Yep, I see you; you look knackered. God, it’s tiring work being a parent, isn’t it? I don’t remember signing up for the sleep-deprivation and the go-go-go element of raising small kids.
So, this week, I’m going to do a speedy run down (because I know you’re time poor and half-asleep already!) and let you on some of my secrets to staying sane and saving yourself time.
1) Cook More: Freeze Half
This is a biggie in our house. It sounds so simple, and it is; but a staggering amount of parents just don’t do it, and I don’t know why!
The most frequently used excuse I’ve heard is: “But I’ve only got a little freezer!” To that, I say: you don’t need a massive amount of freezer space, because in a few days time you’ll be eating the meal you’ve just frozen, so you don’t need space for thousands of miscellaneous tupperware-boxed meals.
The slow cooker is king in the Scrummie household and at least 3 days in the week, you’ll find (and smell) a delicious stew, or a chilli, or a bolognese, or a cawl (it’s a Welsh thing) bubbling away in there. We love slow cooking because it means that you can quickly prep something and then leave the cooker to do its magic, you don’t have to spend hours slaving over a hot stove; you also have the space/volume to cook more than you need for one meal, which means you can freeze anything you don’t serve up and then defrost and reheat it the next day. Because you’ve done that, you’re not having to cook from scratch again the next day; and that’s time you’ve saved yourself and can use to do whatever else you want to. Win!
2) Use Baskets
Or boxes, or bags, or whatever floats your boat; but I have found that having a literal container and designated place in our home for Little Miss’ gymnastics uniform, the swimming costumes, PE kit, nappy changing stuff etcetera, etcetera makes it 100 times easier to find, and grab, what we need in the least flustered way possible.
I don’t have to go charging around hunting for Littlest’s swimming trunks because I know exactly where they are, hanging up in a bag, with his swim nappy, float jacket, wetsuit, all in one place. Wednesday gym class? All Little Miss’ kit ready to go in a box in her wardrobe. After class, I pop it in the wash, dry it and it goes back in the box ready for next week.
Again, a super simple ‘hack’ - but a real changer and time-saver.
3) Do it the Night Before
This one is a hand-me-down from my Mumma, but – as with most things (*grunt) - she was right. If you have things that need to be ready in the morning: do them the night before. That goes for all school run things (book bags, homework diaries, water bottles), clothes (uniform, play clothes, kits) especially.
It’s easy, when you are knackered, to say to yourself, ‘Oh, I’m so tired, I’ll do it in the morning’ but the problem is, unless you’re Mary Poppins, you won’t and you’ll only cause yourself unnecessary stress: so do it the night before: anything that needs putting on or picking up as you leave the house, put by the door, so that you physically can’t leave without taking it with you.
If you’re 100% not a morning person, you can even go as far as putting bowls, cups and cereal on the breakfast table the night before; lay your children’s clothes out on their bedroom floor (choosing their clothes with them the night before is a nice wind-down activity that promotes independence), put their hairbrush/toothbrush out for them: these little things save you precious minutes in the morning and – what's more – you'll breeze through your morning routine without feeling like a headless chicken; and that’s got to be a better start to the day.
4) Have a Present Box
If, like me, you find that, as parent, you now spend every single weekend of your life attending children’s birthday parties (particularly prevalent amongst parents of nursery-age and school-age children...) it’s time you got yourself a present box.
What’s a present box, I hear you say, well, you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s a box full of presents! Okay, that wasn’t fair, I’ll explain...
Instead of waiting until the Friday before the Saturday morning birthday party to panic-purchase a pressie for your small person’s equally small friend, bulk-buy birthday presents (bonus points if you manage to shop in the sales!) and put them aside for when you need them.
Sensory play dough, construction bricks, craft kits are popular with kids of all ages and will never go out of favour. Stock up, and ferret them away; then, when you get 56 invitations to the Jungle Gym, you have lovely a lovely pressie to give to the birthday boy/girl without having had to charge around last minute.
5) Plan Your Play
A lot of parents find thinking of things to do with their children, or to keep them occupied during the day, a really challenging thought process (Hell, what isn’t when you’re this tired?). So, take the stress out of the equation by signing up to a play subscription.
Now, there are lots of different options out there, but for parents of young children, I really love Catkin Club, which has just been launched by the lovely Kimberley (Catkin Toys).
Why do I love it? Because it does the planning for you, but lets you have the fun. You are still in charge of deciding how, when, where you use the resources and activities provided, but the ‘thinking’ part of it has been done for you.
So you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram hunting down ideas for learning through play, waiting to be inspired and to see something that’s relevant for you and your child. Kimberley has built a database full of activities and ideas, ready for you to enjoy and explore.
Take for example these “Adult and Baby” cards designed as part of the April resources collection: the thought process of planning the activity, and the creative side of actually designing it has all been done for you. All you have to do is press ‘print’ and choose a play prompt (guided by one of three age bracket instructions). Then, the time that you would have spent deciding what to do is your time to enjoy together, playing.
Aaaaand, that’s it. Five ways to save yourself some time whilst parenting your little rotters! Which is your favourite? In what way do you save time for yourself? Do you have any hacks? Share them with me in the comments!
Until next week!