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Managing your Time as an Adoptive or Special Needs Parent

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By faitha - Posted on 27 February 2012

Day Planner

Thank you for your patience during my hiatus from blogging. A cold moved into a sinus infection that took three rounds of antibiotics to fight off, and I am still not back to 100%. I have an appointment with an Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist tomorrow to find out why I am so susceptible to sinus infections.

During my hiatus, I had to put many areas of my life on hold. Other areas, such as taking care of my adopted special needs child, simply could not be put on hold. As I ease back into my daily life, I am realizing that I am simply trying to accomplish too many tasks in a week. So, I am getting back to basics and using my time management skills to achieve a more reasonable balance.

I am not alone in these struggles. Most parents find it challenging to “get it all done,” doubly so when they have children with special needs that require you to drop everything and tend to those special needs. One of my part-time jobs wants me to provide a schedule a month in advance, but I truly don’t know from day to day if I will have one hour or four available. I wind up having to get up very early or stay up late in order to meet my deadlines. I didn’t have this problem when I worked full-time.

As a full-time employee, my hours were set. From 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., I was at work. I had a daily calendar that told me what I needed to do when. Personal tasks were reserved for that precious hour from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. or the weekend. Of course, this was before I became a parent.

Once I quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom of a newborn adopted baby, I stopped using a weekly planner. One day was pretty much like the next, so I would simply record appointments on a wall calendar. I am not a “go with the flow” kind of person, and the adjustment to doing different chores as they needed doing was quite an adjustment for me.

Several years ago, I returned to work part-time from home. I have been working as an online college instructor for over three years, and I added a second part-time online job (the one that wants a schedule a month in advance) as an online tutor, providing grammar, punctuation, and formatting advice. Doing both on top of blogging on top of parenting a special needs child on top of basic household responsibilities has been a challenge, doubly so when working from home. People never called me to chat in an office, but they don’t seem to “get” that I am “at work” even though I am physically at home.

So, I bought myself a daily planner and am getting back to basics. I have set aside time for teaching my classes, blogging, housework, my special needs child’s appointments, etc. and then figured out how many papers I can realistically review for my second part-time job. I have also set aside time to do our taxes and other items on my to-do list that seem never to get completed. I have mapped out March and will then determine whether my time estimates are realistic or not. I need to track how much time I need to complete certain responsibilities and then cut back as needed.

I know I am not the other adoptive and special needs parent who struggles with time management. What tips do you have to share?

Photo credit: Faith Allen

LisaS's picture

A planner is an excellent idea Faith. I started using one last year when I was working with five contractors who were renovating my house. Now it is my "brain." When I plan something, I check my planner. If the day is looking too crazy, I postpone it.

Good luck with your new system.