There are never enough hours in the day for working parents. One of the first things I noticed when I went back to work after having my first child was that I had to start keeping track (in minutes) of how long it took me to do anything, because if it took any longer than planned, the delicate balance of working and child rearing would fall apart. If you’re a working parent, here are a few things you can do to capture some time for yourself each day.
Shower at work
If your office has shower facilities, consider using them! Just pack a gym bag for yourself with the next day’s clothes and other items before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, pull on comfortable loungewear so that you can quickly and conveniently get your kids ready. Drop them off at school or day care while not worrying about spills or having to go back home to change your clothes. Your dry cleaning bills will drop too. Not planning on using the gym at work? That’s okay; it’s perfectly reasonable to drop in just for the showering facilities–they are there for you to use!
Get ready at home after you drop off the kids
No showers at work? This is likely if you work at a smaller office or your company doesn’t have the space or plans for an onsite gym. Instead of waking up early to shower, wake up and get the kids ready first. Then drop them off and come back home to get ready and shower…in peace. This works if your kids go to school or daycare close to home.
Have everything ready to go the night before
This means that you’ll have to take an extra 15 to 20 minutes in the evening to pack up lunches (put all non-perishables in the lunch boxes, perishables in the fridge already packed to grab and go, and water bottles pre-filled), set out clothes for the next day (yours and your children’s), and, if your car is parked in the garage, put everything that you can into the car. The less organizing you have to do each morning, the faster you can get out the door and the less stressed you are to deal with your four-year-old spilling milk five minutes before it’s time to leave.
Order school hot lunch if it’s available
Hot lunch can seem expensive at four to six dollars a pop, but when you consider the time and effort it takes to pack a lunch, as well as the rising cost of most food at the grocery store, hot lunch may be a good option. There are more healthy alternatives out there these days with schools contracting with catering companies focused on providing wholesome nutrition for kids. And your kids may love hot lunch; it’s something different than the cold leftovers from last night’s dinner.
Hire a nanny that can do drop offs and pick ups
Even better, have them arrive when the kids wake up so they can manage through all the early morning getting ready routines, like teeth brushing, bathing, and dressing. Keep them an hour or two after pick up to help with snacks, dinner prep, and homework help. This way, you’ll be able to get ready and commute to work without the worry of getting kids out the door on time (unfortunately, depending on your job, this time may or may not be stress free). You’ll have more time in the mornings and evenings to catch up on work, grocery shop, or even hit the gym.
Bathe the kids at night
Kids don’t need to bathe in the mornings, they aren’t aclimated to it. Until they are in middle school, you can probably get away with keeping your bathtime routines in the evening when time pressures and impending work stress are out of the way.
Featured photo credit: Families/normalityrelief via flickr.com