Posts Tagged ‘ saving time ’

‘Minimalist Parent’ Can Help You Feel Less Overwhelmed Fast

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

For some reason, after you have kids, it no longer feels like there are 24 hours in a day. Where does the time go? I completely lose mine. A few hours every day sneak away and hop onto a plane to Hawaii. That’s where the new book Minimalist Parenting comes in. Authors Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest (of Parent Hacks) have identified the areas in our lives that overwhelm us the most and give advice for streamlining our priorities and schedules.

I love the advice about the drug store–it’s so true. How often do I spend 15 minutes reading over the boxes of children’s cold medicine trying to figure out which one is the best and is going to make my sick pumpkin better? The fact is, the different brands are pretty much the same, and if I could just pick on in 3 minutes, how much more time and brain space would I have?

This book is filled with tips and tricks that will help reduce those feelings of overload regarding work, kids, romantic relationships, chores, quality time and more. I asked the authors a few questions to give you a better sense on what their enlightening, much-needed book is all about:

KK: For today’s parent, what’s the biggest hurdle to becoming a Minimalist Parent?
Christine and Asha: The overwhelm in processing the deluge of information and options, and the residual self-doubt when faced with the many “shoulds” out there. Parents juggle so much with work, home, school, activities, friends and communities…not to mention lack of sleep and a schedule that inevitably gets thrown off track for any number of reasons! It’s difficult to set aside the attention it takes to prioritize, declutter or simply rest.

KK: What’s your best advice for parents with a baby or very young children?
Christine and Asha: When you’re just starting out, it’s hard to grasp just how big a transition parenting is. Responding to a baby’s needs really means giving up control over much of your schedule for a time. So we’d say the best takeaway at that stage is to trust yourselfand to ask for help. You may not feel like it now, but you will figure out how to raise your beautiful baby. And it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help when you’re feeling depleted; you don’t need to do everything alone.

KK: You talk a lot about getting parents to trust their own decisions and that “course correction beats perfection.” Can you please explain what this means?  Christine and Asha: We’ve found that there are few parenting decisions that don’t come with “do overs.” Whether you’re making choices about sleep, diapering, food or extracurricular activities, there’s usually room to adjust or change your mind altogether. And truly, perfection is overrated! Not only do you set yourself up for failure by striving for perfection, but grownups and kids alike (even babies, to an extent) thrive when they stumble then discover they can solve problems on their own. 

KK: What are three tips you would give to a parent overwhelmed by after school activities?
Christine and Asha: 1. Kids–even those who are gung-ho on lots of activities–benefit from both activity and quiet. They need time and space to process what they’ve learned and experienced, and they also need downtime for rest and unscripted play. At first, that that may feel like “boredom,” but boredom actually can be an amazing catalyst for  creativity.

2. You’re driving the bus…literally and figuratively. A kids’ schedule has to work for the entire family, including you. If endless driving and weekend games or performances are throwing the family out of balance, it’s perfectly acceptable to reevaluate.

3. Know that learning never ends. The flute lessons and basketball clinics will always be there next year. Is “falling behind” in competitive activities really a problem before high school or college? Perhaps for passionate or exceptionally talented players. But we don’t think that’s true for the majority of kids.

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‘Family Inc.’ Advises Us to Get Organized, Share To-Dos and Hold Family Meetings

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Do you and your partner bicker during the week over who was supposed to do what? You thought he was going to pick up the presents for the neighbor’s birthday party, and he thought you were on top of your first grader’s science project? My husband and I clash over our calendar–we never know when and where we’re supposed to be until it’s almost time. We e double-book way too often.

The authors of Family Inc.: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (and Save Your Sanity!), Caitlin and Andrew Friedman, say that squabbles like these are incredibly common. Luckily, couples do not need expensive therapy or endless examination. We simply need to get organized instead.

According to the authors, it’s efficient and painless to run a family like a business. You may have read about their strategies in the January issue of Parents in the story called “The Secrets of an Organized Family.” Check out the issue for detailed information on holding family meetings and doling out weekly chores. It’s crucial for a couple to check in for an hour once a week and figure out everything from who’s cooking, who’s paying the bills and who’s schlepping the kids to activities. Little kids can do chores as well–like setting the table, feeding the animals and putting the laundry in the hamper.

The book tells readers how to dig deep and get organized. Start by cleaning out your house. Get rid of stuff–donate and throw out what you and your kids don’t need right now so you can start your “company” with a clutter-free plate. Set aside one hour each week for that family meeting where you discuss anything and everything that needs to be addressed. Family Inc. includes tips for enjoying more down time (shave time off your errands and chores), sticking to the budget and smoothing out arguments (never fight when you’re tired!). It’s chock full of tips for everything from hiring a babysitter to finding more family time.

Want to get going right now? Try implementing a system for handling mail, receipts, documents and your schedules. Here are 10 Essential Items for Organization straight from the book.

1. bill caddy
2. file hangers and folders
3. accordion files (receipts)
4. family calendar
5. dry-erase board for kitchen
6. in-boxes
7. shredder
8. storage containers
9. shelvings (put shelves everywhere)
10. box of office supplies (pens, staplers, labels)

If you’re looking to streamline tedious everyday headaches, this book is for you. If you’re already super organized, the Friedmans give information for staying on the right track.

On a scale of 1 (forget about it) to 10 (award-winning), how organized is your household? Mine is hanging tight at a solid 5.

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