There’s one person who brings home the bacon, fries it up in the pan- and manages it all without the help of a man. She’s a baker, a banker, a nurse, a mechanic, a handyman, and whatever else life calls for – everyday. Here’s some tips from a single mom – the ultimate time-management professional on how to get through it all, with your sanity in tact;Tip #1 – there are 24 hours in a day. Use them wisely. Do what you need to do, when you need to do it. The last thing you need is a list of unfinished things to do to drive you over the edge.
Tip #2 – It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be done. In later years, you can return to perfectionism if you choose, but for now – don’t take time away from what’s really important to stress over things that aren’t that important.
Tip #3 – Learn how to do things efficiently. Learn the tricks to keeping your house clean. Learn how to cook fast healthy dinners. Plan your trips in a logical sequence. Use lists. Shop online. Minutes are precious – save as many as you can.
Tip #4 – swallow your pride and ask for help if you need it. As much as you may want to prove to the world that you are capable of everything, we can’t do everything all by ourselves. If you’re running late or tied up in traffic and don’t think you’ll make it in time to get your kid out of daycare, call a friend or neighbor. Offer to feed them. You’ll have a nice visit and relax a little. Everyone wins.
You can share responsibilities with another parent. One of you can drop the kids off and the other can pick them up. Or you can do one day, and the other parent another day. Just ask!Tip #5 – give help as much as you can, without taking away from your own family. If a friend or neighbor doesn’t have a car, offer to take them to the store when you go. If they’re not feeling well, offer to pick up something when you go to the store. Make an extra serving of your dinner to take over. You can do a lot of little things for people with hardly any effort. Leading by example is a great way to mold your kids into giving people. It should be a natural response for them to offer a helping hand. Always remember, what goes around comes around.
Tip #6 – Learn to get along with difficult people – there are many people in your life that you would rather not deal with, but have to. Ex-spouses usually hold the #1 position on that list. But the long-term benefits of not having to argue all the time,
less stress on your kid, not having to take everything to court to settle, really do outweigh the discomfort of having to deal with this person and remain civil. If you are newly divorced, take comfort, it gets better after a couple of years in most cases. That is until your child turns 13, but that’s a whole nother story!Other people on your hate to deal with list may include bosses, family members, and some customers. There are benefits to being able to deal with these people. Always remember that point, tough as it is sometimes.
Tip #7 – Choose your battles. Only yell, argue, or stress over things that really make a difference. Let little things slide. That being said, don’t be a doormat either. If it’s important, speak up!
Tip #8 – Make health and fitness a priority. You need every ounce of energy. Fruits, vegetables, vitamins, exercise and water need to be on the top of the list for you and your kids so you all can operate at peak performance and get sick less often. Nothing throws a wrench in the works like once of you getting sick. And fresh fruits and vegetables make for really fast dinners and fewer dishes!
Tip #9 – Make Dinner! It may seem that you’re saving time by picking up fast food, or preparing instant foods, but it’s really not true. The time you spend picking up fast food could be spent talking with your kids while they do homework. That time is priceless. Homework gets done, and you all get to connect.
Instant foods really don’t save you any measurable time. As an added benefit, eating fresh real foods not only tastes better – but will keep you all healthier, and thinking better too.
Tip #10 – Plan ahead for those nights when you need to be somewhere – girl scouts, practice, etc. There are plenty of fast meals you can make in about 15 minutes. One of my favorites is steak or chicken breast, tossed salad, and (micro)baked potato.
Again, you’re leading by example – managing your time, and eating healthy. Make it clear that they have to hustle and get as much homework done as quickly as possible.
Don’t look at me like that. I did it for years! Girl scouts, band concerts, talent shows, conferences, art club, youth group…
Tip #11 – Don’t over-schedule. You can’t live on a hectic schedule every night. You need a couple nights a week without additional commitments so you’re not all burning out. Tip #12 – Get enough sleep. You know how much sleep you need to function through the next day. Make sure you get it. For most adults, 6 hours is the minimum. 7 is optimal for me. How about you? It will take some experimentation and observation with your kids to determine just how much sleep they need. My daughter’s performance falls considerably if she doesn’t get enough sleep.
If you are practicing the other tips, such as living efficiently, and getting enough nutrition and exercise, and getting help when you need it, getting enough sleep probably won’t be difficult.
Tip #13 – Make time for fun. All work and no play make Jane a dull girl with high blood pressure, depression, and no one left to play with. Seriously, down time and recreation is just as important as working hard. Even if it’s just a quick game of hide and seek, or a 15-minute bike ride – you’ll give your brain a rest and get some exercise.
My daughter is almost 17, and we still take walks together, or jump in the lake for a few minutes. We make an effort to spend quality time together. But that doesn’t just happen. You have to start when they’re young. If they’ve grown up that way, it will be natural for them to continue.
Everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and we wonder why everyone is psychotic, depressed, fatigued, and overweight. You’ve got to lighten up!
Tip #15 – turn off the cell phone. I don’t care if it’s the president calling. You don’t have to jump and answer that phone every time it rings or vibrates (unless it’s your kid calling – then you do have to.) Focus on the relationship happening in front of you.
Have you tried helping a customer who’s constantly answering the phone while you’re trying to conduct business?
Have you tried having a conversation with your teen when they’re constantly texting while you’re talking to them?
Are you always putting the people in front of you on hold? How do you think it makes them feel? Pretty unimportant?
Is it any wonder that people feel like they have to act crazy to get any attention?
I almost fell over when my daughter started leaving her phone at home when we take a walk. She’s getting the message. We can break this crazy cycle!
Tip #16 – turn off the TV. Better yet – get rid of it all together. That’s what we did. We live where you can’t get reception without cable or satellite. I just refuse to pay that much for mind numbing, time stealing, so called “entertainment”.
Can you imagine actually having a conversation with your kids after dinner? It’s amazing. We spend a lot of time at the table. You will have to learn to put up with their music though. Tough, but it’s worth it.
Tip #17 – Live life on your terms. Your beliefs, dreams, and moral fiber are different from everyone else’s. Do not comprise who you are to make someone else happy. It never works. And certainly don’t compromise yourself to make money. Be rich in spirit. You’ll be a lot happier when you look at your reflection in the morning.
We’ve lost the health and happiness that comes with living a balanced life. It doesn’t have to be that way. Try life on the other side. It’s really much more enjoyable.
And remember that your kids learn by seeing what you do. Show them the way to live a balanced life. We just might change the world.
Sometimes you have to put your foot down. That takes courage. Do it. Stick to your priorities. People will get used to it 😉