One of the things I love about my current Bible study, Saving SuperMom, is that the focus is practical as well as spiritual, and on how related the two really are. If you are not setting aside any time in your daily schedule for quiet time – as hard as it may be to do so – then you may just be too busy! I so recognized myself in the story about the mom, rushing around in a day filled with Junior League commitments, pickups and dropoffs, delivering dinner to friends. etc. This week we covered practical ways to free up some time and manage the “big stuff” – the major, non-negotiable time-drains. We all have them: laundry, carpools/driving, work, home schooling. Then we discussed strategies for making these daily tasks easier and more manageable. Here were some of the stress-saving tips from some of the moms in our group.
This was a big one for most of us, except for one lucky mom, whose husband does it. : ) Others had help from husbands, housekeepers, and babysitters, but in most cases, the responsibility falls squarely on the mom’s shoulders. Here, a few of our strategies:
1. Gather laundry in one central place, rather than hampers all over the house. (My aside: In our house, we have 1 downstairs, in the laundry room, where I also sort, 1 in the master bedroom, and 1 on the girls’ floor.) Then you don’t have to go all over the house collecting laundry.
2. Build in systems that work: Most of us tended to put away the kids clothes around bedtime, when we are already in their rooms. Jaime leaves a basket of clean clothes outside the girls rooms when the sitter arrives, so she can help the girls put them away. Erin keeps white baskets for clean clothes and brown baskets for dirty clothes, because nothing is more frustrating than rewashing clothes that were already clean.The wonderful lady who cleans my house every week also does all the sheets and towels – a lifesaver!
3. Pick 2 days a week (Tuesday and Friday for me) to do laundry… Then it will never pile up and get out of control.
4. Throw the kids clothes in with the adults, whenever possible/practical. Either wash the entire family’s clothes in baby friendly fragrance-free detergent, or go with the regular detergent for the whole family.
5. Stick socks in a mesh bag and wash them that way, so they are all together when they come out. (I got this one from the Bible Study, but I’ve been doing it myself for a few weeks.
Cooking and Grocery Shopping
1. Pick one day a week that you do the bulk of your grocery shopping, and go armed with a list organized by section (produce, dairy, etc). I clean out the fridge on Sundays and grocery shop on Mondays.
2. If you can avoid grocery shopping with kids, by all means do! You will save time, sanity, and money.
3. Double up meals and freeze half for night when you don’t have time to cook.
4. Plan ahead. If you are hosting a barbecue on Saturday, double your potato salad recipe to take to the church picnic on Sunday. You can also do the same when delivering dinner to friends.
5. Have a couple of standby meals you can make with food from your pantry. I love Patak’s simmer sauces. They come in a jar and easily transform chopped chicken or tofu or veggies into dinner, with a side of rice. Whole grain pasta and a good jarred sauce always makes my family happy. Salmon cakes and a salad are fast and easy to make with canned (wild caught) salmon.
Driving, Driving, and More Driving
My husband hates it, but my car is my second home. If I didn’t stash returns and donations in the trunk, snacks and reading material in the passenger seat, and toys in the back seat, my life would be significantly harder. Here are some more Stress-Saving Tips for Moms:
1. Keep reading material, including catalogs, magazines, and even a Bible, in your car so that you can take advantage of time spent waiting in pickup lines.
2. Keep coupons, receipts and store loyalty cards in your car so that they are always handy when you need them.
3. An IPAD with cellular service lets your kids watch Netflix in the car. Genius. (Not that I abuse it or anything)
4. Skip fast food by bringing lunch with you for those times when your little one will be in the car at lunchtime. (Or better yet – go home and eat there!). I like the healthy, shelf-stable lunches from GoPicnic, which have a complete meal in one little cardboard box.
5. Other things to keep in the car: Wipes, pop up paper towels from Viva (they have a dispenser box for the car!), bandages, a mini first aid kit, Kleenex, and a snack bar or two for when you realize you are out of the house for a stretch and forgot to eat.