I don’t know how you veteran parents do it, but managing a household with kids isn’t easy. If you’re a single parent, then you have an even harder job. How in the heck do you feed the kids, clean the house, pay the bills, work, and keep your sanity? If you’re married, how do you do all this and be a good husband/wife/partner? If you can get through the first half of this equation, where do you get the energy and motivation to do the second half? So many questions, so little answers.
I’m certainly not expert, but here is what I do for the first part.
- Clean as you go. While you’re walking around the house mentally map where you are going and collect the things that will be in your path. In my case, when I walk from my home office to the kitchen, I look for things around me that I can take before I go to the kitchen. I will pick up as many things as I can hold in my hand, e.g. coffee cup, train toys, and slippers. As I am walking to the kitchen I can drop off each item as I go since the places for these items are on the way to the kitchen. If you don’t clean as you go, then you’re just compiling the clean up making your day or someone else’s day even longer and harder. It only takes a couple of seconds to put one thing away, but when you put it off, it takes longer to put everything away.
- Bill Pay. When I do have the money, the fastest and most convenient way to handle bills is through your bank’s Bill Pay service. If you do not have this service, but have a smartphone, your creditor will probably have an application for their services. PG&E has a cool app for the iPhone where you can pay online and sign for it using the touch screen. They do have a minor fee to use this service though. You could pay your bills while you’re standing in line at the grocery store.
- Make feeding fun. I wish I could be more creative in this department, but what we’ve found is that there are plenty of food options out there to make meals more entertaining. In our case we found a dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. However, I really need to find healthier options. Just wish our kids (especially Justice) were not so picky with their food choices. Right now their main meals consist of dino chicken nuggets and rice. Sometimes we’ll replace rice with Ramen soup or macaroni and cheese.
- Multitask. If you are work from home parent, then it is crucial to multitask or you will never get anything done. In my case, I am in my meeting in one ear and feeding the kids with yogurt in one hand, and typing notes on my computer with the other. I am not always successful at this, but I try whenever it is physically possible.
- Make a list. Making a list will help you keep organized. Since I don’t seem to have any working pens in the house I do just about everything on my phone. I keep my grocery list and things to do on it. What’s cool about this is that I am able to share my calendar and list with anyone so we do not have to duplicate efforts. The only challenge is actually looking at the list.
- Create a schedule. This is especially important for the kid’s sleeping schedule. My schedule varies, but our kids understand that after their lunch it’s time for sleeping. Same thing at night. After their bath, they know shortly after they will need to put their toys away, brush their teeth and go to sleep.
- Family activities. This is one way break out of your normal routine. Even though it takes a lot of preparation just to leave the house, one you are out, it’s worth it. I always look for free events in our area. It gives the kids new experiences and socializes them with other people/kids. We are normally consist about this when we take them to the gym. We get to get our work out and the kids get to play with new playmates. It’s a win-win situation.
I believe if you can do all these things with some success, you may have some sanity left to do this again the next day and the next. While this formula may not work for everyone, it’s a start for people who may not know where to begin.
Parenting is definitely a balancing act. Some days are better than others, but the work has to be done right? I know there are other factors that could make your situation better such as more money, family who can help with the kids, and more hours in the day. But like me, you are probably stuck with what you have and have to make the best of it.
For the second part in being a better husband/wife/partner, all I can say is that there has to be some sacrifice here until your kids are old enough to manage themselves and be more independent. Here’s what you can do in the meantime:
- Be yourself. Continue to be the nice loving, considerate, loving person you were before you had kids
- Plan a date night. If you can afford it, get a baby sitter and plan a night out. Look for online deals either with TravelZoo and/or Groupon.
- Take care of yourself. Eat right and stay healthy. If not for your kids, then do it for yourself.
- Repeat Step 1 – If all else fails, repeat Step 1. Be yourself. Hopefully your better self.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”.
That’s it for me. How do you manage your family?