Let’s face it. The demands of being a working parent are relentless, and there are never enough hours in a day, month, or year. While we don’t promise to make the feat of being a working parent a breeze, we do hope that these five time- and sanity-saving tips will make your everyday a bit more efficient and maybe — just maybe — a little less stressful.
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The upside of having both parents working is the financial benefit of having two incomes. However, the downside is that work takes up most of the day, so there’s little time (or energy) to devote to your life outside of work. Time and efficiency are of the essence for working parents as they do their best to manage everyone’s meals, schedules, activities, chores, and so much more on a daily basis. To help out, here are five useful tips to help your family optimize its resources and gain some much-needed family time.
1. Pre-pack meals the night before. This task may seem like a hassle, but the reality is, it not only saves you time and energy in the morning, but also money in the long run. Consider that a decent lunch costs anywhere from $10 – $15 and you’re eating out for lunch three days a week, that amounts to $30 – $45/week per person, which is equivalent to $120 – $180/month (assuming four weeks in a month), or a whopping $1,560 – $2,340/year PER PERSON! What’s more is the savings in energy and stress that you get from not having to deal with the stress of scrambling to pack everyone’s lunches in the morning on top of already running behind schedule. Do yourself, your family, and your wallet a favor and prepare your meals ahead of time.
2. Plan and prepare outfits the night before. Have you ever had one of those days where you’ve tried on every possible outfit in your closet and simply cannot find anything to wear … and your kids are facing the same dilemma, too? To prevent such travesties, get in the habit of having outfits prepared the night before for you and your family. It doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to select an outfit and steam/iron it before turning in for the evening.
3. Subscribe to food/produce delivery services. Long hours at the office coupled with afterschool activities can make it nearly impossible to get to the grocery store or, better yet, prepare a home-cooked meal. Thankfully, there are several “at your doorstep” delivery programs that offer a wide range of food and meal delivery options for busy parents. This type of convenience does come with a price tag, so your budget will have to permit, obviously. Look into CSA delivery options in your area to have fresh, seasonal produce delivered to your doorstep from local farms, or there are several companies now that offer healthy, gourmet meal delivery services where you can customize the menu as well as the delivery frequency.
4. Assign and delegate household responsibilities evenly (and realistically). Now that your family is fed and it’s time to clean up for the evening, do yourself a favor and delegate household chores to your family members so that everyone is pitching in and earning their keep. If you have young children that need help being bathed, then one parent take care of bath duties after dinner, while the other does the dishes. If you have older children who can lend a helping hand, then definitely assign them a few chores that they can easy do every day or every other day. Something as simple as cleaning up their rooms, putting dishes away, and/or wiping down the counters would be a big help for working parents trying to do it all themselves. This isn’t child labor, folks — it’s called doing your fair share.
5. Keep a family calendar. In an effort to keep everyone in the know regarding activities and appointments, maintain a shared family calendar to take the guesswork out of scheduling everyone’s lives (there’s even an app for that). Apps like Cozi and Hub make managing your entire family’s schedule a breeze. A couple of the hassles of having multiple schedules to manage are double-scheduling and missed events, so having it all in one place helps eliminate such blunders and better prepare your family for future plans.
Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off track a bit, because, despite the resulting benefits, the discipline of trying to stick to a routine can become exhausting, too. The idea is to apply these time-saving tips to help your family get in a groove that works most of the time, because nobody’s perfect. Good luck and Godspeed, working parents — you’ve got this!
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