I LOVE wasted time. L.O.V.E. I.T. (Please say my sarcasm is loud and clear.) Time is the most valuable component of motherhood… period. There are 24 hours in a day, and even though most of us wish there were more hours (mostly so that we could use it for sleeping or watching brain-numbing television to somehow recharge ourselves), there are still only 24 hours in a day. No cuts, no buts, no coconuts. What I wouldn’t give to have a 30-hour day (I’d probably use the extra hours for sleep, but whatever).
I was having a funny-slash-pathetic conversation with one of my friends the other day: We were aimlessly wondering how much actual measured time, like, in minutes/hours/days are wasted per year from toddler dawdling, spouse miscommunication, unexpected circumstances that come up at home. You know what I mean: How it takes 23 whole minutes just to get shoes on sometimes… Or, how much time is sucked away from us doing real things because of false-potty alarms (“I have to go the potty” – So, we go – “I don’t have to go potty anymore” – so we go back to our seats at the restaurant – “I have to go potty” – So, we go again — You get my drift)… Or, how much time we spend texting husbands, mothers, friends, sitters and all the associated parties that are sometimes involved with childcare coordinating just so we can try to get to that last minute opening at our salon so that the wiry gray hairs sprouting and shooting from the very top of our heads can promptly be covered up. (The irony kills me: the gray hair is probably there in the first place because of all the unavoidable wasted time in my life. Funny. Ha. Ha.)
So how to save time when there’s no time to save? Ah. The ongoing riddle our own mama hens never warned us about. In an effort to share my most fabulous, effective time-saving tips for busy moms, here are 10 fast fixes that double up daily duties and strive to streamline, which (seemingly) squeeze more minutes into my day. Because, if you mind the minutes, the hours take care of themselves:
1) STAY ON TOP OF YOUR SINK. Load and run the dishwasher at night, wake up to clean dishes in the morning. Unload clean dishes into cabinet while you drink your coffee and kids eat breakfast. BAM. Done. Time (seemingly) saved.
2) SHOWER AT NIGHT. Wake up clean. The daily stress about ‘when to shower’ with small people during the day is instantly eradicated. Feel good. Use their nap to do something other than clean yourself. Time (seemingly) saved.
3) HANG A MIRROR IN YOUR KITCHEN. If you can do your makeup while watching your kids eat or color or read at the kitchen table, time is (seemingly) saved.
4) MOVE FAST. Don’t think that cardio has to only happen at a gym. Kick it into high gear and get your heart rate up wherever you may be… at home, at the market, at work. Set a timer if you have to, to fool yourself that there is a finite amount of time to clean your living room, get dressed, load up the car, do laundry or draft that email. (Because there IS finite amount of time, duh.) Moving fast burns calories and saves seconds, which saves minutes, which saves hours.
5) STRETCH YOUR LEGS WHILE DRYING YOUR HAIR. I like to flip my hair upside down when I’ve got my blowdryer running. Try this trick: Keep your feet together, legs straight, and bend from the hip when it’s time to get your clean wet hair dry. Stretch the back of your legs (and, your lower back if you really hang there) while blowdrying your hair.
6) UTILIZE YOUR OVEN’S BROILER. No more having to stand over a hot stove sautéing those dinnertime veggies to make them taste good for your picky-eater toddlers. Oh no. Thanks to some random post I saw somewhere online (I can’t even remember where!) I broil practically ALL of our dinnertime veggies. Cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, zucchini, butternut squash… just toss raw veggies with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pop under the broiler for 15-25 minutes (depending on how each type of vegetable cooks… you have to watch them). An easy sample here. Using your broiler to do all the cooking will free up time for you to do something else.
7) CUT THE EXTRA CRAP. Attention brand new moms, this one’s for you (I might be blunt, here, but this must be said): You don’t need to warm baby’s wipes before changing diapers, you don’t need to ‘sanitize’ bottles (most sanitizers don’t really sanitize, anyways), you don’t need to make ALL of your baby’s food at all times, you don’t need to categorize all toy boxes by colors and letters. It’s okay to cut the corners that don’t really matter all that much. Save the time if you can. Pick and choose, if you must.
8) PICK OUT CLOTHES THE NIGHT BEFORE. This one’s a biggy for moms and kids, and will shave sizable minutes off your mornings (especially now that school’s starting). Pick an outfit and shoes the night before, lay it out and stick to it (unless there’s some drastic weather change when you wake up the next day). And no, there is no negotiation when it comes to your two year old wanting to wear your shoes.
9) GROUP ERRANDS & TASKS. This tip came to me a long time ago from the fabulous Elisa All via her 30 Second Mom resource. To save time, consider grouping your errands, tasks and work or volunteer responsibilities into ‘buckets’ and/or designated days. Too many times (and I’m guilty of this) we try to finish a work project, drop of the dry cleaning, tend to our home responsibilities (like cleaning out that junk drawer) and then return an email about volunteering for our kids’ classroom thing. We stack up all sorts of varied and conflicting tasks and responsibilities right next to each other and it makes our heads spin! If you group what you have to do and address each ‘bucket’ all together, you’ll get everything done faster. Designate an ‘errand morning’ where you do every single errand in the same neighborhood (dry cleaning, Target, market, shoe repair, whatever) all in a row. That afternoon, commit to sitting down at your computer to ONLY address work-related correspondence (yes, you should plop that email from your kid’s teacher about volunteering for back-t0-school day into a ‘Volunteer Bucket’ and address it along with other like-minded things). Organize when you do what and how often. Time streamlined, time saved.
10) FIND APPS THAT WORK FOR YOU. I don’t use many apps (caught!), but the ones I do use work for ME. Not for my husband, not for my kids, for ME. If something doesn’t save me time, I am NOT interested. SitterNote is an app created by two moms who’d had enough of the back-and-forth coordinating of childcare with texts, written notes on sticky pads, fragmented emails, last minute phone calls, hasty trips to the ATM and all-things crazy.
SitterNote strives to make managing any childcare situation a breeze. It lets you send an invitation to all of your go-to sitters at once (no more texting your entire roster). When your babysitter is on the clock, she can then access profiles you’ve created and saved for each of your children and send one-touch updates on ‘tasks’ like feedings and naps so you can keep tabs about what’s going on at home (Feeding, DONE… NAP, SHORT)… just so you know what you’re in for before you get home, you know? The sitter can also add notes and photos to the updates, making real-time communication streamlined and centralized.
Sitters also have quick access to your list of emergency contacts while on the job: If they’re at the park with your child and something goes awry, they’ll have important info and phone numbers at their fingertips. (If your sitter doesn’t have the app, all info can be shared via email.) And, no more rushing to the ATM on your way home – YOU CAN PAY THROUGH THE APP. Get SitterNote here!