Thursday, 20 December 2012

Adjusting your organisational style to full-time parenting

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have figured out ways of getting things done. I have always been a devotee of paper-based planning, Filofax in particular, and I always felt pretty organised.

The problem is, when my life changed, the way I planned my life needed to change too. A to-do list takes on a new meaning when you have a baby who doesn't keep to a schedule, or a toddler who chooses to throw a tantrum in the middle of an important phone call. And so much time management advice is geared towards people working in office roles, if you don't fit that box there is not much help out there.

I learnt the hard way that managing time means something different at different stages of life. The top five ways I have changed are:

  1. I've learnt to put first things first. Clean clothes to wear and good food to eat for the family have to be absolutely top of my list of priorities. Without caring responsibilities, if you decide to skip lunch or eat cake for dinner, it's up to you. But with little ones in tow, it's not an option.
  2. I've learnt to be flexible. I have a few fixed points in my day (the school run, doctors appointments) but apart from that I split my day into morning / afternoon / evening rather than planning specific times. It saves a lot of stress.
  3. I've learnt to use the TV judiciously. Our kids don't watch much TV. That means that when it does go on, they see it as a treat and really like to watch - allowing me complete an urgent task. And I don't watch much TV - I schedule the few programmes I like to watch in my planner, leaving my evenings free to get on with stuff I need to do. 
  4. I've learnt to accept the natural rhythms of my day. The hour before dinner is not a good time to make a long and complex phone call.
  5. I've learnt I still need to use my Filofax religiously, make to-do lists, and schedule my time. The whole family is happier when there is a plan - the children love knowing what is going to happen next, and it gives me a sense of structure.

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