Being a working parent doesn’t just increase the demands on your time, it increases the demands on your brain. You only have a certain amount of mental bandwidth to process everything you have to do. This can cause stress and a sense of overwhelm when life gets too busy.
We’ve got five top tips to help you reduce your mental clutter, freeing up your grey matter for stuff that, well, matters! Plus 15 hacks for making laundry, lunches and the school run easier.
Sitting down to plan can seem like something you don’t have time for. But do you have the time and mental energy for the chaos of not having a plan?
Carving out a quiet twenty minutes each week to plan meals and check what’s coming up for the week ahead can easily save you hours of wondering what to cook, last-minute panic buying birthday presents, or discovering you have to craft the solar system out of recycled materials by tomorrow morning.
If you really want to save stress, consider family planning. No, not that sort! Whether it is using a printed family calendar or an online app, sharing everyone’s schedule helps you spot clashes and coordinate things in advance.
If you’re someone who likes to squeeze their avocados to find the perfect ripeness or pick bananas that are just the right side of green, you might not have embraced online grocery shopping yet. But this one change can save you hours each week.
Fifteen minutes to do the shop, fifteen minutes to unpack it. Compared to getting the kids ready, dragged them to the supermarket, coping with the meltdowns, buying £600 of sweets to keep them quiet… Life really is too short.
Another way to reduce mental strain is to take action straight away on minor admin – those bits of paper that pile up, get lost and cause a lot of stress. Whether it’s a school note about silly sock day, an invoice for after school club or an appointment you need to make, if you can do it in under five minutes, do it there and then.
Party invite? Text your RSVP then head to Amazon to order a gift. Pick a birthday card out of your collection and set an alarm to remind you the day before the party.
The aim is to get to the point where you can mentally let go, either because the task is complete, or you’ll get a reminder when you need to think about it again. You’ll feel lighter without carrying around all that ‘what did I have to do again?’ worry.
Home, office, school, nursery, doctors, shops, parents, hairdresser… Our personal geographies can take us all over the place, meaning more time commuting and less time relaxing.
To reduce the time you spend shuttling between places and appointments, work out the three places that you spend the most time moving between. For most working parents that will be home, school and office. This is your triangle.
Then try to move as many of your other places INTO this triangle. By consolidating your life into a smaller area, you’ll save a lot of time on detours and doubling back on yourself.
Early bird or night owl, we all have times of the day that we prefer. Try to build your daily routine around your most energetic times.
If you’re up with the dawn chorus and flake out after 5pm, make sure you frontload your chores first thing.
If you’re like a bear with a sore head in the mornings but come alive after five, use the evening to prep for the day ahead.
Libby Marks is a freelance content writer, copywriter and marketing consultant based in Newcastle. Libby works with busy marketers and business owners, helping them attract and engage customers with high-quality written content. She specialises in writing search-optimised blog posts, articles, ebooks and guides, helping websites gain visibility and visitors: www.writeontyne.com.
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