Naptime. The most amazing word to a parent. The quiet moments to yourself to refresh and rejuvenate before the fun begins again.
I had a love, stress relationship with naptime. I would love the lengthy chunk of time to get things done, but wanted to use this precious time well and got anxious trying it cram too many activities in. There’s not enough time to do it all. What was most important? What could I get done? I didn’t know most days. It all seemed important.
I would sit and write posts during nap time and then get frustrated when I didn’t finish a post, and felt unproductive. Sometimes I would extend naptime by twenty minutes to finish the end of a post and then feel bad. My life and naptime was revolving around writing, a hobby I loved and was doing to help people, lift my spirits, and process life, but it was adding stress to my life.
I needed to figure out how to manage my time better so I could be more present and positive with my kids after naptime.
I tried a few strategies and now I feel more productive, relaxed, and happy. Whether the kids sleep or get up and don’t fall back asleep, I feel more balanced and ready to have fun with the kiddos.
Here’s what I found worked for me.
Make Goals Specific and Not Broad
Writing a blog post, cleaning, grading papers.
These were all too broad for me and left me feeling overwhelmed on where to start. I never felt like I accomplished them.
Instead I made my goals more specific: Write introduction to AVA Gallery post, Put away bassinet and my clean clothes, Grade period three’s assignments.
These were manageable and I could get them done. I felt accomplished finally.
Plan Your Ideas Ahead of Time
I wondered how writers and parents managed their posts. I have over a hundred ideas waiting to be written, many with pictures ready to go, but lack the time to finish them.
So what do people do?
I read an article by a blogger that said he has his posts planned out for the whole month. Then there doesn’t need to be that dreaded wasted time figuring out what to write.
This really helped me. I made it realistic for the limited time I had. I knew I would never finish a post a day. Instead I settled on one small post a few days a week and a longer post over three days. This helped me get right to work, have a realistic goal to work toward, and feel more accomplished.
This also works for workouts, meals, and activities with your kids. Planning is my best friend. It takes the thinking out of things when you’re in the middle of parenting and the idea of putting two thoughts together seems like a herculean effort. You know it helps when you’re just staring at the fridge wondering what to have for dinner and wishing you had defrosted meat (me so many times). It helps when you have 20 minutes to workout and you spend 10 minutes trying to find the right workout you want to do. It helps when you have two kids asking for tv, wrestling with each other, and you’ve been up since 5 playing with two rambunctious boys and you have no ideas on what to do because your brain is fried and you just want to sit for a minute.
Work in 15 minute Chunks
I found this to be so helpful.
Long spaces of time are unpredictable with kids. For me my little one might sleep and the other might wake up or vice versa. Some days they might not sleep at all.
So relying on that time to get stuff done only frustrated me because I constantly felt like I was losing out on time for myself when I gave so much of myself every day in my job and at home.
I didn’t want to feel this way.
Changing my mindset to work in fifteen minute chunks was great.
I set goals that aligned with 15 minutes.
I could take apart the bassinet.
I could fold the kids’ clothes.
I could clean the bathrooms.
I could write an introduction for my post on self-esteem.
Each of these goals I could do in fifteen minutes or less. So no matter what, I would feel accomplished, even if I just did one. My time no longer revolved around my writing, but instead was more balanced. It felt wonderful.
Using these three strategies has helped me refine and focus my writing time and I’ve written better posts, and ironically more of them too.
What do you do to manage your time with little ones?
May you find more balance, more time, and more satisfaction in your day with your wonderful family.