You might have noticed I was a bit quieter than usual last week. That's because I was crazy busy.
I started the week by catching a late plane to Paris and spent the next day working with clients on an upcoming project. Then I flew back in time for a couple of days working at home and spending time with the kids before zooming off to London on Thursday night, ready to run workshops at a two day conference. Suffice to say, I spent Sunday snuggling with the kids, eating and generally nodding off.
So this week, I'm back at my desk, catching up on emails, housework and all the rest. Now it's not often I'm as busy as I was last week, but I'm always pretty darn busy. Aren't all parents? This got me thinking: how do we do it? How do busy parents keep everything ticking over?
I have a feeling the sheer 'just get on with it' necessity means we unconsciously pick up 101 tricks, hacks and shortcuts we don't even necessarily realise we're using. We just do it and somehow, most of the time, it all works out.
Next, I put a call out across social media and asked YOU to share your time management tips for busy parents. In flooded buckets of common sense, a lot of consensus, and a couple of things I've never tried before.
If you're having a frazzled moment and feel like you're being stretched too far - here are the tips that readers, bloggers and friends shared with me today, revealing how they claim back a little breathing space.
They might not all work for you, but if just one inspires a positive change, it's worth the 2 minutes it took to read the list, right?
- Get the children involved with chores (thanks Diana). This is a great tip as it combines lightening your load with spending more time with the kids. With toddlers and preschoolers, you can definitely make it a game. Older children might take some more persuasion, but can also take on tasks independently, such as taking their own laundry to the laundry bin or wiping down surfaces.
- Get up early to work/tidy/exercise before the kids wake up (thanks Laura). If you're already using every last drop of wakefulness, this might not work for you, but if you find trying to multitask work/childcare/miscellaneous during the day is making your head spin, grabbing some quiet time at the start of the day could work wonders.
- Get clothes/packed lunches/school bags ready the night before (thanks Carol and Sara). A little bit of late night organisation might be the last thing you feel like doing when bed is calling, but the trade off is far less manic mornings, which could make for happier kids, happier parents and calmer days.
- Tidy up as you go along. Little and often is key (thanks Francesca and Clare). Nipping up to the bathroom? Take that basket of clean laundry up with you. Clearing the dirty dishes after dinner? Put them straight in the dishwasher instead of on the counter top. If the whole family starts thinking this way, housework stops feeling like such a mammoth task.
- Or save up jobs and tackle them in one big session (thanks Vicky). If little and often feels too much like an endless slog, Vicky's approach could work for you. She says, "I keep a basket at the bottom of the stairs and bring it with me when I'm going upstairs anyway (to the loo or for bedtime etc). I also don't wash up until I have enough to fill a whole bowl and make it worth my while!"
- Cook in big batches, freeze some for later (thanks Claire and Tracey). This really works! Although you may find you run out of freezer space, cooking double quantities and freezing half means you'll soon have a good stock of healthy, homemade frozen meals. Honestly, when you're in a place where the last thing you feel like doing is cooking and then you remember you have a family size lasagne in the freezer, the relief will be well worth the effort.
- Invest in a slow cooker (thanks Joanne). Chuck the ingredients in before you start the morning routine, flick the "on" switch and you can eat a fresh meal everyday with a fraction of the rushing around and stress, and only one pot to clean. There are loads of slow cooker recipes online - have a search, you'll be amazed.
- Meal plan for the week ahead (thanks Amy and Sherry). Spending half an hour planning your main meals for the week ahead means no more staring blankly at the fridge, no more evening dashes back out to the corner shop, and no more emergency takeaways. It saves money, as well as keeping healthy eating habits on track.
- Get techy with a shared online calendar (thanks Kay and Jo). A shared space online means as soon as a member of the family has something to add, everyone knows about it and there are no nasty surprises. Some services will even let you store snaps of school letters and whatnot in a shared space, so they're always available on all of your devices. No more, 'Oh no, am I meant to be at sports day?!"
- Set up a whiteboard calendar in a well trafficked area in everyone's eye line (thanks Jax). Scribbling key appointments, parties and meetings on a physical board where everyone can see it, even when they're forgetting to check their phones really helps keep things on track.
- Automate or delegate as much admin as you can (thanks Sarah). Whether you're employed part time, in the office all day, or running your own business from home, automating your admin where you can will free up more time to be productive. One of Sarah's top tip solutions is to download an app that lets you photograph receipts straight into your accounts package.
- Too much to do, no time to think? Get all the noise out of your head and onto paper (thanks Jo). Once it's out of your head, turn it into a list, says Jo. Most important tasks go at the top, then do the thing you least want to do first. Concentrate on the top three, as they should be the big things that will make space for the rest.
None of it's rocket science, is it? But I really think it helps to see all those tips laid out, and it's rather motivating to be reminded of easy steps you can take or revisit to make things a touch easier.
What tips would you add to this post? Do please let me know in the comments.
This is a sponsored post for Comfort Intense. Image of multitasking woman © ipag via Shutterstock