10 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

by Lain Ehmann on June 22, 2011

Today is our last day of school! Yahoo! Yes, I know — most people were out weeks ago. That’s what you get for living in New England and getting five snow days this past year! Geez already.

Obviously, I’m looking forward to the summer — but part of me is dreading it a bit, too. After all, I’m going from six hours a day free for work to four hours a day. So I’m looking for ways to maximize my productivity, so I still have time to scrapbook, work, and get the laundry done. Here are my top ten time-saving tips for busy moms (and busy scrappers!):

1. Layer activities. Multi-tasking has gotten a bad rap lately. That’s why I’m in favor of layering instead. That means I do things like listen to scrapbooking podcasts while I’m doing housework, making a date with a girlfriend to walk while we catch up, and listening to books on CD in the car. I layer an activity that doesn’t require much attention from me (like laundry) with one that doesn’t require my hands (like podcasts).

2. Work in batches. Whether I’m working on a scrapbook page or running errands, I group a bunch of like tasks together. If I’m doing laundry, I fold several loads at once. If I’m sewing on scrapbook pages, I do a bunch of projects that require sewing at a single sitting. This cuts down on the back-and-forth.

3, Cut the marginal activities. We all have activities that we take part in just because someone asked us to, or just because we always have. But given our druthers, we’d cut ‘em out of our schedule. Go ahead and take those activities off your list. If anyone gets mad at you, tell ‘em I said you could.

4. Prioritize. Each day, start out knowing what few things you have to do to consider that day a success. Maybe it’s just getting your kids fed and clothed — that’s okay! Knowing that keeps things in perspective.

5. Write it down. I cannot tell you how many million-dollar ideas I’ve had that I’ve forgotten. I swear I’m going to write them down — later — and then I never do. I now write EVERYTHING down, even stuff I know I won’t forget (haha!). I would be completely lost without my little notebook that goes everywhere with me.

6. Delegate. At first, I thought I was a bad mom when I asked my kids to take over chores that I could easily handle, like putting away groceries or scrubbing out the sink. But then I realized that it wasn’t like I was the mean orphanage director from Little Orphan Annie who made the kids work while I was sitting around; if I wasn’t working on one chore, I was typically handling another. AND I was also training my kids to take care of themselves someday. So go ahead and delegate some of those jobs (and if you use the freed-up time to scrapbook, I won’t tell!).

7. Phone a friend. This past year I’ve had the most fantastic neighbor in the world — who just so happens to be the mom of my 10-year-old’s best friends. Our girls were on the same soccer teams, in the same class, and involved in many of the same activities. As a result, Jen and I were able to tag-team whenever needed. She picks up the toilet paper I need on her run to Sam’s Club, and I grab her girls from school when she’s running late. It saves both of us a ton of time — and it’s little give-and-takes like these that cement relationships.

8. Do what you love — and love what you do. If you only have limited time and can never do everything, you might as well spend the time you do have on things you adore. And by the same token, if you HAVE to do something anyway, find a way to enjoy it.

9. Simplify. It’s okay to have a one-dish meal, eat on paper plates, create very simple scrapbook layouts, and wear the same three outfits over and over this summer. Really. No one will arrest you.

10. Remember, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. We can waste a lot of time worrying about this and that, struggling to make our homes and families and scrapbook layouts look like the ones we see online, or just having angst over our lack of perfection. LIFE isn’t perfect — get used to it, embrace it, and move on.

I’d love to hear some of YOUR tips for saving time, particularly in your family life!

P.S. I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

  • Ellie Augustin

    My boys last day of school is actually Friday :) (we are in NY) but these are some awesome tips & I’ll keep them in mind as I’ll take you can share! :) My motto actually is the last setence you said. Life isn’t Perfect get use to it an embrace it & move on… To me life goes by too quickly to worry so much about the little things so I am going to try to enjoy the Summer as much as I can w/my kids because before we know it September will come knocking.

  • Anonymous

    That is for sure — particularly when our kids get out so late! I don’t know who on earth would want a year-round school. Summer vacations are a constitutional right. :)

  • http://twitter.com/gscrapbooks Gretchen

    These are great! I need to work on #5! I try to remember to write things down but by the time I get to a piece of paper, whatever I thought was so fantastic is gone. I’m all about #10! 

  • Helena

    great list Lain, I particularly like the end of 9 and 10

  • Anonymous

    THank you, Helena! :)

  • Anonymous

    It is a habit — just make sure you have something, even a 3×5 index card, with you. That helps! ;) Glad you are a believer in #10, too. :) xoxo

  • Michele in La

    oh wow…my kids have been out of school for almost a month!  but then they are back in school by mid-August…

    Time saving for me comes in the kitchen – especially since it’s so hot already!  It usually doesn’t take much more time to cook enough for two nights while I’m cooking for one night.  The leftovers could be the exact same meal, or maybe just a little different.  Thankfully my family loves leftovers :).

    And definitely group errands together – it will not only save time running to town, but also saves fuel and that means saving many $’s!  I love a day when I don’t have to start the vehicle and go anywhere :) :).

    I need to work on #1 (layering) – seems like with the interuptions from children, I’m lucky to stay focused on one activity :). 
    I’m a firm believer in #6 (delegating) – I wash dishes, they rinse; I load the dishwasher, they unload; I wash, dry, hang and separate the clothes, they fold and put theirs away.  I think it’s just part of being in a family and contributing to family life.

    Thanks for the post…Michele

  • Anonymous

    Michele, I think you are so right – I often want to make things easy and fun for my kids, but as part of the family they have responsibilities too.

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