Parent-teacher conference Thursday. Contact caterer for next week’s Lunch and Learn. Call the roofer for an estimate. Update website. Recheck insurance claim. Schedule dentist appointment for the boys. Write thank you notes. Help study spelling words. If you’re a working parent, chances are excellent that this daily to-do list looks familiar. No wonder working parents feel stressed. Couple this with thinking of what you need to do tomorrow and panic completely takes over. It’s time to call in your support systems.
- Clone yourself. Look for ways to create a carpool schedule. Consider asking an older sibling of your child’s teammate to drive them. Ask another parent and if you can’t reciprocate, and consider thanking them with a gas gift card. Cook double portions and share with your neighbor and they do the same. Utilize grocery pick-up and delivery services. Get on auto-ship for purchases you know you need over and over. Hire a yard service. Get a housekeeper once or twice a month.
- Same page. Getting the whole family together to talk about school schedules, who needs to be when and where, project supplies, test dates, work events, etc. Once you have a glimpse of the week ahead, planning meal prep and extra activities becomes more productive. No more surprises that tomorrow is ’50s Day at school. Finding a poodle skirt at 11 p.m. is the definition of stress.
- Time out. As parents, life is continuous. Life doesn’t get better when they’re out of diapers, or going to school all day, or out for the summer, or driving themselves. Life doesn’t get better—YOU get better on how you handle life. We used to rest on Sunday, leave work at the office and take regular vacations where no one could reach you. Times have changed. Finding meaningful flexibility and longer breaks can be impossible with year-round sports, and the 365 mentality for businesses. Turn off all screens, close your planner and chill. Even for the busiest of us, 20 minutes a day is doable. Find time to rest and recharge as often as you can.
- Say no. It’s ok to say no to a million things that don’t move you toward your family goals. If you have a hard time doing this, start with taking one thing off your schedule this week. Eliminate two things next week. Tighten up your extra activities. When you stop spreading yourself so thin, you become more in the areas that line up with your values and family goals.
As a working parent, you’re one person doing two challenging full-time jobs. Some even juggle a third position as a caregiver, volunteer or coach. Take advantage of anything that gives you back your time. Find a support system that works. It’s that simple.