wake up, put this on, no you can't wear your dance costume to school, stop hitting your brother, don't kick the cat, eat your breakfast, drink your milk, go find your socks. The list is endless. No wonder parents of young kids find themselves half-dressed or mismatched when they arrive at work later - sometimes we're doing well to have socks ON, much less ones that match! Don't despair... there are ways to flow with the rhythm of this morning dance. Preparation, routine, delegation, and a great sense of humor go a long way when it comes to surviving these early hours.
DROP & LOAD
Rather than waiting until an hour before school or daycare, start preparing lunches, backpacks, and diaper bags the night before. Sometimes spending 10 minutes after dinner packing lunches for parents and kids alike will save 15 or 20 minutes of valuable time - that leaves you time to sit down for breakfast, either at the table with the kiddos or on the couch watching the drive-time traffic on the local news.
When you arrive home from work, ready your briefcase or purse for the next day, grabbing documents, tollbooth change, or your planner. Put keys and briefcase in the same spot each time you are finished with them, creating a home for them to go to. No more searching for lost items in the morning rush.
GRAB & GO
Have your kids hang up their backpacks on a hook, peg, or on a designated spot by the door, ready to grab-n-go tomorrow morning. As they finish homework, obtain a signature for report cards or permission slips, or choose a treasure for show & tell, encourage them to get into the habit of loading their bags as they go. This can save up to 5 minutes each morning that can be spent reviewing spelling words or telling you about their schedule for the day.
Create a routine to streamline your morning. Don't worry, there's no need to transform into an efficiency expert like Mr. Gilbreath in the play, Cheaper by the Dozen, who used a stopwatch to time the actions of his 12 children. However, with a little planning and some note taking, you can pay attention to those time wasters that prevent your family from getting important tasks done each day.
Do you waste time hovering or micro-managing your children to the point that you barely have time to dress each morning? (Much less eat breakfast or create a to-do-list). Perhaps it's time to back off and give them just a little more room. Do you really think the clothing police will take you away for not color-coding Cindy's outfit today? After all, dressing herself is a big milestone in her life, and using color and style are a way to express her creativity. She'll eventually tire of wearing purple and red every single day and will move on to another phase. And if your son wants to wear a fireman's hat to kindergarten, I'm sure the teacher will allow him to share it with the class before having him park it at the station with his waterproof boots and firefighter gear (otherwise known as His Cubby). Things have a way of working themselves out, so we might as well give them a little room to grow.
Young children love being the helper of the day, so bring home this useful tool and add it to your own toolbox. Let your son prepare snacks for daycare, or help you pack the baby's diaper bag. Older kids can start a load of wash, which you can load into the dryer at lunch or after work. All can be responsible for hanging up wet towels and putting dirty pajamas into the hamper. Delegate laundry duty to older kids so they won't be surprised to learn their favorite shirt is dirty again and they have absolutely nothing to wear - the burden is on them to make sure this doesn't happen, taking mean old mom and dad right out of the picture.
GOOD TO GO
Using these simple tips will add 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and help you discover lost time that you never thought you would find again. Streamlining your routine helps your entire family start the day with positive energy without grumbling, whining, or searching. And that's definitely something even a sleepy night owl can crow about!
Debbie Williams is an author, speaker and organizing strategist who offers tools and training to help you put your life in order. Learn more at from her website at Organized Times.