Nicole Avery is a Melbourne based mother of five beautiful children. Slightly addicted to spreadsheets and plans, she shares her ideas on organising family life on her popular blog Planning With Kids. She was recently named one of Melbourne’s most influential bloggers by The Age.
Her first book Planning With Kids is a parenting book with a difference. Its emphasis is not on telling you how to parent, but to show ways you can become organised to leave more time for parenting. The philosophy is to streamline the known repetitive tasks of family life -eating, cleaning, getting ready for school etc, so you can then better manage the unpredictable but the inevitable -sick kids, fighting, tantrums etc.
Nicole shares with us ways parents can make better use of the limited time they have.
5 Time Management Tips For Parents
A small amount of work up front can save you significant time in the long run. These tips require effort and thought initially but once set up, they help get you through the day much more easily saving you time and stress:
1. Menu Plan
It is easy to spend considerable time contemplating what to cook and then run multiple times to the supermarket for the required ingredients. Menu planning eliminates this. If you aren’t familiar with menu planning, it is choosing your evening meals for the week and creating the associated shopping list. I have tweaked my menu planning process, so now I can menu plan for a month in less than an hour. This saves me an incredible amount of time across the month.
2. Spend Time Teaching The Children Tasks
It can often seem easier to do things yourself, but it the long term this is not going to give you any more time. By spending time teaching children to do simple tasks for themselves, not only will you increase their self-confidence as you build their independence, but it frees up your time as you will not have to do this task for them. Starting with small things like tying their own laces, making their beds, making a sandwich are good places to start.
3. Prepare In Advance
I find this to be particularly important when you have little ones – doing simple tasks with them “helping” you or needing your attention can take twice as long. For example I ensure that I pack most of the food for the lunches the night before and on days that are busy with after school activities I will cook the dinner during the morning.
4. Touch It Once Rule
Ever notice how you can handle the one item two or three times in the same day? You might (1) pick up a part of a game off the floor after you have stood on it and place it on the nearest bench to you to put away later (2) when wiping the bench down, you move the item to a different spot so you can wipe underneath it, (3) you pick it on the floor again after a child has had a look at it and left it on the ground and finally return it to its rightful home. It is the same with school paperwork, you read it when the kids bring it in from school, place it in a pile to action later, move the pile to clear the bench, then eventually fill the form in.
Make your own systems to cut down the double/triple handling. I have the kids place all school paper work in a file and I don’t touch it until the end of the day, when I will read and action anything that needs it.
5. Have Routines
Not every one is a fan of routines, but I find that they allow children to take greater responsibility for themselves. They know what is expected of them and when and therefore can do more activities autonomously – freeing up your time. Having routines for yourself is also super helpful. Slotting the necessary activities of home life into your daily routine means you don’t have to think about what to do next – avoids the scenario where you have so much to do and spend time wondering just where to start!
I have a simple routine of activities I do when I come home from the school drop off each morning, one day the washing will be my key task, another it will be preparing the evening meal in advance – I don’t have to think about what to do, I get in the door and can set about doing it.
Planning with Kids is available now.