The life of a parent is fast-paced, hands-on, and time-consuming. There are a million and one things to do, especially when multiple children are involved that it can make doing anything or getting anywhere on time a challenge. Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to help parents manage their time, making for a smoother and more efficient household. This guide presents a handful of top tips on the subject, from tackling bedtime to organisational approaches.
Pick your battles
Getting your kids to conform in the exact way that you wish will likely prove to be an impossible task, meaning that time and time again you will be reliving the same battles with them. To stop this from happening, the online resource for mothers Mommybites, says that it’s important to “pick your battles” by deciding what’s most important to you: “Unless it’s a safety concern, if you let go of the need to micromanage your child, you’ll feel loads better. If your kid insists on wearing his shirt inside out, or one purple and one green sock, let it go. This way, you won’t waste precious time getting out the door.” Think about the things that really get under your skin and prioritise over the smaller annoyances that you can choose to let go.
Modify your home for added convenience
We all know the feeling, we arrive home from the shops or the supermarket, a mountain of bags to get upstairs and a brood of children to ferry inside from the car. Such situations can become a logistical nightmare, especially when children are smaller and have to be more diligently supervised. Considering lifts for use at home can really help in this regard, especially for those of us with ground-floor or basement garages. Imagine quickly popping all the shopping in the lift at once, saving you from numerous trips up and down the stairs and time away from unattended children. For those who fancy creating a stylish addition to their homes, the practicality will also be very welcome.
Consider healthy alternatives to home cooking
Home cooking is all well and good but sometimes, the situation just doesn’t allow the time and preparation required. Sarah from the family lifestyle blog Life in Full Flavour recommends that parents look for more convenient but healthy options from time to time: “I know cooking from scratch is always best if possible, but there are some really healthy ready-made foods for kids which can be a real time saver. I always take a few shop-bought snacks out with us if we are heading out and a banana too, which is filling and doesn’t require any preparation. We all need a helping hand sometimes!”
Have strict bedtime routines
Every parent knows about the struggles of the nightly bedtime routine. Getting your kids to bed in a timely and stress-free manner is certainly not the easiest thing in the world but there are things you can do to help the situation. It’s important to implement a strict bedtime routine, putting the little ones to bed at the same time every night. If the children know that this is the time for bed and it’s not up for discussion or change, they will more easily accept it and get used to the process. This will help make bedtime a quicker and less traumatic event.
Planning and preparation are key with most things in life and it certainly comes in handy when it comes to managing your time as a parent. Consider planning each week out in advance, utilising a calendar that the whole family can access, so everyone knows what is happening on a day to day basis. If you know what each day has in store in advance, you can get things ready, like school forms and homework, saving a lot of rushing around at the last minute.
This can apply to family meals too, if you know what’s for dinner on Wednesday, you won’t have to waste time with last-minute shopping. Sabina of the family lifestyle blog, Mummy Matters recommends: “I hate it when people tell me ‘you should meal plan’ but they are so right because it does save time. I get the calendar out and see what nights I need to be out of the house for school clubs and after school activities so that I can plan a quick tea. By making sure I have the right ingredients in and not having to think about what to cook makes mealtimes are a breeze.”
Meal planning is definitely a good idea for any parent that wants to save time. Rachel Bustin, a family lifestyle blogger, says a regular meal planning session helps her in her own life and suggests combining it with online shopping: “My number one tip for saving time as a parent is to meal plan. I sit down once a week and plan our meals for the forthcoming week while doing the shopping online. It saves last-minute trips to the shops and no rushing around at teatime looking for things to cook.”
Natasha from the UK parenting lifestyle blog Serenity You shared with us that planning ahead is key, touching on a number of areas where this can be put into practice: “My number one tip for saving time as a parent is to get thing ready ahead of time. Pack lunches the night before school. Get all the school uniforms out ready and pack all schoolbooks the day before too. That way, in the morning, you know everything is ready to go so you can get out the door without being late.”
Another great planning technique is to utilise lists. The team at Mommybites really recommend this approach, praising the power of list-making when it comes to saving time: “Making lists is great for organisation. When you are trying to manage several people’s tasks and schedules, using your list(s) as an anchor will help ensure that everything that needs to get done doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Lists will also help you prioritize and capture additional to-dos as they arise.”
Technology can be our friend in so many ways, helping to make myriad aspects of our lives that much easier and more convenient. This can even include parenting, with such gadgets as Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa. This super helpful tool is another top time-saving recommendation from Sabina at Mummy Matters: “When I first got my digital friend Alexa, I thought I would only use it for listening to music but now I use Alexa to build my shopping lists, write to-do lists, make notes in my calendar and even help me and the children when we get stuck on homework!”
Teach kids to put things away
Putting things away in their rightful place is good advice for everyone, no matter your age but it is particularly important to instil in children. If everything has its home, then items like schoolbooks, shoes, and coats will be right where you need them to be every day, saving a mad sprint around the house looking for certain items on a school morning. Just like when you put your car keys in the same place every day when you get home, teach your kids to put their belongings in their place.
Trust your kids
Micromanaging every part of your kids’ lives is a great way to use up valuable time but if you learn to delegate certain responsibilities and give them a little independence, you will find you have for more time on your hands. Consider trusting them with certain age-appropriate chores around the house and when they are old enough, giving them the independence to make their own lunches. The age of the child is key here, of course, but by lightening your own load in a reasonable way, certain stresses will ebb away.
Time-saving tips for parents
- Pick your battles
- Modify your home for added convenience
- Consider healthy alternatives to home cooking
- Have strict bedtime routines
- Plan ahead
- Utilise technology
- Teach kids to put things away
- Trust your kids
From planning your week in advance and implementing bedtime routines to installing helpful domestic lifts, there are a lot of things you can do as a parent to save time. So, give some of the above a go and perfect your time management skills for a more stress-free future.
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