Imagine starting a brand new job with a big title, widely high expectations and enormous responsibilities, but you’re walking in with no training, experience or even a job description to speak of. Not what most would call ideal, is it?
Welcome to parenting.
The parenting years are some of, if not the most time intensive in a human’s life, and a period during which we suffer most from time scarcity. And, yet, we are rarely given the tools and training to prepare for it. Like every well-intended mother or father, you strive to manage it all: meeting the endless stream of child-related needs, running an ordered household, developing and maintaining a satisfying work-life balance and, somehow, just maybe, finding some time to take care of yourself. You can’t possibly foresee the overwhelming love–or the staggering workload. Where is the roadmap for parents?
As a time management and organizing expert for over 26 years, the vast majority of my clients have been parents, and every day I see them grappling with time dilemmas. These goals (and frustrations when falling short) appear to transcend background, geography and socio-economic level. I’ve heard them from my clients in Brooklyn, Chicago and Los Angeles to audiences in Nebraska, Ohio and Kansas; I’ve worked with families in Europe, the Netherlands, South Africa and Dubai. And, despite their seemingly different lifestyles and circumstances, they are all unified by the same desire to find that ever-evasive balance: the ability to effectively manage their jampacked schedules and endless task list so that they have quality time with their children. The struggle is real .
We all know that time with our children is critical, and recent scientific findings confirm that parental instinct. A parent’s undivided attention, it turns out, has a profound effect on not just the social and emotional development of children, but also on their cognitive development, and physical health. Experts across the board–from psychologists to neuroscientists to educators–have all found that consistent, nurturing caretaking, delivered through loving time and attention affects almost every marker of success in adulthood.
Parenting is a job—an exceptionally rewarding and challenging one. And, as with any other job, parents deserve clear guidance on how to organize their time and space to manage the vast scope of their responsibilities. Let’s get parents a job description: a basic structure we can embrace and modify to fit our values, our kids’ unique and changing needs, and our evolving circumstances; a way to keep track of how we are doing, a way to evaluate strengths and shore up weaknesses; to allocate, organize and monitor time spent across roles and responsibilities.
Having the tools to organize the job and approach it systematically allows parents to take control, make confident choices, and achieve what we all desire and deserve: the freedom to be present with our kids, to nurture their development and deepen our relationship. That is the power of organizing: it provides the “oil” in the machine of life that frees us to focus on what truly matters and make our unique contributions as individuals and as parents. And that is precisely what I’m working to create: a tool that can support parents in designing their own parent ‘road map.’
Please share your voice and perspective as a parent–from the challenges you face to the solutions you have discovered–via this Parent survey to help ensure the road map supports parents across the country and the world.