As a parent, you’ve got a lot of different responsibilities. Unfortunately, that might mean you neglect your own self-care.
When you’re running back and forth from dance class to parent-teacher meetings to the grocery store, it can all feel like too much. Worse, not having time for self-care can easily make those feelings even more overwhelming.
Getting a handle on your busy schedule isn’t easy, but an effective time management system can really help. Because everyone’s life is unique, it’s important to find a system that works for you and your family, rather than using a “one-size-fits-all” option.
Start with the Essentials
The first step in creating your own time management system is taking a close look at your schedule. Which activities are non-negotiable? It’s easy to feel like everything is a priority until you take a closer look. Simplify if you can and add the essentials to your schedule so you know how much time is left over for other tasks and your personal self-care.
Create Routines for You and Your Kids
If you constantly feel scattered, then your family’s life might need more structure and routine. Creating routines can help streamline your day while eliminating many little decisions that zap your time and energy. Kids also respond well to routines!
Think about what you value most when creating a new routine. Do you want to have breakfast together? Have an hour for reading in the evening? Eliminating some of your kids’ extracurricular activities outside your home might also help relieve some stress and increase both family time and the time you have for self-care.
Build in Some Flexibility
For some people, a rigid schedule works well. Most people, however, prefer to have a little more flexibility in their lives. When you’re creating new schedules and routines, make sure you’re not scheduling every minute of every day—build some flexibility into your schedule. People of all ages need a little unscheduled time to let their minds wander and follow their own interests.
Schedule Self-Care Into Moments of Downtime
Self-care does not have to be time-consuming. You don’t need to take several hours for a spa day once a week (although wouldn’t that be nice!) to gain the benefits of self-care practices.
It can be as simple as scheduling 20 minutes in the morning for someone else to watch the baby so you can shower, or taking the few minutes before you pick up your kids from school to meditate. Fitting in workouts, mindfulness, and other self-care practices is a lot easier if you allow them to be shorter and fit them into your existing schedule.
Use a Timer
If you stop and think about where all your time goes, be honest. How much time do you spend scrolling on your phone or checking your email or even deciding what to do that day? It’s so easy to get sucked into activities that take up time but don’t provide any real benefit.
One solution to this is to use a timer. If there are activities you want to start at a certain time, put them on a timer. If you want to limit how much time you spend on something, set a timer! This will interrupt your current activity and give you a clear reminder to get back to your priorities.
Be realistic about how long different activities are going to take. People often underestimate timing, causing them to panic when they schedule too much or take “too long” to complete a task. When in doubt, pad the time you think something will take.
Put Everything Important On a Calendar
Being able to see your priorities at a glance is key for making sure nothing slips through the cracks. Use a calendar and be sure to update it every time you add something to your schedule. Review your calendar at least once a day, or more often if you need to. Whether you use the calendar on your phone or a wall calendar, make sure it’s up to date!
Probably the most important time management strategy of all is to simplify. The more responsibilities you’re juggling, the more overwhelmed you’ll feel.
Simplifying your life will help you create time for self-care and other activities that are important to you. Keep working on your time management systems until you’ve found the magic combination that works for you!