Whether you’re a working parent, stay-at-home parent, or anywhere in between, for many of us mamas, back-to-school time means spending a lot less time with our kiddos.
As a teacher and a mom to a one-year-old, back to school for me means that I’m back to work and my daughter is home with grandma all day. We’re super fortunate to have our wonderful family helping us out with childcare, and I love knowing my daughter is at home, in her normal environment, being loved on by her grandma when I can’t be home with her. But it does hurt my heart a little to be spending so much time away from my daughter after being home with her all summer!
I’m always trying to make the most of our time together as a family, but I’ve been especially mindful of this now that I’m back to work. I don’t want to be wasting my precious hours of family time trying to clean house, do grocery shopping, fold laundry, and make meals. So I’m always trying to find ways to be more efficient! Here are my favorite tips to save time, make the most of our family time, and make life easier for our family!
Online Grocery Ordering. I stumbled upon this tip when my daughter was a newborn. Dragging her along to the store for an hour-long shopping trip was not exactly a fun experience, and I found myself majorly stressing out about grocery shopping! I’d heard about Walmart’s grocery pickup, and after a few particularly miserable shopping trips with a screaming baby, I decided to give it a try. It was so easy to use, it eliminated so much stress, and it saved us a lot of time too! Now that my daughter is older, we don’t use it quite as much, but when we have a particularly busy weekend, I’ll order the groceries online and select a pick up time to fit our schedule. It is such a time saver, and it gives us back at least an hour of family time that we’re not spending wandering through the chaos of Walmart on a Saturday!
Meal Prepping. Another big time and energy drain for me is packing lunches for work and making dinners at night! So last year I started meal prepping our lunches, and often I’ll do breakfasts and dinners in advance too. I wait until Saturday or Sunday night when my daughter is in bed, and then I can crank out a weeks worth of lunches in no time! I’ve been trying out a keto-ish diet, so I bough a pack of bento-box-type containers from Amazon, and I just cut and clean all my fruit and veggies at once, add in my protein, and keep them all stacked in the fridge. It makes work week mornings a snap, and it also helps to keep me on track with eating healthy lunches all week! Sometimes if I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll make an egg bake to have all week for breakfasts, or a casserole or something for the week as well. Now that fall is on its way, I’m eager for chili and other crockpot favorites that make for easy meals that last throughout the week! While it takes a good chunk of time to do the meal prep up front, I’d much rather spend an hour or two doing it on a Sunday night once baby is in bed, and then not have to worry about it Every. Single. Day.
Time-Delayed Laundry. This one doesn’t save a ton of time, but every little bit helps! I recently discovered that our washer has a delayed-start option that allows you to throw the clothes in, add the soap, and then delay the wash cycle for any number of hours. So on weekday mornings, I can throw a load in the machine and set it to start about an hour before I’m home from work. That way, I can just toss the load in the dryer when I get home, and then it’s all ready to be folded once the baby goes to bed! That way I’m not having to run around switching loads at night, and I’m also not leaving a load of wet clothes in the machine all day while I’m at work.
The Toddler Drawer. It didn’t start out as a time-saving effort, but it kind of worked out that way! When we were baby-proofing our kitchen, we conveniently ran out of drawer latches with one drawer left to go! So thinking on my toes, I did a little re-arranging to make sure that everything in the drawer was baby-proof. A few plastic bowls, some silicone ice cube trays, washcloths… you get the point. And it’s all at toddler height so she can pull everything out. So now when mommy is making dinner and my daughter wants to “help,” I can open up her drawer and she can get to work tearing everything out of it. It keeps her happy for a while when I’m busy in the kitchen, and I still get to talk to her and play with her while getting dinner in the oven.
Scheduling Chores. Before my daughter, I didn’t mind spending an entire Saturday afternoon cleaning house. But now that I have a little one and a full time job, I hate wasting precious time with my daughter to do cleaning and chores on the weekends. I also hate having a messy house, so I had to find a happy medium! I’ve found it helpful to map out a rough “schedule” in my mind of what chores need to get done each week, and I plan to do a few things each night after my daughter goes to bed. When I spread things out throughout the week, it’s much more manageable to vacuum and fold laundry one night, clean the bathroom another night, and so on.
Taking Advantage of Bedtime (and naps!). You may have noticed a theme throughout — a lot of my housekeeping, meal prep, and other chores get done once my daughter goes to bed for the night. We have a strict 7 PM bedtime for her, so once she goes to bed, I can usually fit in a handful of chores. It sometimes means late nights for me, but I’d much rather sacrifice a little sleep if it means another precious hour with my daughter when I get home from work! On weekends, I can usually squeeze in some extra chores or school work when she takes her naps. But then again, sometimes mama needs a nap on the weekends too!
So much of motherhood is a balancing act, and even with a year of experience under my belt, I don’t claim to be an expert on managing it all! However, when I find something that works, I tend to run with it. And when it comes to spending time with my family, I’ll do just about anything the get the most out of our time together! Do you have your own time saving tips and tricks? Share them in the comments!