Time Management For Working Moms During The Pandemic
Managing time while balancing working from home, caring for children and attending to household responsibilities can be challenging. Here are a few effective time management tips that can help
By Vani Venugopal • 10 min read
These are difficult times and no one has been more affected by the challenges posed by COVID-19 than working mothers. Juggling work with caring for children at home, managing meals and household chores is a herculean task indeed! Twenty-four hours often seem too little to complete all the tasks you have on your list. However, a little planning and some much-required help from family and friends can go a long way in easing your day.
Here are a few useful tips on how to manage your time efficiently and make most of your day.
1. Plan ahead
Plan your week in advance. Making to-do lists, planning your work projects for the week ahead, setting schedules for your children, and creating weekly meal plans are a few things that you can do in advance to manage your time better. Apart from helping you stay focussed and organised, this will also help reduce time spent on decision-making on a given day.
2. Create a routine
Keeping children engaged during the day while parents work is one of the biggest challenges thrown up by the pandemic. The key here is to create a routine. Set a timetable for their day with fixed times for waking up, going to bed, having meals, doing schoolwork and other activities. At the same time, remember to plan fun activities, game time, video calls and other extracurriculars in advance and include them in the timetables. This will not only help you manage your day better but also give structure and routine to your child’s day.
3. Take breaks to spend time with children
Formulate your plan in a manner that enables you to spend some time with your children during the day. Starting your day early or working a few hours in the evening will allow you to take breaks during the day. These are perfect opportunities to spend time with your child and help him with his school work, have a meal together or do a fun activity. If you make a routine of this, your child will begin to look forward to these breaks and is less likely to interrupt you during your work hours.
There might not be enough hours in a day to do everything you want to but you can always make time for everything you need to. Prioritising is the magic word here. Start by looking at your schedule or to-do list every day. What are the most important tasks? What can be cut down or delegated? Narrow the list down to, say, five accomplishable tasks and set yourself to them. This works for both your job and household tasks. Another useful tip while working from home is to prioritise tasks that require a lot of focus and do them at a time when there are likely to be less interruptions.
5. Be proactive with your calendar
Since work from home has become the norm, the number of online meetings and calls has been on a record high. Your work calendar is likely to be populated with back-to-back meetings. A good tip here is to schedule your meetings yourself instead of waiting for others to book them. This will give you a degree of control over your day and will help you create room for your other needs.
6. Learn to say NO
Now, more than ever, your time is precious. If you are assigned tasks or projects that don’t contribute towards your goals, learn to politely say no. Don’t feel guilty for saying no. The same goes for social commitments as well. It is a good idea to check your schedule and gauge whether you have the bandwidth for a task before taking it on.
7. Delegate tasks, both at work and at home
Enlist all your family members to help out around the house. It is a good idea to divide tasks among the family. While leaving the more demanding tasks to adults, assign smaller, less physically consuming tasks to children. These can include making their own beds, clearing their rooms, watering plants, folding laundry, and helping out in the kitchen. Apart from saving you time, this will also train your children in important life skills as well as enable them to be more capable and responsible.
The same applies for your work too. If you work with a team, delegate tasks that don’t require your personal attention. With timely supervision, this will help streamline your work processes.
8. Ask for help
You don’t have to do everything on your own. It is perfectly fine to seek assistance from friends or relatives. Consider asking grandparents to spend some time with your children on a video call every day. Grandparents have valuable skills that they can teach children. These can be simple things like counting, braiding hair, learning new words or speaking in their mother tongues. This will not only clear up sometime in your day but will also be an enriching experience for everyone.
9. Start your day early
This is a simple habit that a lot of parents are finding very useful during the lockdown. Waking up before your children will give you some precious, interruption-free time. This is an ideal time to complete tasks that require focussed work. Early morning hours also give parents an excellent opportunity to find some time for themselves.
10. Plan your meals ahead
Deciding what to cook for a meal often takes up a lot more time that you would normally expect. This is why planning in advance is a useful practice. Apart from saving you time, it will also help you be more organised. Go one step further and do the prepping work for meals like cutting and chopping the night before. This will save you productive time during the day.
11. Set boundaries
With office and home being merged into one, it is very important to set boundaries. Define your working hours and once you are done for the day, turn off your computer, switch off work notifications on your phone and mentally check out from work. This way you will ensure that you have enough time to spend with your family and for other household responsibilities. Setting boundaries and compartmentalising work and home are crucial to avoid a burn out.
12. Me time
It is easy to neglect ourselves in the scramble to care for our family and attend to work at the same time. Make sure that you earmark some time for yourself in a day. It can be anything – a short break to enjoy a cup of tea or to listen to music, or some time off for a walk or even a long shower. These small acts of self-care are crucial for your health and well-being. You can't sustain any of your other responsibilities unless you take care of yourself first.
13. Be kind to yourself
These are challenging times and balancing children and a full-time job is beyond difficult. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. When things don’t go according to plan, take a deep breath and be gentle with yourself. Remember that you are doing your best and that there is no one who can do your roles better than you!
- Paper Plates: Use paper plates on very busy days and save time on washing dishes.
- Nap time: If you have young children, take their nap times into account while planning your schedule. Nap time usually will give you some interruption-free time where you can focus on work or take important calls.
- Buffer time: While planning your schedule, make sure you leave some buffer time between meetings/tasks. With children at home, there are sure to be interruptions and this will help you account for them.
- Embrace technology: Set reminders, automate payments, order groceries online and opt for online shopping to save valuable time.
About the author:
Written by Vani Venugopal on 14 September 2020.
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