Efficiency was the key to successfully managing to look after Small and the house and the garden and the doidens whilst still squeezing out some time to be with my partner and at least touching upon my own personal interests.
Ironically, in the first few days of Small’s arrival there was not enough time to spend on thinking of ways to save time. My time was fully occupied making sure Small didn’t die and looked reasonably presentable to the outside world; and trying to cope with sleep deprivation. Fortunately this phase soon passed and tiny, gleaming nuggets of time began to present themselves. To achieve anything beyond survival, these nuggets of time had to be mined and smelted in the most efficient way possible. For instance, when Small woke us at 23:00 (TV viewing no longer contained sex or violence because we were asleep before the watershed) I would gather together a wash and then put it in the washing machine when we were woken again at 03:00. It was hung out to dry when we were up again at 06:00.
When it comes to finding efficiencies it helps to be a basically lazy person, that way you are always looking for ways to make things as easy as possible. I begrudge spending more time on a task than it needs and will always be looking for ways to make it quicker. I am not unusual in this. Anyplace there is a paved path meandering through grass there will be an unofficial path were the grass has been worn away by all the people taking the shortest route. I tried to apply the same thinking to tasks.
A simple example of efficiency in operation that we have probably all used is cleaning a burnt pan. Rather than sticking it in the sink and starting to scrub, stick it in the sink and go and complete another task. Once it has had a chance to soak the scrubbing is easier and, overall, less time will have been used.
Personally I found great efficiency in using motion to my advantage. Looking after Small I spent a lot of time roaming around the house so I tried to make each trip as worthwhile as possible. I never moved from room to room empty handed if there was something that needed to be moved back to its proper place (and there was always something). Equally, I didn’t go out of my way to move something beyond where I was originally heading. For instance, I positioned things that had to go upstairs at the bottom of the stairs (and vice versa) so that the next time I ascended I could grab an armful and get it closer to its home. Whilst you have a Small you are not going to live in a clutter free house. There will be piles of stuff everywhere but at least this way they will all be moving in the right direction and some items may even make it back to where they belong.
Conversely, I tried to keep the number of trips around the house to a minimum. If I could avoid going from one end of the house to the other to get a tool, I did. For example, I created a nappy changing area both upstairs and downstairs and kept each fully stocked with the required junk. That way I saved numerous trips up and down the stairs. Similarly, I stored cleaning products in both of our bathrooms to save traipsing to a central store.
That also leads onto another thing I found saved time: cleaning little and often. If I wiped around the bathroom every day it took no time at all, especially because the tools were to hand. If I left it to once a week it became a big chore. The same with the kitchen. If I tidied up as I went, putting things away after I had used them and wiping the top down, the kitchen was always clean and clear. If I didn’t it ended up looking like a warzone by the end of the day and would take an age to tidy. It was also highly inefficient if it was untidy because I couldn’t find anything and there was no space to work in, causing frustration and eating up more time.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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