Wouldn’t it be great if days were at least 36 hours long? I think that most busy parents would love to figure out a way to give themselves more time. Fortunately, the beginning of the year is a good time to assess how you’re spending your precious hours. If you find that you regret not spending more time with your family, maybe this year you can do things differently.
One of the best questions you can ask yourself is, “Is this really necessary to the happiness of my family?” Yes, a clean house is
necessary for the health of your family, but is it necessary to keep it spotless? No. Learn to lower your standards just a little until your kids are grown. Right now the priority is to give them your time and attention.
Maybe you feel you’ve lowered your standards as much as you can. How can you still carve out more time? Let’s take a look at some necessary projects and see if you can streamline any of them. Here are some ideas:
Streamline caring for clothes.
- Rather than letting your clean laundry grow cold in the dryer, save time by shaking them out and putting them away immediately. Warm clothes feel and smell good—folding them will give you a small dose of relaxing aromatherapy.
- If you iron clothes, take them out of the dryer slightly damp (set a timer to remind you), shake them out and put them on hangers immediately in a special spot reserved for them. By the time you get to it, many of the wrinkles will be gone, so only a quick touch-up is needed.
- Set out clothes for everyone the night before. You’ll wake up knowing everything’s ready, relieving stress and saving time in the mad scramble to get the kids off to school and you off to work. And there won’t be mad searches in the morning for the shirt that your daughter “just has to have.”
- Keep a special basket for mismatched or solitary socks until you find the mate. To keep your children’s socks separate, take the time when you purchase them to mark them with a permanent ink dot on the inside of the cuff or on the sole. Choose a color for each child and consistently use it.
- Hire someone to help you at least once a month. I’m a big believer in delegating the housecleaning. For a very reasonable price, I walk in the door to a clean house and I’m able to truly focus on my kids.
- To keep up on daily cleaning it helps to have cleaning kits in each bathroom and in the kitchen. You can do a quick wipe down if you have everything you need handy.
- Keep the toys under control! Train your children to put toys in a basket before dinnertime and their school backpacks in the same spot every evening. Ask your childcare provider to please tidy up before leaving.
- Get ahead for the week. When chopping vegetables for a salad, chop enough for two days and for the other dishes you’ll make during the week.
- Use plastic bags to proportion out food for lunches. That way you can buy in bulk and still have individual servings of veggies and chips ready to quickly grab each morning.
- Put the breakfast food in the pantry within your children’s reach so they can serve themselves while you get the milk or juice.
- Use a Crockpot so you can have tasty meals waiting for when you get home.
- Keep menus from nearby restaurants in the car. Call ahead and pick-up wholesome food on your way home.
Streamline paying bills.
- When the mail comes in, immediately sort it. Throw the junk away and write on the envelopes when the bills have to be paid—which should be 7-10 days before the due date so you don’t incur late fees.
- Better yet, set up online banking. This not only saves you time, you save on postage too!
Kids grow up fast! So it’s worthwhile to figure out simple ways that you can streamline your to-do list. Sometimes it’s the simple changes that have the biggest impact. Why don’t you get yourself a cup of coffee, take a pen and paper to your favorite chair, and do a little brainstorming on how you can give yourself more time with your family this year?
Carmela Guizar-Sanchez is a PAMP member and co-owner of Simplify Home Solutions, a lifestyle and household concierge service. She has a daughter age 6 and son age 3. You can find more of her tips at www.simplifyhomesolutions.com.