Parenting is stressful under any circumstances, even more so if you suffer from stress or an anxiety disorder.
Juggling your life along with the lives of your children is the most monumental of balancing acts, and effective time management strategies can really help.
Whether you have one child or 4, stay at home or work in an office, there is one fact that never changes: you only have 24 hours a day to get your work done.
And when you are planning meals, getting kids off to school, helping with homework, giving emotional support, doing your day’s work, getting kids off to bed, and the hundreds of other things you do in your day to day life, those 24 hours can fly by, leaving you wondering just where the heck did your day go?
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In my recent post about handling workplace stress, I discussed the importance of making a schedule trying to stick to it, checking tasks off as they are accomplished. I encourage you to do the same with your home life.
Have a Daily Schedule and Stick to It
Having a daily schedule and sticking to it helps relieve stress related to running your home and life. A schedule also helps in finding quality time for your family and friends as well as for yourself, to do the things you enjoy.
When you set up a schedule, be sure to include all the happenings of your day to day life, such as meals, bedtimes, housework and after school activities with the kids. Be consistent and stick to your routine as much as you can. Get up at the same time every morning, and go to bed at the same time every night. Having a waking and retiring schedule reduces stress by promoting restful sleep and is associated with better health.
Research tells us that children are healthier and behave better when they have predictable, daily schedules. And of course having healthy, happy, well-behaved children can make life easier on everyone. 🙂
Schedules are also a great way of dealing with housework, like washing the dishes or feeding the dog. If everyone knows their responsibilities, it saves a lot of arguments and stressing over who was supposed to do what. When they work, housework schedules create greater cooperation, which can make life happier for the whole family.
You’ll need to change your daily schedule when you go on vacation or if you are sick, of course. But the basics remain the same – a dependable schedule that everyone in the household can rely on, so everyone knows what the regular activities are and when they happen.
Taking out the guesswork eliminates the stress.
I suggest you start simply. This is not hard and you already have the basics: a calendar and a pen. I like to use a daily planner like the Day Minder and also jot things down on Post It Notes, like my grocery list or reminders for the kids. I even take a Post It Note with me when I run around in the car doing errands, so I don’t forget something and have to make another trip into town later.
Take out your planner and mark when bills, reports, doctor appointments, haircuts, dog groomings, school events and other things are due. Don’t forget birthdays, after school activities, family events, and other things you might have just filed away in your brain. Put it on the planner and refer to it so you can have a plan for how to schedule your day. (I put everything on my planner, but that’s just me. It not only eliminates my need to feel stressed, it eliminates my need to think! 🙂 )
After you have used your daily planner for a bit, I suggest you print out a general daily schedule and tape it in a high traffic area, such as on the refrigerator so everyone can see it. The family may think it’s odd at first, but they’ll get used to it. Here is an example of one of my daily morning schedules that I keep next to my computer. If I’ve had a rough night or wake up anxious, this is a great way to get me oriented as to what I need to do to get my day started.
My Morning Schedule
5:30 a.m. Jill rise and shine!
5:40-6:00 make decaf coffee, check email
6:00 wake up kids
6:00- 6:30 work on computer, make kid lunches, collect outgoing mail
6:45-7:15 clean up breakfast, showers, fix hair, brush teeth
7:15-7:30 check homework, pack backpacks, sign papers
7:30 kiss kiddos goodbye, send off to school
7:30- 8:00 take dog for walk
8:00-8:30 shower, get dressed, plan dinner, take food out of freezer
8:30 start work
Revise as necessary, such as during school breaks. When you have a daily schedule and stick to it, you’ll never again have to stress about what’s for dinner at 5:00 p.m. (because you already did the grocery shopping, or took the meat out of the freezer earlier), and you’ll have no more stressful surprises, like forgetting a parent teacher conference (which I did last month, gulp!) because you won’t forgot to mark it on your planner. 😉
Having a schedule on my daily planner works for me, and I’ll take all the help I can get. Effective time management helps take some of the stress out of my day and gives me some breathing space to really enjoy this wonderful life of mine. 🙂
I wish you peace,