Parents who work full-time provide a little magic and grace throughout the day. The COVID-19 pandemic punishes working parents.
Parents who work full-time are the best people to provide a little magic and grace throughout the day to their own children—But don’t underestimate the care they take with your team, either.
Parental Time Management Hacks that Work
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it almost impossible to be productive and totally engaged at work for working parents. Although everyone is ready to return to normal, even a “new normal” after the pandemic, working parents will likely feel overwhelmed and stressed.
These hacks are tried and tested and have helped many manage a busy household while helping people and teams maximize efficiency and productivity for decades. Add all of your duties and on your Calendar each month.
Do a Time Audit Every Month
You know that a lot of time is wasted, but most parents don’t spend the time evaluating what could be done differently. A “time audit” is a process that helps you identify where you are wasting your precious time. A time audit is like a financial-wellness audit that a financial advisor might recommend.
Take a copy of your calendar from the previous month, go through each activity and ask these questions:
- Was this an efficient use of my time?
- Could this be outsourced, delegated, or simplified?
- What should I do to respond to this request?
A time audit helps you save time and money in the long term. It is too easy to fill up our calendar with requests and priorities from other people. But if we want to take control of our time, we need to take a proactive approach. Know how you use your time and assess how you use your time.
As a boss, if you are also doing a time audit—keep in mind the office chatter, the water cooler trips, and the lunches, and don’t count those “times” against your “at home” working parents.
Establish Work-Life Friendly Team Ground Rules
The biggest obstacle to setting boundaries about how late you can work responding to emails and other after-hour chores—or working on vacation lies in the legitimate concern that these boundaries might not be compatible with the corporate culture.
All of the extra-long-hour work you did before children are the reason you’ll want to have an essential conversation with your team.
While it is one thing to have your own habits or practices to help you leave work at home, it’s another to be able to discuss these issues as a team and set boundaries that they can all agree on when you have half the team at the office and the other half at home.
Some examples of ground rules could include:
- Meetings after 3:00 p.m.
- End times for meetings have always been met—keep it that way.
- Please leave work at work—no emails or calls after 7:00 p.m.
- Vacation is vacation. Emailing while you are sick or on vacation is not permitted.
- All critical path activities will have backup owners.
These “rules” might not work for you, but it is vital to have a group discussion about how your team can support each other in achieving work/life balance.
Turn Waiting Time into Audio Book Time
Remembering to turn on an audiobook is one of my favorite gifts, and it doesn’t take any extra time. So many individuals have a long list of books we want to read. But who has the time?
Tuning into the value of audiobooks was transformative for me. The practice has turned a lot of my regular wait times into audiobook listening time.
These 15-minute listening sessions have been a big part of my self-care and my professional and personal development. Listening to audio is a regular part of my daily life, especially while waiting in the carpool line or grocery shopping; it energizes and gives you new thoughts and vision for your work.
Many people would find commute time to be an excellent opportunity for audiobooks or podcasts. It’s simple to take advantage of the downtime throughout the week and read at least one book per week. One book a week has had a significant impact on my life and makes for exciting conversations in all parts of life.
Contrary to popular belief, consuming every minute of your day with an activity (regardless of whether it’s enjoyable or not) isn’t healthy and doesn’t feel like self-care. Your body is the best timekeeper you have. So you will know how much time to spend on this new venture.
Coming Out of COVID—You Don’t Have to Accept Every Party Invitation for Your Kids’ Happiness
You’ve probably accepted a birthday invitation because your child wanted to go, but then you are dragging them around all weekend you haven’t taken care of yourself.
Many teens want to stay in bed and play vids until noon, which isn’t always a bad idea—but you need help with the house cleaning and pick up so that you are refreshed to get back to work on Monday.
It’s all too common to look at the kid’s invitation with the party theme and be excited for them—but then you don’t get your weekend catch-up done, and maybe you should consider other priorities like extra sleep, lounging, downtime, or additional sleep.
You might want to pause before accepting invitations if your weekends are not relaxing and reenergizing but rather too busy.
You can wait until the day before the party to make a decision or even suggest writing a fabulous birthday card to your child instead of going to the party.
Your Work-Life Balance Down Time
You need to have downtime as a working parent. But, when weekends are too busy, even with pleasant events such as birthday parties, you won’t have the opportunity (and need) to recharge your batteries—the batteries that will sustain you throughout your l.o.n.g week.
Sometimes, Small Incremental Changes Can Lead to Significant Changes In Your Power and Energy
No one magic bullet will give you a lot of extra time, even for busy professionals.
Parents who work full-time will struggle to prioritize and make it all work. Therefore, it is essential to be thoughtful and intentional about how you spend your most valuable resource—time.
By Abby Miller