5 tips: Finding time while the kids are awake

I posted this pic on Instagram the other day when I was choosing our holiday pics for printing.

My other lovely friend, Roz, asked me how I find the time to do things for me while my kids are awake.

Here are my tips:

1. Lower your definition of success

I never count on doing substantial work/ play that will need huge amounts of focus while the kids are awake. Át 3.5 they’re still at the stage where they want to be very involved in everything and things can get out of hand fast. If I expect to get huge projects done while they’re awake, I’m just setting myself up for failure.

2. Use those 15 – 20 minute bits of time

I always have a list though – sometimes written, but definitely mental – of quick little projects I can do while my kids are awake. Some of those involve cooking, editing some photos (I can at least do a folder or two before they want attention), wrapping a birthday gift and writing out a card, organising a drawer or shelf,  writing out my goals for the month ahead, and, of coures, reading.

3. Always have a loose plan

I’m going to blog more about Laura Vanderkam’s book, What the Most Successful People do on the weekend (highly recommend, by the way) but she talks a lot about anchor plans.

That’s not what I mean. I write a to-do list for myself every Friday night. Some of it is errands, some computer stuff like photos, blogging, and some are house stuff – decluttering, organising, any quick little project. I like to have at least 2 house things on my list so I have one for Sat afternoon and one for Sunday afternoon.

4. Set yourself up for success

Based on my list, I try and put out the things I’ll need so I don’t waste any of those precious minutes gathering instead of doing. Last weekend, I wrapped 5 gifts and attached gift cards in 20 minutes, purely because all the gifts were out and ready with the tape and gift wrap/ wrapping paper nearby.

Another thing I do to set myself up for success is to always have things ready to involve the children – paper to draw on in the kitchen while I cook, etc.

5. Don’t give up

Sometimes my plans don’t work out. I don’t throw it all out and say, “oh well, it’s useless”. I just try again another weekend. One of my favourite scriptures of all time in Lamentations 3:23 talks about how His mercies are new every morning. I like to think that’s a scripture for parents of toddlers because you have to constantly give yourself a pep talk and try again another day 🙂

What are your tips for finding time while your kids are awake?


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  1. Hi Marcia,

    Love this. I have an assortment of kids in my house throughout the day and I want to give them my attention but I also want to get a few things done! So these are helpful ideas. I also find them interested in what I’m doing – if i want to edit some photos, they are right there with me wanting to see every photo. it’s more noisy than doing it alone but I’m still with them, they enjoy it and I get something done! Have a wonderful week! Laura

  2. You know I love these tips especially now that I have a baby and never find time to do anything.
    baglady recently posted..Marks became a registered member

  3. The problem is I cannot leave ANYTHING out without my kids fiddling with them! And when I wrap presents, they want to “help”. When I have my laptop out they want to “type”. So I still don’t now how you do it…

    • Marcia Francois says:

      get a little creative. Use old calculators, even new ones and let them type. let them cut near you.

      I’d let them wrap – give them the offcuts and some tape and let them loose 🙂 Those fingers aren’t good yet so it will keep them busy for at least 5 minutes, if not more, by which time your gift is wrapped.

      have special toys that you only bring out when you want to do laptop things – i have special puzzles, special stickers, that they LOVE but it keeps them out of mischief for 10 minutes.

      Does this help?

  4. I try and get her involved, especially if it is something like gifts for parties she is to attend. At the beginning of the year I buy a whole bunch of brown / or white paper bags – the old fashioned shopping kind with a handle (ones that look like gift bags). Then as we RSVP for party invitations I will take a thick black marker pen and write the birthday childs name in bubble letters on a bag, draw a simple picture relevant to that child and write happy birthday and Little OL’s name. Maybe draw some balloons or what ever. The drawing and writing takes me only a couple of minutes. I then hand it to her and get her to colour it in for me. That way she feels like she wrapped it. Also keeps her busy while I can do something else.
    Pamela recently posted..What do you choose?

    • Marcia Francois says:

      Pamela, I LOVE YOUR IDEA! It’s so personal and a great idea both to involve the littles and keep costs down.

      If only I were remotely artistic.

      Mind you, I get the kids to make cards – that’s their contribution 🙂

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