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Do you procrastinate as a parent? Here’s why we do it and how to manage procrastinating

If you procrastinate as a parent, it’s probably related to emotions.

Do you find yourself repeatedly asking, “How do I stop procrastinating?” If so, you’re not alone. Procrastination is a common issue that plagues people of all ages, but we’re addressing it specifically in the context of parenting.

Studio 5 Parenting Contributor Heather Johnson shares how to break free from the procrastination cycle.

To contact Heather for counseling, email, or visit


How to Not Procrastinate as a Parent

Heather simplifies procrastination as “intentionally delaying something you originally intended to do.” Sound familiar? We often make promises to ourselves or our children, but end up putting off these commitments. As parents, this can translate into delaying bedtime routines or procrastinating essential tasks like helping your child with their schoolwork.

Procrastination isn’t just about a lack of motivation; it’s an emotional response. We choose to procrastinate because the tasks we intend to complete trigger feelings of discomfort, fear, or overwhelm. By avoiding them, we temporarily relieve these emotions. This insight is vital to tackling procrastination effectively.

The Ripple Effect of Procrastination in Parenting

While procrastination seems like a harmless habit, it can have a profound impact on parenting. Your children primarily mimic your behaviors. When they observe you avoiding tasks due to emotional discomfort, they learn the same coping mechanism. The consequence is that they may grow up fearing or avoiding challenging situations. To prevent this cycle, we need to take action against procrastination.

Managing Your Emotions to Combat Procrastination

The solution to procrastination is managing our emotions. Remember, emotions are not facts. They result from our thoughts. By regulating how we think about tasks, we can significantly reduce procrastination. One effective way to pause and take control of your thoughts is to ask, “What’s my next thought going to be?” This simple exercise can clear your mental slate, providing an opportunity to choose more empowering thoughts.

The Dangers of “Productive Procrastination”

Productive procrastination is a sneaky trap. It occurs when you use other tasks as an excuse for not completing the primary task at hand. You may find yourself dealing with an emergency, such as laundry or grocery shopping when you initially intended to focus on your child’s spelling words. While these tasks are undoubtedly important, they become emergencies due to procrastination. So, rather than being productive, you’re still procrastinating your primary responsibilities.

The Role of Self-Compassion and Perfectionism

It’s crucial to be self-compassionate when combating procrastination. Understand that everyone procrastinates to some degree. Avoid tying your worth to your ability to complete tasks perfectly. Perfectionism often fuels procrastination because the fear of not doing something perfectly can paralyze you. Learning to embrace your imperfections and accept that procrastination is a shared challenge is a significant step toward overcoming it.

Procrastination can be a crippling force in parenting. However, by addressing the emotional aspects that drive it, you can regain control over your actions and set a positive example for your children. It’s not about motivation, but rather about managing your emotions and thoughts. By doing so, you can break free from procrastination and be the empowered parent you aspire to be.

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