Always Look For This

It can feel like there is never enough time as a parent. And it’s true, there isn’t…yet part of this is our fault. As Seneca would say, it’s not just that life is short, it’s that we waste a lot of it.

As parents we have to look for opportunities to save time…so we can spend more of it with the people we love. Emily Oster, the economics professor whose ideas we have featured before (and whose books we recommend!) has spoken of watching her own mother, also an economist, do this well. Instead of meandering the aisles aimlessly at a grocery store, her mother, Sharon Oster, would fax in a shopping list to their local grocer who would then gather those items for her.

Today, this kind of time-saving strategy is even easier with apps and delivery options. We even have a name for this type of behavior–they’re called “life hacks.” And yet, you’ll still find grocery stores filled with parents (who can afford otherwise). You’ll find dads in the yard pushing a mower or in the driveway changing their oil, claiming to be teaching their kids a lesson about self-reliance, when they are in fact inadvertently making a statement about priorities.

We all have more things asking for our time than we can handle. Which is why we have to be ruthless and effective and efficient in how we spend it. We have to be conscious of the choices we make and the things we say yes to. We have to take a moment and sit down with our schedule and ask ourselves: Where could I steal a few more minutes–not from my children–but from tasks that I could do faster…or better yet, not do at all.

The entire point of life hacks like these is to give you back more of your time–but not so you can just do other stuff you don’t like to do, or that someone else could do faster or cheaper. It’s so you can spend that time, as Emily Oster would remind us, with the people you love. First and foremost, you can spend more time with your kids.

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