Our family’s biggest challenge is making time. Time is a precious resource I crave. The 19th century American author, Alice Morse Earle wrote, “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man.”

I suspect the battle of not having enough time may be true for lots of families. I often hear people saying ‘time goes too fast’, ‘make the most of time’, ‘you blink and suddenly your babies are children/teenagers/adults’… .

I battle constantly to reign in and take control of time. We never seem to have enough to do everything we want to do. Time constantly seems to slip through our family’s fingers like grains of sand.

The reality

Ask any parent about the morning rush. Rattling, firstly yourself, then your kids to get up and out from their slumber, (especially difficult on cold wintery mornings), making breakfast, lunches, sorting (appropriate) clothing out for the day, cleaning teeth, wiping sleep out of tired eyes, reminding children to remember their school bags as they sleepily leave the house. All these steps take time, not to mention large amounts of patience and energy. And, all the while trying to, at least, get your own teeth cleaned and hair meaningfully sorted.

Human beings are great at procrastination and I do my fair share of it. I also know if I really want to do something, I will go all out to get it done. That is true of getting out the door on a school day in the space of an hour. I may look a wreck but my kids are up and ready to face the day. Music practice and a little playtime get thrown in IF the children want them to happen. Their choice to procrastinate ensures those ‘good to haves’ won’t happen.

We all have limited time. I get annoyed when I hear people say ‘I don’t have time’. I am convinced many people use this phrase as an excuse for not doing something they don’t want to do.

Can we really make time?

I was brought up to believe you can always make time. I reflect on my morning routine and ask the endless question “how on earth do I do make time?”

Western spin-doctors would say – by working smarter. My response to them – do these people not have children? Is it really possible to get more time?

I concede that time and how I use are my choice, and mine alone. When you add the ingredient ‘to do the things you want to do’ to ‘making time’, my concession makes even more sense.

Having conceded I have a choice to make more time for myself, I also need to acknowledge I will not be able to do everything and expect to be great at all I touch. And, I need downtime to re-energise. Essentially, it means I need to prioritise.

My life is flooded with priorities and they all need doing. I have decided my best approach to deal with all my priorities is to prioritise my priorities. Confused?

Your priorities maybe watching Coronation Street, a night on Facebook or reading a good novel. The hard part comes in choosing which is your highest priority and which will be traded off. Making a list and/or jotting your priorities down in black and white helps make your choices easier.

However you make choices in prioritising your time, remember you are answerable for your time only to you. And, remember to pat yourself on the back once you have completed your priority.

making time

Don’t make excuses of having no time: some tips to help make time

  • List three achievable ‘must dos’ in a day and be flexible about other things.
  • Set goals and be realistic in what you expect of yourself and others.
  • Take responsibility for what you do with your time.
  • Be realistic with time: learn to say ‘no’ when asked to things for other people.
  • Don’t get unnecessarily involved in other people’s business.
  • Concentrate on your priorities and limit distractions – dedicate specific time for text messages, emails, Facebook, (etc).
  • Finish off what you start and feel proud of what you achieve.
  • Put a limit the amount of hobbies, meetings, committees, sport, (etc), you do.
  • If you want to do something – make it a priority.
  • Leave extra time for those unforeseen glitches in the road.
  • Be the best person you can be – eat healthily and get your body moving.
  • Give yourself time to relax and have downtime.

Last thoughts

Working smarter is our family deciding what things are most important and putting time and energy into those priorities. In real terms, it is about me getting up five minutes earlier to give myself more breathing room to get everything achieved in the mornings.

Time is precious and we all have busy lives. It is important to make the time you spend with your family count. A good example: “Time that is special to your child may be when they approach you to show you something, ask a question or involve you in their activity” (Triple P Positive Parenting Solutions, 2010).

As parents we have limited time to be with, and positively influence, our children to become good upstanding citizens of the world. Being, and having good times, together is a worthwhile investment is a number one priority for our family. Now over to you: how are you making time to spend with your family?

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Rachel Binning is a full-time jack-of-all-trades who has an extensive background within the health sector. She now wholeheartedly agrees with ex US President, Bill Clinton that “the toughest job in the world isn’t being a president. It’s being a parent”. Rachel juggles being a mum of two active boys with her business, Bella Photography, volunteer work for many and varied organisations that support families, and contributes weekly to community newspapers throughout Wellington.

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