How to manage time as a parent: here are a few tips I’ve compiled for you on what has worked for me so far.
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Right now (literally) my son is screaming his head off. You might think I’m a bad parent, but anyone who’s had a toddler understands.
It’s not that I didn’t give him his milk, or my undivided attention, or that I haven’t rocked him for the better part of 3 hours now. It’s not that I haven’t given him enough time to self-soothe or that he needs his blanket or anything like that.
He is about to be 18 months and we have an almost four-month-old as well. Sure, he’s gotten jealous at times but this is a combination of a growth-spurt, molars coming in, and general “toddler behavior”. I’ve been reading up on the 20-month sleep regression too and I have to think it’s real. My six-month-old is hungry though so, as you can imagine, it’s a constant juggle.
You have to juggle. Manage time as a parent with a grain of salt.
That’s tip number one. How to manage time as a parent is being flexible. I half-finished the dishes in favor of feeding my daughter. I fed her enough (45 minutes ago) before I went back to rocking my son. But she’s hungry again. And I have to go rock him, again, and eventually, I have to feed myself.
Luckily, it’s possible to eat something while I feed her, just as it’s possible to wash the dishes while he’s awake. Try as you might, sometimes those things will inevitably have to coincide. I will occasionally lock my son in the bathroom with me so I can wash my face without worrying he’s getting into (too much) trouble.
What I ended up doing, after two hours of alternating between rocking him and letting him cry, is just try working with him next to me. If he doesn’t nap today, so be it, but he has to learn that mommy can’t be his constant entertainment.
You’re not their constant entertainer.
There is a time and place to be their best friend when they’re so little and there’s a time for being moms and dads. I’ll admit, I chose to stay home with my kids because I love them so much I can’t bear to be away from them for long. But learning how to manage time as a parent can be difficult.
I knew that this was the life for me, but it’s not the life for everyone and that is fine! Some days, like today, I question my decision too.
When children go to daycare, they get just about everything they could want. Lots of fun, new toys, friends, entertainment, and the like. Very little is “off-limits” at daycare, and rightfully so! I wouldn’t want to drop my kids off somewhere that didn’t even cover their outlets!
But working from home with kids means that you have to have a routine, you have to enforce rules and you have to foster their independence.
Hardly anyone believes me when I say that my son doesn’t watch television much. It’s not for lack of things to watch, I’ll tell you that much. You have to manage time as a parent as well as the kids.
No, my son is a little imp, as I say. It’s an affectionate way of saying that he’s mischievous. He gets into everything and he’s constantly moving. Even when I give him something he’s not supposed to be able to get in trouble with, he finds a way to do just that.
Like the iPad, he has one app in particular that he loves because he can have complete freedom. Except, of course, that he figured the whole app out in a matter of days and now he likes to drip his milk onto the iPad, which is a big no-no.
Listen, I hate being that mom that gives her toddler the iPad to keep him occupied. But my son is so smart. He gets it from his dad. Every puzzle we own, every toy we have, every book on the shelf he has memorized.
I let him play with the dish towels and the pots and pans. But we have socially distanced to the best of our ability and there are only so many children’s songs and games I know!
So I have had to let him get into supervised “trouble”. It doesn’t really bother me to clean up the dish towels every second of every day, he’s at least not hurting himself or anyone else that way too and then I can wash the dishes or whatever else I have to do.
To manage time as a parent, you can’t have it all.
As a parent, in order to manage your time effectively, you have to be fluid. You can try all you like to schedule things out to the minute but you can’t schedule in when they’re going to have an “off” day. Or an off moment.
Just recently we took our first mini-vacation with both kids. After a day and a half of fun, my son was peacefully sleeping in his stroller on the day we were supposed to head for home. I remember saying to my husband that if we left at that moment, we could get home with no meltdowns. But it was vacation!
So we stayed, and we went in the pool again, and it was all fun in the sun. Until it was time to get out of the pool. I have never, in the entirety of my son’s existence on this earth, seen him lose his cool the way he did. Full screaming, throwing his body to the ground, kicking and biting and all-out meltdown.
I’ll be honest, I was that parent. I did not know how to manage my son. As I handed him to my husband, who’s more the ‘bad-cop’, I was mortified.
The worst part was that I knew it was inevitable. How to manage time as a parent is knowing your kids.
I know my kids. Most moms could agree that they know their kids like the back of their hand (where did I get that cut though!?).
In all seriousness, as much as I knew a meltdown was inevitable, I didn’t think it would be right then. My son doesn’t like attention much. He doesn’t throw tantrums just so people pay attention to him. The fact that we were surrounded by people was almost my ‘protection’ against a meltdown of that magnitude.
But just because he never has done something before, doesn’t mean that he won’t, obviously. And I know this, I’ve been around children my entire life, but it’s just another prime example of how difficult this parenting gig is.
I love my children.
I do. Obsessively so. I know these stories paint my son like he’s a heathen but I promise you, he’s the sweetest thing you ever met. He kisses me all the time, unprompted. Those dish towels he plays with? He runs full sprint to give me one when I need to dry my hands. And his favorite thing in the world is feeding me snacks.
Parenting ultimately comes down to that one important factor, love. My grandmother was fond of saying that if you love them, you can’t go wrong.
It’s a mix of wanting what is best for them, and being the best to them. If I want to pay for their college in the future, I have to work hard. But all of that work shouldn’t take me away from them completely either. It’s always a balance. The key to learning how to manage time as a parent is to remember that not everything has to get done at a specific time. Relax, the laundry can be folded tomorrow too.
He’s napping now. And those molars are peeking through (two down and how many to go?). But it will be alright. The work still got done, and the world didn’t end before he took a nap. Most importantly, you have to be gracious. You have to be gracious with yourself and with your children.
I know I get cranky when I have a toothache, and I’ve had them before. This is my children’s first go-around, so they’re just learning like I am. And my daughter? She’s possibly the chillest little human ever. Ask me again when she’s a toddler.
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