Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ten time-saving tips to make your life as a busy mom easier

A friend that I’ve had since I was a teen-y-bopper called yesterday.  We agreed with each other that we have been really, really, busy.  We are not sure what we have been so busy with, but it has taken up all of our time so far this summer. 

The problem is that I have a love/hate relationship with organization.  I love the idea of being ultra-organized, but I hate the whole process of it.  It means I try {yes, I really do try!} to keep some organized chaos to our days.  Another problem is that I love the idea of having a laid-back, easy-breezy, ham and cheezy summer.  I want to let the kids swim when they want, I want them to read books, create art or anything else they want to try their hand at, and I want the days to just ebb and flow.  Then reality sets in.

Here are ten time-saving tips to make your life as a busy mom easier:

Meal Planning:  I try to make a menu on Sunday afternoons for that week.  I keep track of what I have on hand in my pantry, fridge, and freezer, and try to plan my grocery shopping and menu all at once.  Then I try to do my grocery shopping on Monday.  I try to keep the afternoon free to put everything away, brown the meat and chop veggies.  I like to get a jump on the food prep so I can put a meal together quickly.

Grocery Shopping:  This goes along with meal planning, but I wanted to add a little bit more.  I love to plan my menu and shopping by first using the ads.  I look for things that I regularly use, go through my coupons and put them in some sort of order, and make my list by store.  I have a notebook that I jot down the prices of things I regularly buy, and I also have a maximum amount that I will pay for something; for example, I won’t buy fruit for more than $1/lb.  If it is more expensive then it is probably not in season and not worth buying.  I always check the per unit or per ounce price on the shelf tags, too. 

Piggy-backing Errands:  My bank is in one of the grocery stores, so I try to do my banking at the same time.  The kids have youth activities and Scouts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so going into town early on those evenings and picking up forgotten items at the grocery market happen then. 

10-Minute (or 10-Things) Pick-up:  When I was growing up, mom would hold a “10-minute pick-up” which meant that we had to work on the house for ten minutes, putting things away where they went and doing a general straightening.  I remember groaning about it back then, and now when I holler out “Ten Minute Pick Up!” my kids groan about it now.  But it’s amazing how great the house can look after just 10 minutes of everyone pitching in together!

Clean in the Morning:  Lets face it, most of the summer the temperature may be hot, hot, hot!  Another thing that I learned from my mom is to get the housework done in the morning when it is cooler in the house and cooler outside.  Then I won't feel guilty when we lounge in the pool or head to the library for the afternoon since the work is already done.

Keep the Calendar Updated:  I don't know how many times the peeps in our home have forgotten about an upcoming appointment, event, etc.  I try to write everything on the calendar, even if it's just a little note to remember which garbage can to put out on the curb (green or blue).  My sister Emily is great at this, and I am getting better.  I've even started writing down what we're having for dinner, so when that question inevitably comes from one of my four darling chilren I can say, "Look at the calendar!"

Be a List-Maker:  List-making is part of my love/hate relationship with organization.  I try to keep a running to-do list so I don't have to dig too deep into my own brain to remember what it is I'm supposed to be remembering.  I have a small notebook that I keep in my purse with my purse-sized calendar (which I try to keep updated and coordinated with my on the fridge calendar) to jot down an epiphany as it occurs.  If a minute or two goes by my brain is diluted enough to forget that an important thought ever hatched there.  I also keep a post-it note pad by my computer to jot down important information, like a reminder that Baskin Robbins has 99 cent scoops on Tuesday nights.

Keep the Laundry Rolling:  In a household with a softball player, a football player, swimmers and a now shedding dog, I've got laundry going constantly.  At least it seems like it is.  One way to keep up with it is to make sure I put a load in first thing in the morning.  If that means that my hubs has no water pressure for his morning shower, so be it.  He should have gotten up before I did.  The early bird gets the water.  I also use TV as a bribery to get the laundry folded.  If the kids want to watch a show or a movie, then they must be folding the laundry whilst they watch.  It's a win-win for me.

S.Q.U.I.R.T.:  Super Quiet Uninterrupted Reading Time is our summer reading program.  The kids have to read for 30 minutes per dayWe are participating in the library's reading program, as well as Barnes and Noble.  Keeping the kids reading through the summer goes a long way to keeping them up to speed when school starts again!

Schedule Down Time:  If the days are getting away from us, I like to schedule a little bit if down time.  Maybe it's just taking an afternoon to do nothing, or heading to the park with a picnic.  Whatever it is, I don't let it get me stressed.

I'm looking forward to the summer {I think!} and using these ideas will hopefully make it gravy.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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