Get the kids to lend a hand with the housework. - MCT
Useful tips and strategies to shave minutes off daily tasks.
SOME days, 24 hours in a day just doesn’t seem like enough time to get everything on your “To-Do” lists done. Busy mums are always trying to squeeze more into each day. Between having a full-time job, carpooling and taking care of a busy family, finding shortcuts to increase productivity can help save mum’s sanity.
Check out these organisational tips to help you pack more into each and every day.
Enlist help: Don’t feel like you need to be Super Mum. Enlist your kids’ help before bed time each night to pick up toys, lay out tomorrow’s clothing, put homework and backpacks by the door, and pack lunches for the next day. Depending on your children’s ages, they can also help take out the trash, fold laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, and straighten up in the bathroom. It’s amazing how much time is saved when everyone pitches in.
Set up a task list: Being organised is easy if you have a chart to follow. Set up spreadsheet on the computer so everyone knows what needs to be done each day and who was responsible for completing the task. Post it in a common area that is easily accessible. If you have room, a whiteboard will also work to track tasks and completion.
Keep a family calendar: Track everyone’s appointments and schedule on one centralised calendar. Post it on the refrigerator so everyone is involved in keeping the family on schedule. Plan your errands around times that you will be waiting for kids to get out of sports or music lessons.
Reduce television time: An abundant amount of time is lost watching television each week. Reduce television viewing to make time for things that are most important to you like family time, working out, or taking a bubble bath to relax. You can record your favourite shows to watch later, and save time by fast forwarding through the commercials.
Pre-sort laundry: Set up a system for doing laundry. Set up bins for pre-sorting in the laundry room; assign one for whites, one for darks, one for towels, and one for denim.
If you sort as you go, it will eliminate the need to sort laundry on laundry day. Simply take the clothing in each bin and dump it in the washer and you’re ready to go.
Place furniture strategically in the room: Arrange your furniture so that the vacuum or mop fits around the corners. This will save time by not having to move the furniture every time you clean the floors.
Touch it once: In your office when you get mail, sort it and plan to touch it only once. If it’s junk mail, place it in the trash. If it’s a bill that needs to be paid, put it in the “to be paid” folder. Once you’ve written the check or paid the bill online, file the invoice in the folder.
Bulk shopping and marathon cooking: Try weekly or monthly cooking and freeze meals ahead of time. This will reduce the amount of time spent in the kitchen on a daily basis and you can still have nutritious foods to serve nightly.
Even slicing and dicing components to meals and freezing them will save time spent in the kitchen. This will also reduce the amount of time you need to spend at the grocery store.
Divide snacks: Take time weekly or monthly to divide snacks into individual serving size pouches. This will make it easy for the kids to grab a snack or throw into a lunchbox. You can also make smoothies ahead of time and freeze them to take on the go or add to a school lunch.
Shop online: Online services make it easy to reduce running errands by shopping online. Some sites offer free shipping on orders over certain amounts making it affordable and convenient to shop online.
Make a shopping list: To save time at the grocery store plan your meals in advance and shop from a list. Sort your list into categories such as meat, dairy, produce, deli, etc. If you are sharing shopping responsibilities, cut the list in half and start on opposite sides of the store and meet in the middle. Keep a running-grocery list on the front of the refrigerator listing staple items that you have run out of like flour sugar and spices.
Putting systems in place to keep yourself organised can shave minutes off many routine tasks. Taking time to plan at the beginning of each week can make your days run more smoothly and efficiently.
Helping your family become responsible for pitching in can reduce stress and give you more time to enjoy the things that are truly important to you. — Kinsights/McClatchy Tribune Information Services
Jennifer Chung is a parenting expert and co-founder of Kinsights: part parenting community, part online health record.