For a busy mami, what could be more useful than tried-and-true time-saving techniques? We’ve used these tricks, and they really do work! Here are five family-friendly ideas that will have your household running smoothly in no time flat.
1. ABC (ALWAYS BE CLEANING)
If this sounds like Cinderella on steroids, think again. Do a little tidying here, a little cleaning there—a sweep of dirty clothes as you walk through the house, a minute to swipe at the kitchen counter with some antibacterial wipes, a moment to throw out the junk mail that’s been cluttering up the dining room table. Maintenance is the key word here; you’ll find that doing a little fast housekeeping every day adds up to a much more consistently tidy household.
2. MOTHER’S (LITTLE) HELPERS
It’s a win-win scenario: every mother needs a pair of helping hands, however tiny they may be. And kids love to feel helpful, as well as included in whatever the grown-ups are doing. Moreover, assigning your children age-appropriate tasks—putting Matchbox cars and Barbie dolls back into the toy bins, bringing their cereal bowls to the kitchen after breakfast, or working alongside you in the kitchen as you prepare dinner—teaches them personal responsibility as well as the importance of a household that runs smoothly and happily.
Read Related: How a Working Mother Organizes Household Chores
3. ROUTINE MACHINE
Routines are beneficial to both parent and child. For mami, it means staying organized. And it’s a stabilizing and comforting force for your children. As What to Expect explains, “If your toddler is accustomed to doing things a certain way, she’s less likely to resist transitions.” Buy a colorful calendar so that the family can keep apprised of art classes and soccer lessons, and keep dinner, bathtime, and bedtime routines consistent. Once she realizes that there isn’t any wiggle room, your child will be much more likely to stick to the schedule. “Recently, I instituted a much more strict bedtime routine,” says Liz, mother to two. “It’s amazing how much more smoothly things have been going.”
4. AN OUNCE OF PREPARATION…
…is worth a lot of your precious time. Simple think-ahead tasks can save you a lot of hassle, too. Preparing a big casserole or a do-ahead recipe on the weekend, for example, that can you can serve for dinner or freeze up for future meals is a lot easier than scrambling to make dinner at the end of a long weekday. Take a few minutes each evening with your kids to choose their clothes for school the next day; your morning will go a lot easier without the screams of Where is my pink plaid skirt? and you might even have a chance to linger over your coffee or put on some makeup. Jen, mother of twin girls, takes it even a step further: “I put my kids to bed in the clothes they’re wearing the next day,” she says. “I also keep a box of cereal in my car.”
5. FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
Your weekend time is extremely precious. If you have a chaotic morning hustle on the weekdays, you may be reluctant to set down any rules for the weekends, worrying that you’ll make those valuable days off seem unnecessarily rushed. But when everyone spends hours in their pajamas watching cartoons, the day can get off to a slow start—and your precious Saturday may be over before it begins. Preparations don’t have to be drastic. Have your kids get dressed first thing in the morning before starting your weekend morning routine and you’ll be amazed at how quickly everyone rallies to begin the rest of their day.