Setting priorities

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
It’s not easy out there. I wouldn’t like to be managing a young household at the moment, writes parenting columnist Ian Munro.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro
The pressures of time and money must hang heavily. The demands of employment take up much time and the price of essentials - such as rent, food, child care, medical charges, and school costs - keep rising.

There’s little option but for both parents to be in some sort of paid work and the consequent juggling of priorities to achieve some semblance of balance becomes an increasingly difficult exercise.

The key to managing this with some hope of success is to work out exactly what those priorities are.

However, we first need to decide just what we see our role as a parent to be:

  • What are the most important things we need to be doing?
  • Just how much of our time do our youngsters need? Remembering that quantity of time is what counts.
  • How much money will be needed to do these things?

Involve older children in this discussion because they’re going to have to help make things work. For example, they might need to reduce the number of costly out-of-school involvements.

Then, having established those three things, we can move on to prioritising what’s actually happening in our lives and our youngsters’ lives in an effort to manage our parental role, our time and our money.

This might involve sharing household duties among family to create time for the priority activities.

It might involve one parent moving to part-time work or flexible hours because, while the income will be reduced, the expenses of child care, takeaway meals and bought lunches will also be reduced and the ‘‘time spent with children’’ priority might be better met. You’re more likely to be able to be there for those special moments at school.

There will need to be a review of expenditure. While lots of time is needed to be a good parent, it needn’t take lots of money.

All the time there’ll be a need to refer back to the three key considerations on which the list of priorities was built, an ongoing review of those priorities and an assessment of what is working and what isn’t.

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