Whether a working mom, stay-at-home-mom, or somewhere in-between, for most moms there never seems to be enough time in the day. Run into any mom on the street and ask how they are doing. More often than not, the answer is a definite “busy!”
Yes, as moms we are all busy. Taking care of other living, breathing little people is a giant (and important) task. Not to mention ALL of the other jobs that being a mom entails – cook, chauffeur, cleaner, money manager, organizer, and the list goes on. In fact, did you know that it would cost over $100,000/year to replace you?
You may have heard it said that time is money. Well infact, time actually isn’t money, time is much more valuable than money. Because our time is limited. More money can always be made, but more time cannot.
As a working mom of three (almost four!) children under six, I have found that every little time-saving thing I can do helps. In fact, I have put together a list of some of my most helpful time-saving tips. These ideas probably save about an hour per day, maybe more! This adds up to 365 hours a year, folks! I know, my math skills are pretty incredible. Add math tutor to the list. 🙂
1. Set your coffee-maker to auto-brew. Okay, let’s be honest – this really doesn’t save as much time as my other tips, but I’m listing this tip first because wow! Setting our coffee-maker to auto-brew at night just sets my day straight! Having my coffee ready the moment I wake-up not only leaves a little extra quiet time in the morning before the kids wake-up (hopefully), but it gets me started at full-speed as soon as possible. 😉 I can grab my coffee, some reading material, and hopefully start my day with a few extra minutes to myself. What a difference this makes when I do it. Try it!
2. Bathrooms. No one likes cleaning bathrooms, but a few things I have learned make this a cinch. First, keep all of your cleaning supplies under each bathroom cabinet. I have a small plastic tub that holds glass-cleaner, paper towels, toilet-bowl-cleaner and disinfectant wipes in each bathroom. I also make sure to stock the bottom of each garbage can with lots of extra garbage bags. That way I won’t have to run around the house each time I need to empty a garbage.
Also, here’s a life-changing bonus tip for you: only buy children’s toothpaste that’s white. No pink bubble-gum or green sour-apple flavors. I know this isn’t very fun, but honestly, it keeps the bathroom sink at least looking clean! There is nothing worse than bright pink toothpaste all over the bathroom sink. I learned this the hard way!
3. Cooking. Do you meal-plan? It can be a struggle for me, because I have a hard time deciding what I might want to eat five days from now, but meal-planning really saves SO much time (and money)! I highly recommend signing-up for Steph’s Menu! She sends out weekly emails with nutritious, yummy meal ideas as well as a shopping list. At only $5/month, this is a deal! Then there is no last-minute running to the store, or the what-are-we-going-to-have-for-dinner stress. I keep a small weekly dry-erase weekly calendar on our fridge and include dinner plans for each night, among other things.
Another tip that has helped save loads of time at mealtime is: use paper plates. Because I prefer plain white dinner plates, I buy Target’s Up-and-Up plain white, heavy duty dinner plates. I seriously stock-up on these and use them for most meals. This saves so much time loading and unloading the dishwasher. When we host guests or have parties, I LOVE Chinet’s square white dinner plates.
Bonus tip: last year, I found myself spending so much time at each meal filling up glasses of water. With three children and 2-3 meals/day at home, this was a LOT of filling, emptying, and washing glasses. So now we keep Sigg refillable water bottles for each child in the our fridge at all times. When it’s time for dinner, I have the kids set the table and get out their own water bottles. I know, I’m practically a slave-driver. But this saves lots of time and effort! 😉
When I cook a freezeable meal, I like to make two at once and freeze one for a rainy day. It is really no extra work, and is such a great feeling to know that dinner for another night is already prepared in the freezer! So next time you make a big pot of chili, make two pots and freeze one (gallon freezer plastic bags work great for this). I also like to marinate and grill about 4 pounds of chicken breasts at a time. Then I will thinly slice the cooked chicken and add it all to a freezer bag. Then it’s ready to go for soups, salads, and sandwiches at a moment’s notice.
4. Laundry. Doing the laundry is one of my least favorite household tasks. It’s not the washing that’s the problem, it’s the putting it all away! I have a dear friend that has “laundry day” two specific days a week. Every Monday and Friday, she does ALL of her laundry – including putting it ALL away. How nice is that, to have it all DONE in one day, instead of leaving it out in clothes-baskets for days and days (like I tend to do).
Another bonus tip: keep an extra, complete set of sheets for every bed in the bedroom. That way, if the sheets need to be changed, you don’t have to wait for them to be clean before re-making the bed. This is a favorite new tip of mine, totally worth spending the money on an extra set of sheets! Do this for your guest bed too…you will thank me!
5. Go Shopping…Online. How could I possibly write a time-saving post without including online shopping? Just yesterday, I went to the Mall of America with two of my children to run some errands. After spending an exhausting three hours pushing a double-stroller around the mall at 30-weeks pregnant, I decided that was one of the worst decisions I could have made that day! Why didn’t I just purchase everything I needed online, and spend the day relaxing at home with the kiddos?
A few favorite online shopping sites of mine are:
Amazon Prime. Free two-day delivery. Just about anything you can dream of. Share your prime account with some family members to save on the $99 yearly fee. Done.
Target Subscriptions. I just signed-up for this after reading Suzanne’s Post. I subscribed for all of our diapers, paper towels, and toilet paper to be automatically delivered to my doorstep every 8 weeks. And just for enrolling in this, Target offers an extra 5% off. Cha-ching! A bonus of shopping at Target as opposed to Amazon, is that you can return items directly to the store if needed, instead of shipping them back.
6. Keep It Dirty. Moms, how often do you wash your hair? And when you do, how much time do you spend washing, fixing, drying, curling, straightening? I started washing my hair every-other day a few years ago, and now I push it back to – wait for it – every two days. This is the BEST! It saves me SO much time! Yes, I had to “train” my hair by going quite a few days without washing it (for more information on how to do this, click here). I also started using (and loving) Batiste Dry Shampoo (found on Amazon or at Urban Outfitters). I love the blonde color and spray it on my roots if my hair starts to feel a little greasy. Oh, I also invested in a sexy shower cap. 😉
7. Skip The Post-Office. Probably one of the most torturous household tasks ever is to wait in line at the post office…around the holidays…with children. Seriously, the last time I did this was probably two years ago and I plan to never, ever do it again. Thanks to USPS’s Click-N-Ship, I now print all of my postage labels online and even have the packages picked-up at my doorstep. How easy is that?! Don’t let it intimidate you, it’s super easy and so convenient. First I bought an inexpensive postal scale. Second, I signed-up for an account with USPS.com. I also ordered lots of Priority Mail boxes for free. Now I simply weigh my package on my little scale, enter the shipping information at usps.com, print the shipping label and schedule a pick-up. Never. Going. Back.
8. Email. Let’s be honest – refreshing your email every five minutes on your iPhone throughout the day is not the most productive thing you can do with your time. I have found that limiting the number of times per day that I check my email is not only a time-saver, but a sanity-saver as well. You can read more about how I like to do email at a previous post I wrote here. And while you’re at it, turn off the notifications/dings/banner displays on your phone. That way, you can check your messages when it is convenient for you. That J. Crew sale can wait until you have time to sit down and shop (online, that is). 🙂
I could go on and on with lots more time-saving tips, but I will keep this list short with my favorite eight tips. Since we are all so busy, right?. 😉
Remember moms, YOU are valuable. Your time is valuable. How do you want to spend it?
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard