1. Get it out of your head. Parents typically juggle like superheroes, and with so much going on it's tempting to want to rely on your memory for ideas, projects, grocery lists and to-do items. Don't do it! When your brain has a bunch of items, tasks, projects, and ideas it's trying to remember, it continues to send them to you over and over again repetitively to ensure you don't forget. This constant chatter is crazy-making and prevents you from being fully present. Quiet the chatter by capturing those scraps of information into a simple system -- one you TRUST -- so your brain can let them go and be free to focus on whatever you're doing in the moment. Whether it's a Moleskine notebook, an app such as Remember The Milk, Everote, Notability or just a plain old yellow lined tablet, choose ONE place to consistely capture information fragments so you can refer to them later.
2. Shop smarter. If you're a busy parent, you don't have the luxury of wasting time and if you're running to the grocery store several times a week, wasting time is exactly what you're doing. Meal planning isn't difficult but it often falls to the bottom of the priorities list, which means families frequently resort to dining out, take-out, or convenience foods. Save money and eat healthier by choosing weekly what you'd like your family to eat for the next seven days and shopping (ideally) only once a week. For extra savings, check out CouponMom before you go to see which items are on sale that week before you plan your meals.
3. Say no more often. You may have already figured out that saying yes to everything is unsustainable, and if so, good for you! If you're still on the denial wagon, trying to be everything from schoolroom mom to Scout leader to playdate organizer and your child is in more activities than Taylor Swift has boyfriends, listen up. By spreading yourself and your kids too thin, you all end up exhausted, cranky and stressed out. And worse, you teach your kids these negative time management habits too. Good time management consists of first, really grasping the very limited nature of discretionary time, then allocating that time carefully and only using it in ways that support your high values. Choose the things and people you say yes to carefully, bearing in mind that your health, your sanity and your quality of life matter more than the amount of things you can cram into a week.
4. Be good to yourself. It's hard to be good for anyone else if you're completely depleted. So to keep your sanity and maintain your status as Most Favored Parent, you must take a little time to focus on what YOU need. Whether that means sneaking in a nap, going to bed a little early, or sleeping a little late, getting enough rest is crucial. Besides sleep, your social time to reconnect with those you love is important too! You and your partner have to stay engaged with one another to keep your family healthy and spending time with friends now and again keeps your family connected to others. Schedule date nights, as well as girls (or boys) nights out to make sure the ties that bind stay strong.
5. Outsource. My grandmother had five kids and never even learned to drive, yet she ran her house like a drill seargent and all five of her kids turned out to be successful, hard-working, and productive citizens. Today's modern world presents many more time challenges, options, and directions to be pulled than in my grandmother's day. In 2013, you may have to figure out what you can realistically outsource to someone else. Is it cleaning? Cooking? Carpool? Lawn work? Eyeball your budget and remember that your money is a renewable resource, whereas your time and energy aren't.