Motherhood Joys and Challenges

How to make the most of your precious time when you have a toddler

Gone were the days when my precious time was all mine — when bath time was long and bed time was longer, when “after work” meant either heading to the nearby spa or changing to my Zumba clothes with my fitness buddies, when Saturday mornings meant snoozing til 10 am. 

In my mommy world today, my time is a precious commodity I now share with my husband and my energetic and adorably demanding one-year-old baby girl.  Thus, my every second is just as important as a minute, and every minute is just as valuable as an hour.  A few minutes stuck in heavy traffic is a nightmare for a mom like me.  It’s horrible to stay put inside your vehicle when you’re dying to fly home to be with your child. 

For a parent, every minute counts.  With my one-year-old’s very short attention span, my daily grind with my child feels like I’m always playing the popular international game Minute to Win It.  I honestly set a mental timer, so I get pressured to complete a task like cleaning the feeding bottles or putting on make up in less than a minute just before my child gets bored with a certain activity.  When my toddler finally throws with disdain the last toy or tissue paper I gave her, it only means “Time’s up, mommy!”  Then it’s time to think of another activity for her to be interested in so I can get another precious minute of doing another task.  Story of our lives, mommas!    

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With so many tasks in line and such limited time, new parents like me can feel anxious and exhausted.  But we all know that parenting is a blessing we all ought to cherish, enjoy and experience with much enthusiasm.  So how do we enjoy such a time-pressured life with our kids?  Here are some tips we can try:

 

List down tasks and give yourself a deadline

My experience taught me that relying on my good old memory just doesn’t work now that I am a mom.  There’s just so much tasks that go with taking care of a baby or a toddler.  Whether it’s on a memo pad or my phone’s reminder app, I try to list down every little task I need to do for the following day like buying diapers, booking an appointment with the pedia, washing baby’s clothes and preparing the baby food. It also helps me accomplish more task whenever I give myself a deadline.  I should accomplish this before getting the laundry and I should have done this right after office hours.  There’s magic in being mentally organized and prepared.   It makes me accomplish more at the end of the day.

Give your child worthwhile activities while you do yours

When my little girl went past the infant stage, my mommy life became a little less complicated.  Now that she can do more than just cry for milk and sleep, I try my best to let her engage in enjoyable yet safe activities while I do my mommy chores.  It’s a challenge, I know.  It’s not easy to find an activity that will hold a toddler’s attention for a long time, but it’s definitely worth trying.  I’ve tried a lot of things – from baby books to toddler toys to tissue paper and other stuff inside my bag.   It takes a lot of patience and creativity to make a child sit still while you do mommy tasks.  Now I’m glad that somehow I’m able to accomplish household chores or blogging or personal tasks while my one-year-old sit, sing, dance, play or practice talking right next to me. 

Do as many tasks as you can during your child’s nap time/sleeping time

I find it easiest to do things in our home when my one-year-old is sleeping soundly. Whether it’s a 30-minute nap time or a long sleep at night, I grab this opportunity of peaceful period to do as many tasks as possible.  My daughter’s snooze time is a chance for me to cut my nails, fold the clean clothes, change the trash bags, pay bills online, and yes, even write this article. So I’ll know she’s safely sleeping while I do other things, I purposely bring my stuff to bed.  For instance, I bring my laptop to bed so I can blog while she sleeps beside me or I bring the clean clothes near the bed, so I can fold them one by one while I watch my daughter sleep.  Multitasking is one motherhood superpower I am truly grateful for.

Don’t be guilty to accept help when needed

As much as I want to be a superwoman who can do all things for the family all by myself, I can’t.  As a first-time mom I used to have this utopian goal of accomplishing every single household chore alongside my corporate work and personal stuff all by myself.  Eventually, life made me realize that I am no goddess to miraculously accomplish everything alone, especially with a one-year-old demanding for my undivided attention. Yes, parents need all the help they can get, and that should not make us feel guilty.  Whether it’s a household helper or the grandparents or a distant relative offering a helping hand, we should humbly hold on to it with gratitude.    

The next time we’re pressed for time again, I encourage fellow parents to take a deep breath and optimistically take on the challenge.  We’re all in this together.  Surely, time management is a tip many parents often hear which is easier said than done, but having seen many veteran mommas and dads sticking it out, I believe new parents like me can also make the most out of every minute to win it.

 

This is my article published in The Asian Parent Philippines.

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