As moms, we’ve got a lot on our plates. And sometimes, our days seem to be filled with an endless list of things to do and it feels as though we just can’t keep up with it all.
Here are some things I do to save time and enables me to manage our daily family life more easily. With a new addition to our family, these have helped tremendously! I hope they can be of help to you too.
Let’s get to it! Here are seven things you can try to help ease your busy life.
1. Save Yourself the Trip and Get Stuff Delivered
You’ve got places to be and people to see – so save yourself that extra trip and simply order your household staples online.
I get a random assortment of things my family needs delivered to our home – from diapers to printer ink to organic produce. It not only saves me time going to the store, it also saves me the stress of running out of something – like diapers – and having to rush to the store and pay whatever they’re charging for them because I need them urgently.
These are some of the online subscription/delivery services I use:
- Amazon Subscribe & Save
- HP Insta Ink
- Farm Fresh To You
- Target Pick Up / Drive Up
Want to learn more about each of these services?
With these online delivery services, I literally save hours a week from having to go to the stores.
Household supplies – check.
Toiletries – check.
Pantry items – check.
Organic fruits and vegetables – check.
Printer ink – check.
And I didn’t even need to leave the house! What a glorious feeling. 😉
Takeaway Action: Make a list of household staples your family uses on a regular basis. Sign up for an online subscription program like Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, or Target’s Buy and Save. Set up your subscription and note in your calendar the last day you can make changes to your subscription, as well as your delivery dates. After that, you can forget having to make urgent trips to the store for these household items and simply expect them on your doorstep.
2. Automate What You Can
There are a lot of things we need to do manually. But we now also have many ways to streamline and automate some of our everyday tasks. Think about the things you need to do regularly, but can do away with by simply setting and forgetting them like a crock pot dish. 🙂 Doing so will help you save time and mental energy, as you won’t need to think about having to do them every time. You’ll just know they’ll be taken care of.
Here are a few things I’ve automated at home, which you can too:
There are a few things I still like going to a store for to pick out for myself – such as jeans and yoga pants. But for the most part, if I can avoid going into a store, I’m all for it. I just talked about Amazon’s Subscribe and Save above, which is one way I automate some of my shopping. You can easily pick the items you need on a regular basis and select the frequency of when you need them. You can even pick your monthly delivery date. And every month, you’ll get those items. This saves me at least two trips to the store each month.
I’d say most of us have at least a few recurring monthly bills – bills that go to the same merchant for the same amount every month. You can use bill pay through your bank or set up automatic payments online through the merchant’s site to pay for them electronically. This saves you from having to remind yourself to pay your bills every month when they’re due and from having to manually pay each bill – by writing out a check or sending it electronically. Automating payments for bills will also prevent you from being late on any of them when things get busy, saving yourself that late fee, in case you forget. And if you’re still snail mailing your payments, this saves you on stamps and having to use your checkbook too!
Now, if the thought of automated bank drafts from your account gives you heartburn, you can start slow with this one. Start by automating one or two of your smaller bills – like your internet and cellphone. See how it goes for a couple of months and how you feel about it. When you feel more comfortable with it, automate more of your bills.
While our budgets vary to some degree each month, I still recommend having a template for your budget. This template will be pre-filled with your common expenses and the average amount you spend on them. I use Google Sheets for this purpose and my husband can see the most updated version when he wants to. At the end of the month, when I’m planning for next month’s budget, I copy my monthly budget template to create the new month’s budget and simply review and modify the expense categories I need to for that month. It’s so much easier than having to create a budget from scratch every month. Just copy and edit. It also helps you think through what your average monthly spending is for each category, giving you a better hand at knowing how you spend your money.
I know this isn’t for everyone. But I believe that tracking your expenses gives you so much more insight into your spending habits and helps you manage your budget more effectively. By regularly tracking your expenses, you get to track in real-time how well you’re sticking to your budget. And over time, it gives you a record of your actual spending. You won’t need to guesstimate how much you think you’re spending for a particular category, you’ll know for certain because you have it documented.
However, this can also be quite tedious. Thankfully, there are now several online budget planning and tracking tools available that makes this much easier to do – there’s Mint, EveryDollar and YNAB to name a few. I personally use YNAB (also known as You Need a Budget).
After I have our monthly budget set in Google Sheets, I move that info over to our YNAB account. From there, YNAB knows how much money I’ve got for the month and how I plan to allocate that money. And since all our accounts are linked to YNAB, I can easily import all our transactions into the tool, so I don’t have to manually enter each one. I still need to review and reconcile them, but tracking each expense becomes more convenient and not as manual or time-intensive this way.
Find a budgeting tool you can use to automate how you manage and track your money. You can try YNAB for free for a little over a month, after that, it’s $84/year (at the time I’m writing this). If you prefer a free tool, there’s Mint – check out this review in case you’re interested.
Takeaway Actions: Think of the everyday tasks you need to get done that can be automated. Pick out the tasks you can easily automate today and that will immediately help you out – whether it’s your shopping or bill payment. Spend the 30 minutes or so to set it up. Next week, after your first task has been automated, automate the next thing. And automate one more thing the week after. If you automated just three things this month, think of how much time you saved yourself in the future.
3. Use a Cloud-Based Digital Calendar to Manage Your Schedule and Keep Track of All Your Important Dates
Between school events, birthday parties, dental check-ups, and all the events and appointments you and your family are juggling, it can be easy to lose track of something.
I love keeping track of important dates, appointments and events with Google Calendar. Even though I write out my projects and tasks in a paper planner, any important dates or appointments get added to my Google calendar. This includes birthdays, anniversaries, appointments for my family, school events, day care closures, etc.
Google Calendar is free and cloud-based, meaning I can check it anytime I want wherever I am, as long as I have internet and a web browser. And with my phone, that’s pretty much anytime. I have a widget of it on my phone, which enables me to easily see my schedule without having to even enter the app. The other thing I love about it is I can easily share events with my husband that he needs to know about. So, it not only helps me keep track of everything, it helps keep my husband in the loop as well. Making it easy for the both of us to be on the same page with our family’s schedule.
Takeaway Actions: If you don’t already have a Google account, create one. (You can use another digital scheduling and calendar tool, like Apple’s Calendar, if you use an iPhone.) Set up your calendar and sync it with your phone. Start entering your important dates and appointments. You can also import calendar events and customize your Google calendar. Check out Google’s Calendar Help library. And, don’t forget to share events and important dates with your family.
4. Share the Load and Ask for Help
It really does take a village to raise a family. So don’t try to put it all on your shoulders and brave it alone. Got a husband? Go ask him for help! You’re partners in this, so don’t hesitate to share the load.
Your husband may not do what you request exactly the way you would have done it. But as long as it gets done – just accept the help and say “Thank you.” 🙂 This is something I need to work on myself. Sometimes, we get fixated on wanting everything done a particular way. But save your sanity and let the control freak within you and the need for perfection go.
A while back, my husband used to help me fold clothes, but I didn’t quite like how he folded them, so I made sure to tell him. Or I’d redo what he folded. Talk about wasted energy and duplicated work! Then because of this, he stopped helping fold clothes for some time because he didn’t want to hear me complain that he did it incorrectly. Now, when he helps me fold clothes, I’ve learned to let him fold however he wants to fold, as long as they get done and put away. With two little kids, we’re in a season wherein we really need to pick our priorities. And, not perfectly-folded clothes just isn’t on the top of my list.
You can also branch out outside your home for help. If you have family nearby and they offer to help out – take it! You can also team up with your mommy friends. If you don’t have any, try and make some. It really is helpful to have family and friends around that can lend a hand. I’ve been very lucky to have some generous mommy friends who have offered to do day care or summer camp pick-ups when I was either running late or couldn’t because I had just had my second baby. I’ve also picked their kids up and had them play in our home until they could get their kids. Whatever you can work out with your friends – do it. As long as you guys have each other’s backs. It’s a win-win for everyone. It really does help and makes it feel a little less like the whole world is on your shoulders.
Takeaway Actions: Think of the things you can “delegate” that your husband can do instead. Talk to him and ask for help – you guys may need to negotiate on a few things. Figure out what works for you both as long as you share the load. (Tip: Try and use each other’s strengths and interests to divvy up the work.)
5. Prep the Night Before
This really does make your life easier. By putting in the effort the night before, your mornings will run more smoothly. And when you start your mornings this way, it tends to lead to a day that feels lighter and calmer, rather than frantic and behind.
An easy thing you can prep the night before is to pick out clothes for the next day. We have our 5 year-old do this and it saves us time (and arguments) in the morning. Pack – or at least prep what you can – for lunches the next day. Get school bags and whatever else your family needs to bring the next day ready – place them by the front door, so they’re all set to go. I even have my coffeemaker ready the night before so that when we woke up, all I needed to do was press the brew button. 🙂
Doing these simple things lead to less frantic mornings and less chances of forgetting things.
Takeaway Actions: Starting tonight, plan ahead and prepare what your family needs for tomorrow. Prepare your lunches (my daughter enjoys being a part of this activity), pick and set out your clothes (for everyone) and pack school/work bags for tomorrow.
6. Remember and Focus on What Matters Most
It can be very easy to get sucked into our everyday chaos, reacting to our days and getting caught up in all these little errands and tasks we need to do. So, let’s remember to pause and appreciate our moments with our families and be present with them. They’re what’s truly important to us. They’re the reason we’re doing all that we’re doing.
The next time you’re hurriedly trying to do something and your little one (or your husband) is trying to get your attention, if you can spare a few minutes, spare it. Indulge them with some undivided attention even just for 10-15 minutes, then let them know you need to finish up whatever you’re doing (if they’re old enough to understand) and continue along with your task. These moments are refreshing and often times, give us an unexpected boost.
Takeaway Actions: Starting today, spend at least 10-15 minutes with your family. Give them your undivided attention. Be present. Put away your phone. And stop thinking of the next thing you need to do. You don’t need to make a big production of it, just as long as you give them your full attention and truly engage with them, rather than brushing them off, so you can do whatever’s on your checklist.
7. Let Go of Perfection
To all you perfectionists out there – this one’s for you!
Given our season of life, we need to give ourselves some slack and let go of this pursuit for perfection. We’ve got a lot going on and this need to have everything just the way we want it can be stressful. A lot of the time, it’s our own desire to obsess over the little things that gets us. It’s not even expected of us by others.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to be good at what we are doing. I’m just suggesting that we don’t waste a significant amount of time getting every little detail perfect, like we used to before we had kids. There are just some things that don’t need to be perfect. Chances are, the effort and time you put in to prefect something isn’t worth it.
Often times, the extra effort you put in to make something flawless (if that’s even truly attainable) isn’t worth it because the cost-to-benefit ratio of that extra effort starts to go down after a certain point. We have to learn to draw the line with something that’s “good enough.” So, give yourself the gift of a little more time and a little less stress and be okay with completing the task, rather than trying to make things perfect.
Takeaway Actions: Your time is finite. In any given day, you only have so much of of it. So, spend your time wisely and resist the urge to perfect everything, which just leads to wasted time and energy. If you’re working on a project, think in advance how much time you think you’ll need to complete that project to create something that is “good enough.” Do your best to stick within that timeframe, so you down go down the rabbit hole of wasting your efforts on unimportant details that really won’t yield you that much more benefit.
There you have it! By:
- Limiting the amount you actually shop in stores and getting stuff delivered straight to your home;
- Automating what you can in your household;
- Using a cloud-based digital calendar to manage your schedule and keep your family in the know;
- Asking for help and giving it;
- Preparing as much as you can the night before;
- Remembering the reason you do all that you do and making time for them;
- And, letting go of our need to perfect everything we do …
We enable ourselves to free up some time in our schedules to do things of more value to us, avoid stress and make our lives just a little bit easier.
Do you have any other tips to share?
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