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Parents Corner

The Balancing Act

Syndi Ecker from her Positive Parenting Series

Syndi Ecker is a contractor with Pediatric Services, specializing in parent education and behavioral intervention.

Whether you are adjusting to parenthood because of a new infant or are a more seasoned parent, the challenge of working and parenting becomes quite the balancing act. The holiday season often brings with it an increase in activity levels. This is an especially good time to organize our days. I know I will have to adjust my schedule!! Here we go!

I will start with time management since the days are shorter and time is one of life's greatest equalizers. According to one time management expert, time management "is gaining control over what you do, when you do it, how you do it, and why you do it." (Cormier) It is important here to determine whether we want to be effective or efficient. Efficiency is measured in terms of time and energy. Many tasks taken on can be performed efficiently but how effective was the task. When making decisions about tasks, ask yourself if the task to be performed is effective.

This can help determine our goals and set priorities. Know when your "prime time" is. Some of us function better in the morning, some do better in the evening. I have more physical energy in the morning but the evenings offer peace and quiet for creativity. Therefore, I accomplish my physical tasks (cleaning, errands, phone contacts) in the day-light hours and do my writing, reading, and reporting at night. I can then prioritize and organize my day's goals in this manner.

Make lists to organize thoughts and to prioritize. Then cross off tasks as they have been accomplished or determined to be ineffective. Delegate to others, if possible. Handle tasks only once, if possible from beginning to end, especially paper clutter. Clutter and procrastination are time robbers. Seek to eliminate them by learning new skills.

Much time and energy is wasted on stress. Stress is the tensions and strains exerted on us daily. We need stress in our life to attain our life goals. However, the way we deal with the stresses in our life can determine our mental health and the outcome of our successes. There are many skills and techniques for stress reduction. In order to keep it simple, here are some quick tips for handling stress:

TO AVOID STRESS - make duplicates of all keys, say "no" more often, shop during off hours, make advance reservations, and fix or replace anything that doesn't work properly.

TO REDUCE STRESS - Be prepared to wait, find the humor in things, change perspectives to "so what?"; count all blessings; keep time fillers by the telephone; travel light; and unclutter life in general.

TO RELIEVE STRESS - Get in touch by holding hands; stroking a pet; bugging a loved one (physical contact is a good stress reliever); indulge in a reward after stressful activities; schedule more fun; or take a leisurely bath.

Now for the family balancing act. Incorporate the use of time and stress management in the home.

Re-evaluate what is important to you, your children, and your family, family meetings. Let the small stuff go.
Take time for yourself.
Make special time for each of your children -- this need be only 15 minutes or even a once-a-week outing together.
Use family contributions to conquer the chores.
instill a sense of the "winning team". When everyone feels as though they have a part in the team effort, there is more desire to work towards common goals.
Acknowledge each other's sacrifices and contributions. When someone is feeling overburdened, nothing feels better than a hug or acknowledgment of your work load.
Expectations should be clear and concise, while respecting differences in styles of accomplishing these expectations.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Be thankful for the little things that happen all the time.

References:
Cormier, R., "Time Management", Canadian Home Economics Journal, 1983, 33, 120-123.
Greer, R., "Fifty Ways to Reduce Stress", Woman's Day, 1982, 94-96

Syndi Ecker is available for workshops for schools or businesses. Call 805-460-9911.

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Last modified: January 26, 2013