Being a working parent is like having two full-time jobs. Being able to pull it off at all—never mind doing it well—is quite an accomplishment. With a little planning and organization, the task can seem a lot more manageable. For instance:
- Plan meals for the week . Make several meals ahead of time and freeze them. Enlist the help of older children in shopping and food preparation. This approach has the added benefit that children are more likely to eat meals that they’ve helped buy and cook.
- Have kids take baths, lay out clothes, and pack lunches the night before .
- Allow children to choose their own outfits . Don’t wash clothes until they’re dirty. For infants and toddlers, pack the diaper bag ahead of time.
- At the beginning of the week, make a list of what you have to do each day; encourage other family members to do the same.
- Hang a family calendar in a prominent place so that everyone knows what’s coming up . Use a different color for each person’s activities.
- Assign each child tasks appropriate to their ages , such as setting the table, putting away their toys, removing bedsheets and pillowcases, and separating white from colored laundry.
- Make it easy for young children to put their things away by using shelves and hooks, and putting labels or pictures where things belong.
- If your child doesn’t know how to do a chore, take the time to explain it . Describe the task step by step, do it together, and then coach your child along as he or she tries it. Take it slow and give lots of encouragement. Realize that it will take some practice for your child to master the chore.
- Set a regular bedtime for children . If they are not sleepy at bedtime, have them stay in their bedrooms and do quiet activities such as reading until they are ready to sleep.
- Consider relaxing your standards . This is a busy time in your life and you may need to let some things go in order to focus on the most important goals.
Trying to “get it all done” can be a bit overwhelming, but advance planning can ease the way.