Aside from Christmas, it is one of the busiest and most expensive times of the year for parents of school kids – back-to-school. In September, you find yourself doing double time, multitasking, and being fully immersed in the rat race once again. If you are a single parent with children attending school, your 24-hour pie chart suddenly gets sliced into many thin pieces leaving little or no time for relaxation.
You have to get up at least an extra hour earlier to make breakfast, prepare lunches or perhaps even bring the kids to their morning activity. Your week can easily be booked up with school related activities like driving kids to and from school and volunteering for fundraising activities. At the end of each school day, you feel super exhausted with still a pile of housework to do. This is the norm for the next 10 months of the year and practicing some techniques in time management will help put some order to all of the chaos.
Here are some suggestions in managing your time more efficiently so that you can enjoy yourself and your kids throughout the upcoming school year.
- Shop during non-peak hours: Do your grocery shopping at non-peak hours, usually from 8 – 10pm or during dinner time, when it is less congested. If the kids are old enough to be left alone while you shop, you can ask them to help you clean up the kitchen after dinner and get ready for bed shortly after.
- Utilize as many automated machineries: Buy a dishwasher to do the dishes to free up as much of your time. If you own a washing machine, throw in a load of laundry while you relax or do other things. If you have to go to a laundry facility, choose the least busy day to go and find a facility that will allow you to do as many loads simultaneously and reduce your washing time.
- Delegate tasks: Train your kids to perform domestic tasks that are age appropriate. Pre-teen kids are usually capable of vacuuming, washing the dishes, and cooking, while younger kids can be asked to do simple tasks, such as cleaning their room or dusting the furnishings. Create a reward system as a form of appreciation so you can guarantee future task fulfillment and self sufficiency.
- Prepare food in advance: Prepare lunches the night before. Make larger batches of dinners and preserve some in the freezer for future consumption.
- Car pool with other parents: Coordinate car-pooling schedules with parents of kids on the same sports team.
- Enlist the kids in activities offered at school: Enroll the kids in activities offered at school versus outside of school to free up driving time and possibly ease the budget.
There are many areas of your daily schedule where you can manage time more efficiently. The earlier you prepare for these demanding times, the smoother the transition from summer vacation to school time and the quicker you will be able to reduce your level of stress and enjoy the journey.