Top Five Tips: Get Things Done as a Single Parent

3 years ago

Stand back. Look at the day. Oh, how it can feel like a lot: Overwhelming? Too much to do? How does anything get done as a single parent - and with a special needs kid to boot? Here are the top five tips to get those tasks crossed off your list and once and for all, finished. Whether a single parent or paired up, these basics can help bring a feeling of satisfaction to the end of a busy day.


  1. Make the List - an annoying yet crucial key. Sit down and write (or AnyDo, Evernote, or Wunderlist it) what needs to get done. That which is not done turns into chaos and floats around and comes back to bite you back in the end.
  2. Separate - decide what to do with kids and without. With a special need child, it might be easier to go grocery shopping without the child; maybe it is a time-saver with the child. Decide; then do it.
  3. Bring Drinks; Snacks - leave the house without this key piece and expect to get dehydrated; buy sugary sweets you can't do without at the check out lane because your blood sugar is crashing, and you are desperate and cranky. When its warm out; put the drinks on ice or at least a easy-carry cooler. (In cooler months, you can skip the ice packs and just bring the cooler.)
  4. Make the Phone Calls First - puts you in the driver seat and first out of the gate. It's a fast, no brainer task that many of us put off - and off. Once done, it is satisfying to then cross something done off the list before you even leave the house (thus fueling you for more tasks). In addition, now they have to call you back if they weren't in.2014-05-08_17-11-43_205#1
  5. Write Down Simplest of Tasks - take nothing for granted. I added this as number 5 on the list because it is much different from the number 1. It can get depressing with half the day gone and list sits in your purse, snickering. Have to take out the trash? Write it down! Pick the kids up from school? Have to gaze at the daffodils? Write it down! We need the fuel of accomplishment to move on. (I like to make my line with a colored marker to make me feel even better than before!)

I resist making these to-do lists. It's not easy for me to get focused and sit; put pen in hand.  I have an app on my phone for organization but use that with limited success. Pen and paper seems to resonate with me.
Here' an example of my to-do list I found (lost behind my desk):

  1. Copy forms
  2. Send forms in
  3. Write post
  4. Grocery shopping
  5. Buy mother's day gift
  6. Bring in prescription
  7. Exercise
  8. Exercise child
  9. Go to other child's game
  10. Clean desk
  11. Write post
  12. Call school
  13. Go to afterschool enrichment activity
  14. Pick up glasses
  15. Get @%$^! printer to talk to my computer

There are days I spend all morning or afternoon doing errands and cross one thing off the list. (Turns out #3 , exercise child, took an awfully long time.) Yet there are other days I get it all done.

Daffodils edited

We can never write it all down. There's the bed to make, and dinner to be cooked, and loved dished out. The more obligations hover over us, the more they can make us feel heavy.  The longer we put it off, the less it risk of success.  I never finish my list all in one day. I transfer what wasn't done to the next day. The goal is not to finish all the tasks, the goal is to keep moving. Life throws way too many curve balls to get rigid about the list.

When the day sets, we can look back and almost without realizing, we'll have  accomplished an awful lot.


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