Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 Time-Saving Tips to Make Your Life as a Busy Mom Easier

It goes without saying that if you’re a mom, you’re busy! Whatever the age of your children, there’s always something to be done, from laundry and cooking to running errands and earning an income. And let’s not forget trying to get a little sleep! Being busy can be fulfilling, but if you’re TOO busy, it can lead to stress and even sickness. Balance is important. Following are 10 tips to help make your life as a busy mom a little bit easier.

1. Learn to say “no.” I know parents who say “yes” to every volunteer opportunity -- coaching their kids’ sports teams, being a PTA officer, serving as a room parent, etc. -- but then they bitterly complain about how they’re over-scheduled and never have time for themselves. It’s okay to say “no”! Pick one opportunity that you really enjoy, and then pass on the others.

2. Keep a to-do list. When we’re juggling activities, it only adds to the stress if you’re worried about forgetting an event. When you put it on your calendar or a to-do list, you can erase it from your mind. Just remember to check your list every morning and night!

3. Use the alarm on your phone. If you need to remember to put dinner in the oven at 3:30 or to leave the house at 1:30 to get the kids, set the alarm on your phone to ring and remind you to do it. Many phones have the option for setting multiple alarms so you can remind yourself of several daily activities.

4. Plan meals for the week. Before you do your grocery shopping, plan out the meals you’re going to make during the week and get all the groceries you need. That way, there are no last-minute decisions on what to make or finding out that you’re missing a vital ingredient.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Sometimes, you just have to give yourself a break. Unexpected things often arise to put a kink in your schedule. Don’t beat yourself up if an unplanned phone call keeps you from the doing the laundry. It will still be there the next day!

6. Get the kids involved. Have them set out their clothes for the next day and get their backpacks and shoes by the door. You’ll no longer be chasing down shoes or homework in the morning when you’re trying to get to school or camp on time.

7. Accept help. If you and a friend both have children attending the same ballet or karate lesson, why not trade rides? When it’s your friend’s week to drive the kids, you’ll get the benefit of extra time to cross other items off your to-do list.

8. Learn to multi-task. When you’re waiting in line to pick up the kids at school or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, use a nail file for a quick manicure or balance your checkbook. Catch up on reading paperwork or filling out forms that need to get done. Always have something in your purse and/or car to do if you find yourself with unexpected wait time.

9. Keep supplies in the car. When we had a play date with another family at the park this week, the children started to get hot and tired. The other mom pulled a cooler out of her car with snacks, Gatorade, and towels to sit on. It was just what the children needed! She said she always keeps it in her car (and replenishes it when it gets low) just for those occasions when everyone needs a little refreshment!

10. Schedule in some “me” time. It may seem counter-productive to add some downtime to your busy schedule, but when you get some time to do what you enjoy, it lowers your stress levels and enables you to better handle the other items on your list. Whether it’s a regular exercise class, reading a good book, watching a sitcom, praying or meditating, do something that makes you feel good and relaxes you.

You’re always going to be busy when your kids depend on you, but it doesn’t have to bring you to the breaking point. Hopefully, the tips above will help you get your schedule -- and your nerves -- under control.

DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


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