I never realized how much time I actually had pre-children until after they were here. The idea that I ever used the phrase “I don’t have time” before my son was born is laughable to me now and I know many parents can probably relate. I guess the lack of time shouldn’t have come as so much of a surprise since it’s actually a relatively simple equation–the more people you have in one home, the more needs, the less time to get it all done.
I’ve worn many hats in my four years since becoming a mom. I’ve worked full-time, I’ve worked part-time, I’ve worked overtime, I’ve been in grad school, I’ve stayed at home full-time, and I’ve worked from home part-time. I’d like to think that I’ve learned a little bit through each of those experiences, and while I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic of time management, I have come a long way since becoming a parent. Gone are the days when I was single and only worrying about one person (me). I now have to take the needs of multiple people into consideration with just about everything I do and every decision I make and I have to figure out how it all fits into our lives as a whole. These few pieces of advice have been the key to doing just that.
5 Ways I Manage My Time Differently Now That I’m a Parent:
- I let go of work/life balance. I’m not saying that I ever neglect either entirely, or that we shouldn’t strive for some semblance of balance in our lives, but I finally rejected the idea that things were always (or ever) going to be 50/50. Something is always going to give, at least a tiny bit. Without the added pressure of attempting to achieve perfect work/life balance, I was free to focus more on my family when I needed to, as well as more on my work when I needed to, without the guilt that once accompanied it.
- I work smarter, not harder. There is a difference between sitting at my desk for four hours and actually doing four hours worth of work. The same goes for when I’m trying to get stuff done around the house. Since I usually feel equally as drained either way, I’ve learned to make a list of what’s most important, focus, and get. it. done (and usually in about one third of the time it would’ve taken me otherwise) so that I have more time left over to do the things I want to do.
- I learned to say “no”. No to play dates, no to family commitments, no work obligations, etc. This obviously isn’t always feasible, but generally, if I start to feel like I’m overextending myself, I just say no. I can’t tell you how much less stressed and pressed for time this makes me in the long run. Squeezing too much into my schedule always winds up in a disaster. I’ve realized that I can’t do it all and that’s OKAY.
- I make the most of my free time and “unplug” whenever possible. It never ceases to amaze me just how much of a black hole unlimited access to the internet can be, both when I’m working and when I’m home with my family. The problem with constantly succumbing to the temptation of email, social media, and YouTube videos meant that I was either a) taking a whole lot longer to get things done at work, which in turn, cut into my free time, or b) not making the most of the time I had with my family. Now I choose to be present whenever I can and turn off the devices in favor of more quality time with my family or actually getting things done when I’m supposed to.
- I wake up before my kids. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, I do my best to wake up before my son starts yelling “maaaa!” from his room. This allows me to have a cup of coffee, put on a bit of makeup, do some yoga, shower, or just sit in silence for a moment. It’s often the only uninterrupted time I get to myself all day, and taking those few extra minutes for myself helps set the tone for my day and makes me more productive.
How do you manage your time differently since becoming a parent?
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