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Uncle Tom and Auntie Caro

How Parents Get Things Done (Or How I’m Testing Having a Child)

Just under a year ago I became an uncle, so I’ve moved to New Jersey for three months to look after my nephew. It’s been enlightening. I’ve tested home ownership (hated it), and now I’m testing another cornerstone of traditional living: babies.

This much is clear: when you have a baby, time management takes on whole new dimensions.

1. Make everything specific

When you’re in your mid-twenties, you can have abstract goals, such as progressing in your career, getting in shape or starting a company. It’s a great intellectual exercise when you’re lying on your bed on a lazy Sunday afternoon, deciding whether to make pancakes in your underpants.

This leads nowhere when kids are in the picture.

When you have kids, you don’t have the luxury of wasting time. So plans have to be specific: being a great writer becomes spending 25 minutes at nine at night writing a blog post. Getting ripped for the summer means getting up at 4:30 in the morning to go to the gym.

Even getting drunk requires walking a logistical tight rope involving babysitters, carefully timed alcohol consumption and a plan for remembering to return in time with enough money left to pay the babysitter. It’d sober the most ardent Celtic tiger cub.

2. Make it super easy to do

I flew to New Jersey with US Airways, possibly the worst airline in the world. You have to watch the same film as everyone else on one flickering, low definition screen while the audio fades in and out.

Therefore, I took refuge in reading their inflight mail order catalogue. I love these catalogues, because they’re full with insane time saving tools – everything from solar-powered mole repellers to nano-UV wands to sterilise your salads.

On the flight I had no idea who bought these time-saving tools. Now, I do: Parents. When your life is divided up into 15 minute intervals between cleaning up poop and wiping up vomit, you need every advantage you can get in doing daily chores.

If doing anything requires any modicum of thought, you just going to lie on the couch instead, watching day time TV.

3. Have a schedule that reminds you what you have to do

Newspaper columnists constantly berate parents for over-planning their kids’ schedules. Well, if you don’t have a damn schedule, no soccer is ever getting trained. That’s why I made my very first meal plan with my sister. Every meal for the week is perfectly planned out based on the contents of the fridge. It was a special moment in productivity and sibling bonding.

Now, I use Google calendar to send me reminders to do everything from daily physio to monthly reviews. It’s like having a virtual mother. On that note, Google should stop messing around with stupid glasses and driver-less cars and come up a robot to feed babies.

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