3 things I learned about parenting from a time management specialist | #parenting

Kate Christie used to be an up-and-coming corporate lawyer.

That all changed at the age of 30 when she had three kids in three and a half years all while trying to continue her career. Soon, Kate found the wheels were coming off.

“When I had kids I found myself losing control over my time. I was constantly tired,” she says.

Worse, she was losing faith in herself. So she used that old lawyer fallback: keeping meticulous track of every minute of her day.

Now she’s an author and a time management expert who has a reputation for helping new parents find an extra 30 hours a month of lost time.

So how does she do it? And what can you learn from her? I spoke to Kate on my ABC podcast Babytalk to find out a bit more.

Stop putting other people first

“We’re so used to putting everyone else first before ourselves and our own needs,” says Kate, whose book is called Me First: The Guilt-Free Guide to Prioritising You.

“You put your kids first, you put your job first, you put your partner first, you put your parents first.”

Kate admits coronavirus is making the parent guilt levels rise exponentially.

The overwhelm for families might be at an all-time high, but Kate believes we also have the perfect opportunity to sit down and reframe what we want to allow back into our lives and how we want to go on.

She suggests reviewing all the extracurricular activities the family is committed to, especially if you’re still in lockdown and can make that decision now for next year.

Get the family to help

Kate’s most important message is that family is a team sport. Your kids and partner (if you have one) need to step up.

Get a whiteboard, get your family and identify everything you do around the house for the people you live with. There are things they can do for themselves, like cleaning rooms, hanging up towels, putting toys away, feeding and walking the dog, mowing the lawn and vacuuming.

These tasks can and should be divided between the family. There is no way this needs to be one person!

Sit down with the family and write it all down. Who is going to do what job?

Ultimately, Kate says this might mean you become the mum who reminds everyone to do the chores. This is better than being the mum who does all the work.

If young children can walk, there are jobs they can do: tidying up their toys, folding their socks. What you’re trying to do is instil the habit of helping around the house.

You can hand the five-year-old the vacuum cleaner not because you expect them to be great at it, but because by the time they’re 15 they are going to be competent and expected to help around the house on a regular basis.

This is a long game, says Kate. But remember you want your children to become self-sufficient, well-rounded humans.

We’ve got to do them a favour, so they know how to use the dishwasher and washing machine and how to cook a good meal.

All children need to know how to contribute to a household if we want them to grow into independent resilient young adults.

Let go of (double) standards

“We are our own worst enemies,” says Kate.

“The first thing you have to get rid of is double standards. If you’re telling your kids they have to pick up their towels, and then you pick them up when you see them on the floor, then you are the problem!”

She suggests, for example, if you’ve already reminded a child to pick up a towel several times, then you need to be able to get to a place where you can kick those towels aside and walk on.

“You are the greatest role model your children have. They need to know what it means to be a fulfilled, happy, energised and engaged adult.”

For more: Check out these Babytalk episodes with New York productivity consultant Julie Morgenstern about managing time during the pandemic, and academic Leah Ruppanner for a feminist take on who does what around the house.

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