Guest post by Missy
Mothering in any sense requires serious time management, but when the number of children increase and the father leaves, it becomes an essential life skill.
1. Assess your resources and enlist help
- Car pool with a neighbor and split the number of trips made to school, along with less time spent in the minivan lineup.
- Trade chores. This works with meals and babysitting – other single moms are especially good prospects for this.
- Get your sitter or nanny on the same page. Have the kitchen clean and toys picked up when you get home.
- Enlist your children’s assistance in meal preparation, writing lists, putting away silverware and other simple tasks.
2. Streamline everything you can
- Make your mornings simpler and set a better tone for the day by placing all needed things together the night before.
- A two-week menu plan keeps my grocery list relatively constant. Immediately add used items to the shopping list. I clip coupons (or print online) for the items I know we’ll use and let other deals go. Occasionally, add in something new or seasonal to the repertoire.
- For me, it works best to have daily, weekly and monthly routines as described in Emilie’s Creative Home Organizer. To save time on laundry, I put a load in the wash each morning and move it to the dryer after dinner. I have to be committed to folding and putting away just as soon as they are dry. If I don’t, it piles up and gets overwhelming.
- Clean as you go. I’ve also found with two little boys that flushable cleaning wipes are also great for a daily quick bathroom touch-up!
- Combine tasks. I clean the bathroom while the children are in the tub. My one who bathes in the morning often eats breakfast in the tub. I do the dishes while the children are cleaning up their evening toys and I garden, weed or mow while they are playing outdoors. We all know to combine errands, that stopping by the bank, the dry cleaner or the market on the way home from childcare are standard ways to avoid fragmenting my day. I keep clipboards in the van so that homework and artwork can be done en route. We also practice our memory verses on the go and read our daily Scripture during dinner.
3. Work the Web
- Make the most of your time by connecting with family and friends online.
- Upload photos and print from home.
- Do your Christmas shopping online.
- Earn extra money through sales on ebay or Craigslist.
- Donate items to others via Freecycle – they will even come pick up!
- Look for grocery bargains, make your lists online, send yourself reminder notes.
- Of course, do your banking, bill paying and rebates online.
The possibilities are endless, just don’t get sucked into spending more time here than is beneficial. I loved Crystal’s computer time budget suggestion.
4. Capitalize on personal time
Not every single mother has a co-parent. But for those who do, I simply cannot express the importance of managing that time when your children are at the other parent’s home.
This is the time to get in as many errands as possible, tackle bigger projects like painting or re-arranging your furniture, steam cleaning the carpet, cleaning the refrigerator and whatever else is impossible to with children underfoot. If you do not co-parent, ask grandparents or a friend to keep the children overnight from time to time.
Make an end-point to your day, then relax in the tub, read or just indulge in extra sleep. Such sweet times for yourself empower you to be all you can for those little ones depending on you.
Missy June is a hard working optimist doing my best to enjoy life with my three little ones in this not-so-perfect world. She blogs at Little House in the Foothills.
Are you a single parent? If so, what tips, tricks and ideas do you have for time management? Share them in the comments.