Time Management Skills for Busy Dads

Time is a rare commodity for working fathers. Gone are the days of idyllic family life where dad is home in time to play catch with junior or spending the evening with his wife. Family, work, and other demands seem to dominate the landscape of most men’s lives in this modern age. Learning to sort through the things that matter most is fast becoming an art form.
What can a busy father do? There is no cure for the many things that pull on parents these days, but a few strategies can help reduce the stress and maximize the quality of time a father has with his children.
Establish routines
Routines seem simplistic, but their value cannot be overstated. Time can be either master or servant; and the establishment of sensible routines can give a busy dad the upper hand. Morning times, for example, can be extremely hectic as parents and children try to scramble out the door. In households with multiple children, stagger the times the children wake up to reduce traffic jams in the bathroom and to help see to each child’s needs immediately. Backpacks for school and diaper bags for daycare are best packed up the night before and placed by the door
Carve out a few minutes each morning for the family to eat breakfast together. Starting the day as a family creates a feeling of unity, leaving each member feeling connected. This is one of those exercises in quality, not quantity time. Keep the menu simple. A bowl of cereal or a toaster pastry is adequate. The basics of nutrition are not on trial here; but the nurturing family connections take priority.
Evenings can be hectic as well, especially with multiple activities for different family members. Attach a large desk calendar to the front of the refrigerator to keep track of every meeting, soccer practice and school dance. This becomes central communication and is essential is planning for the week. It may not be realistic to make it to every event. Make it to as many as possible, this sends a clear message to kids of where they rank in their parents’ priorities.
Set firm priorities
These days, there is no guarantee that the work day will end when the five o’clock whistle blows. Many parents find themselves bringing work home with them. Allot a firmly set amount of time to make or receive work related calls, answer emails, or browse social networking sites. Take full advantage of technology and return correspondence when it fits your life. Time at home at night with the kids is not an extension of the work day. Most employers or clients have families themselves and will respect the boundaries placed around family time.
Weekend dads
Perhaps a greater challenge is for single parents who are not the primary custodian of their children. For them, two days and a night are all the chance they get to be with their children with a week or longer stretching in between precious visitation times. For them, time is at a premium. Limit distractions by tuning out the cell phone, logging off the computer, and informing professional and social acquaintances when you are having a family time out. Children are resilient and adapt well to situations, and they will feel their level of importance when they get dad’s full attention.
Make family time
Making memories with your kids does not have to be complicated. Creating special dad time can be as simple as waking up early on Saturday morning to catch a few favorite cartoons, everyone still in their pajamas and snuggled together on the living room floor. Or, a hearty round of dad’s favorite flapjacks every Sunday morning will stay with children longer than memories of an expensive amusement park excursion. Thursday evening walks with the family dog, watching a weekly installment of a favorite reality show, each of these things boils down to one very important thing: time together as a family on a continual basis.
Fathers find themselves the wearers of many hats. Nothing compares to the importance of fatherhood. In the real world, dads struggle against the necessity of making a living, the needs of family members, and many other roles that pull time away from family. Learn to rein in those demands. Set a reasonable schedule that maximizes family time. This strategy helps a father spend his time doing what he loves the most: being a dad to the small people he loves very much.