Time-Saving Tips for Busy Parents

From Parents Magazine

Laundry, cooking, carpooling—your days are filled to the brim with stuff you’ve got to get done. Luckily, these handy tips will help you streamline your routine and help you find time for the things that make you smile.

1. Choose outfits ahead of time.

Avoid the trying-on-clothes morning madness. Before the week begins, help your child pick out an outfit for each day and place the clothes (and shoes) in an accessible basket or bin. This saves time in the morning and also short-circuits potential arguments about what to wear. You may even start choosing your own outfits in advance, too! 

2. Buy it when you see it.

Don’t run to the store every time your child gets a party invite. Instead, stock up on one-size-fits-all kid presents whenever you spot a sale. Keep your treasures on a designated shelf so there’s always something ready to wrap and give.

3. Don’t just sit there during commercials.

If you can’t record your favorite shows and then fast-forward through the ads, hit the mute button during the breaks and use that time to sort mail or catch up on magazines.

4. Stop competing with other parents.

Who says the cookies you send to the preschool bake sale need to be from scratch? There’s a reason grocery stores sell refrigerated dough. Want to reduce cleanup time? Line pans and cookie tins with aluminum foil or parchment paper when you bake. 

5. Streamline your mail system.

Don’t let paper pile up on the kitchen counter, and try not to touch mail more than twice. Instead, put all flyers and catalogs you’re never going to look at in the recycling bin. As you receive monthly bills, throw away the outer envelopes and place in a to-be-paid folder. Same goes for email: answer it immediately, then delete or archive.

6. Remember, your home isn’t a restaurant.

Forget asking your kids what they want to eat. As they’re debating ham and cheese versus PB&J, you could’ve already packed their lunch boxes and sent them out the door. As for dinner, don’t even think about making different foods for each member of the family. Kids can eat what the grown-ups are served—or opt for a bowl of cereal.

7. Ask the babysitter to pitch in.

See if your nanny or sitter is willing to help fold laundry, straighten the toy shelves or clean up dishes once the kids are asleep.

8. Join the car pool.

Sure, it’s tough to entrust your little one to someone else’s minivan. But if you don’t share the driving with friends, you’ll end up in your car all day carting your child to school, sports and other activities. (And just think of the money you’ll save on gas!)

9. Be smart about comparison shopping.

Sure, every penny counts, but when you’re running from store to store to get the best price on a bag of potatoes, the gas alone isn’t worth it. Save money the old-fashioned way—clip coupons and make just one trip.

10. Break the news: there is no laundry fairy.

Even a 3-year-old can master a simple sorting system. Set up a couple of baskets—one for whites, another for colors—in your child’s room. Also, teach kids that clothes can usually be worn more than once before they need to be washed. This doesn’t dawn on most of them until they go away to college and start doing their own laundry.

11. Plan for leftovers.

If you’re taking the time to whip up dinner, double or triple the recipe and freeze it. You’ll get two or three meals in the time it took you to make one.

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