Tips for successful single parenting: Organization tips for busy parents

Raising children in today’s world can be quite challenging. It is even more so for the single parent, who must balance being the primary or – all too often – the sole provider with parenting, which is a full time job in and of itself, and running the household. To do all of this well is a difficult task in the best of circumstances, but skilled organization will help you towards this goal.
Raising children in today’s world can be quite challenging. It is even more so for the single parent, who must balance being the primary or – all too often – the sole provider with parenting, which is a full time job in and of itself, and running the household. To do all of this well is a difficult task in the best of circumstances, but skilled organization will help you towards this goal.

Mornings, mealtimes, the evening crunch and parent-child recreation can all benefit from organization. Parent and child time should be scheduled in just like any other important thing, as in the rush to get all the essentials done, it is all too easy to wake up one morning and find our toddlers have become teenagers that we barely know.

A regular routine that encompasses all of the above areas will be helpful. Having the same pattern will help children move along with less direction and will allow you to move along more smoothly. Arranging your schedule to do major tasks once or twice a week, rather than daily, will contribute to a smooth routine.
For example, try to iron or otherwise prepare the family’s clothes for the whole week. That way you can easily set out young children’s clothes the night before and have predetermined outfits already put together in closets for older children and yourself – less decision making means less of those precious morning minutes wasted. Hanging clothes in the closet, where they are visible, is better than using dresser drawers where they will have to be looked for and will get wrinkled. Part of the evening routine should include children getting their school things together and ready to go. You can make sure their lunches are ready or school lunch money is in place. Streamlining the morning scramble to get out the door will be a better beginning for everyone.

Mealtimes can be hard during the morning scramble and the evening crunch. Providing healthy and well-balanced meals can prove to be a struggle without organization, leaving open the drive through, fast food or convenience food temptation. These foods, aside from being more expensive, are unhealthy in a variety of ways. Aside from being nutritionally inferior, they run the risk of carrying food born illnesses. Nothing can throw off the delicate balance of a busy family’s schedule like a sick child, the little bit of time saved is not worth it.

Avoiding drive through or fast food does not mean giving up convenience. There are many foods that can be cooked ahead and reheat perfectly in the microwave, including the wide variety of healthful dishes that based upon beans and rice. Fresh vegetables steam wonderfully and quickly on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Plan the menu for a week or two, according to when you do your shopping. Eliminate the daily or nightly decision making, it saves time. By planning and cooking a few days worth of meals that involve heavy cooking ahead of time to be reheated on their night and using quick and healthy meals such as pasta and tossed salads for a few nights, you will be able to cut weekday evening meal prep to half an hour.

Try to schedule one major task per day, rather than load yourself up — laundry and ironing one day, menu planning and shopping another, etc. Once the children are in bed, after they’ve gotten their things in order for school the next day, you can spend a half hour straightening up. Just a quick run through, nothing major, putting things in their places. You’ll appreciate it in the morning.

Combine tasks when possible. Children doing homework at the kitchen table while you are washing dishes allows you to supervise them and makes you available to provide assistance. Clean the bathroom while little ones are taking a bath.

Try to have a place for everything, especially in the children’s rooms. If you cannot find it a place of its own, consider getting rid of it. Clutter truly affects the mental state of the family. Disorganized surroundings lead to disorganized behavior.

Lists or a daily journal are helpful. Getting up a bit earlier than the kids for a quiet cup of coffee or tea, looking over and adjusting the day’s list while you collect your thoughts will help you to start out in the right frame of mind.

Children need to be drawn into the organizing process. In earlier times, children made real contributions to the well-being of the family. This was a good thing. It instilled the understanding that the family functions as a team, and that the success of the family depends on everybody working together towards that common goal.

Giving children routine chores that are helpful, such as setting the table and clearing afterwards, helping siblings wash hands, etc., is valuable. Children shouldn’t, of course, be overworked, but the principle of cooperation within the family is essential. This can be just as essential as scheduling time spent together, playing board games, or going to the park to play. When used in combination, cooperation training and dependable fun time together, these will help the smooth functioning so necessary to busy families.

There is no denying that single parenting can be difficult. With planning and organization, however, these difficulties can be greatly reduced. In fact, the single parent family can be a successful and rewarding experience for parent and children.

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