When I went back to work this past August, my entire family had to adjust to the new demands placed on me as I manage my household and my own business. The learning curve has been sharp, especially for me, and I am continually seeking new ways to do what I do efficiently. I wanted to share my best time-saving tips for the busy mom.
1. Fall in Love with the Basket
As my husband can attest to, I have always had a deep love for baskets. This love has become renewed, now that I am juggling home and work. You should fall in love with this versatile home accessory too. You can buy beautiful baskets at home improvement stores, craft stores and even big-box stores like Wal-Mart. Two time saving tips:
– The “Get-Ready” Basket
Getting out the door in the morning, all three of my kids dressed and content, is no easy feat! I aim to do what I can the night before and this includes stacking two baskets. Into one basket goes our gear: coats, hats, mitten and anything that has to go to school that day. Into a second basket, goes the clothes for the next day, which my children pick out themselves (including socks and underwear). In the morning, I grab our two baskets and have everything we need at our finger-tips. Once the baskets are empty, I then stack the laundry and other strewn about articles that become dislodged in the morning mayhem, so that when I next get a spare minute, I can put back the items we used.
– The “Bottom-of-the-Stairs” Basket
I hate trekking up and down my stairs every time I want to return something to a bedroom. Plus, I have a toddler who I prefer not to leave to his own devices for too long. Instead, I put the items that need to go upstairs into a basket. The next time I am naturally on my way up, I grab the basket!
2. Do 2 Things At Once
Now that my son is in school full-time and my other two in daycare, I am responsible for making packed lunches each day. I fretted about this all summer but I think I have found the best solution. I make lunch and dinner together each night. Before serving dinner, I spoon leftovers into lunch containers, or I make a sandwich or other item. I love the idea of killing two birds with one stone: do you have other ways of doing two things at once? Maybe you make Monday’s supper, while making Sunday’s or chop vegetables before you put them away after shopping at the grocery store? Consolidating even the little things can add up to big time savers.
3. Post Your Schedule, Let Everything Have a Time and Place
I love schedules and find myself panicked if I don’t know how and when something is going to get done. I am a work-at-home mom so have found it important to post my office hours on my office door. I then take my work hours and determine for every minute what I will need to work on. I try to apply the same principles to our family’s schedule: I keep our weekly calendar on the fridge. To maximize our time, I plop chores into bedtime routines (put out your clothes for the night before, tidy up your room before bed) and make this expectation part of our schedule.
4. Outsource, Get Comfortable With It
My grandmother worked inside the home. Her entire day was filled with cooking and cleaning. This was a common way of life for most families. Now, I try to do everything my grandmother did while also working part-time. Insane! I have had to come to the realization that I simply can’t do it all. Get comfortable with asking for help. Work-at-home moms, line up childcare or take advantage of a family member or friend’s offer to watch the kids. It is found it too hard to manage “during naptime.” Have someone else clean your house for a change! Invest in yourself, your sanity, your career and recognize there is a lot of strength in that.
With these and other time-saving tips, I am starting to settle into a routine I can live with!