Notes On Single Motherhood: Time Management


One of the questions that I get asked most often by new single parents is how I manage my time.

I’ve already written previously about the importance of a support system. One of the main reasons you need to manage your time well is so that your support system can be kept in the loop, and thus manage their time as well. I always try my very best to inform my parents or hired babysitters that I need them wayyyy ahead of time (we’re talking at least a week ahead here). There’s nothing I hate more than last-minute arrangements…which is why I generally decline invitations that are too last-minute. Just not practical.

In some ways, as a single parent, you’ll have more “me time” than those with partners/spouses. But there’s only one of you, and only one pair of hands, to juggle what is usually divided between two people and two pairs of hands. So, how did I do it? Here is an example of my routine back when I was working two jobs and studying, about two years ago:

7:00am: Wake up, get ready for work
7:30am: Wake the boys up for preschool
8:30am: Depending on what time work starts that day (office job starts early, teaching job starts later), I’ll either send the boys to school or head to work while my mother sends them to school.
5:00pm: Get out of work, change, head to campus
7:00pm: In class till…
10:00pm: Arrive home. If the boys aren’t asleep yet, I get about half an hour with them before I put them to bed.
11:00pm: Boys are usually asleep, so I stay up to study or complete assignments till around…
2:00am: Go to sleep
Ok, it doesn’t seem that bad when I look at it like this. LOL. Obviously there are some variations to my schedule depending on whether I have an exam or major assignment due that week (more time spent at the library), or there’s an event at my office job that requires me to be there more often.

The key thing here is that this schedule worked for me. I can’t really focus on assignments in the hustle and bustle of daytime with two young children climbing all over me. So sometimes I would head to the library nearby if there are people around to watch my kids. Otherwise (actually, usually) I do my assignments in the middle of the night, from around 11pm to 2am. I find I’m most productive and focused in those hours anyway, so the lack of sleep was completely worth it for me. You need to figure out what works for you, and the only way to know is to try.

My schedule is MUCH more relaxed now. The kids are older, I’m on sabbatical, and I’m no longer struggling with deadlines. I’ve also started carpooling with my aunt down the road, so I’m not constantly on school runs. But sometimes, I do miss that hectic time in my life ;) It’s hard not to feel really triumphant at the end of the day when I’ve been super-productive!

Are there any tips you’d like to share about managing your time?