There was so much positive feedback on the post, How to Manage the Family and Free Up Time, that I’ve written a follow up with 4 additional ways to make more time in your day. Unlike the original post, the organizational tips here don’t all revolve around your children.
Although…once you free up time, it seems that time is often eaten back up by doing stuff for or with your kids. It always comes back to kids somehow!!
Regardless of what you do with that extra time, being organized will help you feel less stressed and more productive!
1) Grocery Shopping
This is a biggie. What a time suck! Having a standard grocery delivery two times a week is a game changer. I know some people like picking out their own produce, fish, and meat, but even if that’s the case, you can still have your packaged goods delivered: milk, butter, eggs, etc. Once you’ve made the leap, there’s no turning back. Of course, it’s still necessary to supplement with items the delivery service doesn’t have, or things that run out of in-between deliveries. But it’s typically a quick in and out of the store with 20 items or less. If only someone started a biz where that goes to all of the grocery stores (like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Costco, Stop & Shop), that would save a ton of time. Until that happens, here is my approach:
I actually make a list for every grocery store I shop at. Each sheet has a checklist of all of the items I buy at that store. (I have a folder with lots of copies of each). Before going shopping, I take out the list and check the house to see what I have / need. I also try to just check things off as we finish things and ask my family (and babysitter) to do the same. You might be thinking, why not use an app and keep it all on your phone so you are sure to have it with you at the store. Yes, that would be ideal. But aside from tried being old school and liking to have the information right in front of me in black and white, I couldn’t share the list with everyone, and having them be responsible for adding to it is such a big part of making fewer trips to the store and minimizing the whining, “You forgot what I wanted.”
So what if I show up at the store list-less? Well, I always try to remember to take a photo of the list upon completing it. Or, worst case scenario, I can ask someone at home to look at the list and then see what we need (an example of why copies are a life-saver).
It’s also great to keep a list of all of the items you might buy at the grocery store on your phone, or printouts in your car / purse. Just looking at it when I am at the store often jogs my memory as to what we need. Without seeing something in black and white, well, it’s inevitable that I will forget to buy a handful of things. You would think that going down the aisles would be the same, but I’m always trying to get in and out of the store quickly so I’m not really looking! If you have the opposite approach and enjoy browsing the aisles, it can lead to a cart full of items that you really don’t need! Lists help you stay on track.
Another helpful tool is to have a wipe-off board in the kitchen or main hub of your home, where everyone can just write what is needed when things run out. It might require training everyone in the family, or consequences, (I told my girls that if they don’t write it they can’t expect me to buy it), but you’ll see how quickly everyone gets on board with the board! Having this list is so convenient — when I’m running out to the market, I snap a pic of the board with my phone. Or, if I’m not home, again, I just call the house and have someone read it to me.
2) Travel / Packing
Instead of making a list of what you need to pack every time you go away for the weekend or on vacation, why not create a master list and simply print it out each time you need it (just like the grocery list)? For mine ,I created various sections (ie: meds, toiletries, clothing, shoes, electronics, games/toys/books, other), including sections with items for warm weather vacations and cold weather. I also have a sleepover list for each daughter so they can pack themselves without forgetting anything (like their toothbrush, inhaler or lactaid).
Ok, if you aren’t thinking that I am a little crazy / OCD at this point, you’ll likely think it after you read about my cleaning list. Whether you have someone to come in and help clean your house on a regular basis, periodically, or never, creating a cleaning checklist is the way to go. Mine is by room-and very detailed. It includes the frequency, ie: every week, every 1st and 3rd weeks of the month, etc. When you have someone cleaning for you, it means you know it will get done because you can have them check off the items on the list as they do them. If you do it yourself, it feels so satisfying knowing it’s getting done. And the list even makes it easier to solicit your kids or hubby to help out. I must confess that I have a second cleaning list for special projects – the deep down dirty cleaning that gets done just a few times a year, like cleaning out the cutlery drawer or fridge, moving the stove, dusting on top of the high cabinets, cleaning duvet covers, etc. I know…exciting stuff!
4) Emergency Plan
Perhaps the most important tip is this one – having an emergency plan. I know we hear it all the time, but I also know that most of my friends don’t have one. I created mine after September 11th, along with a to-go bag, and was so happy that I had it when all of the electricity in Manhattan went out in 2003…when I was pregnant.
My emergency list includes what to do if you’re not home, if your kids are at school, and where to go / meet based on where you are and where the problem is (ie: if it’s a problem in the city and your husband works there, maybe you have him walk over the 59th street bridge and meet him in Queens. And the backup plan is meeting elsewhere if the 59th street bridge isn’t accessible.)
Our list also includes things to consider doing if you are home based on the type of emergency, like plug in a real, non-cordless phone (that is if you even have a home phone number), filling pots and tubs with water, sealing windows, etc. It’s easy to panic when you can’t get in touch with loved ones. But hopefully, with a plan like this you can have some peace of mind.
–>I can’t wait to hear how these organizing strategies worked for you and what you’re doing with your extra time. Shoot me an email! And if you have tips of your own, definitely share them with me so I can pass them along to all of the other moms in the GAALS community. I know they’ll be so grateful! We moms have to help each other out!