Many families don’t have the luxury of a full-time at-home parent – and many parents don’t want to fill this role anyway. That’s okay! Whether you work because you have to, because you love your job, or to keep your sanity, don’t feel guilty about it. Do try some of these time-saving tips so you can spend more time hanging out with your family and less time stressing out about all the stuff that isn’t getting done.
1. Forget Supermum. She does not exist – not in your house, not in anyone else’s. You don’t have to cook three healthy meals a day, volunteer at your child’s school, keep your house immaculate, work, and be emotionally and physically available to your partner and kids 24 hours a day. You not only have needs of your own, but you have the same time and energy limitations everyone else has. That’s perfectly okay. Set your priorities and don’t waste time feeling guilty. Let it go. (And you thought Frozen was finally in your rear view mirror!)
2. Prepare for morning the night before. Morning is often the most hectic time of day for a working parent. Taking the time the night before to get ready saves time in the morning and gets everyone in the house off to a less-stressful start. Plus, you can work faster the night before than you can in the morning, bleary-eyed and pre-coffee. Lay out your clothes (and your kids’, if they’re too young to do it themselves), pack lunches, and prepare briefcases and backpacks before you hit the sack. There are no words for how glad you’ll be every morning that this stuff is already done.
3. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Remember the part about not being Supermum? Even young kids can pick up their toys. Older kids should be doing their own laundry and helping with household chores like vacuuming and dusting. Your partner can cook dinner and you can do the dishes, or vice-versa. Whatever works for your family is fine, as long as everyone is pitching in and helping get everything done.
4. Be organised. Okay, this sounds a little oversimplified. But having your house and schedule organised can save you so much time! Designate a place for everything, and stop wasting time looking for lost keys, shoes, and papers. Have a large calendar in a central location where you keep track of everyone’s scheduled activities, from parent-teacher meetings to doctor appointments to date nights with your partner (yes, these are required). Keep an erasable white board on the fridge and use it as an ongoing grocery list. Keep the nappy bag stocked with nappies, wipes, snacks, colouring books – whatever you need so you can just grab it and go.
5. Use technology. Pay your bills online or set up automatic drafts from your bank account. Do your Christmas and birthday shopping online. Get comfortable with calendar, menu planning, list-making, and/or weather and traffic apps.
6. Save time in the kitchen. You can spend less time cooking without resorting to fast food. Try doubling or tripling recipes and freezing the extras for another night. Bake large batches of healthy breakfast cookies or muffins for busy mornings.
Remember, the best choice is whatever works for you and your family. It doesn’t matter what your neighbour does or what your mum thinks you should do. Accept help wherever you can get it, prioritise like a maniac, and then relax and go with the flow.
What do you do as a working parent to save time and your sanity for that matter?