In today’s stress-filled world it can be easy for working parents to forget about taking care of themselves and their needs. Gerber Life Insurance Company has compiled the following list of tips to help you maximize your time to create a little extra time for yourself.
1. Prepare breakfast ingredients the night before.
Plan for breakfast foods that are both healthy and easy to prepare. You can keep single-serve portions of yogurt, and cut and keep fruit ready in the fridge. If your young child likes cereal, pour small portions into bowls the night before, and then cover and leave them in an easy-to-reach spot. If another child likes toast, have the jam and butter ready-to-go in the fridge and whole wheat bread ready to pop in the toaster. If you like protein in the morning, keep a carton of egg whites in the fridge for a fast scramble before heading out for the day.
2. Cook dinner in the slow cooker so that a hot meal is ready when you get home.
Slow cookers can be a great investment for busy parents. Rely on recipes that require little to no preparation, such as stew or a roast. The night before, put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker’s ceramic pot and then refrigerate. In the morning, place the pot in the slow-cooker base, then plug it in and turn it on. When you get home, you’ll have a freshly made hot meal ready to eat. This system also works wonderfully with bread makers. Just prepare your dough beforehand and set your bread maker’s timer before you leave for work. The smell of freshly baked bread when you come home from work will put a smile on everyone’s faces.
3. Make lunches the night before.
Put leftovers from an evening meal into a single-serve container to reheat at work. To save even more time and money, repurpose store-bought or restaurant food containers as free single-serve containers. When packing lunch for your children, put non-perishables in lunch boxes on the kitchen counter the night before, and put refrigerated items next to each other on one shelf. In the morning, you’ll be able to gather up what you need and get out the door without fuss.
4. Lay out the family’s clothes the night before.
When laying out clothes for your younger children, involve them in the process so that they’ll know what to wear the next day and can begin dressing on their own. If your children are older, have them choose and prepare their own outfits. Make sure that your work clothes are ironed, and that socks, shoes and belts are easily at hand.
5. Have an after-school schedule for your children.
Set up a routine for children’s responsibilities such as homework and chores to do at home, including selecting their outfits for the next day. If your children know exactly what they are expected to do and when, you’ll be better able to avoid arguments while ensuring that your kids complete their tasks.
6. Teach your children the adage “there’s a place for everything, and everything in its place” – including school belongings.
When children come home from school, they may drop their books and gear as soon as they get in the door. This often may lead to misplaced items and a scramble in the morning. If you patiently teach your children the importance of being neat and always putting their things away in the same place, the mornings, as well as life at home, can be more organized and fluid.
7. Accept help from family, friends and most importantly, your partner.
If someone offers to drop off your kids or pick them up from school or a party, graciously accept. Do not think that the only way to be a good parent is by being a super parent. You do not have to do everything yourself. It is healthy for your children to see you relying on and collaborating with others. Build a support network and then utilize that network. Make sure you participate in other parents’ support network and offer to help when you can. All take and no give will very quickly diminish your network.
8. Take time for yourself.
Remember that a happy parent is a good parent. Go do what you need to do to keep yourself regularly recharged and happy. Or maybe a monthly get-together with close friends? Whatever your individual needs, make sure that they are fulfilled. If you aren’t happy, your family won’t be happy.
9. Support your partner.
Whoever helps you care for your family on a regular basis– whether your current or former partner, you mom or dad, or a relative or friend – will sometimes need support just as you do. If your partner is a spouse and you are separated, consider what you might do to ease his or her load when the children are with your spouse. Be flexible in your scheduling, so that both of you get nights or weekends to yourself to recharge. The more open you are to supporting your partner, the easier your life will be.
10. Don’t go on a guilt trip just because you work.
A great many parents, and single parents, work. Your child is no less loved or important because you have a career and are simply trying to provide for your family. Be secure in the knowledge that you are doing your best for your child and that your set of circumstances are unique to you and your family. Letting yourself feel guilty about working only leads to stress and self-doubt.
We encourage you to share these tips and advice with other working parents. What would you add to our list of tips for working parents? Let us know on our Gerber Life Facebook page.
Disclaimer: This article is not exhaustive, infallible, or meant to be your sole source of information on this topic.