By Brittany Carlson
One thing I never seem to have enough of is time. Time to play with the kids instead of worrying about housework. Time to read the book that’s been sitting on my bedside table for months. Time to work out. Time for a moment of prayer or a quiet walk outside. Time for coffee with a friend. Time to make a balanced dinner and somehow keep my kids from getting into trouble while I’m cooking it.
Finding time for the important things in life is a struggle for many moms I know, so I asked them to tell me their favorite time-saving tips and tricks on social media.
Most of their advice fell into three categories: organization and scheduling, meal planning and helpful services. Here’s what works for them, and maybe you’ll find a trick or too that can help you simplify your life as well.
- Declutter regularly. Whenever I pick up around the house, if I come across items that are just taking up space (or getting too old), I’ll trash them or put them in our thrift store box in the garage.
- Keep a shared family calendar on your smartphones (Ashley C.).
- Make a daily cleaning list and just do the assigned cleaning for the day (Erin B.)
- Designate a weekly grocery shopping day. Make a weekly meal plan and shopping list together (Jill P.)
- Plan regular “mental health” days. “Look at your calendar right now: the next day with nothing scheduled should be highlighted yellow and basically blocked off as a rest day,” said Effie P. “When my child was little, we had one stay at home day every week to catch up and reconnect.”
- Designate a “drop station” by the front door to keep track of shoes, jackets, bags, keys and cell phones. “When my kids ask where something is, I can always tell them to look there and 90 percent of the time, it’s there,” said Erin L.
- Just do dishes twice a day. This is a trick I heard at a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting once, and I’ve made it a part of my routine. If I only do a load of dishes after breakfast and before bed, I can keep the kitchen functionally clean enough to do what I need to without spending the day washing up, or letting dishes pile too high.
- Make a breakfast casserole that can last a few days and reduce time in the kitchen (Jewel H.).
- Prep veggies for the week. My friend Candace N. pulls grapes off the stems, and stores chopped celery, carrots and peppers in water in Mason jars in the fridge. “I’ll get 4 to 6 more days of freshness that way,” she said.
- Use paper plates for everyday meals instead of dishes. “I only have to wash pots and pans, so a little less housework,” said Rachel A.
- Make one-pot or sheet pan meals to make clean-up easier, and serve in Pyrex containers for easy storing and reheating (Radhika F).
- Hire a reliable sitter to watch the kids while you run errands or “sneak away for some ‘me’ time” (Julie K.)
- Schedule a cleaning service to help with housework (Nikki V.)
- Schedule grocery pick-up instead of shopping in the store. (Emarie M.) For those of you who haven’t tried this (myself included), many stores including Wal-Mart, Target, Aldi and Kroger offer customers the option to order groceries (and other items) online and select a time to pick them up later (you’ll have to pay online and note what car you’ll be driving when you come to pick up your order). When it’s time, you pull into a pick-up parking space and an employee brings your order to your car.
- Have groceries delivered. Another option besides grocery pick-up is to have your groceries delivered via a service like Instacart. Aldi also offers grocery delivery to certain areas (so check your local grocery store for more options).
- Use a meal delivery service, like my friend Jaclyn D. “We do Sun Basket meals,” she said. “They have the ‘traditional’ meal prep option where you get the ingredients to make meals and recipes. But they also have a few options a week where the food is already cooked and you just have to heat it up. It’s fresh and still tastes delicious and some nights I pretend I made it myself.”
Take it from these moms: there are many ways you can make your everyday tasks simpler. It can be tough to change the routine you’re used to, but if making some changes frees up your time for what you really want or need to be doing, then it is worth it.
Personally, I’m hoping to make more time to slow down and enjoy this sometimes-crazy season of motherhood I’m in. I hope you find some extra time in your day to do the same.