Each day is 24 long hours, except when those hours whiz by and you're left wondering, what did I do with it all? This happens way too much with a working or stay-at-home mother or father.
Days filled with activities, errands, work, dinner preparation and no time to relax can overwhelm just about any parent. As much as we all know everything we do is for the greater good, it still can suck the life out of anyone if you don't get a good daily dose of "me time."
What can you do? There are things that need to get done and someone needs to do them, it's not right to push things off on your spouse whtn you know they have a pile of things they need to do to, and it makes things even worse when you pile them onto the next day. So I am sharing with you some of my mommy secrets all of which fit easily into your schedule and will free up some of those well-needed hours.
This is my number one biggest time saver, and it is so easy, its laughable. Do your food shopping during the week. Now I know what you are saying, "wow nice, thanks for piling on yet another thing for me to do during the week" -- but hear me out.
Whatever you schedule is, if you fit in a shopping trip during the week you will be avoiding two things. One, food shopping on the weekend! I mean wouldn't you rather be sitting on your butt for those two hours instead? The second thing is avoiding shopping cart collisions, rude stares, line cutters and loud obnoxious children (that aren't ours of course).
I know it doesn't seem possible, but shopping on "off days" you will find that these events rarely occur. If you keep your house fairly well-stocked and write out a complete list of everything you need, you can be in and out of King Kullen in 20 minutes. I kid you not.
I did it last night, and if you are one of those extreme couponers like myself that will go to two separate stores because the price is better for something you need at the other store, you can also make that second stop and be out of there in 20 minutes, making your total shopping time ONE HOUR. Oh my gosh, one hour.
No lines, no crowds -- it's actually kind of relaxing, even if you are bringing your kids along with you during the day. You do not have to worry about them getting in someone's way, because there are not a lot of "someones" there! Trust me on this, my mother told me to do this when I first had my son and it really was a life saver.
No. 2: Make two dinners at one time. Casseroles are amazingly easy to cook, filled with yummy nutritious goodness and great reheated. Spend one evening making two different dishes, one for that night and one for the next. That right there frees up one night for a nice relaxing evening without the need to spend extra cash and calories on take out.
You can even go crazy and make some tomato sauce and boil the pasta beforehand, and there you go, two evenings free of cooking. Even better if you have a crock pot (and if you don't, go out and get one asap -- you can get a basic one at Walmart for as low as $11).
Look up one of the many recipes, throw all the ingredients in the pot during the course of the day or at night before you go to sleep, and POOF, you have dinner! An absolutely fabulous invention.
These things seem like common sense, but it took me a while to really manage my cooking schedule to the point that I did not have to slave over the stove every night to have a really good meal for the family. There are so many recipes out there -- especially on Allrecipes.com -- that you can find really unique and flavorful dishes that are low-cost, low on cooking time and high on taste and nutrition.
Number three goes against the grain of our modern parenting mindset (well not mine, but others): try keeping the kids' after school activities to a minimum (if they're in school).
To be honest, the kids are in school all day, that's really enough activity. To pour on more than one activity during the week is insane and will not only stress you out, but the kid also. Children survived going home right after school and doing their homework, having dinner with their family and relaxing for years, I think they will make it to their teens.
If that's not the case in your family then talk to the other parents and form a car pool. It will save gas and give you extra time on the weeks that you are off, and yes, the week that you are on will be a drag, but, hey, got to lose some to win others.
No. 4: Maximize nap time (if they still nap). Yes, I know all too well about the allure of curling up to take a nap right along side with your child, and hey, there is nothing wrong with indulging in that once in a while.
On those other days when your will is strong, those two hours can go a long way of freeing up time for the rest of the day and or week. Do the dishes, laundry or other household chores without the little one tugging at your apron strings, yelling for attention or being counter productive and messing up everything that you just cleaned.
Make your phone calls without having a child screaming in the background. Pay your bills without the fear of your little "angel" typing in an obscene amount of money in the pay now button.
Whatever it is that you need to get done, try and do it during this blissful time of peace and quiet. You may not enjoy it, but you will love the fact that that night you can watch 30 Rock instead of the bubbles from doing the dishes.
Finally, teach your children at an early age to pick up after themselves. Tell them that no they cannot color until they clean up the trucks they just dumped all over the floor. Or, no, there will be no Wonder Pets until we clean up all the books you had to have out but then didn't want to read.
Don't micromanage, don't insist that they have to do everything perfectly; they are only kids after all and what is the point of being a kid if you cannot trash a single room in 0.5 seconds, but letting them help you clean up not only instills an important character-building trait, but helps you out.
Sure, it may only be that you only have to pick up five cars right now instead of 20, but in the future your child will be able to help you more and more and you will be happy you started them off so early.
If you make the most of your time doing the things that are less fun, it paves the way for the relaxation, the fun family activities and the small half of an hour of mommy (or daddy) time you can squeeze in.
None of what I mentioned is in any way mind blowing discoveries, they are all relatively simple and easy ways to help you get what you need done in a more efficient matter. The truth is, it may see like a "duh" thing to do, but it took me a lot of time to realize that one day of doubling up means two days of much needed relaxiation time.
So try it, see how it goes for you and, of course, share the ways you save time on the boring things in life! Until the next time, make sure to spend your time wisely.
Here are some other great time management articles that Christina found that also may help: