Beat The Clock Before It Beats You! (The Struggle Of Time Management As A Busy Working Single Parent)

Parenting is a never-ending struggle and when you factor in having to work, no support network, and trying to better yourself, the stresses to manage your time can become almost unbearable.

You can feel like you are caught in a never-ending cycle of having to do things but not having enough time to do them. You’ve all the normal parenting things. Like chores, making food, spending time with your child, combined with the things you are trying to do to improve your life, maybe a course of some sort, going to the gym, learning a new skill.

So what do you do? How do you cope?

The simple answer is better time management and prioritizing.Β But is the answer really that simple?

Beat The Clock!
Sometimes time managing as a single parent looks like this!

Time Management

There’s no denying self-improvement requires sacrifice and hard work. Some sacrifice is easier than others. Like not smoking etc. Other aspects are much more time-consuming. Time becomes the biggest barrier of all. So you have to manage it. Set aside certain times in certain days to get things done. Oh, that’s so easy to say.

Here’s the thing. I’m sitting here trying to squeeze in a blog post in the hour since picking my boy up from school and before I have to make dinner. In the 30 minutes I’ve been sitting writing this so far my son has called me 4 times about things. Getting a block of uninterrupted time is a rare thing.

My ‘wife’ (it’s a technicality) is going to call for a little while this evening before she goes to where she is staying. I might get some time there. Whilst she does come round more often than she used to. It can’t be relied on. I can’t time manage time that might not exist.

I have no family nearby. My friends have families of their own. Basically, I have no support whatsoever. And paying for a child minder is out of the question. Everything is my responsibility and as a result what time I can get is very limited and sporadic. I get windows of opportunity here and there like when my son goes out to play with friends or spends time with them on the Xbox. How can I time manage time when it’s a struggle to find any in the first place?

Oh, I could do what a lot of self helpers say. Make the time. I can make some. It requires sacrificing sleep. Getting up at 5am is a fairly common suggestion. Grab that few hours before your children awake to get some work done. Again sounds great in practice.

Beat The Clock Before It Beats You!
Some Personal Development gurus would have you believe sleep is for the weak

But this only works if you are an early riser. One of those people who are productive first thing in the morning. But what if you’re not? Do you know there are basically four different types of sleep personalities? Some people are more alert and productive at different types of the day. How does waking up insanely early help if you’re one of those types who are most productive in the evening or at night?

Oh yeah, in the course of my research for this post what one rule do people seem to agree on to being a good single parent (nevermind a successful go-getter type of one)…Get enough sleep! Arrgghhh

In The Power of When the psychologist and sleep specialist Dr Michael Breus says there are four basic Chronotype personalities. (The Chronotype personality is based on our circadian rhythm. The brain’s sleep-wake cycle which determines alertness and sleepiness over a 24 hour period).

Bears – Bears internal clocks track the rise and fall of the sun. They need 8 hours sleep.

Lions – Lions wake up early with lots of energy. They’re exhausted by early evening.

Wolves – Wolves have a hard time waking up early but are more energetic in the evening.

Dolphins – Dolphins are light sleepers and are often diagnosed with insomnia.

(I’m a wolf by the way)

When I started this blog it was easy to find the time. When I had some time I wrote a post. I didn’t really know what I was doing then. It was easier to find the time when all you had to do was write what was in your head and then hit publish. It only took about an hour.

Back then I thought that was it. Now I know a post takes a lot more work. That blogging takes a lot more work. In fact writing and editing it is the smallest part. You need to promote it also. It’s went from needing 1 hour to needing 3.

Then there’s the other little things like being respectful and replying to comments. Being involved in the blogging community and showing support to others

Then, if you are doing other important things, you have to find the time to do them also. At the moment I am doing a Life Coaching course. That requires so many hours per week to study for. Additional hours I just can’t create out of thin air. I’ve already been using my ‘free’ time to work on this blog and a project I am working on. This is now something that also has to be done in whatever ‘free’ time I get.

Oh yeah. I haven’t even mentioned my exercise routine. It needs to be squeezed in somewhere too.

Beat The Clock Before It Beats You!
Sometimes finding time can get a bit stressful.

Then if something else crops up, like my son fracturing his arm last week, or some emotional difficulties involving someone close that required urgent attention this week. What little schedule you thought you had goes flying out the window like a rocket into space. The time you have to manage becomes even less. If not disappearing altogether.

Whilst I am trying to improve myself, trying to create a better life for my son and I, I am obviously not going to sacrifice the time I spend with him. Otherwise, what is the point? I just end up being one of those fathers that has worked hard to create a better life for his family but has unknowingly sacrificed his relationship with that family in the process. Plus, you know, anyone could die at any moment. As well as being scarce, time is also precious.

So I essentially need at least 4 hours daily to do all the things that will help me improve. 4 hours is a lot. Something has to give. Something has to be sacrificed. I know the advice I would be given is to prioritize better.


Prioritizing sounds easy on paper. Just write a to-do list. Choose what’s the most important. What needs to get done as a necessity. Then work through it systematically. But what happens when everything on your to-do list is a necessity?

Beat The Clock!
When your To-Do list becomes a Must-Do list.

I know I can maybe leave certain chores for the next day. I know the floor doesn’t need to be cleaned today. I know the grass in the garden could get a bit longer. I know the laundry could be put off for a day or two. I also know that I need to write a blog post. Then I need to promote it. Then I need to reply to comments I haven’t got replying to yet. Then I need to do some study for my Life Coaching course.

Look, I’m a single parent. I might only be just over a year into it but I am well-versed in prioritizing at this point. The problem arises when the priorities aren’t something that can be ignored. If I don’t do something today then it’s going to be on tomorrow’s list. And if tomorrow’s list was already large then I would be dropping something off it until the day after. Can you see the cycle here?

Beat The Clock Before It Beats You!
Not that cycle…That’s a bicycle

Prioritizing is basically just pushing things off to a later date. It’s moving things from one point to another on a spinning wheel. And when it’s things that definitely need to get done if not every day, then every second day, or every week. You can’t push things back forever. It’s inevitable they will come back around to you very quickly. There comes a point when practically everything on the list becomes a must-do thing.

As a single parent, especially as a fairly recently separated one, your two main priorities are going to be your child or children and doing the financial necessities needed to live.

Everything else has to come after. Even the self-improvement you are trying to do for the chance of having a better future.

As for a social life…What social life?

Beat The Clock!
So that’s what a social life looks like.

So what’s the realistic solution?

For a busy working single parent that has a lot of things to do at home be it getting fitter, or studying for a course, or both. I can only see one real answer.

Forget about getting a balance. Balance doesn’t exist as a single parent. Especially when you have to be totally self-reliant. Time management as we’ve seen can be a very loose concept. Prioritizing can help to an extent.

For me, there’s only one solution. It’s not the best. It’s a bit chaotic. But it’s the only one I’ve got that suits the chaos of single parenting. Especially the single parenting where it is just you that has to deal with everything. Just you that has to cope with all the unforseen things that come your way.

Grab Your Opportunities

Any time you find, whenever it is, no matter how much or how little. You have to grab it and do the best you can with it. Make it productive. You might not get all the things you need to do done. But you will get some. Anything done is a step in the right direction. It’s not ideal in any way but being able to do something with your time is better than doing nothing.

Use your days off work wisely

The days you don’t have to work provides you with a better opportunity of having more time to dedicate to doing the things you need to. For me, it’s working on my blog or blog related stuff, doing my Life Coaching course, going to a self-defence class.

Don’t even think of ‘me’ time.(Or at least cut it down)

‘Me’ time is a luxury. My ‘me’ time is spent doing all the things I need to do to improve. There is a problem with this though. At some point, you will have to say enough for now and actually use that ‘me’ time in the correct way. Doing something for yourself in order to relax and get away from the overwhelm that you are eventually going to feel from trying to do everything by yourself.

Don’t believe their lies!

Beat The Clock Before It Beats You!
Some personal development people will tell you there is enough time for everything.

By this point, I have listened to a lot of personal development books. There’s a lot of people out there saying it’s possible to have it all. Reach the level of success and achievement you want and still raise a family. I’m just going to say it here. To an extent, they are lying.

You can talk about managing time and prioritizing all you want. The fact of the matter is we can’t create time. It’s finite. There are only 24 hours in a day. Trying to get all the things you need to get done can be damn near impossible.

Yes, you can get things done. Yes, it will require sacrifice.

But if you are a single parent trying to achieve all this. Trying to work as they would advise. From very early in the morning until late at night and still raise your child properly and give them the attention and love they deserve. Not pass them off to whoever will have them or make them do the things you want to do or ignore them as you do work on your phone.

Then the reality is it’s going to take you a lot longer to achieve that success than it would a single person with no other commitments or even a parent that has the support of a partner.

Beat The Clock Before It Beats You!
Success is possible. It just might take more time.

Fact is, if you are on your own trying to raise a family, even if it’s just you and 1 child, it’s going to take some time to get where you want to be. You won’t have the same luxuries of time other people have. You won’t have the same support. But have heart. It can be done. It’s just going to take a bit longer.

P.s. If anyone has some ideas to help with time management while living in a time consuming environment feel free to tell me. Any suggestions are more than welcome πŸ™‚


20 thoughts on “Beat The Clock Before It Beats You! (The Struggle Of Time Management As A Busy Working Single Parent)

    1. I guess I’ve taken a bit too much on at the moment. That will settle over time.
      The problem is I know I have a lot to do to improve our lives and believe that if an opportunity is presented or worked on then it must be grabbed. Otherwise it becomes a wasted opportunity.
      Thanks for your view on this. Best wishes to you.

  1. I admire that through all this chaos, you still managed to give time for your son (I hope he gets better as soon as possible) and also work on yourself. I can’t say I’ve ever tried such a situation, but I can tell you only this. Multi-tasking. I’ve went through a period in which I had to study 3 years worth of material, and also I had the three sciences in one exam, and, unluckily, I was on a field trip as well. The only thing that worked for me is Multi-tasking. I’m a wolf as well *high five* so I preferred staying up late, like until 1 am, and then sleeping until 7 am. At first it was hard because I’m definitely not an early riser, but then at last…it’s still hard πŸ˜‚ it won’t get any easier. But in order to achieve a change, a difference, a goal, I had to sacrifice my beauty sleep (with no beauty included…just take a look at the black eyes πŸ˜‚) and my own entertainment.

    About the blog thingy, I think most of us can understand if you couldn’t upload a post in this particular day or week. And, trust me, only the true followers stay, which is so much better. You don’t want numbers; you want people, as you probably already know. I hope everything stays fine and changes to the better. Best wishes 😊

    1. Thank you. I laughed at the ‘but then at last…It’s still hard’ haha so funny. I have the added complication that my boy is a lion. Up and raring to go first thing. As a result I’m also a member of the black eye club πŸ˜‚
      I like the idea of multitasking. I have tried it but keep failing miserably. Just last week I was trying to answer comments while cooking fish. The poor fish ended up stuck to the pan πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
      I don’t know how you managed to do what you did. That’s some serious multitasking skills you have! The stress alone would have killed me nevermind finding the time to get all that work in. Very impressive πŸ™
      In regards to the blog I guess since people started reading I don’t want to let them down. At the same time I need to work on my real life stuff to improve my son and I’s future. It’s certainly a challenge.
      Thanks for your insight on this. Very kind of you.
      Hope you are keeping well πŸ™‚

  2. When I was younger than I am currently (not an adult yetπŸ˜‚), I was still a couch potato, to be honest πŸ˜‚ You’d find me awake at 3 pm until 3 am. I guess I’m more of an owl.

    And Ahhh if you have a fighter…good luck. I’ve cousins like that and let’s just say… it hasn’t gone so well πŸ˜‚

    It got to the point where when I finished my external examinations, and I had other examinations the following week, I didn’t even bother with the daily studying I used to do. Even now, in quizzes, I seriously don’t give enough effort but…mehhhh. I’ve studied enough and the info is still up there….hopefully πŸ˜‚ (Don’t think there’s anything up there)

    And nooooo poor fish. I can just imagine the smell of the kitchen and the smoke and the fish…he/she will be remembered in our hearts πŸ™

    Life is just one big race. Who’s going to win the first place?

    Hope you’re having a great day πŸ˜€

    1. Haha I was a lot like that myself. But then I was smoking loads of marijuana at the time πŸ™„
      Oh, you fill me full of hope when you talk of your cousins…not πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜’
      I’m sure you’ve retained plenty. Something has to be up there…Even if it’s cobwebs and dust haha
      Yes, the fish died twice that day πŸ˜‚
      Funny you said that about life. I’m just after writing a post calling it a marathon. No hurry getting to the end though β˜ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
      Having a great day thank you. Hope yours has went well too πŸ™‚

      1. Do you know how creepy it is that whenever I write sumn in my comment, it is written about beforehand by you? I can predict the future!

        Today was meh. Exams are never pleasant. Wishing for a good, unburnt dinner! πŸ˜‚

      2. Haha Have you a crystal ball? It would be something to fall back on if the exams don’t work out πŸ˜‚
        Ah I find ‘meh’ days the hardest. Hopefully today has been better πŸ™‚
        Haha so is my son. The poor child is going to starve at this rate β˜ πŸ˜‚
        Take care and good luck if you have any more exams coming up.

  3. Good Evening Chris, been a while since last tile i heard from, you haven’t answers many of my comments, i dont know why, maybe you are busy. I think that it is very important to grab the opportunity until you have one, because you may never have a chance for new one, have a wonderful and meaningful week πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Ilona. Sorry it’s been a while and sorry if I’ve missed your comments. Unfortunately I’ve been struggling a bit with life and everything in general this past few weeks. As a result I’m only on WordPress a few days a week. I’m trying to get caught up with everyone I’ve missed but have obviously failed with some. I hope you aren’t offended.
      I too think opportunities are there to be grabbed. As you say you never know when a new one will come around.
      I hope you are keeping well and have a great week also. Take care πŸ™‚

  4. Parenting is not easy at all! I never underestimated the parents’ role, especially a parent (mostly women) that doesn’t work but raise the children and take care of the house; it’s really a full time job much more than the working woman with no children.
    Of course it gets harder when parents work and they have to raise children, or a single parent like you that has to work and raise a kid alone, it’s a very big challenge and I understand the frustration in this post! Having time for you might seem impossible! And I also mentioned Breus Chronotype personalities in some of my posts and I’m also a wolf 😊
    The logical solutions you mentioned are really so realistic and from own experience just grab your opportunity and use your time wisely, because it’s so easy to say words such as priorities and time management and all this but at the end we can’t add more than 24 hours and here is the struggle and only someone from the middle of the struggle can give reasonable solutions…
    If I can add something is making a list of priorities of your things, i.e. your son will always be your number one priority but after that, what are your priorities to your life: exercise, course online or blogging or else…which is more important and make it a priority once you grab this opportunity

    Thank you for sharing and sorry for the late comment 😊 Have a great day and much love 😊 <3

    1. First of all Huguette. I’m glad last week is over and done with. Obviously I am not religious but thank God for that πŸ™‚
      I have serious respect for full-time parents. At least getting to work is a bit of an escape but when you’re just at home 24/7 looking after children and the home it’s no wonder some mums crack up. I do think alot of working dads don’t appreciate just how difficult it is.
      Ahh you know about the Chronotypes also. And you’re a wolf too! I feel like howling to the full moon hahaha
      I agree with the priority list. I guess my problem is regarding the blog, exercise, and the course as equally important. That said if I spend more time on the course to get it out of the way quicker and that would help free up more blogging time in the future. Maybe I’m not as organised as I thought haha
      I don’t care how late the comment is. I’m just happy there is one πŸ™‚ I’m actually sitting here thinking about when I can schedule some time to get caught up on all your posts ahaha
      Much love to you too Huguette (Seriously, so happy normal service has been resumed πŸ™‚ )

      1. Good morning Chris and hope you’re having a good day πŸ™‚ Sorry yesterday couldn’t reply to any comment :/

        Howling indeed haha anyway I love wolves so much and I don’t mind at all
        Well I believe you will manage, I’m sure you improved a lot and still, so you’ll find out a solution and finishing the course fast was a good approach
        Don’t worry about my posts, it’s not like you have to read them, (I know you want to, but it won’t be a problem at all) I had some time yesterday and anyway you don’t have lot of posts so it wasn’t so hard to catch up
        It’s same here, happy as well and wish you a great day ahead and much love to you 😊

      2. Hi Huguette, Running a bit late replying to comments. Sorry. Was let down yesterday evening and didn’t the spare time I needed. Oh Wolves! I remember one time I was in America and was sitting in someone’s back garden and heard wolves for the first time in my life. Scared the crap out of me. I think the fear was a primal one. I asked the couple I was with were they not worried about them and the answer was ‘why do you think there’s a shotgun sitting behind you?’ hahaha
        Hope you had a great day yesterday and another one today. I’m looking forward to reading your posts but I’m really feeling like time is against me these days. Saying that I have booked the day off work tomorrow so hopefully I’ll get caught up then πŸ™‚
        Much love Huguette <3

      3. Hello Chris and hopefully you’ll manage and have time for what you want to do πŸ™‚ Don’t worry!
        Shotgun :/ why! Send them here, I will raise them :/ I keep the shotgun for people, they’re scarier!
        Hope you’ll enjoy your day off then and you’ll manage to do all your to-do-list πŸ™‚
        Have a great day and much love <3 😁

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