By Jennifer Zeidler, VP of Marketing & Communications, FreeConferenceCall.com
As all working parents know, time is often in short supply. It’s hard not to feel stretched thin with the demands of balancing the world on your shoulders. There is a seeming inevitability to the tight schedules, laundry backlog and those little everyday surprises — from “Whoops, I forgot my lunch” to “#*!^, I forgot my conference call.”
So what do the kids think about all of this? While it often seems their thought processes are destined to remain a mystery, some answers are available. In a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 children aged 8-18, kids were asked what they would change about how a parent’s work affected their life. Turns out, most children are satisfied with the quantity of time they spend with their parents. They just wished their parents would be less stressed and less tired by work.
Truth is empowering, right? So let’s get started with some must-have hacks and help overburdened working parents get a few more minutes in the day to relax with the kids.
1. Don’t Get Derailed By Scheduling Fiascos
Be a planner. That means that it’s time to make sure Google Calendar is on every smartphone. With easy sharing and syncing, working parents can be certain to master scheduling challenges. And don’t just sync the calendar with your kids. Get the whole village involved and ensure everyone is current on activities.
Extra Tip: When entering appointments, consider inserting a to-do list to make it come off without a hitch. If you need reminders, try Todoist, which allows you to access tasks from any platform. Not the one who needs reminders? Todoist facilitates sharing and collaborating on tasks with the whole family.
2. Combat the Biggest Culprits
The most common time/energy/soul-sucking culprits might be grocery shopping and housework. Here are a few hacks to get these monsters under control.
Unless a weekly visit to Whole Foods is part of your mental health regimen (we’re not judging), online grocery shopping is definitely the way to go. Just check the web for your favorite stores — the same deals are available and purchases can be repeated with one click in the future. The time saved alone is worth the delivery fee.
Need to buy in bulk? Keep in mind that many Costco connoisseurs swear by a strict Monday-Wednesday shopping policy to avoid epic lines. Working parents know that life seldom goes as planned, including following any sort of strict anything. Save yourself the hassle and shop Costco through Google Express. Of course, that means missing out on tasty samples and $1 pretzels. But it also means skipping the parking lot. Yup, you’ll come out ahead.
Extra Tip: For some, cooking dinner after a long work day is a means of relaxing. For the rest, consider crockpot freezer meals as the solution that changes lives. Spend an hour chopping and storing food in freezer bags on Sunday and get a week’s worth of fast and tasty meals that can be dumped in the crockpot and left to cook all day.
Got Free Labor?
Ah, housework. Wasn’t help with chores the reason to have kids in the first place? Yet it’s hard to sidestep the accompanying grumbling and griping. Instead of another nagging session, try instituting a weekly chore-busting session for a specific time and duration to get everyone moving. Crank up the music, set the timer and make it a family event. Teaching children to take responsibility for housework lightens the parental load and helps kids become self-sufficient.
Extra Tip: If no one is volunteering to iron, spray clothes with a solution of lavender oil and water before getting dressed and creases will just drop out. And as a bonus, you’ll smell like you just stepped out of Whole Foods.
3. Sanity-Savers for Everyday Aggravations
When working parents are in the zone, they are practically magical: Whatever needs to be done, they make it happen. Here are a few hacks that will help you get into the zone and stay there, unflappable.
Get Out the Door
If your phone and keys are always finding their way into little hands — and then disappearing — then the Tile App is for you. Stick a tile onto your key ring or beneath your phone case and they’ll never be truly lost again. Works for other wayward essentials like EpiPens and scooters, too.
If You Can’t Get Out the Door, Work Remotely
Sometimes, kids get sick and there’s no sitter. No need to panic. FreeConferenceCall.com has your office-away-from-the-office covered with free and unlimited audio conferencing, screen sharing with collaboration tools and video conferencing from any device (or use the house phone, if you’ve got one). Remember that family calendar in the cloud? FreeConferenceCall.com has both Google Calendar™ and Outlook® plug-ins, so working parents won’t be thrown off by an appointment ever again (Well, we can dream).
Remember, Timers Are Your Friend
The last thing anyone wants to do after a long day is fight with kids about homework. Enter the Pomodoro Technique, a time management tool that structures break time into the work schedule and increases efficiency. Sit those kids down and set the kitchen timer for a period of time. When the bell goes off, break time begins. For younger kids, try 10 minutes on, a 5-minute break, then 10 minutes on. With older kids, use a 20-5-20 approach. And for working parents who are a little fuzzy on Algebra II or any other subject, Khan Academy is the perfect brain backup.
Extra Tip: For driving teens, Canary - Teen Safety alerts parents in real time with details of their kids’ activities, including volume of calls, locations and driving speeds. Canary can be programmed to alert parents when a teen driver is using the phone while on the road, speeding or traveling into off limit areas.
FreeConferenceCall.com is a company of working parents, and we know that everyone needs a few tricks up their sleeves. For more information about easy business conferencing, just reach out to our Stevie Award-winning Customer Care department. We’re here 24/7. Just like you.