"In this rapidly changing, wireless, multi-tasking, digital world, the most precious and scarce resource is time. In particular, time for people to attend to each other. Undivided attention is rarer than gold – what Ellen Galinsky calls focused time," explains the book, Caring Spaces, Learning Places, originally written by Jim Greenman, and now newly revised by Mike Lindstrom.
"When time is scarce, family rituals that are relaxed and participatory disappear – preparing and eating meals, reading together, doing communal chores, planning, and taking day trips and vacations are replaced by commuting rituals on the go – commuting to child care, soccer, and fast food. What the children in Galinsky’s surveys most wanted for the family, namely, 'hang-around time,' is the most difficult to achieve."
The newest revision of Caring Spaces, Learning Places is a book of ideas, observations, problems, solutions, examples, resources, photographs, and poetry. Here you will find current thinking about children's environments to challenge, stimulate, and inspire you.
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If we look for "savings" in the way we manage time, we may find all sorts of ways that our time is being wasted. Even a few minutes here and there can really add up. Identifying these "nuggets" of time, and making good use of them, can free up time later on for family (and self-care).
This would include things like consolidating trips (stopping on the way to or from an activity), having "projects bags" that can be taken along so time spent in a car waiting for a child to finish their extra-curriculars can be used to cut lamination or prep for a school activity. Commutes with children can be used to practice spelling words, math facts, or to discuss their day. Commutes by yourself can be be used to listen to your favorite podcast, music or radio show between destinations). I also created rotating menus with matching shopping lists - so I wouldn't have to think about meal planning or fall into ruts or poor eating habits.
In the classroom, I organized activities by topics such that I always left myself "starters" for all projects so that I could pull out gallon sized ziploc bags with instructions and all needed pieces whenever a teachable moment presented itself. That way, I had "instant excellence" in meeting pedagogical best practice.
The idea is not to squeeze as much as possible into every moment, but to manage time so there is enough left for "just hanging out."
One might think that I am an organized person by habit, but the opposite is true. I consider myself fairly lazy - so my systems were put into place so I wouldn't have to work so hard - and again, so that success would be ensured both at home and at school.
Hope this is helpful and others might share their "life hacks" too :)