I love lists.
I also love attempting to be organized.
Thus, I have combined both of my “loves” into …
Jenn’s tips for getting things done in a good way as a working mom who needs more time and hours and wants to spend as much time as possible with her kids:
1. Do everything the night before. By everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Make all the lunches the night before. Pick out clothes the night before. And that’s for you too, not just kids. Pack backpacks the night before. Make sure shoes, and coats, and hats, and sunscreen, etc, are all ready and easy to grab. Give kid’s baths and showers if they are young enough. Comb out long hair and put in a braid while sleeping so it’s easier to “do” in the AM. Does this list sound daunting? Yeah, I think so too. So do it the night before instead of when you’re half asleep at 6AM.
2. Run errands during the day. This can be anything from buying groceries, to picking up prescriptions, to mailing letters, to getting your nails done, to having coffee with a friend, to going to the dentist. If you can fit it into a lunch or break from work, do it. If you can do it before picking up the kids, do it. A fun for the kids trick I have is trading off with another mom. Usually one Thursday I take her brood the following Thursday she takes mine. This gives me a about two extra hours to get stuff done. Instead of always taking full days off from work, I often take an hour or two toward the end of the day once every few weeks and use that time to do a big grocery shop, or something else that needs to be done.
3. Grocery Shop on Wednesday or Thursday. Strange, right? I just discovered this one. I used to shop on the weekends and that is all kinds of crazy. When I shop on Wednesday or Thursday, I always have food for the weekend, I avoid the crowds, and my weekends are less stressful. Wednesday my kids have an after school activity so I get them an hour later and I use that time to shop. Or, if I wait until Thursday, my son and I go when my daughter is at dance.
4. Meal Plan. Everyone says it, but seriously do it. Do it. I meal plan for six suppers a week, knowing we will either eat out or just scavage for the seventh. I also plan for lunches (left overs or otherwise). I am not tied to doing one thing on any night, I just know that we are having x, y and z at some point in the week depending on what I feel like that night. Saves extra grocery trips and makes sure I have enough food. It also saves money.
5. Go out for dinner. I have a few busy nights each week where cooking is tough. I pick the hardest night and grab dinner out. My healthy “fast foods” are pitas and subs. Kids have some a relatively health dinner of turkey, veggies, cheese and bun/pita, and I have a salad with chicken.
6. Kids can be like mini slaves if you train them well enough. Making lunches is a lot more fun if you do them at night with the kids involved. Same goes for planning outfits. Even the littlest kid can be nipping at your ankles, standing at the table, and helping you prepare dinner. Make doing laundry into a game. If your kid is a toddler, give them a towel to “fold” while you fold the laundry. My son is four. He turns on the machines and helps moves clothes from the washer to the dryer. My nine year old daughter folds towels and her clothes.
7. If you can afford occasional cleaning help, get some. I have a woman who come every two weeks to clean. I love her. She does all the deep cleaning so I can spend my weekends focused on my family and not on scrubbing my house. It makes day to day cleaning/tidying easier. The housekeeper doesn’t have to come often. Even a monthly deep clean cuts down on a lot of weekend cleaning.
8. Clean a little bit every day. Sweep, put away dishes, wipe counters and toilets and sinks every day. It takes barely a few minutes and then your house is clean and tidy. If you don’t have an occasional cleaner, keeping up day to day cuts down on that huge weekend clean.
9. Do one load of laundry a day. I don’t do this one. I should. I want to. I don’t. I hear it works really well and I keep trying.
10. Spend the weekends with your kids. From Friday night to Monday morning, my kids have me 100%. Sure, I occasionally go out at night, but the weekend days are reserved for my kids as much as possible. If you don’t work on the weekends, do what you can to make the most of those days when you aren’t working. Go out, stay home, just hang out and have fun. If you have things to do, bring your kids. Some things may take longer with the kids, but it’s the weekend so who cares?!
And that’s my list.
Don’t get me wrong. I often scramble in the mornings, and grocery shop on the weekends, run errands with two kids climbing on me, etc, but when I do my best with the list, I find that life runs much smoother, my kids get more of my attention, and I am happier overall.
I want to know what you do! I am always looking for tips to make life easier so please share!