The obstacles that we commonly experience in parenting are feeling overwhelmed, lack of planning, resistance to planning, over-seriousness and unrealistic expectations. There always will be conflicts between the things that you need to get done for your family, your career, and your own personal nurturing. You will never be able to do everything. Time is limited and tasks to be performed are unlimited, but you can only do what you can do. Having a framework for making conscious decisions about trade-offs, compromises and adjustments will ease the task, but it won’t be easy. It will require discipline, practice, and perseverance, but it is worth the effort.
Taking Control of Your Life
So what’s a parent to do? How do you get everything done in the limited time available? The answer is to take control of your life. Recognize that some of the pressures you feel are self-imposed and unnecessary. Begin by recognizing these and getting rid of them. Remind yourself that no matter how much you have to do or how limited your resources are, there are always choices to be made and by making them, stress can be reduced. In addition, you must be ready to let go of being overwhelmed. Becoming a professional at parenting means becoming a more conscious parent. It means recognizing that if you feel overwhelmed, it’s an indication that you are doing too much and/or behaving inefficiently. The following are suggestions to help you move toward taking better control of your life.
Prepare Preliminary To-Do List
If there’s too much on it, determine what’s essential and place non-essential items on a “future” list
Prioritize and Schedule
Prepare a 30-day calendar allocating specific days and time blocks for the essential activities
Create Additional Time
Extend the workday – not recommended but an option, if no other works
Create more time by simplifying and reducing wasted or inefficient use of time, such as:
- Too many trips for errands which could be combined
- Unnecessary phone calls and/or long phone calls
- Not preparing things for the next day
- Agreeing to do something which you really didn’t want or need to do
- Not concentrating on one thing at a time, and accumulating a backlog of unfinished tasks
- Not setting priorities
- Allowing too many distractions, such as turning on the TV for a short break which then becomes a long one.
Do some things less thoroughly or less frequently, such as housecleaning, grocery shopping, etc.
Delegate – get help from your spouse, children and extended family
Barter – exchange help with someone (e.g., look after a neighbor’s children along with your own and have them do the same for you).
Pay for help – if necessary, sacrificing something material for household or childcare
Networking – create or join a support group for sharing activities or providing other support
Reduce unnecessary worry – just because something is possible doesn’t mean it’s probable
Reduce negative effects of false emergencies, interruptions, and distractions
On-going Planning and Revision
Given the possibilities described above to parent smarter rather than harder, you are in a position to (a) prepare a plan that is more realistic, less stressful, and more productive, and (b) to evaluate results and make adjustments along the way. Evaluation of the schedule involves looking at what was actually done in relation to what was originally planned, and deciding what, if anything, could have been done better. The longer you stay with the process, the more skilled you become and the easier it gets.
Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.