Monday, October 8, 2012

Time Management

When I first had Little Reader, a lot of experienced parents advised me to take time to enjoy the little moments.  Don't get so caught up in keeping the house clean, take time to play and engage with your child.  I totally agree with that (and unfortunately maybe took it to heart a little too much as the dust bunnies started to take over). 

I tried to get back on track, then Little Hugger was born.  I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as she was reaching preschool age, and then we had Little Man.  With each kid, I just put off more and more things to enjoy them.  Now that they are all in school I have a bit more time to myself.  Little Man only goes 3 mornings a week while his sisters are in school all day.  

A while back I was in a bit of a funk. I wouldn't go as far as to say I was depressed but I wasn't happy. My husband listened to me vent and suggested that I start being more selfish about my time. Moms are often so busy taking care of everyone else's needs sometimes we forget to take care of our own needs.

Meaning, take time to do what I want. I started running again over the summer while the kids were in camp, and managed to continue some in August too. Now it's become a habit, I enjoy it and am happier overall. Most of the time I'm running I'm not really thinking about anything, I use it as time to not have to think about anything except where I'm running and focus on my goal for the day is (longer distance or faster time).  Only problem is the time that I'm running is part of the limited time I have kidless. 

If I want to continue to be able to have my me time, I need to use the rest of my time better. Many of this months posts will be helping me find the best way to manage my time and be more efficient to give me more time for the fun stuff. I will share what I have learned or what works for me in the hopes of passing on some tips.

I've gone through the various exercises of figuring out how I spend my time.  For the most part our days are pretty well scheduled and run smoothly as the kids even know the key times well.  But it's that time between 12-3 that gets me sidetracked.  Little Man is only in school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.  He comes home at lunchtime.  He's 3 1/2 so while he can play independently and look at books for a little while, he does prefer having company.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are even tougher as Little Man is home all day.   Wednesday my daughters both have piano lessons after school followed by Little Reader's soccer practice, so no free time there really.  Saturday is family time and occasionally projects I need my husband's help with.  Sunday is menu planning and grocery shopping day. 

With my daughters I always give them advance notice of times we need to leave to go somewhere, or finish one task to start another.  Since Little Man obviously can't tell time yet there's a limit to how I can explain when we need to stop or start something new.  Lately I've been using our cuckoo clock.  It's in our basement, near the playroom and cuckoos every half hour.  For example, I'll tell him, "Next time the cuckoo goes off I have to stop playing and start the laundry".  It works pretty well and since I set the expectation so he knows it's coming and I give him my full attention until the cuckoo goes off.  After I finish my task I come back to him play for a while and if necessary set another cuckoo deadline. I try not to do it too many times a day or spread it out with some good chunks of play time.  I know some people use timers and other devices and that can obviously work too, but I like relying less and less on my phone and the fact that we can hear it in most of the house.

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