I’ve been part of the working mums club for six years now, and it’s certainly been a learning curve full of trial and error, wins and losses. I’ve learnt what does work, what doesn’t and there’s still a lot I have to learn. But, after six years of juggling children, a career, my own business, a home, I’m happy to report on the things that do work and help me save time and keep on track.
In this list I have also included things I know I should do, I just haven’t started them yet. It certainly pays to be organised and having a routine is essential!
Time saving tips for busy working mums
Cook easy meals
Forget the fancy meals when you’re a working mum, fuss-free, and straightforward meals are as good. I’m a huge fan of one pot meals where you can throw it all in. It’s easy, and there’s less clean up. Slow cooker meals are also my life saver. I throw all the ingredients in, set it to cook and a lovely dinner is ready; no checking the oven or standing over a hot stove.
Online grocery shopping
Online grocery shopping would have to be one of the most lifesaving things for modern day working mums. At the start it can be time-consuming, searching for your products and adding them to the ‘trolley’, but once you’ve shopped for your groceries online a few times, you start to build a list of your regular items. This means that you can use these again next time you shop, making your online shop quicker each time. Even better, it’s delivered straight into your kitchen, there are no climbing stairs with heavy bags (my pet hate) and the time you spend walking up and down the isles can be spent preparing the fridge for new groceries.
I’ve repeated time and time, I’m not a menu planner because I’m one of those strange people who eat what they feel like. There’s nothing worse when I’m looking forward to dinner and crave a curry, and it’s lasagne for dinner. But, in saying this, Ido loosely meal plan in my head when I do the grocery shop. Everything I buy belongs to a meal I’ve set for the week, albeit, not on any meal planner. So, I guess, whichever meal planning process suits you, knowing what you’ve got to cook makes things so much easier and stops the procrastination and time wasting trying to decide.
Stay on top of cleaning
A month ago my beloved cleaner had to finish working for me due to permanent injury. I was gutted. But, I’m determined to get back into the swing of things and have started cleaning the shower while I’m in it. I’ve bought Koh cleaning products that clean everything, so no need to change the product I use for each area of the house. I’ve bought myself a Hoover Stick vacuum so I can do quick vacuums of the kids crumbs instead of bailing out my huge vacuum cleaner and I’m trying to follow some decluttering tips to keep things looking tidy, too.
Ok, so I said my cleaner has moved on, and I am doing the cleaning myself, but, I’m still a huge advocate of outsourcing if you can afford it. My juggle of being a working mum plus having bipolar means life can be pretty challenging. Having a cleaner was one less thing on my mind to worry about and something to look forward to every fortnight. I was more than happy to pay a cleaner for three hours a fortnight because I got those three hours back in time with my family and less stress.
If you feel like you can keep on your housework but struggle with keeping on top of things you’re not so great at like bookkeeping or graphic design for your business advertising, why not make use of someone else’s virtual assistant skills and outsource your work to a virtual assistant. It makes sense to outsource tasks you’re not so good at and get paid for the ones you are.
Use your commute time
When I worked in the city, I remember how much time I had during my commute on the train. In that time I was able to read so many books! But, that’s when I wasn’t a mum. The commute time is the perfect chance to catch up on things like emails and admin.
Make lists & plan
I am a big time list maker. I’m still an old-school paper user and have notebooks everywhere and am considering moving to a productivity app for my lists, but either way, making a list is essential to keep on track. There is nothing so utterly feelgood to me than crossing something off my list. In addition to my lists, I add important tasks that have due dates to my month-to-view calendar inside my Kaiserkraft planner. Every day this planner is the first thing I open up to see what’s due and where I’m at.
Prepare the night before
I find it so much easier in the morning when clothes are ready, uniforms are ironed, and bags are already packed.
Have a school station
In our house, we have a basic school station. It comprises of two bag hooks and an area underneath for school shoes. Our children’s school bags get hung there as well as school hats and other sports bags. Everything has its place.
How many times have you put your work clothes on, only to get sticky finger marks on them afterwards? I hot tip I heard about is to wear your dressing gown over the top!
My psychologist suggested this one to me. It’s so hard to keep track of who’s doing what. I must admit there have been plenty of times when I’ve forgotten to tell my husband when something is on, and we end up double booking ourselves. We have a family planner on the wall, but I want to start using a shared calendar. Apparently, Apple has one that you can sync with anyone who has their icloud account. I’m sure Google also has something similar.
Stay on top of the laundry
Laundry is my nemesis. My lounge room is partially useable because one couch is covered with mountains of washing to fold and put away – Mount Washmore. Our dirty clothes basked is NEVER empty. My goal? My goal is to attempt keeping on top of it by doing a load a day (usually only left for the weekend). Throw a load into the washing machine at night, hang it in the morning, fold it at the end of the day.
Ask for help
Asking for help is the hardest thing ever, I know I struggle. But, as a working mum, I know that asking for help is essential. Whether you ask your husband to collect your child from daycare so you can have 30 minutes to yourself when you get home or team up with a friend who may be able to take your children to school one day a week. Remember, to fill your cup before you can help anyone else. It’s not just about saving time; it’s about protecting your sanity too.
Learn to say no
If you were to ask me which one of these tips were the most important to a working mum, I’d have to say learn to say no. We try to be supermums and say yes to everything, we fear missing out, or we say yes to be polite. No one else suffers from this as much as we do when we find ourselves stuck amongst the crippling feeling of overwhelm. It is OK to say no. Want to learn the art of saying no? Read my article here.
What would the world do without working mums, hey? We’re a dedicated and determined bunch, aren’t we? I’d love for you to share with me the hacks you use to save you time and keep you sane! Share them in the comments!