Learning time management with a toddler hasn’t been easy.
It’s been more than a month since I’ve written a blog post, and no wonder – at nineteen months old, my son is a handful. He has boundless energy, and is constantly running. His naps are inconsistent and hard to plan around. I used to let him watch a little Sesame Street in the morning, but my pediatrician has advised against any TV until he develops more language/speech skills, so now I’m taking care of him sans electronic baby-sitter.
I miss blogging, and I’ve spent time a lot of time lately wishing I could get back into the groove of it.
Then recently, I remembered something I learned when I first became a mom:
If you are going through something difficult, or have a problem you need to solve, someone else does too!
I’m definitely not the first mother who has struggled with time management! So I started looking online for tips, and I learned that I have a lot more free time than I realize, and that I waste a lot of it! That’s time I could be spending blogging!
If you are struggling with time management with a toddler, here are some tips that I’ve picked up that will help you too!
1. Make a Not-To-Do List, and Stick to it.
It is amazing how much time I give to activities that give me nothing in return. Here are a few of the worst time-wasters for me:
- Browsing Facebook
- Watching TV
- Worrying about what I’m not doing
- Reading gossip online
These activities all have two things in common: I engage in them when I’m tired, and I get nothing from them. So, I’ve put them on my not-to-do list! That means no beating myself up for what I don’t get done – which means no guilt to escape from with daytime TV, Facebook, and celebrity gossip!
When I do want to browse Facebook or other sites online, I set myself a timer for 15 minutes twice a day. When it goes off – that’s it, I’m done. Cellphone down.
You may be asking yourself what to do when you want to relax. When my crazy toddler is driving me bananas, how do I decompress? Well, here’s my solution for that:
2. Schedule Time to Relax, and Shut Everything Off!
When you’re tired, you’re tired. We all need time to shut our brains off – especially when you have a stressful job. And believe me, taking care of a toddler definitely fits into that category! If you don’t make time for rest, you’ll burn out.
But here’s the thing – when you’re engaging in any activity, whether it’s passive or not, you’re using energy, which means you aren’t getting the full rest you need. If you truly want to decompress, you’ve got to deprive your senses of any stimulation.
If you make time each day to lie down in bed with the lights off and no television in the background, you’ll find that after 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll feel rested and ready to tackle that nutburger baby again!
When do you find this time? Well, here’s my easy answer that isn’t exactly easy – at least at first. You will have time for this rest when your child is napping. If your child doesn’t take naps, then start a routine of putting her in the crib (or her bedroom) for 15-20 minutes each day. She’ll be annoyed (and probably scream) at first, but she’ll get used to it after a week or so. More importantly, your child needs that daily rest, and if she can’t fall asleep, she’ll still be relaxing, and that time will still count as rest for your little one.
3. Make a List of Your Priorities, and Use it as a Guide
One of the most important strategies involved in time management is figuring out what not to do. In order to help you along, write down everything that’s important to you. Once you have it all written down, list each priority from most to least important.
Here are mine:
a. Renewing my spirit (thanks Oprah!) by spending time with God.
b. My family and work as a stay-at-home mom.
c. Financial health
d. Getting healthy by eating right and being active
Tie: e. My blog
Tie: e. Spending time with friends
f. Feeding my brain – reading, watching Ted Talks, etc.
Your list should be comprehensive, and include all of the most important aspects of your life. If you have a job, either inside the home or not, make sure to include it, and decide where it takes priority. Same thing goes for education – if you’re taking classes, it’s a priority, so write it down!
Once you have your list written out, it’s easy to make decisions about what needs to get done first! If I have a goal to write a blog post, and I realize it’s 4 p.m. and I need to make dinner, then I can look at my list and see that dinner comes first. Because I’ve prioritized, I don’t feel disappointed or guilty, because I’m being productive in the areas of my life that are the most important to me!
4. Don’t overestimate your ability to be productive – let go of perfectionism.
One thing I didn’t include on this list is making a schedule of things to do throughout the day. I have activities I plan for Troy, like swim lessons and story-time at the library, but otherwise, I keep things loose. There’s one simple reason for this – I can’t predict my son’s temperament. He may wake up with a smile, and be low maintenance all day.
Those days are the best. I get a lot of cleaning done on those days.
Other days, he wakes up screaming. He may be teething, or he may have caught a cold from one of his friends, or he may just be in a rotten mood. He’s a toddler – he can’t help it. And if it’s one of those days, I know I’m not going to get anything done, period.
And that’s OK!!!
That’s part of the deal when you become a parent – and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’m certainly not going to give myself a guilt-trip for not washing the dishes when I’ve got a 19-month-old throwing a tantrum because he’s not allowed to run into the street!
5. Ask for Help!
Repeat after me: “Wonder Woman is a character from a comic book. I can’t do everything on my own.”
Don’t be too proud to ask for help! Everyone needs it sometimes, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your family and friends will pitch in when you need it! They know how hard you work, and they love you!
The only reason I can even write this blog post is because my husband is watching the baby while I write at Starbucks! Knowing he is there at home taking care of Troy makes it easy for me to focus on getting this down and out into the blogosphere!
If you’re single, ask your parents, siblings, cousins, friends – anyone you are close to – for support! You can even find other moms in your community and take turns watching each others kids every few days! You have options – take them!
I’ve been away from my blog for more than a month, but with these time-management skills I’ve picked up, I’ll be able to write again! I’ve got several commitments I’ve shirked – so my first priority, after this time-management post, is to get those completed. They’ll be late, but at least they’ll be done.
What have you learned while working on time management with a toddler?
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