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Working Parent Survival Tips - Part 2


Agent Sully This is part two of a two part series on time management efficiencies for working parents with young children. Here’s part 1 of Working Parent Survival Tips.

If you currently face challenges with managing work, time with your family, and daycare, or if you will be in that situation soon, this article will introduce some routines that will help you rise above the chaos and strike a balance that is manageable.

Interview with Working Parent Efficiency Expert

In part one, I interviewed my sister, a working mom, about how she manages to get so much done while keeping her sanity. She described her Morning, Daytime, and Nighttime Routines and tips. In Part 2 we’ll cover Non-Routine Events, Weekends and General Time Saving Tips.

Best Practices for Balancing Family and Work

These are time management practices that work for my sister’s family. I’m not advocating that you should follow all of them or that following them to the letter is easy or necessary, but rather, this guide is presented here so that you can pick and choose the tips that will work best for you.

Fitting in Non-Routine Events into Your Routine

1. Schedule doctor visits and such for Friday afternoons. This will accomplish three things. 1) You’ll get to leave work early on a Friday afternoon, which is always nice at the end of the week. 2) There are often other people leaving work early on Fridays so you won’t stand out out as much as far as your teamwork goes. 3) You won’t need to go back into work afterwards.

2. Unexpected Events:

  • Don’t apologize for needing to handle emergencies or when child is sick.
  • Recognize that the event is something that is out of your control use it as an opportunity to slow down for a day.
  • Have your emergency backup support in place before an emergency happens. (i.e. who would pick up your child from day care and babysit in the case of an emergency?)
  • Have the ability to work from home set up ahead of time for those times when you need to be home with a sick child. You won’t be able to get as much done obviously, but you may be able to get something done if your child is sleeping.


Here are several tips designed to minimize errands/chores time and maximize family time together.

1. Try to keep errands and chores to a minimum by getting as many done during the week as possible.

2. Make family time together the top priority. Planning ahead is helpful and it gives you something to look forward to during the week.

3. Groceries: Order 2 weeks of groceries online for delivery during the week. Remember you can get most pharmacy type items from the grocery store too.Try to avoid spending the weekend on this major task. Quick trips, however, don’t take too much time when necessary and can be made fun.

4. Shopping: things you can’t get from the grocery delivery, try to order online to avoid spending time in stores and also to save money that might have been spent on impulse purchases.

5. Laundry, Monday lunches, weekly planning: set aside 2 hours at the end of Sunday to for these tasks so that they don’t eat up your whole Sunday. Work will fill the time available, so make that time short so that the bulk of your weekend is spent doing fun and relaxing things!

General Tips

1. Savings Tip: has by far the cheapest bulk diaper and baby wipes prices. And orders over $25 are free with Super Saver Shipping. You might want to compare their prices on other similar bulk items.

2. Meal Planning: use the planning tools of your online grocery service if available. My sister has 20 lists based on complete meals. All you have to do is click on the meals you want to plan and then all those items are added to your list. It’s a little work up front that pays off big time down the line. And remember, if you’re following the dinner routine above, you only need to order 4 meals to cook, and 4 frozen dinner meals (times the number of people in your family) for those two weeks.

3. Use Online Banking. Use the mail and direct deposit so you never need to go into the bank.

4. Buy postage online so you don’t have to go to the post office. Even packages can be paid for and scheduled for pick up by your mail carrier.

5. Schedule eyeglass appointments at doctor that is in the mall so that it can be a fun event instead of just a chore. Maybe you can eat at the food court and combine it with trips to other stores you need to visit.

What are your efficiency tips? Please share!

K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are How to Stop Being “Busy” and Live Your Dream Life, Your Most Productive Week Ever!, Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?, Set Yourself Up for Diet Success, and How to Be a Great Salesperson.

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    On August 10th, 2007 at 10:06 am, derek said:

    My work schedule is four 10-hour days per week and while most people assume I take Friday or Monday off, I’ve found it to work the best when I take Wednesday off.

    Not only does that break my week into two mini-weeks but when I need to do things such as shopping, doctor appointments, errands or whatever - it is usually much less crowded on a Wednesday than a Friday afternoon.

    You’ve got some nice tips in here though, thanks!

    On August 10th, 2007 at 10:23 am, Jenni said:

    I work from home - and have the kids with me most of the time… but, I have to say there is nothing like doing your grocery shopping online! It beats spending 2 hours at the grocery store trying to keep the kids occupied and content… and I love the idea shared about setting up lists for different meal sets. Can’t wait to try that.

    On August 10th, 2007 at 11:09 am, lornadoone said:

    I absolutely love the posts that have solid efficiency tips in them. I’ll be taking these to heart!

    I like to map out (even in my head) all of the errands I need to run so that I know I’m driving to them in the best order to get done quickly, rather than zig-zagging all over town.

    On August 11th, 2007 at 9:58 am, Kelly King Anderson said:

    Great job on these two well-prepared posts! I appreciate your ideas and suggestions because while I work at home, I really NEED to create more routines and systems to be more efficient. One thing that is a must for me is help with house cleaning 2x a month. We found someone who is very affordable and she does deep cleaning 2x a month and we try to keep it clean the off week.

    Another thing that works well for us is eating on paper plates (except for Sunday dinner), I know it sounds REALLY wacky to do that but it cuts down the work load immensely and really if you consider the cost of washing dishes vs. throwing away paper, “it’s a wash” ;)

    I’d like to see a follow up post from Wendy and others about what their home/work routine is with young children at home. Generally I either wake up before my kids to get a couple hours done or I stay up later than my kids to get work done and do sporatic stints as time allows throughout the day, but a routine is hard to comeby unless I hire a babysitter.

    On August 11th, 2007 at 11:17 am, Mara B. said:

    I really liked the article. Lots of practical information, and things that would be easy to incorporate, if I’d take the time. :)

    On August 11th, 2007 at 6:35 pm, AgentSully said:

    @Derek - thanks for the compliment and for sharing your setup!

    @Jenni - I totally agree. Since I moved, grocery delivery is harder to come by and I miss it! It’s the best time saver and also I find it makes it easier to watch how much you spend.

    @Lornadoone - thanks!!

    @Kelly - Thank you for sharing your additions! I like your tips for saving work!

    @Mara - thank you for the support!

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    1. Working Parents Survival Tips - Part 2 on August 12th, 2007 at 10:04 am

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