Saving time is not cheating… it’s being creative and doing what’s best for both you and the children.
When you first have a baby, you often here the phrase “Happy mummy, Happy baby” and I do think there is an element of truth in that. Continue reading for my top five ways of cutting corners when it comes to parenting:
1. Meal times
You can make easy meals that are healthy and meet the needs of the whole family in a short space of time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using frozen veggies or even tinned – it saves so much time in both the preparation and the cooking. I’ve recently discovered frozen chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables; I love aubergine and courgette, so this frozen mix is perfect!
If you do find yourself with a free afternoon, why not consider batch cooking and then freezing? Lasagne, cottage pie, fish pie and coq au vin are my family favourites, which are fairly quick to make and freeze brilliantly. Alternatively, when you are really short on time, why not consider using a service like Hello Fresh? Imperfect Mummy blogs about it here.
How can you successfully go shopping with a child clinging onto your legs? We’ve all been there. Planned to dash into the shop and grab a few bits, but end up buying more and your child starts to complain, grabbing something breakable from the shelf or popping through the cellophane on the fruit. Shopping really can be a stressful experience. Online shopping could not only be a timesaver, but a lifesaver too. It will also help you to plan your meals and snacks in advance, avoiding spending more than you have budgeted for.
I try to get clothes out for the following day the previous night and lay them out ready for the kids to get into. The same goes for me (except I have a drawer with my work clothes organised into days, so I know exactly what I’m wearing). Putting the clothes out in advance means I can do a quick wash if I realise I don’t have a school cardigan or pinafore dress clean. If I found that out on the morning, I’d be panicking and desperately trying to do a spot clean. This really helps my anxiety levels too.
Another top clothing tip is to buy different socks for different family members. For example, for the eldest, buy all black socks with a red stripe. For the youngest, plain grey. This helps when it comes to pairing up and giving the right child the right clothing.
4. Tidying up toys
I am still getting to grips with this one myself, so the tips I offer are a work in progress! The most important thing to do is to train your children to tidy up their toys properly. I probably sound like that ridiculous programme where they train children like they train dogs. Trust me, that is not what I’m getting at. Demonstrating to your kids how easy it can be to tidy up (ha ha… is it ever easy?) is fantastic. Labelling boxes with photos as well as words can really help. Knowing exactly where things need to be replaced is helpful for everyone. Have you thought about using a piece of music so that the children get used to having a certain amount of time and working to a deadline? Blur’s Song 2 is a great one to use if you only have a small playroom or lounge (it only lasts two minutes!). Alternatively, the theme from Mission Impossible is fun and playful.
5. Do favours and call them in
If you live next door to or very close to someone with children of similar ages to your own, then use this to your advantage. Perhaps you could offer to take your neighbour’s children to school on Monday and Wednesday with them returning the favour on Tuesday and Thursday. This could really help you with either preparing yourself to get to work or getting on with some of the household tasks you no doubt have to do. During school holidays, a similar reciprocal deal could work.