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Do you find yourself racing through your day just to do it all again tomorrow? Do you feel like you just can’t keep up? Does your “To Do” list seem like it is getting longer, not shorter? Being a busy parent myself, I can relate.
I returned to college a few months after giving birth to my third child, which was the fifth child in our blended family. I also continued to work full-time. After a few years of taking classes part-time, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. This was no easy task!
Every minute of every day was precious to me. I wanted to spend time with my family, I NEEDED time to work and study, and there were the usual household tasks that needed attention. I had no choice but to learn to be as efficient as possible to keep from going totally bonkers!
During this time, I kept finding little things here and there that would save me a few minutes. Every time I added another time-saving hack, my days became a little easier. Want to know my secrets? Then keep reading.
13 Clever Time-Saving Hacks for Busy Parents
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Make sure you plan your day in advance and be prepared.
One thing that I always do is to pick out my clothes the night before. I decide what outfit I want to wear and then make sure I have all my accessories as well (shoes, jewelry, etc.).
Help your kids develop these good habits by having older children pick out their own clothes as well (this will save panic time in the morning). Have them also make sure all their books and school supplies are in their book bags, and that their sports bag is packed as well.
If you go to the gym before or after work, make sure you have your gym bag packed as well. Packing your gym bag ahead of time reduces the chances of you bailing on your workout.
2. Compound Exercises
I know it seems that some days squeezing in that workout is tough. So, make the most of your time by performing compound exercises such as squats with an overhead press or reverse lunges with bicep curls. Compound exercises are great for working multiple muscles at the same time.
Sometimes too much is just that, too much. A cluttered house can cause stress and anxiety.
Spend an afternoon de-cluttering your house. Start with the room that you spend the most time in. For me, that would be the kitchen.
Throw out any old bills, expired coupons, or other unimportant papers. Any other items that you are not willing to part with but have not used, put in a box and put in the garage or basement. Make sure to label it and keep it somewhat visible. In six months, if you have not needed anything from the box, donate or throw the entire box away.
Use drawer organizers for small items such as paper clips, rubber bands, and batteries. Put magnetic hooks on the side of your refrigerator to hang spare keys (this also keeps them in a location where everyone knows where they are). Communicate with family members where all items are now being stored.
Now that you have a place for everything, you will save time searching.
4. Unsubscribe to Unwanted Emails
OMG! How much junk can my inbox hold before it explodes? Pretty much. I subscribe to anything I think may be relevant at the time and then I just ignore the emails when they pop up. I think I had over 2,000 unread emails at one time.
Finally, I filtered my emails, looked at the ones I hadn’t read, unsubscribed, and then deleted them all.
Don’t be like me and wait until it reaches critical mass. If you just keep ignoring or deleting those emails, unsubscribe. You will be glad you did.
You will have a much easier time choosing your clothes if you keep your wardrobe to the basics. Having basic pants, skirts, blouses, and shoes in neutral or classic colors make it simpler to just grab what you need out of your closet. Of course, it’s nice to have a few pieces for variety or are fun to wear, just keep them to a minimum. If you have not worn something in the last six months, put it in the box for your local thrift store.
6. Use an Electronic Calendar
If you are not doing this already, you need to start. Add recurring events such as birthdays, anniversaries, annual subscription renewals, and vehicle maintenance to your calendar.
Set reminders for each recurring event, and then, you can forget about them until you receive the notifications. Sharing your calendar with other members of your household will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
7. Enroll in Auto-banking
Save yourself some aggravation and set up auto payments for all your bills. My bank allows me to set up automatic bill payments that I can choose to have sent monthly or on-demand. If the amount is the same every month, for example, I am on the budget plan with my electricity provider, I just add the payment amount and date I want it sent and my bill will always be sent on time.
Another alternative would be to set up automatic payments directly with your utility company, cell phone provider, or your credit card accounts. Most companies will send due-date reminders and the amount that will be drafted from your account.
One other thing that I take advantage of is low balance reminders. For example, I was able to set up my son’s lunch account to notify me when his balance is below a specific threshold. I also have the option to replenish the account automatically when it falls below this threshold. I no longer need to worry about getting a call from the school that my son needs lunch.
Turn off notifications and put your away phone. When notifications pop up on your screen, you automatically look at them. You can’t help it.
This distraction decreases your productivity by changing your focus to something other than the task at hand. In addition, you may even be tempted to read the email or appointment reminder which will steer you further off course. Now you have probably lost a minimum of 15 minutes and you must try to remember where you left off on the task you were supposed to be focused on.
9. Cook in Batches
For a few years, there were seven people living in our household. Preparing meals on a small scale was not a consideration. Today, we only have one child still living at home. Meal preparation has become a lot simpler.
However, the workweek can still be hectic, and I always like to be prepared. There is nothing I enjoy more than making a big batch of spaghetti or chili. The benefit of cooking in batches is that you have several meals, but you only did the work one time. You only prepped and cooked the food once and only cleaned up one time as well. Yay!!!
Now I have tonight’s dinner, a night of leftovers during the week, and possibly even some to put in the freezer. I also make extra when cooking chicken or burgers on the grill. I’ll use the extra chicken for salads or quesadillas.
10. Get Help!
Busy parents should not hesitate to ask for help. This time-saving hack is so simple most people don’t even think about it. But you shouldn’t be afraid to enlist the help of others when life gets overwhelming.
Holidays are supposed to be a time to celebrate and spend time with your family. You don’t need to be Suzie Homemaker (and not everyone can be). I enjoy baking and it is one of the traditions in my house that I won’t give up. But that’s just me. However, it is perfectly acceptable to pick up a tray of cookies from the local bakery.
On the other hand, I suck at wrapping gifts. Give me gift bags and tissue paper any day! It’s also faster and easier to store than rolls of wrapping paper.
There is always so much to do during the holidays. Why not give yourself an early present, and hire someone to clean your house right before the holiday? You hate cleaning anyway. This is a win-win for me.
And you don’t need an excuse to ask for help any other time of the year either. Why not hire one of the neighborhood kids to help with yard work, shovel snow, or walk the dog?
11. Use Your Dishwasher
Why are you washing dishes when you can put them in the dishwasher? The dishwasher can be used for pots and pans as well. If you are not sure if a type of dish can be washed in the dishwasher, look for the symbol on the bottom of the dish. If it does not exist, play it safe, and wash that dish by hand.
Loading and unloading your dishwasher is simple enough for even small children to help with.
12. Combine Errands
Combining errands is one of my favorite time-saving hacks because I get to save time and money!!! Just pick one day and get all your errands out of the way. You will save time because you will already be out and many of the places you frequent are on your to-do list.
When I have several places to stop, I take a few minutes to think about their location and plan my route. If there is a faster way to get chores done, I am all for it. Not only did you save yourself some time, but you also saved yourself some gas money. Stop for take-out on your way home as a reward for getting all your errands accomplished.
13. Create a Shopping List
Create a list and stick to it. This will save you time and money. Keep a magnetic shopping pad on the refrigerator for everyone to use. Anyone in your household can add to the list when items are low or depleted. At any point in time, the shopper can grab the list and go to the store.
It will also save time if you plan your meals in advance in order to keep from making multiple trips for needed supplies.
As with everything today, there’s an app for that and shopping lists are no exception. Shopping List Voice Input is easy to use because you can create your list verbally. It allows for more than one list, can be synchronized between devices, track purchases, and import recipes that can be easily added to your shopping list.
Grocery Shopping List-Listonic can help you become a smarter shopper. This user-friendly app offers favorite product suggestions, food hacks, and shopping tips.
AnyList is a grocery shopping list and recipe organizer app. Not only does this app help you create your shopping list, but it can also organize your recipes as well.
Wrapping It Up
I live by these time-saving hacks:
- Prepare ahead of time
- Do compound exercises
- De-clutter your home
- Unsubscribe to unwanted emails
- Simplify your wardrobe
- Use an electronic calendar
- Enroll in auto-banking
- Cook in batches
- Ask for help
- Make use of your dishwasher
- Combine your errands
- Create a shopping list
All busy parents should take advantage of these time-saving hacks.
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