It’s time to put the barbeque grill and the patio set away. Summer is over and school is back in session.
As the labour day weekend concludes, anxiety builds as the first week back in school forces you into high gear. You suddenly find yourself multitasking in double time and performing a difficult juggling act.
If you are a single parent, finding a balance between school, work, family, friends, and household responsibilities is especially challenging. Your 24-hour pie chart suddenly gets sliced into many thin pieces leaving little or no time for relaxation.
For the next 10 months, a large portion of your time will be dedicated to driving kids to and from school and to their activities, volunteering for school fundraisers, chaperoning them on their social outings, and assisting them on homework. 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 music or sports practice. At the end of each day, you feel super exhausted and there is still housework to do.
Practicing some techniques in time management will help put some order to all of the chaos. Now is the time to examine your priorities and find ways to manage your time more efficiently so that you can enjoy yourself and your kids throughout the upcoming school year.
Here are some suggestions:
- Delegate house chores: Set a house cleaning day, like a Sunday, and give your kids weekly domestic responsibilities that are age appropriate. Encourage them and reward them to show your appreciation. Training the kids will ease your domestic load in the long run.
- Prepare a weekly menu: Decide on the meals you will cook for the week and make a grocery list of all the ingredients you will need so that you only need to shop once for the week. Create a nutritious balance of easy-to-cook or prepared meals with fresh produce for healthy snacking.
- Mass produce meals: Make larger batches of dinners and freeze them so that you have something wholesome in reserve for when you don’t have the time to cook.
- Shop during non-peak hours: You can save time by grocery shopping during non-peak hours such as 8-9pm weekdays or during dinner time on the weekends. There’s less wait time when the store is least congested.
- Prepare for activities the day before: Create a weekly schedule of all the kids’ practices, parent meetings, and other school activities. Gather and prepare supplies such as uniforms, band instruments, and music books a day before so you don’t wind up doing a last minute scavenger hunt.
- Employ as many automated machineries: Buy a dishwasher to do the dishes to free up space and time during the day. 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 location with several washers and dryers that will allow you to do as many loads simultaneously and cut down your washing time.
- Car pool with other parents: Coordinate car-pooling schedules with parents of kids on the same sports team so that you don’t have to take time off work every time there is a practice during the day.
- Enlist the kids in activities offered at school: Enrolling the kids in activities offered at school versus outside of school frees up driving time and eases the budget.
There are many areas in 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.
Relax, recharge and replenish: Give yourself at least 30 minutes a day to recharge your batteries. Read a book, write a journal, take a warm bath, or meditate before bedtime. This is all possible to accomplish on a daily basis if you manage your time efficiently even if you are a single parent.