Parents’ lives are busy. We find ourselves in constant motion from the moment we wake up in the morning, until late in the evening. Some days we kill ourselves trying to get everything we want done, and other days we just give up—for sanity’s sake. But, there are ways to carve out a little extra time each day, or make chores just a little easier, if you are willing to think outside the box.
There are hundreds of tricks on the Internet to help parents save a little time each day, or make life a little more manageable, but some of those ‘tricks’ just aren’t really that helpful. For example: We all know that waking up earlier will give us more time each day to get things done, but some of us will always hit that snooze button, no matter how much we beg ourselves not to.
So, when you are looking for helpful tips to try out in your own busy lives, make sure that you can realistically incorporate those ideas in your life. If it’s going to make your life more difficult or more complicated, don’t try it. Not all helpful time-saving tricks will work for everyone, so you must figure out the ones that work best for your family.
What I like about the following time-saving tricks, is that they may require you to let go of long-held beliefs on ‘how things should be done’. Like, ‘eating is only supposed to take place at the dinner table’, or ‘scissors are only for cutting paper or hair’. If you open your mind to include new ideas, you might find the following 15 time-saving tricks extremely helpful.
15 Eating In The Shower
Jessica Biel broke the Internet when she posted a picture on Instagram of a coffee mug and an empty plate, with the caption, "Yes. I eat in the shower. I admit it. Chicken apple sausage and espresso. Try it. I dare you. #ShowerEats"
People were confused, and honestly didn't know how to react. How does one eat in the shower, exactly? It depends on the shower I suppose, as well as what you're eating in there. I have to admit, I enjoy a cup of Joe in the shower from time-to-time, and baths have long been hailed as a place for wine and snack time, but the shower? All that steam? But, if you are short on time, and need to multi-task, eating in the shower is becoming a thing. Find a ledge to put that plate on, and forget about 'traditional' places to eat. It's your life, eat where you want.
14 Cut Food With Scissors Instead Of Knives
At first this idea seems alien. Cut food with scissors? Gross. I know what you are imagining, a pair of scissors with those little stuck-on hairs from your last haircut mixed up with the cheese stick you are trying to cut in half—not a good look. But, this idea is actually pretty genius when you think about it. Purchase a set of kitchen scissors--that's a real thing, I wouldn't lie to you--and give cutting your food a try. It saves a tremendous amount of time. All that chopping time can be cut in half, and even simple things like hot dogs, cheese, and fruit can be cut quickly and easily. Over the course of the day, you will save a lot of prep time utilizing this technique. Obviously, these scissors will only be used to cut food, and you would need to wash them, just like you would any other utensils when you’re done.
13 Place Trash Bags At The Bottom Of The Trash Can
Some time-saving tricks are so obvious and easy; I don’t know why we don’t think of them. I learned this trick from my parents, who after having six kids, came up with all sorts of time and energy-saving ideas to get through life. Placing trash bags at the bottom of the receptacle is a really simple and easy way to save yourself time, and annoyance, later. Grab a handful of bags and toss them in the bottom of the bin, then you stretch the trash bag over the trashcan, just like you would normally do. Anytime you make chores easier, life becomes easier, and less stressful all around. I've also heard of people who will line the trashcan with multiple trash bags in nestled layers, one on top of the other, but I haven't tried this idea because my trashcan is too big for multiple trash bags stretched over the edges. Still, it's a good idea, and if it works for your receptacle, give it a shot.
12 Storage Bins In Every Room
Storage has long been known to be the key to defeating clutter and disorganization. With good storage, you can have a lot of stuff, and still have a clean house. My all-time favorite time-saver with kids is having a storage bin in every room of the house—for toys. And I do mean every room. My kids have a playroom where, theoretically, all of there toys have a ‘place’ on the shelves. But, kids will always drag those toys around the house, leaving a trail of objects for moms and dads to step on. At first, I would run around filling my arms with toys, making multiple trips to the kids’ room, to put things away. I was exhausted. With bins, I just toss the toys that found their way to that room into that room’s bin. A couple times a week, I will take that bin to the kid’s rooms and put the toys ‘away’. I keep my sanity, but I don’t have to make multiple trips.
11 Clean The Bathroom While The Kids Are In The Bath
This might be a controversial idea as some parents think you should be doing nothing except watching your kids when they are in the tub (please do be sure your little ones are of an age where this would be appropriate), but I like to clean the bathroom when my kids are taking a bath. Since I always remain in the bathroom 'just in case', even though my kids are old enough to be in there on their own, I was starting to lose my mind waiting 20 or 30 minutes for them to finish. I didn’t want to just sit in there watching them play Bubble Guppies every time, so now I clean instead. Be careful not to use bleach or other super harsh chemicals without opening a window or door for ventilation, but less-harsh cleaners or soap and water is fine, a couple of Lysol wipes, and suddenly multi-talking never felt so good, and smelled so fresh!
10 Use Paper Plates And Cups, Instead Of Real Dishes
Ever wonder why parents use paper plates at a kid’s birthday party? Nope, you probably didn’t need to wonder, because you already knew—easy clean up. Then it must follow that using paper products would be a huge time saver on a day-to-day basis. They even make cups and bowels—even better. Some might say, “What a waste!” But paper products are much better for the environment than plastic or Styrofoam, and it actually cuts down on your utility bill, less water wasted, and less time wasted too. And let’s be real, who are you trying to impress with fancy dishes? Gone are the days of formal sit down dinners (however you might feel about that), and busy families want to waste less time cleaning, so they can use that time for other more important things, like playing with the kids. Paper plates are very inexpensive too, especially if you buy in bulk!
9 Put The Kids To Work
I used to be that mom. The one who did everything for her kids. I honestly didn't even consider putting my kids to work, and I spent hours running around the house, picking up toys, putting away shoes, only to turn around and find my kids had followed me around the house dumping out everything I just put away. It was a nightmare. That's when the light bulb blinked on and I lost it. "Fuhgetaboutit! You are going to help me, you little mess-making, pint-sized hurricanes!" The crazy thing was, they liked helping. Especially my youngest, and the more my oldest got used to it, the less of a big deal it was. All of a sudden I was getting things done in one-tenth of the time it took me before. A lot of us think some kids are too little to help, I know I did. But even toddlers can help put their toys away, and carry things from one room to the room where the object belongs. Don't be a slave to your kids. They can help. It's probably their mess, anyway.
8 Print Your Weekly Shopping List, Then Add The Extras
Another helpful idea from parents of multiple children is the printed grocery list. This saves a ton of time each week when you usually buy the same staples all the time. Things like milk, bread, butter, cheese, and eggs should be listed on every list, and then print out multiple copies. If you have enough of an item, you can just cross it out, which is a lot easier than writing it in. If you need items that are not 'standard' you just add those extras on. My parents took this idea one step further, and they actually printed the list in the order the items were found at their particular grocery store. So if they entered the store on the right in the dairy section—all the dairy items were printed on that area of the list, and so on. Also, grocery shopping only once a week saves a ton of time. No one wants to be running back to the store every day for some missing item. If you do it right the first time, more time for you!
7 Stop Hanging Kid Clothes
Most of my greatest mom-epiphanies happened when I asked myself, "Why am I driving myself crazy doing this?" The answer to that question was usually, "Because society expects me to." If I took that thought on to, "What do I think about this situation?" I often come to the conclusion that I just don't give a flying pair of superman underwear. Who cares if your kids’ clothes are neatly hung on hangers? No one. How often do your friends come to your house judging your closets? Not often. So work smarter, not harder. Most kids only have two or three items that need to be hung on hangers—those dressy items for church or weddings. Otherwise, they don't need to be hung. Throw that mess in drawers or bins, or put them on closet storage shelves that allow you to still find items when you are looking for them, but that takes far less time to put away than hanging.
6 Menu Planning And Bulk Purchasing
Menu planning and bulk purchasing has long been known to help cut down on money and time spent. The trick is to make it work for your family. Not all families have ten kids, but even families with only one kid can utilize this form of purchasing to help save them time and energy. Some people order items in bulk online, things like paper towels, toilette paper, soup cans, or baby products such as diapers. You must sit down and think about your system of organization, how much room you have in your fridge and pantries, but once you do that—you will save time and brain-power in the long run. Menu planning saves a lot of brain-cells as well, I assure you. You can even organize your grocery list according to the meals you are going to be serving each week. Give it a try! You will thank me later, so you’re welcome.
5 Don’t Do Things You Don’t LOVE To Do
Many parents drive themselves crazy running around from event to event, signing up for field trips, volunteering to chaperone school dances, or getting themselves roped into driving the soccer team to regionals. There is nothing wrong with helping out when you can—in fact you should help out from time to time—but sometimes you just have to say no. You will be a better parent if you do only a few things that you really love to do, or you know you have the time for, and say no to the rest. Also, don't have your children running around crazy, either. They should do activities that they absolutely love, otherwise cut it from their lives. This leaves more time for free-play, family time or even the dreaded homework. There is a lot of pressure for moms to do everything, but what is the worst that can happen if you say no? Someone else has to do it? Works for me.
4 Pack Non-Perishable Snacks In Advance
Kids are always in need of healthy snacks on the road, and moms are used to tossing baggies of goldfish or pretzels into their purse. There is nothing worse than having to frantically get snacks ready when you are trying to make it to an appointment on time, and you know little Timmy will have a meltdown if he doesn't have something to eat. If you get organized, you can have bags of non-perishable snacks ready to be thrown into a diaper bag at a second’s notice, and then you're walking out the door. The trick is to fill snack bags all at the same time. Pour in pretzels, crackers, trail mix, and dried fruit, and toss all these bags into a basket and put it in the pantry. That way, when it's time to hit the road, you just grab a ready-made bag and you're out the door. Perishables like fruit and cheese can also be prepared in advance, they just can’t be prepared as far in advance, and you must obviously keep them in the fridge.
3 Make Your Own Homework Routine
There is a whole debate on the amount of homework kids get these days, and I'm firmly in the camp that it's too much. But, thinking outside the box in every situation can really help save you time, and save your sanity. Some teachers will assign homework to be done a certain way. For example: your teacher might suggest readings every night, or spelling words to be spread out throughout the week. As for me and my kid—we do things our own way. I wasted so much time nagging my kid to do homework each day, and I think we would waste 15 minutes of misery getting her into 'homework mode'. I finally said, "I'm done with this." Now, she does her homework in two days, instead of four or five. That way I don't have to beg her to do her homework several times a week, and deal with 'getting her in the mood' every day. Once she's in homework mode, we zip through it, like ripping off a Band-Aid.
2 Have A Shoe Drawer
My family used to spend a lot of time looking for lost shoes, and I used to spend a lot of time putting shoes away. Now, I don't. We invested in a storage bench with a drawer that pulls out. I don't have to see shoes piled up by the front door—not exactly the sight you want greeting your guests—but I always know where the shoes are, and they are easy to put away. Also, having one designated place for things really helps the kids know where to put things away, and where to find them. That way, they can help you clean up, and they can help you save time when you are leaving the house each day. A child standing shoed can follow “Get your shoes on!” instead of hearing the response, "I can't find them." If you don't have a shoe drawer (or something like it), you are wasting way too much of your life. Just trust me on this one.
1 Just Let It Go
Sometimes, the best time-saver and mom reboot occurs when you learn to just let things go. No one is saying you can do this all the time, but every once in a while you just have to leave that pile of dirty dishes in the sink, or you just have to call in sick for a mental health day. It doesn't help you to feel guilty about this either. Everyone needs a break sometimes, and if you've ever seen the Bad Moms movie, you can see that you can still be a good mom without meeting impossibly high standards. No mom is Supermom, not even the moms that pretend to be. They may be extra careful to only post pictures of their house when it's pristine, and you may only see them perfectly dressed, and seemingly put together, but they are hiding the truth. Every mom has bad days, every mom needs a break, and every mom needs to just let some things go once and a while. No shame in that—and it’s a wonderful time-saver.