When someone realizes they are a having child a lot of thoughts and emotions flow through their bodies and minds. There’s some excitement, some people experience nervousness but, most people start to wonder if they will have enough time to parent a child. For example: someone who works long hours may begin to ponder how to fit work into the hectic schedule of a baby because there are several things that need to be done both before and after a child is born. There is finding childcare, keeping up with health records, taking the child or children to appointments, going shopping for groceries and clothes, baby proofing and much more.
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All of these tasks are essential to a healthy baby. Therefore, it is essential to find the time to complete each and still find time to take care of yourselves. This paper will discuss how to manage time as a parent by prioritizing, overcoming procrastination and effectively plan.
LEARN TO PRIORITIZE
Prioritizing is one key component to utilizing time wisely and efficiently which is very important for parents. However, it is not always obvious which tasks yield the highest utility. Tasks often vary not only in their magnitude or importance, but also in the time at which they yield their utility (König and Kleinmann, 2007). Determining which tasks come first will aid in the planning process when someone knows how to decide what is an urgent priority and what is an important priority. An urgent priority and a time limit in which a task or activity has to be complete. Examples of an urgent priority for a parent are turning in paperwork for schooling, making payments for childcare. Parents who choose to ignore urgent priorities tend to have to endure consequences. Consequences for incomplete or missing paperwork for enrolling a child may result in that child not being accepted into that school or delaying that child’s education. Consequences for abstaining payments for childcare could result in late fees or termination of services, forcing the child to be home until the parent finds another care provider and the parent could potentially lose income due to taking time off work. Urgent priorities are set in stone unlike important priorities which tend to be flexible. Important goals are essential tasks or activities that support a person’s goals and that can be scheduled with some flexibility (Ferrett, 2017). Examples of important priorities for parents would be if a parent elects to make a goal for helping their children become improved in sports or school that person may begin spending time practicing sports drills or studying daily.
Establishing ongoing and trivial activities contribute to the idea of urgent and important priorities. Ongoing activities are necessary “maintenance” tasks that should be managed carefully so they do not take up too much time, they often require continual attention and may be urgent but, they may not be important (Ferrett, 2017). Trivial activities are nonessential tasks or activities that are completely discretionary and do not directly support a person’s goals. These tasks make up all the daily stuff in our lives that are major time wasters (Ferrett, 2017). An ongoing activity for a parent might be answering emails or answering calls and/or emails about a joining the PTA meetings or donating to the school. They are urgent but can be handled at another time. Meeting up with friends, checking social media, shopping for jewelry are examples of trivial activities for parents.
Procrastination is can be a tough habit to break once it becomes routine, but it can be done. The difficulty with procrastination is not simply the act of delaying action. Some delays are harmless and may even be helpful, as in the adage “I’ll sleep on it until tomorrow.” The problems get more serious as the procrastinator begins to delay important responsibilities indefinitely. The difficulties increase as one begins to stockpile obligations and personal commitments to the point where self-esteem is adversely affected. The most effective way to combat potentially harmful procrastination is to begin to identify the cause for delaying a particular activity. Many reformed procrastinators have learned to break down complex tasks into more manageable steps. Others try to limit negative self-talk, such as “I’m not in the mood to do this now–maybe later” (Ciscell, 2009). In parenting, finding a way to think about tasks positively helps to avoid procrastination. Using positive affirmations such as “I can handle this, or this can easily be done” and using visualizations (seeing yourself complete your task) can break the cycle of procrastination. Other strategies or methods to break or avoid procrastination are breaking large projects (choosing a daycare) into smaller tasks (figuring a budget, finding a good neighborhood, thinking about the hours and services desired for their child) and taking your time.
Planning is the last but, not the least important strategy in parenting and probably one of the more difficult to accomplish. Look closely at how you spend your time. Experts say that most people spend up to an hour a day on tasks that could be put on hold or completely eliminated from their schedule. Look for ways to delete steps from a task or cut the amount of time you spend getting ready. For instance, prepare as much as you can for morning the night before. Or set the table for the next meal with the dishes you unload from the dishwasher (Costa, 2018). Planning tends to be problematic because people are not able to find effective ways to plan that work for them. While there are many different ways to plan ahead not everything works for everyone. Some examples of planning ahead are keeping a schedule or planner and creating a to-do list, both of which tend to be effective. Keeping a schedule or planner helps to organize daily tasks including cooking and cleaning along with added responsibilities of raising a child. As Gina Costa has previously stated, it is also important to look for ways to eliminate extra time spent on preparing, not just for getting dressed in the morning. A parent can eliminate this extra time by preparing meals the day before, setting out school clothes and setting backpacks by the door.
Using these three strategies previously stated (prioritizing, overcoming procrastination and planning) are only a few of the constructive ways to learn to manage time as a parent. Prioritizing allows organization and clarity of thoughts. Overcoming procrastination allows you to keep up with any and all tasks, whether on a timed schedule or not. Finally planning allows you to prepare yourself for the task(s) ahead, without needing to search and scramble to pull everything together last minute. Parenting is a long bumpy path but using time management strategies may just help the road become a little smoother.
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