My 5 secrets for efficient parenting

By Jason Thomson on February 28, 2013
You don’t need more hours in the day.

That may sound startling given that I’m a parent in the team that raises six kids (who blogged about stress last week), but if there were more hours in the day, we’d probably just end up doing more dishes.

Time is always of the essence around here, which is why I’m crazy about efficiency. I’ve run my own creative business for nearly 20 years now and the only way I ever get through the day is by finding smarter ways at doing the little things – so that I can actually focus on the bigger things. It’s part of the reason that I’m having some trouble with the stress load now. I don’t waste a lot of time as it is because of four really important personal rules.

Pay attention to the “mortar” of the day

My day is full of five-minute spaces – I dub them “mortar” – whether it’s the five minutes between conference calls or the three minutes I’m waiting to grab a streetcar/subway/train. Checking email, picking off admin projects or researching worksheets for the kids – you can get them all done during these spaces. Savings: 10-20 minutes a day.

Create expectations

Carve out specific times for specific things. Only check emails and voicemails at specific internals (savings: 15 minutes a day). Encourage the kids to do homework right after school (savings: 30 minutes a day – you can get them to bed earlier). A big one here is food prep time. We do a meal plan every week, one big shop and then try to do all our prep in a single two-hour block. This is a massive time savings.

Get separated

I see too many partners spending time duplicating efforts, when they’re not really saving that much time. One makes dinner, as the other helps with homework. One folds laundry, as the other puts it away. Get efficient and the time will stack up.

Put your team to work a little

Kids can help, no matter how small they are or how big the job. We’re in the midst of getting the small fries to do dinner clean up (savings: 40 minutes a day) or helping with grocery shopping (savings: 30 minutes a week).

Sleep. Seriously, sleeeep

This is the most important one. I’d rather leave the dishes for three days than give up on sleep. It’s not just important, it’s crucial. Studies are showing that health is improved the more sleep you get (up to nine hours, yes NINE). Get enough sleep and you’ll be able to do more. Nap (even a short one in your car) and you’ll improve your health, your anxiety, your eating habits, your just about everything. Savings: 3-4 hours a week.

I take back 1-2 hours a day. Now, I just need to put that savings into a walk outdoors instead of a walk to the living room for some TV...

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