They say time is money. If that is true for parents as well, then let’s all face it: we are pretty much broke.
Here’s the good news: with a few simple tweaks you can stop losing time, and start saving time and sanity.
As a veteran mom of over 20 years for 7 children here are my top 10 time and sanity saving hacks, after all, it takes more effort to be disorganized than it does to be organized.
You don’t have to be a slave to all systems. However, if you want to retain your sanity put as many of the following hacks into place.
1) Have bedtimes for your children
Getting the children to sleep on time is the best win-win I have heard of. Children do better in school with the correct amount of sleep and it makes the mornings way easier, dealing with children who are well rested. Guess what else? Parents do better when they aren’t spending their evenings cajoling exhausted children into bed. Don’t feel bad, 80% of children do not go to sleep on time. Need a primer? Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Weissbluth is a must read.
Stop playing ‘guess what’s for dinner?’ with the 4 remaining non-mouldy ingredients at the bottom of your fridge. Force yourself into making a one week meal plan? No idea where to begin? Think of last week’s dinners! Write them on an index card and paste on the fridge and try it out for a week and tweak.
3) Bulk shop on the weekends
Yup. Make your meal and snack lists ahead and buy ahead so you can cook like a pro.
4) Get as much delivered as possible
However, before you head out the door make sure you have leveraged Amazon subscribe and save, Costco.com and any other delivery service place of your choice so that you are not schlepping items that can be delivered for the same price. Your time and energy is precious.
5) Bulk goods area
However, before you become the queen of all things delivered to your home make sure have created a bulk goods space – your very own mini Costco. If you are tight for space consider going vertical and making a shelf up high in a laundry area or similar unused ‘up high’ space. Word to the wise: hide those bulk chips up high away from little fingers or Mama’s midnight munchies.
6) Kitchen Gadgets all time-savvy parents need
All productive parents will require a crock pot, a rice cooker and an immersion blender. Extra credit for a cookie scooper and a copious quantity of gallon Ziploc bags and a sharpie marker (keep it up high!)
7) Make your freezer your best friend
You will be spending more time preparing food than you ever expected. Make your freezer your best friend. It is literally freezing time. Start with seasoning fish and freezing it, chopped veg, soups and then progress onto more advanced items. Consider doubling your meal recipes and cooking one portion and freezing the other. Wrap items in aluminium foil and a Ziploc bag and write in permanent marker both on the outside and on a piece of paper taped onto the aluminium.
8) The Ultimate Kitchen Time Hack
Bulk preparation meets freezer meets crock pot. You will never catch me staying up all night reading a thriller, but a cookbook on bulk cooking for the freezer and pairing it with a crock pot? I will be up all night! Start with making a slot in your calendar for bulk preparing of meatballs ( vegetarians please forgive me) use a cookie scooper to freeze them onto parchment paper on cookie sheets. Freeze them for a full day and then put them into double gallon Ziploc bags. Once a week before you leave to work put the meatballs together with the marinara sauce of your choice and half as much water into your crock pot. Set your timer on your rice cooker and voila. Or make pasta when you walk in. It’s a win-win either way
9) Back to the ice age
Most people don’t realize that even the most basic of ovens manufactured within the past 10 years have a preset button on it. This preset button is a delight as it allows you to put dinner into the oven ahead of time and preset it to go off at the time of your choice. This can be a simple dinner such as fish sticks or a less basic chicken marsala. If you are concerned that the food will be in the oven ‘waiting’ for too long you can leverage those ice cubes by covering your chicken with them. If you are concerned that your dish will be too watery consider resting your pot on a tray full of ice cubes for the benefits of the chill without your food getting watered down.
10) Landing Spot
With a small tribe there is a lot of coming and going. Make sure you have a landing spot near your front entrance way that supports that. If you live in a cold climate then create an efficient spot for all those boots, jackets and snuggly paraphernalia. Live in the warmer states? Then make sure the bug spray and sunscreen is all good to go. Have a spot for book bags there too. Same goes for any projects/show and tell/things to return to friends that have to make it into the car on those busy mornings.