Being a Mum is rewarding, tiring, exciting and HECTIC. Between meal time, bath time, play time and for-the-love-of-god-please-don’t-stick-that-up-your-nose time, it’s rare you’re left with a whole load of you time. With that in mind, we hit up a few Mums on their top-tips for reclaiming some hours in the day.
The image of the perfect family dinner is an easy one to envisage: your children are sitting quietly, patiently awaiting the delicious feast you’ve just effortlessly created – they’re ready to neatly devour your wares, politely thanking you with words, hugs and compliments of encouragement after they’re finished. Snap to reality: you’re wrestling your youngest (who is insistent on bringing their pet hamster to the table) into the chair, meanwhile your other little darling has decided that this exact moment is the optimum time to beat their already impressive ‘scream-as-loud-as-they-can’ personal best. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Gamifying dinner (and anything around the house) is a great way to refocus your kids’ energy and save you a shed load of time in the process. Try a sticker board of dinner-steps, including anything from ‘washing your hands’ and ‘sitting at the table’, to ‘finishing your drink’ and ‘cleaning your plate’ – including a weekly leaderboard of stars for good behaviour. This can also work with bedtime and morning routines; an old concept, sure – but it works!
Photo: A Mother Far From Home.
Meal prep like a pro
Creative cooking is a luxury for people with time on their hands. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. Trying to feed yourself and your kids a balanced, interesting and healthy diet is doable, but inspiration can be hard to find when you’re up against it. A good tip to get round this is planning, prepping and recording. Sounds simple, but try to build up an arsenal of easy-weeknight recipes you know you can ace in under 30 mins, collate these together and then come back to them time and time again – saving experimenting with a newer dish for the weekend. Batch cooking and freezing get a special shout out here, and if you’ve got one, NEVER underestimate the ease of a slow cooker – those godsends are a lifeline to make the most of.
Share the load (…while socialising)
The unique experience of being a parent often means you have to make changes to your social life, swapping out certain activities with a whole range of fun, but different social ventures. But why not socialise while looking after your kids? Not only is it a great use of your time, it’s also an awesome way to make like-minded friends in the same boat. Mush is a great app for connecting with local Mums on the same wavelength, for meet-ups, playdates…and even the odd gin and tonic if the day calls for it. (check out more info on them here).
Create a master (shopping) list
Shopping for yourself is a treat, but shopping for a household is a nightmare if you’re not organised. Whether you’re using an old school chalkboard, a bit of paper on the fridge, or just shouting at Alexa to add to your online shopping list – keep a tabs on things you need throughout the week, so that when you get to actually doing the weekly shop – you’re just topping up with extras. Basically, each time you run out of something or it pops into your head, add to the list. This tried and tested method is a great way to save time and to eliminate unnecessary food waste too.
Call in the calvary
Whether you’re balancing a full or part time job, or you’re a full time parent – your responsibilities outside of childcare don’t magically disappear after having children. And when it comes to housework, DIY and gardening – those messy little tykes can contribute to an ever-growing list pretty easily. Airtasker is a great tool for re-prioritising your time; whether it’s used to find regular help, or one-off Taskers to assist with bigger or more time-consuming jobs. You’ll find anything from cleaners, gardeners and handymen, to event magicians, language tutors and gift wrappers on the platform. Steal some hours back by strategically outsourcing your everyday tasks, and spend the extra time however the hell you want. (here are a few examples of how busy parents are already using us).
Need some inspiration? Check out this list of current tasks to see what types of jobs people are getting help with.