The other day I admitted to a group of friends that I had forgotten to pick up my son from swim practice. The women immediately chimed in and tried to “one up” each other with stories of motherhood failures. Each one had a story. Like forgetting to feed her family dinner before bed. Or sending her kids to school in the clothes they slept in. Or the time I entirely missed my daughter’s poetry reading at school. There’s something about sharing our failures that makes us real. It gives us assurance that we’re not alone. And it gives us a reason to share encouragement and advice as well.
That’s one of the things I love about my friends – they are so full of helpful tips and so willing to share what works for them. (Which means I get to share it with you!) So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and less than perfect right about now, try these simple time saving tips. You’ll feel more in control of your schedule and better equipped to handle the occasional little failures that seem to accompany motherhood!
1. Plan Your Meals for the Week. I know this sounds way too organized and Type A for some people but hear me out on this. You don’t have to do it perfectly. You can just have a general plan. One of my friends has a daily breakfast schedule. Her kids know what they’re eating for breakfast every day of the week. It’s always cereal on Mondays, eggs on Tuesdays, etc. It’s a little too structured for me but it works for them. I also have friends who use meal planning services like eMeals or The Scramble. And others who make freezer meals.
Here’s how I do it. When I do my grocery shopping, which is usually on the weekend, I plan 3 or 4 meals in my head. I buy all the ingredients I need for those meals. Then I make a list of those meals and the side dishes that go with them. As the week progresses I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner – I just choose from the list based on how much time I have to prepare. And I always have 2 or 3 staple meals I can make in a hurry to supplement the planned meals.
2. Prep the Night Before. This is critical if you have a busy morning routine with several kids leaving for school at various times. Teach your children to get everything ready the night before – bookbags packed, lunches made and in the fridge, shoes and clothes out, etc. It not only saves time but it also makes for a more relaxed morning because they don’t have to go searching for anything. Of course, the downside of this is that my kids will often discover at 10 pm that a uniform needs to be washed or we’re out of bread for sandwiches. But I guess it’s better than finding out at 7 am!
Another trick about prepping the night before is to get your workout gear ready if you plan to exercise in the morning. Having everything out and ready provides one less reason to skip the workout!
3. Clean as You Go. This is more difficult to do if you work outside the home but it makes a huge difference on the weekends. I try to keep up with laundry by doing a load or two every day (I’m not great about folding it and putting it away but at least I don’t have piles of dirty laundry to fight on Saturday). And I wash dishes as I cook so that I’m not stuck in the kitchen all night after dinner. The kids keep the dishwasher emptied every morning so I don’t have to look at dirty breakfast dishes all day. And I make my bed every morning, if for no other reason that to start my day feeling organized. [Read more…]