Having successfully navigated baby, toddler and primary school challenges that life throws at you (you know the ones: juggling kids, work, home, after school activities & sports weekends), I can safely say I’ve learned a thing or two about managing my time. Most of the skills I’ve picked up have been passed down to me by other mothers who had already been there and done that.
I am forever indebted and want to pass along their collective gems of wisdom so you too can make your life more liveable.
One mum shared this nugget with me as we were both early risers. She told me by waking up 15 minutes early I could cut time spent in the laundry by half (Hallelujah!).
Laundry done! If your kids are not yet at school, then you might want to reverse the schedule to keep your time in the laundry room to a minimum.
Seems obvious, right? But aside from my shopping list, I never had a “to do” list. I relied on a combination of calendar reminders, text and email messages. Needless to say, I was always forgetting something: submitting a medical form, gathering together craft materials for school open day, booking the car in for service, etc. So I broke down one day, swiped one of my kids’ spare notebooks (sorry Sam!) and starting jotting down all of these little things. It’s my parental glue-stick that ties together all the loose ends of my day. If you’re notebook is too big to carry with you, take a photo of your to do list with your phone and you will always have it with you.
Target to be early rather than on-time!
I know, I know, easier said than done – but here is my life hack for you. Set all of your clocks in your home and in your car forward by 5 to 10 minutes (I’ve actually found 6 minutes is perfect at our house – go figure!). Even though you know you’ve done this it still works. Try it…you’ll thank me.
Give yourself a buffer. Trying to fit in that mums & tots class followed by lunch with your mum? Make sure you always leave yourself a nice buffer of 20-30 minutes between events/appointments/get togethers. This way if the playdate runs over, you won’t be stressed about getting to your lunch.
Start keeping track of the time. This probably sounds a bit bizarre but how much time do your activities actually take? If you are seriously underestimating the time involved, then that could be why you feel like you are always rushing from point A to point B. Take for example, after school rosters. I figured the round trip took me 40 minutes but no, between the kids not being ready, the road closure on the way and lack of parking to safely drop off the kids, it averaged between 55 & 60 minutes (I know because I clocked it for an entire term – um…yes…I am that geeky). That was 20 minutes out of the time I wanted to use to make dinner, no wonder we were always eating late!
Go on, I dare you. Social Media, WhatsApp, text & email messages – go into Settings and turn off the sounds and banner alerts. You will still get all your messages but only when YOU want to see them. Check them every 15 minutes, 30 minutes or once an hour. This, more than anything else, will free up oodles of time for you. Every time your phone or computer buzzes you lose a few minutes, and it can quickly add up to an hour or hours! So go on, give it a try!
Tidiness: If you are not already an organised person this one requires persistence, patience and a bit of a blind eye. I decided that primary school (Year 3) was the perfect time for my kids to start making their own beds and tidying their rooms before school. First, it took a couple of terms to get it through to them that, (a) I was indeed serious and (b) that this was their new reality. Second, let’s face it, kids suck at making beds. So I spent a lot of time lying to them that they did a wonderful job and spent several months closing their bedroom doors so I didn’t have to see their efforts. Third, if they “forgot” or left their clothes lying on the floor, one day of laundry duty or making everyone’s beds quickly brought them into line again.
I hope at least one of these tips makes it into your routine, I know found them to be indispensable in my life. When the time comes, you too can pay them forward :). If you have any other great tips, tricks or life hacks, we’d love to hear them.
Julie + Ali
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