13 Parenting Hacks That Will Save You Time

By Elizabeth Lang on 7 January 2015 1 comment

Before I had kids, I thought I didn't have much time. Then came along Kid #1 and it felt like we were always busy. Fast forward three years to Kid #2 and now I really know what it's like to not have enough time to do everything I want to do in a day. (See also: 9 Things You Must Do if You're Traveling With Kids)

So how do busy parents save time? Try these time saving hacks for parents to get more done in your day.

Clothing

Getting kids dressed takes time. Here are my favorite tips for saving time when it comes to clothes.

1. Instead of PJs, Dress Your Kids in Clothes

Perhaps the most practical tip I got from Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In was that she dresses her kids in their next day's clothes instead of pajamas. If your kids are not yet of the I-want-to-wear-this-not-that toddler kicking-and-screaming phase, you have no idea how much time this can actually save you. It literally took 45 minutes one morning to get my son's pants on. ("I don't like these pants." "Fine, don't wear pants." "I don't want my legs to be cold.")

Now, most weekday nights he puts on clean clothes for the next day. And we have saved ourselves a ton of time and a huge battle.

2. Set Out a Week's Worth of Outfits

One week at my son's preschool was "Rainbow Week" where the kids wore a different color of the rainbow everyday. In order to make sure we had the right clothes for every day, we set out clothes for the week, and it saved a ton of time. We now do this at the beginning of each week. And this tip also works wonders for your own wardrobe.

3. Iron Clothes With a Flat Iron for Hair

I don't remember where I read this tip first, but a flat iron (for hair) actually does a fantastic job of ironing clothing. If you're time pressed or only have one item to de-wrinkle, your flat iron is already hot from straightening your hair and can be used to fix your clothes.

4. Put a Bathrobe Over Your Clothes

In my first few weeks of going back to work after maternity leave I frequently needed two outfits — one for before the spit-up and one for after I had handed off my baby daughter to the nanny. Even older kids (and pets) tend to leave work clothes in less than presentable shape if you're not careful before leaving the house. By throwing a bathrobe over your clothes once you're dressed, you won't have to get dressed twice every morning.

Eating

As a parent, it seems that about half of my "free" time involves preparing or eating meals. Here are the tricks we use to save time in our household.

5. Meal Plan

Planning the next week's worth of meals has become a key "to-do" item for our weekend. No longer do we scramble after work to figure out what's in the cupboard or go out to eat because we can't figure out what to make (which actually takes more time than cooking). Plus, you'll end up saving a ton of money.

6. Freeze a Bag Full of Sandwiches

Making school lunches was either a nightly or morning chore that usually seemed rushed. Now, we buy a bag of mini bagels, cut and fill each bagel with either peanut butter or cream cheese, and freeze the whole bag. We also own enough divided lunch containers (I like Lunchbots) to make a whole week's worth of lunches on the weekends, and then easily throw the items each day in the lunch bag.

7. Master the Crock-Pot

We got a Crock-Pot for a wedding present, but it didn't become a counter-top staple appliance until after my daughter was born. We now have Crock-Pot meals at least once a week, because they just save so much time.

8. Make Breakfast Ahead of Time

I like a hot breakfast (or at least not cold cereal) most mornings. Here are my favorite make ahead and freezable breakfast recipes.

9. Buy a Coffeemaker With Programmable Timer

Mornings with kids are difficult (as evidenced by the fact that half my tips are about them) and a great place to save time in your day. Using a programmable coffeemaker is a great as it's one less thing to spend time on once you're out of bed.

Cleaning

I'm convinced that once you have children, there is never enough time to master keeping a spotless house, but here are some tips to make it a bit easier.

10. Buy a Dustbuster

When you don't have time to vacuum, a dustbuster is a miracle worker. We use ours at least every other day.

11. Love Your Dishwasher

Before kids, we used to handwash most of our pots, pans, and bowls. Recently, I've fully embraced our dishwasher and started putting pretty much all cookware in it. While we run loads much more frequently, we are less likely to have a stack of dishes waiting to be hand washed in the sink.

12. Have a Washer/Dryer Routine

We have yet to figure out how to save time on folding laundry (as seen by the piles of clean clothes around our house. If you have any tips for getting this done, let me know!). But no longer are we rushing around trying to clean clothes for the day we need them. Growing up my dad always put in a load of wash first thing in the morning (we had a laundry chute so there was no collecting of clothes that had to be done). I have recently adopted this habit for myself and found that with a regular routine, I am saving time on laundry.

Shopping

Getting kids in the car, driving to the store, shopping, returning home, unloading kids, and unloading the car — this adds up to hours each week. My single favorite tip for saving time on shopping is this:

13. Join Amazon Prime

I don't know how parents got their shopping done before Amazon Prime. If you don't know, Amazon Prime offers free two day shipping and one day shipping for $3.99. You'll save a ton of time by not having to run to the store every time you need an item.

What are your favorite parenting hacks that save you time? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Guest

For clothes, an inexpensive clothes rack on wheels helps a ton if you have the space. (About $20 at Walmart or Target.) I keep extra hangers there and put dry clothes on hangers just when they are done in the dryer. This saves a ton of time by not needing to iron as much, and saves money my not running things through the dryer extra cycles or unneeded trips to the dry cleaner for them to iron for us.

Because I've got extra space in my basement where my washer & dryer are, I even have a second rack for my husband's clothes. (He puts them away, but sometimes all our clothes on one rack just gets too full.) If my kiddo's wardrobe changes, I can see a third one coming in to the mix. Because the racks are on wheels, even folks who have less space might find room to store them in a closet if it's not Laundry Day.