20+ Time Savers Every Parent Should Try
If there’s not enough time in the day, let’s change the way we prioritize those precious hours. Here’s how.
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Learn to say no: Politely refuse any non-critical activity that interferes with your goals. Decline to serve on that school committee or be the classroom mom if you want to spend time elsewhere. Don’t over schedule kids and help them pick one extracurricular activity, not two or more per season.
Never tie sneakers again: Hickies are plastic laces that turn tie shoes into slip-ons so you’re ready to go in a flash.
Design a space with kids’ needs in mind: Is it easy for them to access clothes, books, toys in their bedroom? Install or move an existing rod to a lower position in the closet, use open floor bins or stackable drawers to store socks, underwear and T-shirts. (From Gigi K. Miller, a professional organizer and owner of Vision Organizing).
Designate a home for everything: Sort like items together and store them close to where your kids will use them. This goes for clothes, toys, games, and everything else. Use labels or pictures or color code to help younger kids return items to their proper homes. (From Gigi K. Miller, a professional organizer and owner of Vision Organizing).
Hire a handyman or housecleaner: There’s an app for that. Download the free apps Takl or Task Rabbit. After downloading, enter your location and choose from a variety of tasks from housework to yard work or enter a custom task. Choose the day and time you need help (or same day) and pick someone based on their hourly rate. Once the work is complete, the worker gets paid through the app.
Backpack Area: Anything that comes home from school stays in this area. After homework is complete, make sure backpacks are placed here and ready to go the next morning. No more hunting for missing homework.
Wrinkle-Free Clothing: Brands such as Orvis, Old Navy, GAP and L.L. Bean among others make wrinkle-free clothing for adults and kids. This includes shirts, button downs and pants that don’t wrinkle for faster time out the door.
No More Ironing: Wrinkle-release spray (such as Downy) is a great time saver. Investing in a more heavy duty stand-up steamer or smaller hand-held steamer can also make this process faster.
Purchase Same-Color Socks: If you have trouble with the kids digging through the sock drawer to find matching socks, eliminate this problem by buying all white ones, or all black or all pink – just make sure each kid has one color.
AmazonFresh: AmazonFresh is a benefit of Amazon Prime that allows members to place grocery orders for same-day delivery. Once your order is placed, you will receive tracking updates via text message. You’ll be prompted to pick a two-hour delivery window. Yearly: $14.99 per month plus the cost of an Amazon Prime membership. $9.99 delivery fee per order if under $50. amazon.com/AmazonFresh
Instacart: Instacart allows you to pick groceries on the app from Publix, Whole Foods and other local stores, and they are hand-delivered the same day by personal shoppers. First delivery is free; other fees vary by price of groceries.
Shipt: Personal shoppers pick your grocery items from Kroger, Publix and Costco and deliver the items to your home. Purchase your membership plan, and shop and pay through the Shipt app. Delivery fees vary depending on price of groceries.
Kroger ClickList: Ask for a free Kroger card and then create your Kroger account online or download the app to shop online, then schedule a time to pick up your order at the store. For the first three orders, pick up is free. kroger.com/onlineshopping
Walmart Grocery Pick Up: Create a free Walmart account online or download the app, place an order and choose a time for pick up. Check-in when you get close and the app tracks your location so the order will be ready when you arrive. Free same-day pick up.
Make-Ahead Smoothies: Did you know a standard Mason jar fits on the top of your blender? Pour in frozen fruits and veggies and freeze, with a tight turn to the lid. When family members are ready to make a smoothie, they remove the lid and pour in milk or yogurt and place on the blender. This makes for easy cleanup when everyone wants his own flavor.
Snack Drawer: Cut celery, apples and other fruits and vegetables and place in plastic bags or containers. Cut cheese into cubes or purchase string cheese; divide containers of hummus and yogurt into individual servings. Place all of these items in a designated drawer in the fridge. Put juice boxes within easy reach. Family members will know where to grab snacks during the week.
Crock Pot Meals: Take a Saturday or Sunday to prepare meals for several weeks or even a month. Purchase meats, condiments, vegetables and fruits in bulk. Find recipes online using a variety of ingredients and put each recipe in a separate gallon-sized bag. Label each bag with the cooking directions, so it will be easy to grab out of the freezer and plop in the Crock Pot.
Wake up Moving: Hit the gym before your family rises or do a 30-minute workout in your pajamas with YouTube or an exercise DVD.
Pump It Up: Climb on the monkey bars, slides and swings when the kids visit a park. Use jugs of water or milk for tricep lifts (two hands lifting behind your head).
Play Hard with the Kids: Ride a hop-a-ball, play tag, have an animal-walk race with crab walks, frog jumps or snake slithers, challenge them to balancing contests with yoga poses such as one-legged dog or lunge.
Maximize Your Wait: While the microwave runs or the computer boots up, do jumping jacks, run in place or do squats.
Calendar Apps: Apple and Google calendar apps are great ways to organize family time. Login with your Apple ID and set up a family calendar, you can color code and share via email with others. Login with your Gmail information and access the Google calendar, where you can set up reoccurring appointments (say for dance or baseball practice). Try the free app, Cozi Family Organizer, designed just for families with options to create shopping and chore lists in addition to scheduling activities and appointments.
Family Calendars: Try the Amy Knapp Big Grid Family Organizer with extra-large writing space, color-coded stickers and space for family notes and reminders. Another great option is Mom’s Family Calendar by Sandra Boynton with grids organized vertically for each family member’s name and horizontally for days of the month. It also includes a storage pocket for notes and over 500 stickers. Both available at amazon.com for $14.99 each.