Plan Ahead to Get More Time in Parenting

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(Editor’s note: Please welcome Shelley’s very sage advice for those of us who need more time. Thanks, Shelley!)

Planning Ahead Creates More Time – No Magic Needed

Have you ever wished there were more hours in the day to get things done?

Would it make any difference or would you still be wanting more?

See, I don’t think its a matter of having more hours in the day. After all, we all get the same time allocation. And yet so many do so much with their 24 hours.

After all, JK Rowling managed to create her first Harry Potter book when she was a single mom and short on money.

I think it comes down to using your time effectively.

This was bought home to me more clearly when it came to buying gifts for people I knew or for my children’s friends.

Moms are busy and time-poor, that’s a given. Having time to browse for gifts is a luxury only a few can afford.
I was like that too. I used to buy all my gifts last minute because I didn’t have the time to spend thinking about what these people close to me would have really preferred.

Having 3 young children and the extra taxi-drivers job that is part and parcel of shipping children to and from school and then to extra-curricular activities means most of your time is taken up on the road.

If you’re a work at home mom, like I am, your time is even more constrained. You feel frustrated and angry most of the time because there is not enough time to do both: bring up children and try to get a business off the ground, let alone worrying about the other million things in between such as household chores, cooking and buying gifts!

Using Car Time to Plan Ahead
I went from being a rushed-off-her-feet mom to a calm and efficient mom who managed to do things on time. In doing so, I created what was impossible: more time.

Huh?

You know that waiting time you have in between extra-curricular activities, when you are waiting in your car for your children to come out of their classes? I used to use that time to take a quick nap.

Now, I use that time to plan events and make notes and to-do lists.

I plan my time and I am prepared for anything that heads my way.

Anniversaries, birthdays, the twins’ 2nd birthday party 3 weeks from now, the Halloween party – you name it, I’m ready for them.

I will have bought and wrapped presents for all calendar events (this is what I like to call them) and if we are hosting a party or an event, I’ll have bought supplies weeks in advance, apart from perishables such as food.

I have all these dates in my phone. And I have action lists in my handy notebook. It contains a mini-plan for dealing with each calendar event.

By using this “car downtime” whilst waiting for my children to finish their activity, I am planning what needs to be done tomorrow, what I need to buy on my next trip to the mall, what I need to look for online.

And it has made the world of difference to my life.

Using your calendar and a to-do list to plan might seem like a small thing and perhaps because of this it is so easily overlooked.

We all have access to calendars and phone calendars and to-do lists but do we actually use them?

Once I started to, I quickly found that I had more time the better organized I became. I went from dealing with each thing as it arose to someone who was much calmer and well prepared for whatever was heading my way!

Let me tell you, it is far better to plan ahead than to fight fires as they arise.

And this year? I bought most of my Christmas presents when Christmas 2010 ended. Amazon had great deals on toys and gifts once the Christmas season was over and I was able to buy lots of things at fantastic prices!

During the year, I kept my eyes and ears close to the ground and shopped around, buying a few things a little at a time, as online stores had promotions and offers.

I have a few more things to buy but pretty much, I have done most of my Christmas shopping and it’s not even November yet!

Sure, the kids will want some new toys that have just come on the market and I’ll be able to get those because I have already saved quite a bit by buying lots of gifts at low prices.

Trust me, try planning for the next holiday. You know when it is, so now just circle in your calendar a date a month before that. Make a plan of what needs to be bought and start taking action.

You will find that it is easier to be in control of your time rather than let time control you and be a last minute shopper.

Shelley Kim is the mother of three beautiful children and the founder of 1stToysOnline.com

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who need more time.

Image courtesy of katerha via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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