52 Timesaving tips and tricks for streamlining your day-to-day life with kids.
Moms share the same problem: There are not enough hours in the day to do everything well and quickly, too. Our families count on us, and we hold high expectations for ourselves. As Susan Newman, mom of five and author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It – and Mean It – and Stop People-Pleasing Forever, says, “You’re on call with your cell phone. You’re on call with e-mail. You’re on call 24 hours a day. You’re on call when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night.”
You need tricks up your sleeve to gain precious YOU time and be happier to enjoy your family more!
Herewith: 52 time-saving tips. Motherhood DOES have a manual after all, it seems.
1 Create outfits when you put children’s clothes away in drawers so you won’t have to scramble for matches at dress time.
2 Get the kids involved in folding laundry, doing dishes and clearing away clutter.
3 Create a “homework box” with pencils, an eraser, a stapler, a calculator and a ruler and tell your child to get it for homework time.
4 Store your child’s outgrown clothes in large plastic bins and affix labels such as “0 to 3 months,” “6 to 9 months,” “9 to 12 months,” and so on. Once your child has grown out of a size, you can easily store the clothes, loan them to a friend or take them to a consignment shop.
5 Set the table the night before and put items like bowls, utensils, cereal, fruit, toaster and bread out to avoid a morning rush.
6 Have your school-age kids set out their clothing for school the night before and pack their backpacks.
7 Have a designated bin for library books and Netflix rentals so kids can help out when it’s time to return
8 Fill a basket with socks and keep it near the front door so kids can quickly grab a pair on the go.
9 Stock cut up fruits and veggies on a lower shelf in your refrigerator so kids can grab without your help. Set up a similar area in your pantry with baggies full of dried fruit or graham crackers.
10 Keep sports uniforms in a sports bag in your child’s room so he’ll always know where to find it after it’s been washed.
11 Teach your children to pick up their things from an early age and show them how to take charge of their own room.
12 Set up two folders related to your child’s schoolwork – one for school notices and the other for schoolwork you want to keep.
13 Sort belongings into clear, labeled bins that can be stacked and stowed so your child can easily find things like DVDs and toys without your help. Use brightly colored labels and picture labels for toddlers and preschoolers who can’t read.
14 Don’t address party invitations by hand. Go to the United States Postal Service website to create party invitations that can be shipped to addresses you upload to the site.
15 Use your clothes dryer to de-wrinkle clothes. Place items in for 15 minutes with a damp hand towel.
16 Keep duplicates of scissors, reading glasses, pacifiers, baby wipes and other items you use a lot.
17 Store sets of sheets and pillowcases inside unfolded pillowcases to make bed changes fast and easy while minimizing clutter.
18 Create a file for coupons for your favorite restaurants and file them with take-out menus. Put the coupons that expire soonest at the front of the pack.
19 Set up a box for bills that need to be paid and stock it with stamps and envelopes.
20 Organize your favorite articles, parenting information and recipes so you can find them more quickly. Place pages from online sites, magazines and newspapers in page protectors and stash them in a three-ring binder.
21 Limit personal e-mail and computer time in front of the kids to set a good example.
22 Add important appointments and activities to a master calendar in your e-mail inbox and set up reminders for up to one week ahead. This calendar can be shared with family members via e-mail. (Google Calendar, a free Web-based system, even sends reminders to cell phones.)
23 Chop all your vegetables, fruits and herbs on the weekend for the week’s meals so everything will be ready for cooking.
24 Keep disinfecting and glass wipes in the bathroom for quick cleanups around toilets, sinks and mirrors. You could even do a speedy wipe-down while you bathe the kids.
25 Skip folding laundry and instead hang up all clothing except for socks, underwear, linens and towels.
26 Open mail with the trash can nearby so junk mail and catalogs can be thrown out immediately. Even better, sign up with a free service for reducing junk mail like the National Do Not Mail list.
27 Keep cardboard boxes labeled “donate,” “trash” or “consign” in the garage or storage closet to routinely rid your house of unused items and clutter.
28 Stock a folder with a list of emergency contacts and household instructions for things like watering plants, pet care and mail collection so you won’t have to write everything out each time you have a house sitter.
29 Designate a cabinet in your kitchen for medicine so you’ll have easy access to everything from pain reliever to bandages when and where you need them. Make sure it’s secured with a child-safe lock.
30 E-mail your thank-you notes instead of sending a card.
31 Get rid of one bag of clothes, toys and books for every bag that comes into the house. It means less stuff to clean up.
32 Write down or print out all-important phone numbers – for people like your child’s doctor, the next-door neighbor, your veterinarian and so on – and place the list in an inexpensive picture frame that you keep in your master bedroom or the kitchen. This way, you won’t need to write out contact information for a sitter or grandparent – just point out the list, and they’ll know who to call in case of emergency.
33 Order diapers and wipes online – no more lugging big boxes home from the store.
34 Sort medicine into small, labeled storage bins – one bin for children’s medications, one for adult cough and cold remedies, one for first-aid supplies and so on, and keep them in a locked cabinet.
35 Tape the dosage instructions for common medications like children’s acetaminophen to the inside of your medicine cabinet.
36 Turn your hangers backward at the beginning of every season. Anything left hanging on a hanger that’s still turned backward at the end of the season hasn’t been worn – give it away!
37 Label shelves in the linen closet so family members know where items like beach towels and guest room sheets belong.
38 Forget sorting laundry. Wash everything in cold water.
39 Keep an assortment of greeting cards on hand, filed by occasion. You’ll save time on trips to the store, and you can quickly take care of an unexpected birthday or send off a heartfelt condolence.
40 Hire a babysitter for a couple of hours at least once a month so you can go out with your husband and keep your relationship in tact.
On the Go
41 Buy toys on sale and sock them away for birthday parties throughout the year.
42 Program favorite take-out restaurant phone numbers into your cell phone so you can call and pick up dinner on the way home and avoid delivery fees.
43 Shop for family holiday and birthday gifts year round. Whenever you see a great gift for someone you love, buy it and set it aside for giving later.
44 Do your errands off a list and take the most efficient route.
45 Stop by the post office before 3 p.m. on weekdays, when the long lines usually begin to form, so you can get in and out more efficiently.
46 Keep a phone book in your car to avoid unnecessary calls to 411 and to quickly look up addresses when your Smartphone’s not fast enough!
47 Grocery shop on the weekends or go to the store after the kids are in bed. You’ll whiz through the store with much less frustration because you’re not also feeling the pressure to get dinner on the table and everyone into bed on time.
48 Choose meats or other proteins that can be used for several meals during a week. A store-bought rotisserie chicken can be shredded and used for several dishes. Slow-cooked pork tenderloin can double as barbecued pork sandwiches with just a bottle of barbecue sauce. Cooked beans can go in salad, tacos and vegetable soup.
49 Save time and money on routine shopping trips by buying items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, light bulbs and batteries in twos when they’re on sale.
50 Keep an overnight bag in your car with an extra outfit for each child, including diapers or underwear, nonperishable snacks and toiletries. In the event of an emergency, messy meal or whirlwind overnight trip, you’re set.
51 Keep a pack of thank-you cards in the glove box of your car or in your daily planner so you can write notes while sitting in the car or waiting for a doctor to see you.
52 Schedule your child’s doctor’s appointments for first thing in the morning when you’re less likely to have a long wait.
Susan Day is editor-in-chief of this publication and the busy mom of four great kids who keep her running!