There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

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“Where does the time go?” Everybody complains about being too busy these days.

Parents, when surveyed, all say they wish they had more time to spend with their kids. And kids, when asked what they most want from their parents, reply they wished their parents would spend more time with them.

Americans work more hours on average than people in other industrialized nations. But that’s not the only reason parents are in such a time bind. We are being ROBBED BY TIME THIEVES!

Time thievery crept up on us before we realized what was happening. And it won’t do you any good to call the police, we have to find our own creative solutions to getting some of our time back.

Where do the sneakiest Time Thieves operate? In two areas: COMMUNICATIONS and, CONSUMERISM.

Suppose you are a busy parent trying to telephone a local hospital to schedule a test that the child’s doctor recommended. What you are faced with varies but before you can do your task you get something like: “Welcome to Blank Hospital. Si hablan Espanol press 1. Your call is important to us and may be monitored for quality assurance. If this is a medical emergency, hang up and dial 911. If you want to make an appointment with your doctor or cancel an existing appointment press 1. If you are a doctor or pharmacist inquiring about a prescription press 2. If you are calling for a refill on an existing prescription press 3.

Sometimes recorded messages end there and you are stuck because you are calling for a reason the machine hasn’t thought of. (One trick is to press “0” as sometimes, as if by a miracle, you get a real live person to speak to and can conclude your business and the call.) Sometimes you get another prompt like, if you want to speak to an operator or for all other matters, press “5″ at which point your call goes into a queue and you can spend the next 15 minutes listening to music with intermittent reminders that Blank Hospital is experiencing a greater volume of calls than usual, be patient, don’t hang up. It has taken me more than 20 minutes to make an appointment. I pity the mother with triplets.

The communications industry is out to get busy parents another way: telemarketing. How do they know you just got home, your toddler is trying to flush a purple dinosaur down the toilet, and the water in the asparagus is boiling out? Beats me but they always call at one of these moments.

And don’t get me started on spam. I have two e-mail addresses so I get twice the junk.

Plus, before I started using a pretty good spam filter I got more than the average amount of disgusting porno because spanking is one of the key words on the website.

Do parents have any recourse to stop the communications industry from robbing them of time to spend with their kids? Automated telephone answering is here to stay so my advice is to be organized, gather all the numbers you might need before you dial, and never ever forget your mother’s maiden name. Waiting on the telephone is a great time for multitasking (as long as you are not on a cell phone and driving simultaneously). I go through my mail, look at my e-mail, and swear a lot because I am old enough to remember how efficient it was to have a live operator distribute your call. A parent could also read to a toddler, nurse a baby, or log on to and brush up on parenting skills!

As you know the “Do Not Call” system is far from perfect and many calls get through. So I tell all telemarketers that I never do business with or contribute to any organization that disturbs me at home. What if we all did that? Maybe some of them would stop robbing us of time with our families.

Consumerism is another Time Thief! Consumerism can have a deleterious effect on family life, especially today when family time is already affected by the pressures of work and activities outside the home.

Look at all the time it takes to purchase something. You spend time thinking about it, looking at ads or catalogs, figuring out which stores have sales; driving to the store or stores or going on line or calling the catalogue company; finding the darn thing; deciding on the specific purchase; paying for it; taking it home; spending precious minutes struggling to open containers that are either shrink-wrapped, double-packaged, or sealed with guaranteed-finger-nail breaking tape; unpacking the item; recycling the packaging; finding a place to put the item; and finally either balancing your checking account or figuring out how to pay your credit card bill.

You do the math. It adds up to a lot of time that you could have spent hanging out with the kids. Plus whatever you bought adds to clutter which is in itself a great time robber. Bottom line: buy less, enjoy your family more.

My advice to parents is 1) simplify your life, 2) downsize your consumer spending, 3) discourage telemarketers, and 4) when you can’t do a damned thing about a Time Thief like automated-instead-of-human-telephone answering, roll with the punches because anger will only add to your stress levels. Use the time you rescue from a Time Thief to enjoy being with your children.