Hands up who has been to a Time Management course during their working years? Did you go there with high hopes of finally managing your time properly only to realize that it seemed to work for a week and then fizzled out? I am wondering whether time can actually be managed? We all have the same amount to start with; we cannot compress or extend our time. It is a matter of arranging all the things we need and want to do into our daily routine. I have tried for 35 years and still haven’t nailed it but I am trying. So why do some people seem to have it all together and some don’t?
Well, first of all, we are mothers. Let’s face it: We are the busiest people in the world. Our day starts just after midnight and goes for about 24 hours. During that time, we raise children, are supportive partners, caring daughters, understanding friends, active parts of the school committee and look after our elderly neighbor. Many of us are also committed employees or running our own businesses.
Do you sometimes ask yourself how some mums have their hair done and make-up on every morning at school drop off? And when did they learn to bake humungous birthday cakes with rainbow color icing and a fairy on top? When did they even have time to find the right recipe? They seem to have their home organized, time for their children and exciting nights out with their partner. Yes, it’s true, I’ve seen it on Facebook! Um, hang on … was that the same person or is that a preferred image of me combining seven of my Facebook friends?
View yourself and your priorities realistically
Realistically viewed, which of these characteristics could potentially be me? When I look at them, I realize that baking with fairies on top only excites me when it is put in front of me ready to eat.
So here we go: I am wasting my time trying to mold into a persona that I am not. You will never see me in the schoolyard without make-up though. And why am I able to do my hair and make-up every morning and not my friend Gemma who keeps saying, “I don’t have a clue when you do this?” Because it is important to me! I make sure I have enough time to do that every morning.
When I take a critical look at the things I should or could do, I realize that things I love doing seem to take much less effort and much less time than the ones I don’t like doing.
Why do we waste so much time doing things we dislike or even hate doing? Well, the answer is, We have to!
Not everything in life is easy and fun and not every chore can be eliminated. What about the ones we do which are total time killers and do not seem to add much benefit to anyone?
So how do you find more time?
1. Take a moment to look at the weekly chores that seem to bother more than add value
I printed out a weekly chart and I wrote down every single activity we had on for one week to find out how much quality time the three of us actually had together. I was surprised by the amount of time spent driving to and from extra-curricular activities I believed were important for my children, sometimes simply following school friends. When they finally arrived home at 5.30 pm, they were exhausted and grumpy and there was no quality time together in sight.
Our tight schedule was filled with chores: I did not enjoy being the taxi driver losing my valuable time. My kids did not enjoy 3 activities after school when they wanted nothing more than go home and relax.
We do not need 2 birthday parties every weekend, at least 6 hours spent at parties that leave my kids on a sugar high and make me count down the hours until I can put them to bed – that’s not enjoyable, it is not quality time!
For me, this critical evaluation had one clear message we needed to make some changes.
2. Work out a plan together (as a family) and agree on changes to create more time.
Have a family meeting to decide together – we discussed the activities that were most important to the children and agreed that we would try a new schedule and then revisit. (A maximum of two activities, with the option to try alternatives during the holidays).
We also agreed on each going to 2 parties per month choosing which ones they’d like the most (this also saves a lot of money!) Parties wear my kids out, interrupt the weekend and prevent us from spending a whole day together just lazing around, watching a movie on the Telly or going for a drive into the country to a friend’s farm.
Not everyone who is having a birthday party might be happy with you opting out but I have noticed that establishing some boundaries and being persistent has added to my confidence as a mother. I feel much more in control.
3. Make time to exercise regularly
You don’t have time to exercise? I hear you. I often get stuck in the daily hustle and bustle and when the day is over I realize, I have not exercised AGAIN. Then I find myself with the lame excuse “well, I didn’t have time for that” but what I ‘ve noticed in the last few weeks of exercising more regularly is that if I take the time to go for a walk or a run – even if it is just for 30 minutes – I have so much more energy available to tick off the tasks that need that extra bit of motivation.
I feel better about myself and pick up many more compliments about being positive and radiant then when I am slack about my exercising regime (trust me, I will still never be a marathon runner). I also sleep much better at night.
After 6 months I can say, we are travelling much better and our time together is much more enjoyable and hassle-free. We have time to have a chat over dinner and arguing is replaced by talking about what’s going on at school. Take a look at your weekly schedule, make the time to exercise regularly for you and find what is in your schedule that does not add much value but takes away important time together?