Time & Kids, Can They Co-Exist?

by Lindy on October 12, 2010

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Alright, so even though I was mildly grumbling in this post about not having any time as a working parent (it was mild, right?), I’ve actually learned a lot about time management in my six years of parenthood.

Pre-children, I had quite a few hobbies.  As a wanna-be artist, I would sit for hours working on elaborate ink drawings.  I also sewed, making tank tops and curtains and coin purses.   I crafted cute hand-made cards for A-Rob on Valentine’s day.   I even had time for reading books, and taking baths.

But when EeBee was born, hobbies were the first thing to go.

Cute babies take time

And the second thing to go was the to-do list.

Projects piled upon projects, and I complained about never having time to get anything done.  There once was a cardboard box sitting in our hallway for six months.  It was filled with books and papers that just needed to be put away.  But we couldn’t find the time to tackle it.

If you don’t have kids, am I scaring you yet?  Well don’t be scared, because not everyone has this problem.  And ours was mostly a case of being slow to adjust, sprinkled with laziness.

Eventually, we found our way around the onus of getting nothing done.  Are you wanting to do the same?  Well then, I give you these fine tips…

Get used to doing things in small installments. When I start something, I don’t like leaving it unfinished.  It kind of makes me die a little inside.  But I had to come to grips with the fact that I just wasn’t going to get those five hour work sessions anymore.  If I wanted to be productive, I needed to break my task into bite-size pieces and conquer accordingly.

There IS time in your week.  Your mission is to find it. The obvious times are those when kids are sleeping.  But if you use your creative smarts, I bet you can carve out a few more.  Set these times aside as sacred.

Avoid the urge to clean. I used to spend an hour every night straightening the house after the kids went to bed.  And guess what, after cleaning I was too tired to get anything else done.  Sometimes, you have to let neatness slide for the sake of GSD (Getting Stuff Done).  The dishes won’t mind.  I promise.

(Unless, of course, the thing you “can’t get done” is cleaning – then by all means, clean away)

Combine the larger chores. Like laundry.  I find it more efficient to do all of our laundry in one marathon day.  Then I have six glorious days with absolutely no laundry duties soaking up my time.

Don’t let the little things pile up.  Like mail.  I like to put my mail smack-dab in the middle of the counter so it’s always in my face.  If it gets stashed out of the way, it grows and grows until it becomes a mammoth task of its own.  But in five minute bursts, it dies quickly.

Go for one project a week. If you can get in the mindset of accomplishing one big thing a week, that’s pretty darn good.

“I know you want to stop…but you can’t.” I used to follow a Pilates routine on Exercise TV, and the instructor would say this during a particularly painful repetition.  It’s kind of funny, but the phrase actually works.  There are nights I have so much to do, and all I really want is to sit on my duff.  I remember this phrase on those nights, and it gives me the oomf to press on.  Sometimes, anyways.

So, that’s about it.  I hope these tips help if you’re in the throes of unproductivity like we were, or even if you’re hoping to squeeze in a little more “me” time.

Have you overcome the parenthood-no-time debacle? If so, do share.  And if you don’t have kids, are you still scared?

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  • Red

    Uh, yes! Actually, we’re not planning to have kids, but I think parents are super heroes in their own way. I don’t think I could adjust to these kinds of changes, at least not very well.

    • Lindy

      Honestly, it took about four years for me to realize I needed to be this way to get anything done. It’s a big adjustment! In fact, while approving this comment, I was hit in the head with a remote-control helicopter.

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