Saturday, September 18, 2010

Time Management and Family Life

I currently work in an office environment and am therefore familiar with the topic of time management. The management team is always attempting to increase the productivity of all the employees. Doing so make sense, after all, since any increase in productivity should equate to increased revenues while reducing the expense of hiring additional people. I do my part and make my contributions where I can and consider myself fairly effective at managing my time at work.

When I get home, however, time management often takes a back seat. It seems employees are so structured and conditioned throughout the day by their jobs to meet deadlines and have little to no downtime, that when we walk through our home's front door, we leave the skills of managing our time outside like a pair of muddy shoes. What I want to do when I get home is relax and unwind. Dinner would be on the agenda...if there were one.

No doubt, time management in a household is as difficult as for an entire office in many cases. Young children require attention via diaper changes and baths, slightly older ones need a different kind of engaging interaction with adults, still older kids start to have extra-curricular activities which call for transportation to and from events--all of which deprive parents of the time that they need to do basic things like pay bills, clean the house, do the laundry, etc. Where then is time found for recreational activity like watching a video rental, or connecting with people on Facebook?

Enter: my wife.

Left to my own devices, the kids would have at least a rough schedule (I'm pretty sure), but Chanel has household time management down to a science. While there are the evenings and days (which I only hear about through text) where the kids don't conform to the schedule, she has about a 50% chance of having time in the middle of the day for herself while kids nap and we just about always have our evenings after 7:30 pm. Did I mention our youngest at this time is only 7 weeks?

How was this accomplished? I'm sure she'll cover more details in future posts of her own, but for now, I'll just marvel with you at this short list of how we got here:
  1. We didn't use the Ferber Method. There is actually evidence available that ferberization is detrimental the baby's health. Don't let your baby "cry it out." What's he supposed to be crying out, anyway? He wants love and doesn't understand why it should be withheld. The No-Cry Sleep Solution was the bible around our house for a few weeks for each child. 
  2. We co-slept for a time with our oldest and still do with our youngest. Babies generally like being close to their parents as it provides them with some measure of security. When the baby gets too big to share the bed, move him to a cosleeper attached to the bed. When they outgrow that, transfer them to the crib. Our oldest now is in his crib still, but we're about to move him into his big-boy bed and our youngest is about to be moved to the co-sleeper.
  3. Chanel got to know the kids' sleep schedules and worked within the framework they provided. Chanel was able to predict exactly, almost to the minute, when we would start to see signs of a meltdown in the evening based on what time a nap ended. Not doing this is a cardinal sin for managing your time. What ends up happening when this is overlooked is that when you're out at a restaurant or a store and the kids are tired, their options are to tantrum and make a scene or nap in a chair which probably will drive you crazy as they stay awake too late into the night as a result. 
  4. A big part of our success at achieving and maintaining a schedule has been that we strive not to deviate from it. We made the decision long ago that keeping them on a schedule was more important to us than a too-late dinner with friends that would cause disruptions in the schedule for several days afterward. 
Granted, not everyone can make the decisions necessary to duplicate what we've done and there may be other personal factors to consider when employing any of these methods. What I can tell you is that these methods have worked wonders for us and while I would have done it a totally different way, I'm glad Chanel was there instead. Good luck with your own efforts and if you ever have questions, feel free to ask...her. 

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