No one said being a parent was easy — and you hardly ever hear anyone say they have enough time in the day.
The hurry and scurry of daily living, activities, school, work and everything else in between can seem like a game of tetris when you’re trying to figure out how to get to every activity and be in multiple places at once.
If there were a magic bullet that could automatically make all of your scheduling conflicts as a parent go away, we would give it to you.
But since there isn’t, we’ve compiled some of the best ideas we’ve found for how to juggle schedules.
Combine whenever possible
Look for opportunities when more than one of your children can do the same activity at the same time. Swimming lessons can be a killer for this — sometimes age differences can mean you’re at the pool for hours while children are in different classes. Ask around to find classes or sports that run at the same time, in the same place, even if your children are different ages. It might mean a bit of work upfront, or going to a location or community you’re less familiar with, but we promise the time you save will be worth it.
Build a village
You can’t do it alone! Carpools exist for a reason and so do teenage babysitters, grandparents, mom groups and even nannies. Consider tag-teaming with other parents to create space for you to do your errands — you take their kids for a few hours and the next weekend, or evening, they take yours. Kids love to play with their friends and this team work can give you some valuable time to check off other items on your to-do list.
Write it down
Especially if you have older children writing each week’s activities down on the calendar with them is a good way to know where conflicts might arise. Have your older children write in all of their weekly recurring activities like lessons or sports. Then make sure every new activity that pops up — parent teacher interviews, tutoring, birthday parties, make it on the calendar as soon as there’s information about them. With older children you can set a boundary that emphasises if the activity isn’t on the calendar there’s no guarantee you’ll get a ride to it.
Give simple explanations
There are obviously going to be times throughout the week when your child’s needs interfere with your work day. This could be for a doctor’s appointment, a school event, or because they forgot their lunch. You don’t need to go into detail with your co-workers about why you’ve stepped out of the office for a minute. Just write a simple note or email that says you’ll be unavailable for a brief period and leave it at that. Unless your boss specifically asks you for follow up information you don’t need to over-share. You’re a parent, things happen.