Help! My daughter has scary time-management skills!

I have a love/hate relationship with time management. On one hand, good time management skills make me productive and efficient. On the other hand, managing my time wisely requires a schedule. And I hate schedules because they are inherently boring. Over the years, my rational side has consistently won this battle. As a result, I have improved my time management skills since I was a kid but with a lot of bitching and moaning – and resentment. It’s a sticky situation for people like me who are idea machines and crave freedom to explore and create, but our ADD-like tendencies require us to be more structured in our approach.

I fear Margaret is similar in this regard. Thankfully, she is not showing signs of ADD. But she is an artist at her core atime managementnd exhibits endless creativity as a result. Her head is often in the clouds to the sacrifice of her better judgement.

Here are two examples of how Margaret’s lack of time management makes me look like a crossed eyed emoji:

  • She gets up at 5:30 am and yet we are chronically late getting out the door because she crams everything in between 7:05 and 7:15 (mainly because I am screaming at her). What she does for an hour and 35 minutes is as big of a mystery as the Loch Ness Monster. We’ve taken away her mobile devices on school day mornings. She claims she “zones out.” I’m pretty sure that’s not a good time management tactic.
  • She waits until the night before a major school project is due and says, “Mom, I need a few things to complete my science project.” I realize we live in an on-demand culture whereby in as little as an hour, someone can deliver desired item(s) to our doorsteps as long as we’re willing to pay the price. But with Margaret, it’s always some hard to get item like quantum spin liquid or a relic from a 6th century Christian martyr. Can’t she just be like most kids and need more glue?


As Margaret is finishing up her 7th grade year at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), it has become painfully clear that being able to manage her time will be critical to her success there – and of course, beyond. She was lucky enough to be cast in two shows this semester. But the rehearsal schedules, along with her academic classes and outside commitments have been, in a word, unmanageable. She’s held up pretty well, but this last week has brought on some major meltdowns. All of her class project deadlines have converged as she heads into tech week for the musical she’s in (shameless plug for Willy Wonka at OCSA). I try to be supportive but it’s hard. Partially because I kind of thrive on unmanageable situations. Yes, I know that’s not healthy and I have gotten MUCH better over the years mainly because now that I have to manage my kids’ schedules too, I either make my family miserable or go on anti-anxiety medication, neither of which are appealing options to me. My lack of empathy comes down to this: there’s really nothing anyone has thrown at me that I haven’t been able to manage – albeit amid some major bitching and lots of cussing. So I break my cardinal rule of not comparing my daughter to anyone when I think to myself, “Why is she coming undone, I wouldn’t have!” And let’s face it, as a friend of mine once labeled it, I succumb to revisionist history when I make such claims. My memory happily filters out the times when I flipped out because my load was untenable.

Articles like this one, where they quote people like Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran may be a good start. She says she makes the most out of her 24-hour day by prioritizing her tasks into categories of importance. But Margaret’s not running a business, she’s traveling through the most difficult transition in her life: puberty. And besides, while Barbara knows exactly which tasks to priorities, Margaret is just learning which should be high and that takes time. And mistakes. And me pulling out hair and losing my voice because God forgot to give me extra patience when he created Margaret.

So…I’m pretty much at the point where I think we need an intervention. So if you know any good time-management interventionalists who are up for the challenge of their career, I am currently accepting referrals.

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