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By Jody Seidler
Time management seems to be the most
important element in a single parent household (or any household for
that matter). As single parents, it seems we never have enough time
in the day to do ALL we need to do for ourselves and for our family.
Time is a commodity, and we have to learn to
use it wisely. The good news is we can learn to budget our time just
as we budget our finances. It's time to get organized! Here are some
tips to help manage your busy single parent world, and create a
sense of organization in your life. Watch your life evolve as you
departmentalize and add more structure to bring together your days.
It may amaze you that you actually CAN create some time just for
So, here we are - grab your mental
Make lists, don't rely on your mind (or what's left of
it) to remember what things need to be done and when. Whatever you
haven't gotten accomplished today, move it over to tomorrow's list.
There is always manana, but place the urgent and the most
challenging to do's on the top of tomorrow's list.
bills all at one time and put a little yellow sticky memo on the
piles that need to be mailed mid-month or at the end of month. This
way you only have to get stressed out one day a month and your bills
get mailed out on time.
Get an engagement calendar for play dates or
custody arrangements, due dates for homework, meetings, bills,
personal and school events. Take the pressure off your memory skills
and keep track of events and appointments on paper. This way you can
keep your mind freed up from the strain of having to remember
everything you're juggling. A side benefit is that you'll discover
excess energy and a more focused attention span.
Keep a notepad by
your phone or bed to jot down things as they come to mind. This is a
great tool so that you don't forget those fleeting thoughts or
morning reminders upon awakening. You can also keep a small tape
recorder in the car, so you don't miss a thought or reminder driving
(especially because we spend so much time in the car). Just drive
carefully and watch out for those drivers on cellular phones.
a day or night that you will do your grocery shopping and errand
running each week. Choose a consistent day to clean your home. Stick
to your schedule and forget about these responsibilities the rest of
Buy things in bulk (save time and money) and if bulk buys
bring too much food into your pantry - split these purchases with
another single parent or neighbor. Now that we have places like
Smart and Final and Costco, it makes it easier to buy in bulk, save
money and always have what we need on hand (hence avoiding the
I have to run out and buy dinner trauma).
child how to make his or her breakfast, help with dishes and laundry
(make a game of it), empty the dishwasher and clean his/her room.
Make a 'chores chart' and place a star on the chart for these
accomplishments. (I get creative and use carnival tickets for my
nine year old...and he receives a special prize when those tickets
reach a certain quantity.)
Maximize your trips. Create a flow chart
in your head of where you have to drive...and target those chores by
their location. Don't run around all over town to get errands done,
do them by area and by priority. You can also use the phone to call
a store to see if they have an item in stock...save yourself a trip,
and some time. If you have a friend going to a grocery store...have
them pick up a few items for you.
Think Smart, save time. Review
your priorities and change those things that aren't working. Get up
earlier or go to bed later to get things done that can't be done
during the day, or designate a weekend while your child is with the
other parent or has a play date, to accomplish what's needed. Make a
reading pile and keep everything you want to read including mail and
magazines in a certain place on your desk.
Read at least 10 minutes
a night to unwind. If your child is old enough, you can designate a
10 or 15 minute reading time, where you both read your separate
books together. And, why not make it a cozy time by snuggling with
your child while you read together!
Remember not to cling to worn
out ways of scheduling your time if they no longer work for you. As
we evolve and our lifestyle changes, we have to modify the way we
spend our time doing errands, housework, bill paying, scheduling
appointments and making the most of every hour in the day. Why not
speak to other single parents, or people you admire, to find out
what has worked for them in the realm of budgeting time?
importantly, don't forget to take time out for yourself. As much as
our children are our gifts, we are theirs as well. We are their role
models, teaching them by example - so be a great example.
Prioritize, replenish yourself and think smart....it all begins with
you! Reprinting by permission only
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