Being a parent is a 24/7 job. When you have young children, heck, even when you have older ones, being a parent can feel like you are never not busy. We have come up with 10 Quick Ways for Busy Parents to Reclaim Some Me-Time, to ensure your day is more productive and you get a little time to yourself. (And we promise, it does not include ignoring the kids, tempting as that can be sometimes!)
It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home parent or you go out to work, the day can be so hectic, and sometimes it feels nigh on impossible to get everything that needs to be done, done!
#1. A routine will save you time
Try to stick to a scheduled eating and sleeping routine for young kids as best as you can. You can then have a confident idea of when there will be free time during the day to get on with work or chores whilst they are napping. Try to stop your chores or work a few minutes early to grab a little me-time.
With older kids, getting homework done as soon as they are back from school, means you can be helping them at the same time as prepping dinner or packing lunch boxes (if you like to get this out the way the night before). This will free up some time later in the evening.
#2. Get the kids to help
Turn chores into quality time by getting your kids to help out, and as the old saying goes, “many hands make light work”. Make tidying up a game so it’s fun for the kids and (more) fun for you, with the bonus result of getting the house spick and span. Ingenious! Not only does it keep them busy but it also teaches them new skills while they’re having fun with you.
Create a scavenger hunt for discarded items around the house, or set a timer and make it a race. The magic of a feather duster wand should also never be underestimated. Gift your little one their own cleaning tools and they’ll be happily amused to leave you to get on with the hard graft.
#3. Look After Your Health
We all want to do as much as we can for our kids, but if you’re so busy that you get run-down and burnt out, you won’t be able to enjoy the amazing parts of being a parent, either.
And if you have young kids at playschool or creche then unfortunately, it’s more likely you’ll catch something off them too.
So make sure you take care of your own health.
#4. Technology really can help save time
Make the most of technology, it’s there to help you! Do your food shopping and pay your bills online.
Share an online calendar with your partner and block out time for childcare, housekeeping and work so you can keep a balance and plan ahead.
There are a variety of apps and websites that are there to help you out, everything from online health to online parent communities full of advice and enabling you to connect with other busy, tired parents. It’s good to know you’re not alone!
#5. Use short but sweet to-do lists
It can feel overwhelming as a parent trying to remember what needs to be done at all times for you, your job and for your family. Don’t make long, all-encompassing to do lists, they will only make you feel even more tired just looking at them.
Make lists instead based on time-frames. What can you get done in 10 minutes? Under 30 minutes? What are the big jobs that really have to get done? List them separately and then, when you find yourself having that bit of spare time, tick one off the list. Doing jobs little and often is the key to not feeling like it is all too much.
#6. Use the playpen
For parents of younger kids, popping them in a playpen with their favourite toys will keep them happily amused for long enough for you to sneak in some of your to do’s.
If you know you are going to be working in one area, move the playpen to that room so you can still get on with what you need to do while keeping one eye on them.
#7. Ask for help
Everybody needs help sometimes. Can you afford childcare? Even it is just part-time or for one afternoon a week, if you don’t have family or friends that can help, it may be worth investing in a babysitter to take some time for yourself or to get those big tasks completed.
If not, ask a family member if they can help out on an occasional basis, they will probably be happy you asked them.
Or maybe you could swap with another nearby mum to let them have time to themselves and in return they can help you when you need time.
#8. Get smart with food
Save time by preparing food in the evening for the next day or the rest of the week. Buy a week’s worth of food at once so you have everything you need for the coming days.
Prepare snacks in advance so they are ready to grab when you’re rushing out.
For dinner, cook bigger portions in one go so you can pop them in the freezer for days when cooking from scratch feels like too much. When you are cooking, make food that can be done in just one or two pots to save mess and time washing up – casseroles, stews and pasta are great for this and slow cookers really help save time too!
#9. Take a deep breath
You probably won’t be able to get everything done all of the time. And that’s OK. So long as the vital stuff is seen to, try not to stress and see everything else you achieve as a bonus.
In years, you won’t look back wishing the laundry had got done more often, you’ll be thinking of all the wonderful memories and quality time you’ve shared together as parent and child.
#10. Set aside me-time for yourself
It’s hard to put yourself first as a parent, but it’s important. Make time for your health and happiness. Put it in the diary!
When you find yourself having that odd quiet moment, even if it’s just reading a few pages of a book, phoning a friend, or going for a walk, make yourself a priority and do something to clear your head and take a moment out to take it all in.
Your kids will be better off in the long-run if you take care of yourself. Seeing you calm, collected and content will make them so, too.
What ingenious time-saving tips have you discovered through your journey as a parent? Share your wisdom with us and let us know in the comments box below!