4 strategies to ease the household load as a single parent

It’s easy as a single parent to rush from one demand to the next. You have an endless ‘to do’ list that grows by the day. You live in overload, feeling overwhelmed by your schedule and the mandate of being the only adult in the household. Nothing happens in the house unless you do it or initiate it. I found 4 strategies helped me to manage the load:

  • Share the household tasks
  • Schedule
  • Margins
  • Pyjama day

You may have other strategies and I would love to hear them and share them with others.

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Share the household tasks

This is age dependent. As your kids gets bigger let them have responsibilities that are a part of the household functioning. They will learn much needed skills for adult life. I used to feel guilty that my kid’s friends from couple homes weren’t doing chores but in later life my kids were more helpful around the house and equipped when they have to live on their own.

My kids were paid a small amount of pocket money but could earn extra by completing tasks from the big chart of household jobs. The amount of money was based upon the difficulty and time required to complete the task. Some tasks were rewarded with a small amount of cash and others carried a higher monetary incentive. The kids would tick what they had done and at pocket money time I would add in the extra cash.  An unexpected benefit was knowing how long it was since someone washed the dog!

I was happy to spend the time teaching the skill so the child could learn how to do it e.g. clean the toilet, or hanging up washing so it wasn’t pegged through the middle of the garment. As the whole idea was to lessen the workload on me, I also needed to drop my expectations of the quality and resist the urge to re-clean after them.

Schedule

Scheduling is a way to balance out the activities of the family, ensuring everyone has time investing in their passion and there are times of rest. Taking the time to schedule allows you to be in control of your calendar and review opportunities as they arise to ensure you have the time and the energy to meet them.

At the start of the every year we planned what activities the kids wanted to do. We looked at the budget, what was available and its cost, and the calendar to work out what was possible with our resources.  I limited being out of the house to a couple of nights in a week, so we had down time at home. I tried to plan the activity nights so both the kids were involved in an activity at the same time, so whilst they were occupied I had time to self-care. Often I walked with a friend or along the river to feed my soul. Also I looked for classes where their friends went so we parents could car pool and I only had to drive one direction.

Margins

Margins are the blank edge on busy pieces of paper. Likewise your schedule needs margins. They are ‘the space between [ y]our load and [y]our limits’ 1.   Don’t totally fill up the calendar.  Having blank spots in the schedule allows room for delays, unexpected interruptions and new opportunities.

I learnt scheduling based on the ‘Stephen Covey’ method where you allocate blocks of time to achieve a goal rather than use a ‘to do’ list. In allocating the block of time you build spaces between them for meetings to run late or a chance to have a short time out.

Pyjama Day

Pyjama day is a chance to chill out as family.

It was a favourite in our house.  On pyjama day no-one had to do anything. You didn’t have to get dressed, I didn’t cook so we scrounged food e.g. you could eat potato chips and biscuits, whatever you could find in the cupboard and prepare yourself.   You did what relaxed you and filled your soul e.g. read, play video games, do a puzzle, sit in the sun. We also did fun stuff together like playing board games. It was a time to rest, enjoy each other and refuel ready for another time of activity.

What else helps you?

I would love to hear about your strategies and share them with others.

Putting legs on it

Try one thing and let me know if it works for you. Share something you do with me.

Resources

Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung

Hybels, B (2014) Simplify, Hodder & Stoughton, USA

Stephen Covey

Balance

References

  1. Deyoung, K. (2013) Crazy Busy, Crossway, U.S.A, p27

Photo credit: Kalen Emsley www.unsplash.com

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