The first mentors in every child’s life are parents. That is why parents must be clearly aware and constantly remember that the role of the father and mother is extremely important for the child himself, especially in the process of his socialization.
Parental participation in the life of the child is a direct indicator of the self-determination of the individual, the demand for and feasibility of his or her rights, an expression of the individual’s understanding of his or her social status and opportunities. Thus, in communication with parents there is an initial period of formation of the individual.
Excessive parental involvement in children’s lives is seen as one of the most important problems of modern society. This concept is based on the notion that without the active participation of parents in the life of the child the socialization of the individual is impossible. Without the active participation of parents it is impossible to create a full-fledged member of society.
Children very often do not receive from their parents the amount of attention they need for normal development and emotional well-being. The main problem, which is very acute, is the feeling of guilt that torments parents because they do not devote enough time to their children due to their busyness. The busyness of today’s adults is one of the hallmarks of our time. Parents deal with their own problems: career, finances, personal life – leaving the child to himself, limiting the relationship with him solely to matters of care.
It is often possible to encounter a situation where communication with a child in the family is reduced to a bare minimum. This, unfortunately, is a widespread phenomenon of modern reality – busy parents. The accelerated pace of life, professional employment of working parents who do not always have enough time not only to communicate with the child, but also to perform household chores.
In the evenings, busy parents are sure to find some chores in which the child takes no part. More often than not, they simply tell him not to disturb, to play in another room. Many parents, providing the child with the best living conditions, taking care of his health, lose sight of the need for each child to be in close contact with his mother and father. Busy parents buy him a lot of beautiful interesting toys or some pets, if only not disturbing, not bothering with constant questioning. Here the child is playing alone in his room or in a children’s corner. Parents are home, but the child does not feel their presence – they are not with him or her, but somewhere nearby, each one is busy doing his or her own thing.
Such parental love is very one-sided, devoid of feeling. And the child suffers from this. After all, games, no matter how entertaining, and “communication” with a four-legged friend will not replace communication with the parents.
Even adults have a natural need to express their own emotions. A child has a much stronger need – he is just starting to live, every day, every minute of his life bring him so many new, interesting and unusual things! The child just needs to share impressions, feelings, emotions. But he is completely alone, no one talks to him, and he constantly has to restrain his emotions. Adults most often aspire to evaluate not the inner life of the child, but his actions and deeds.
Parents should try to understand their child and not just evaluate his or her actions. This is how the basis for mutual trust between parents and children is established. Since they are busy at work and also have household chores, they should set aside time each day for meaningful communication with their child. The value of communication is measured not by the amount of time spent together, but by its qualitative characteristics, which are expressed in attention, respect, and understanding.
In this article I will try to show you how to pay more attention to your children even if you are constantly busy. How can you “win” self-time for your children? Very simple – with the same techniques that you use at work, i.e. time-management techniques.
The most common problems of busy parents and ways to solve them
Problem #1: Feeling of constant inner tension
Inner tension in busy people is normal. It is caused by a pile of unfinished business, an endless list of tasks, and constant “deadlines. This is the case for those who are already familiar with time management. And for those who are not familiar, such a condition is born if you have to keep in mind the information that not to forget to buy mayonnaise for the salad and wet wipes for the baby.
Researchers have calculated that our brain can hold up to 7 items in the operative memory in one unit of time (this is for trained people). The rest causes “overload”, which immediately affects our condition and relationships with our loved ones.
The brain can only do one thing effectively in one unit of time. Everything else is a quick switch from one thing to another. Cooking, talking on the phone, and trying to keep a two-year-old occupied can also quickly cause an emotional outburst. So what to do?
Recently, the GTD (getting things done) system has become firmly established in time management. Its essence is simple: you write down all the necessary things on a list (you can systematize them at once) and then plan when and how to do them. This system is simply irreplaceable for parents. All you need for its effective implementation is a notebook, a magnetic board for notes, a phone or a smartphone with a suitable program for it (Things, 2Do).
As soon as thoughts come up: “buy oil,” “buy a birthday present for my child,” “discuss my love life with my husband,” “take a package to the post office,” etc. – everything goes on the to-do list without a second thought. It helps to concentrate on what you’re doing now, and not overload your brain with “incoming” thoughts. Then the emotional state at home won’t be as stressful either.
When it comes to combining tasks, you should strictly divide them into compatible and incompatible ones. Compatible tasks are routine tasks that you do automatically (e.g., cooking a familiar meal and taking care of a child). Incompatible tasks are new tasks that require more concentration. It is better to occupy the child with a toy or put him in a sling, if the situation allows, or to plan such things for the period of the child’s sleep.
As soon as you feel annoyed with doing two or three things at once (you feel like you’re “boiling over”), try to finish one thing or switch completely to one thing. Another way of family time-management for such cases is to include your child in what you are doing and thus turn two things into one. For example, cook together, clean together, etc. Of course, it won’t be as fast, but it’s still more effective than doing it separately.
Problem #2: When it’s hard to switch your head from work to home
This problem is related to the first one. The inability to switch causes internal stress. How can time management help here?
First, it is the setting of global priorities in life. Very often it happens that spouses have children, but their thinking and priorities are not reconsidered. Only when it’s time to die do elderly parents think: How much would I give now to get back the time I didn’t spend with my family. Believe me, no one laments in their old age that they didn’t work hard enough. Everyone regrets spending too little time with their children, their wife, their husband.
That’s why after having children we need to reexamine our value system. Yes, the career is important, self-realization too, but now we have a children. And its place in importance is not lower than work.
In this regard, I can’t help but give the example of my husband. He is a surgeon. Doctors have to work a lot, and most of them don’t get off work until 7-8pm. But my husband always comes home from work around 5pm to spend 2-3 hours with the kids. His boss has tried several times to “reason” with him. Explained that this way he was delaying his promotion by a couple of years. But my husband calmly replied that if that was the price for seeing the kids every day not just sleeping, he was willing to pay it. He had only seen his father “sleeping,” and he remembers how hard that was.
In purely technical terms, it helps to get rid of thoughts about work by “dumping thoughts” onto paper. This should be done before you leave work. If there are any unfinished tasks, put them in your to-do plan for tomorrow. Any phone calls, conversations that need to be made – also write them all down. Any puzzles – put them all in the plan and leave them at work. If there are new thoughts – put them in your phone or organizer. The main thing is not to keep it in your head and not to make a habit of carrying work home and talking on the phone in the evening with your colleagues.
Some kind of ritual can help to switch over to household chores. For example, some men read the news. You can just lie down on the floor, let your body relax, and let the children play nearby.
Many people find it difficult to concentrate on household chores because they are very simple and do not have the same weight (monetary) as the chores at work. This is where “energy management” comes to the rescue – an advanced level of time management in which the main rule of effective life is the ability to relax and take a break from the main activity.
For busy people, “home activities” can be just such a break. If you learn to completely disconnect from work at this time, to immerse yourself in household chores, you get a huge advantage over other colleagues. You will recover and get new energy. You will become more energetic, more capable of work, and “burnout” is definitely not a threat to you.
Problem #3: When you have no energy left after work for your family and children
This problem is not one of low stamina or laziness. It is the problem of not being able to distribute your energy evenly throughout the day.
Time management is not as strong here as energy management. It teaches to take into account daily biorhythms, to pump yourself up with energy during the day. The simplest rules: all the most difficult things should be planned for the rise of biorhythm (most people have it before lunch and after 3 p.m.). The afternoon slump should be devoted to recharging yourself with energy and easy work. Those who force themselves to work hard during a “siesta” and do not give themselves the necessary break are just the people whose “energy reservoirs” are emptied by 6 p.m.
The best way to rest in the middle of the day is a short nap. Winston Churchill said, “He who sleeps during the day has not one working day, but two”. Relaxation is very good, as well as a walk in the fresh air.
Another rule is to take breaks every 60-90 minutes. Then fatigue will not accumulate. Rest should be the maximum opposite of your work. If you are sitting at the computer – you need to get up and go somewhere, for example, talk to a colleague.
Of course, no one cancels physical exercise. A physically strong body is less tired in the evening. If you don’t have time to exercise fully, choose physical exercises that can be inserted as pauses between work. In Japan, Korea and China, exercise at work has long been the norm. It’s time for us to get involved, too.
Problem #4: When you don’t know what to do with your child, what to play with him
You may ask, what does time management have to do with it? It has to do with lists. Not to-do lists, but lists of things you’ve always wanted to do with your child. Or lists of things you have always wanted to do with a child, but did not have time. It’s time!
Sometimes parents just forget how many wonderful things there are to do with their children. A list like this can help a lot if you include things to do on all occasions. For example, take a walk on a yellow carpet of autumn leaves and take a picture of children throwing them. Or making their first cookies together. Walk with your child by the hand to the store. Inflate the biggest soap bubble. These are all little things, but they are what make our time with kids great.
Problem #5: When a child takes up all your free time
This is a common problem for many busy parents. There are five main reasons for this:
- Parents do have an increasing number of tasks, but they don’t change the way they do them (e.g., instead of delegating or distributing tasks, they do everything themselves and don’t get much done);
- Parents ineptly manage their strengths during the day, so they drop “dead” in the evening (or one of them);
- Parents mismanage the child(ren)’s daily routine. For example, if the children go to bed at 8 p.m., the parents have time for each other, but if at 10 p.m., there is by definition no time. For this purpose it is necessary to regulate the daytime nap of the child (to shorten it if necessary);
- Parents do not specifically allocate time to each other, letting the intimate life on its own. And time, as we know, doesn’t just appear by itself – it needs to be organized and planned;
- Parents do not care about emotional intimacy, without which intimacy (especially on the female side) is impossible.
Special days when parents don’t stay at work, spend an evening together, put the kids to bed early, watch a movie together, or just talk have proven very good in practice. And then. Everything is possible and, most importantly, the next day you will have much more strength and energy, especially if you do such a “day off” in the middle of the work week.
Problem #6: When you and your husband (wife) cannot decide who is responsible for what in the house
In time management, this problem falls under the division of roles and responsibilities. Previously, the rule of allocation of functions was as simple as possible: husband – money, wife – house and children. This distribution of roles reduced the number of possible conflicts to a minimum. Today situations are very different, so there cannot be a single recipe.
If you want to completely eliminate from your life conflicts over household tasks, then the rules of their distribution should be as simple as possible and accepted by all members of the family (in a home meeting).
You need to make a list of tasks and distribute them among family members. It is important not to forget that it is not necessary for the parents to do all the housework. It is possible to delegate (to grandparents, housekeepers, nannies, children), it is possible to lower the bar (for example, only shirts are ironed, but not shirts and linens), freeing up time by purchasing appliances (one dishwasher saves about half an hour of pure time, not to mention nerves and strength), etc.
Problem #7: When children keep distracting you from important things
Very young children do not understand why mom or dad should not be distracted. From the age of 3-4, children can be taught to wait until the parent finishes talking on the phone or whatever he or she is doing. But after that, you should definitely give the child a chance to speak up and deal with his or her problems.
If you want that children do not interfere with your work at home there are easiest way: one parent takes the child or children, the other gets the opportunity to do something without being distracted. Of course, this rule works if parents replace each other.
Another recipe from family time-management is “The 15-minute rule”. Only things lasting no more than 15 minutes are scheduled for time with the children (for example, not general cleaning, but washing the sink, cleaning the closet). Things longer than 15 minutes are planned for time without children.
And one last way to get things done without being distracted by children’s cries is to include your child in your activities: let him serve you potatoes while you peel them, have him set the table while you cook, give him a floor brush while you vacuum the floors, etc.
Problem #8: If you come home too late, when the kids have already gone to bed
It’s not an easy situation. If you don’t have time for your children at all, you have to make very concentrated use of what you have.
How to use these rare moments with your child? Over dinner you can discuss the events of the day. At breakfast – plans for the day. While dressing the baby, learn a little poem or song, count toes. While you wash and put the baby to sleep, enjoy body contact, which for children, and parents, too, is very, very important. Developmental songs, jokes, jokes can be listened to and learned together in the car or while you cook together, so you don’t have to devote special time to it.
And it doesn’t take time at all to hug your baby, to tell him that you love him. You can do it many, many times a day, but not less than eight. This is what modern psychologists advise.
Problem #9: If the kids won’t let you relax at home
This problem is very common for mothers who spend all day with their children, as well as for parents on weekends.
For both the first and second situations, planning your day is very important. If time is not planned, it flows away like sand in a vortex. Attention is constantly focused on the children, so there is an impression of “unfreedom” and fatigue. Our body is designed so that we can not do the same thing for a long time. Imagine, you need to play the guitar 24 hours a day or write letters – you could go crazy. It’s the same with kids. In order not to go crazy, you have to take a break from your kids. How does a mom do that?
During the day, create for yourself “islands of freedom,” moments of rest, when you are emotionally and mentally disconnected from the children.
What are these “islands of freedom” and “attention switchers”? It could be anything. It can be a book, while the child is busy with some toy, or a conversation with a friend. The main thing is that your thoughts are not occupied during this time with children and household chores. Such pauses should be an outlet for you. Do not plan during this time cleaning or washing dishes. Give yourself freedom at least for this time.
On weekends, it is advisable for parents to make arrangements. For example: “I take care of the children in the morning so you can sleep, and you take care of the children in the afternoon so I can do my own things”. Of course, there should also be general family time, but time for yourself is also very important.
Problem #10: When children constantly interfere with your plans
It is true that family planning is very different from regular (office) planning in time management. The younger your children are, the less time-based planning you should have in your life. For children under a year old (and their parents), one event a day with a clear timeline (a trip to the clinic, a playgroup) is enough.
In general, planning a day with children is possible if there is confidence in the day ahead. Therefore it is very important to gradually form the child’s daily routine (make it parallel for several children) and plan according to it.
I recommend using To-Do Lists. They will help you plan your day better. But they should always be with you, and there should be two of them:
- The first list should include what you can take care of with your child (shopping, going to the bank, the post office, cooking, household chores);
- The second list should include things you can only do when your child is away or asleep (school, chores, important phone calls, etc.).
You can read about these and other tricks of time management and energy management on our website.