Four handy and essential time-saving tricks to help any parent on the run
Breathe in, breathe out.
Being a parent is a hectic job, and there are days when it feels like we don't even get to tick a single thing of our to-do list, when the house is a mess, when you are drowning in laundry, when you have run out of pods for the Nespresso machine and when you don't know how you are going to have time to both get the shopping done and take the kids to ballet.
We all have those days, mamas – and to an extent, I feel like this is life with young kids under your roof – and maybe we need to just lower our shoulders a little and embrace the chaos, remembering we'll probably miss these days once they're gone.
However, we are also all about hacks that will make our lives run as smoothly and stress-free as possible –and having been in the trenches of parenting for a while now, here are four tips we pretty much rely on these days to stay ahead of the game (and somewhat sane too):
1. Take advantage of technology
These days, there is an app for everything – and this will pretty much help save both your time and your sanity, mums. List-making apps will help keep you organised and it's easy to tick things off as you get them done – no matter where you are. Calendar apps will make sure appointments and events are never forgotten about and banking apps will save you so much time, and make it easier to keep on top of your bills.
You can (and should) also take advantage of the beauty of the internet, and order all your groceries online. Why? Because if hell really exists, it probably looks a lot like traipsing around the supermarket, trying to get a week's worth of groceries with a hungry and narky toddler in tow. I now do nearly all my food shopping online, and just sit back and wait for the delivery man to bring the groceries to my front door. Technology – and the internet – is a stressed-out mum's best friend, if you ask me.
2. Make a rough meal plan for the week every Sunday
Meal planning is all the range right now, and between Pinterest and Instagram, you'll feel inundated with all the pictures of brimming Tupperware containers and hand-written lists of healthy ingredients. Don't feel overwhelmed – being organised on the food front does not require a whole lot – and yet doing it is probably the single most effective thing you can do in order to streamline your week.
All you need to do is make a little time on a Sunday evening to look in your fridge to check what you have, figure out rough menu-plan for the week (don't forget lunchboxes and snacks) and then write out your shopping list. Ideally, you live somewhere where you can now just place your order online and wait for your groceries to arrive tomorrow. If not, plan your (or your partner's) Monday, so that either one of you has time to stop by your local supermarket to stock up.
Once you have all the ingredients and everything you need in your kitchen, you'll find that your week will flow so much easier, trust me.
3. Get up an hour earlier every day
This trick is my own go-to for making sure I feel like I have started my day right and feel on top of things from the word go. By setting my alarm an hour before I really need to get up, I can make sure I not only get a head start on our day by having things like breakfast and lunchboxes ready before the kids get up, but that I also have a few minutes every morning where it is just me, no-one tugging or pulling or asking for something. My alone time in the morning is sacred. I make some hot water with lemon (my favourite morning drink) and curl up in my favourite chair to drink it while mentally planning my day before it actually starts.
I find that this trick has not only improved my mornings but also, interestingly, our afternoons and evenings. Why? Because a lot of the stuff I before felt like I had to spend time doing in the evenings (tidy, make lists for the day ahead, so much needed alone time) I have now gotten out of the way in the morning, meaning that I can now enjoy our family time more come the afternoon, because I am not stressing over little things that need doing around the house. It's a win-win.
4. Set up a “command centre” in your hallway
This is another little life hack that certainly makes mornings less chaotic. Make sure you have enough hooks and/or baskets so that everyone can keep tabs on their own coats and backpacks. And keeping these in the hallway (or a designated area as near your front door as possible) will make for fewer trips up and down the stairs while you are trying to get everyone out the door.
As well as this, a basket where you can keep everyone's gloves and hats handy too will no doubt make for fewer stressful morning moments.
Keys have a tendency to get misplaced, so make sure you have a designated space for them, be it a hook or a bowl of some description. Another clever thing we have started doing is having a wire basket on top of a chest-of-drawers in the hallway where all the mail gets put into as soon as it is brought into the house. From here I can go through it, junk mail can go straight into the paper recycling bin, bills can be stuck to the fridge until we get them paid, and other bits can be filed or dealt with in due course.