Time Management for Busy Moms
By Jeannette Webb
You spend a great deal of time organizing your children’s academics. It is also important to organize the non-academic part of life – both the children’s activities and family pursuits. You must make wise time use choices if you want to be successful in preparing your children for a competitive college. Not only must you get the most mileage out of the things they do that will build a stellar resume, you must train them to be efficient in their own use of time if you want them to be successful on a top campus where there will be many demands made of them. If you can’t prioritize and eliminate unnecessary things in your own life, how do you ever expect them to do so? Remember, your example is the most powerful teaching tool you have. Learn to be efficient yourself and train them to be as well.
One technique used by many successful business people is called clustering, blocking or batching – clumping similar things together so time is better utilized. Here are some ideas for clustering in a home situation.
Leave home as few days as possible. We all know from experience that if we leave home for any reason, the school day is usually shot. I have to have a really compelling reason to get in the car. Here are some examples of how to use this principle:
Schedule all appointments on the same day. This can mean that everyone in the family gets a haircut the same afternoon, everyone goes to the dentist on the same day, or that Judy goes to the dentist, the optometrist, and gets a physical on one day. Once you make one appointment (which is usually done several months in advance), start scheduling everything possible that same day.
One family we knew had four children, all of which took music lessons on different instruments. They selected music teachers who all taught at a single college campus and who could accommodate their tight schedule. On music lesson day, mom dropped the kids on campus and they scattered to their various teachers. Later that evening, the oldest child had orchestra rehearsal. The mom also did grocery shopping and errands on this day.
My family had to drive two hours one way to our closest large city for violin lessons. So Mondays were the day we crammed everything in: music lessons, quartet rehearsal, orchestra rehearsal, medical appointments, groceries, shopping, errand running, meetings, etc.
I learned to batch meals, doubling, tripling, sometimes making six times the recipe and freezing for future busy days (or for sharing when others had a need). I formed cookie dough into rolls and froze for quick desserts and snacks.
Keep a shopping list on the refrigerator. Train the family to write the item on the list whenever they take the last can of something out of the pantry or laundry detergent is getting low, etc. This way you never run out and have to make extra trips to shop.
Lean to batch shopping. The idea is to buy in multiples whenever possible for any routine events so there are no last minute trips.
I tend to always give the same gift at baby showers, Honey for a Child’s Heart and The Hungry Caterpillar. Most people don’t give books at these events and this gift is always unique and prized. I buy these books 4 or 5 at a time and keep on hand so there is no last minute shopping.
How about buying multiple sets of Tupperware (or whatever your favorite gift is) for wedding showers and keep a stash of that on hand.
I found some lovely bookmarks at a bookstore and keep 8-10 on hand to say a special thank you or for an adult’s birthday.
Shop online for bridal registries. It costs a little more, but saves an incredible amount of time.
Depending on your financial situation, there are personal shoppers, personal assistants, and shopping services at some stores.
I shop for or make (depending on the financial situation) all the birthday and anniversary cards we will need for the year at one time. I pre-address each card and write the date they need to be mailed (about 4 days before the special day) in the right hand corner where the stamp will cover. Then I file them chronologically in a basket. I check the stash each morning and mail when the date comes up.
Keep 5-10 extra cards on hand for each potential need: get well, sympathy, thinking of you, and a few extra birthday cards for unexpected people. I buy post cards at art museums by the handful and keep plenty of thank you notes and blank stationary plus a roll of stamps.
I keep a handful of the Gideon Memorial Bible cards that can be used for funerals or memorials. This is a very convenient way to provide Bibles where needed and honor a friend or loved one.
Once you start looking around, you will find that there are many opportunities to improve your time management and doing so will save you precious hours that are needed to make it through the high school years. Not only will you have more productive time on your hands, but your children are watching and learning.
Jeannette Webb is founder of Aiming Higher Consultants, a firm dedicated to helping Christian students gain admission to great colleges. She has a heart for assisting parents as they train their children for excellence. Jeannette works to empower families to make thoughtful choices for their younger children, to confidently navigate the difficult high school years, and then ace the college admissions process. Get her FREE guide “10 Mistakes Students Make When Planning for College.”