There aren't enough hours in a day! It's a fact of motherhood. But here's another fact: No household ever fell apart from a mom consolidating some tasks and cutting a few corners. In fact, saving yourself some time and sanity will lead to a happier home life. Are you ready to make your household run like a well-oiled machine? Here are some ways to get started today.
Assign Chores and Rely on Your Kids
Put those kids to work! While kids need downtime and playtime, some assigned household chores are also good for them — and great for you. Chores instill independence and responsibility in children, and help busy parents save time. Print out this chore chart and check out some other age-appropriate life skills that kids can start to take on themselves.
Make Lists and Keep a Calendar
To-do lists can make your day or week look daunting, but there is no simpler household management tool. While there are lots of cool mobile apps to help busy moms manage their life, we're still big fans of pen-and-paper checklists and blank paper calendars that you can mark up with events and errands. Nothing feels better than crossing off an item from a physical to-do list. Get your kids into efficient routines, too, with our printable checklists for mornings, after school, and bedtime.
Cook Make-Ahead and Big-Batch Meals
Many moms swear by this idea: Pick a day to cook multiple dinners or a big-batch meal to help get you through the week. For example, be extra-productive in the kitchen on a lazy Sunday and make some of these make-ahead freezer meals or a big batch of something delicious so that your weeknights are a breeze.
Do a Dinner Swap
You probably have some fellow mom friends who are feeling just as frazzled as you. Why not plan a dinner swap with a friend or two? Basically, you just make an extra batch of whatever you're serving your family for dinner and drop it off to your friend(s) in exchange for them making dinner for your family some other night. (Hint: Pick friends who are good cooks!)
Do a Kid Swap
While we're talking about swapping — consider swapping your kids, too! Agreeing to watch a friend's or neighbor's kids in exchange for them watching your child is an affordable childcare idea and a timesaver for moms on the go. During those couple of free hours, squeeze in some overdue errands or — better yet — enjoy some much deserved "me time."
Pack School Snacks for the Week
Packing school lunches eats up a lot of time — especially if you do it on busy school-day mornings. Sandwiches can get soggy if you make them days in advance, but most snacks hold up well if you pack them ahead of time. Enlist your kids to help you divvy up snacks like grapes and pretzels into baggies for the upcoming week's lunches. Also, rely on some healthy packaged snacks.
Take the "Busy Mom's Shower"
What's the "busy mom's shower," you ask? It's basically a quick wash-up using washcloths and soap (or even baby wipes, in a pinch) instead of taking a real shower every day. Every mom does it, especially during the crazy first years of raising a baby or toddler. Dry shampoo — a pretty-scented powder form of shampoo — is also a busy mom's best friend. If you're a must-shower-every-day kinda gal, try showering at night to free up some time in your hectic mornings.
Buy (Healthy) Fast Food
If you're reading this, you're probably not someone who buys fast food all the time (or else you would have a lot more time on your hands, right?). Homemade food is almost always healthiest, but a once-a-week trip to a healthier fast food joint (think: Chipotle, Panera Bread, or Au Bon Pain) is fine in our book. Consider buying adult-size meals for your kids and saving the leftovers for tomorrow's school lunch.
Recycle Worn Clothes
Is your life turning into a never-ending spin cycle? The dirty laundry never stops coming, so it's time to reevaluate what's really "dirty." Soiled, stained, or smelly clothes definitely need washing, but most other items can probably be worn another time, or two, or three! Buy a nice fabric spray and give your "recycled" clothes a spritz. Also, try to avoid buying clothes that need ironing or dry cleaning.
Purge! Purge! Purge!
Stuff = Time. The more stuff you have in your home, the more cleaning, dusting, and organizing you need to do. If your house is bursting at the seams, it might be time for yard sale or big donation to the Good Will or Salvation Army. Some organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, offer free donation pick-up services in some areas.
Enlist or Hire Help
Hiring full-time help isn't an option for most busy moms. But could you squeeze some occasional help into your household budget, especially if it buys you some sanity? Splurging on a heavy-duty cleaning service once a month or even once a season means you'll only have to do some light maintenance in between. Many grocery stores now offer home delivery, so take advantage of that service from time to time. Ask teens in your neighborhood if they're interested in babysitting, shoveling, or raking to lighten your load. Asking — or paying — for help shouldn't be taboo.
Leave It to Machines
Robot vacuum cleaners, single-cup coffee brewers, slow-cookers, and online shopping were made for you, Mom. Use today's time-saving gadgets and appliances to your advantage. You can't do it all — and now you don't have to!