Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 tips and tricks to save time and make life easier #StarbucksApp

You know, it is kind of funny that I should be offered the chance to wax poetic about ways I save time and make my life easier.  I had a conversation with my 10 year old just yesterday when she said that "some people say there's no Santa" and then went on to tell me that there has to be because "you don't have time to go buy all those presents for us!"  Ah, the sweet logic of a ten year old!

I am busy, between keeping up with housework and kids and blogging and... well, everything else.  I like to feel that I have some control over my universe, so there are things that I do to save time and make my life easier.   Sharing is caring and I hope that these ten time saving tips to make your life as a busy mom easier help you too.
  • 1 ~ Clean the bathroom while the little kids are splashing in the tub.  Granted, don't leave your child unattended if they can't sit up on their own safely, but once they hit pre-schooler age, you can spiff up the toothpaste gook while they splash in the tub.  If your bathroom floor is small, you can probably hand wash the floor too.
Google Calendar = life saver
  • 2 ~ Fall in love with email calendar reminders.  I am in love with Google's calendar and send myself reminders for everything.  In fact, I need to pick up the dry cleaning.  Somehow, if it hits the inbox, it usually gets done!
  • 3 ~ Crock pot cooking is so under-rated!  As I sit here putting pen to paper, I can smell the pork chops cooking on slow roast.  Tossing in dinner hours ahead of time saves me the struggle of figuring out what's for dinner when time escapes me later on in the day.  Invest in a good crock pot cook book and take full advantage of the set it and forget it mentality when it comes to cooking.  Side dishes can be made quickly, but roasting meat takes time.
  • 4 ~ Plan your dinners around your busy schedule.  If Wednesdays are always hectic due to practice or church, you should always plan a quick, easy dinner.  This doesn't have to be fancy either.  Pancakes are quick and so is mac-n-cheese.  Know your limitations and plan the more time intensive meals for a day when you have time to realize that you forgot to pick up eggs.  
  • 5 ~ Adopt the last one rule.  This is one that I am (admittedly) not very good at.  When something is running low or you've grabbed the last one, you should put it on the grocery list.  For me, I am usually running low on corn starch because I use it as a thickening agent for my gluten free soups, gravies, etc.  Therefore, it is important to have it on hand all the time, probably more so than other people.  When I crack open the last canister or box of corn starch, I need to add it to the grocery list right away.  This helps me to not suffer from having to stop dinner prep to run to the store.  There are certain pantry items that you should just always keep on hand in perpetuity!
  • 6 ~ When time is tight, turn off the distractions.  My kids' eyes never fail to veer toward the TV, even though I am barking at them to get dressed, brush their teeth, or get their shoes on.  In the morning, I keep the TV off until they are out the door and on the school bus.  Having less distraction for them saves me time since I have a fairly strict schedule for them when school is in session.
  • 7 ~ Take care of the little things as soon as possible before they become a time-wasting vacuum.  Funny story:  I barely made it to my sister's wedding rehearsal on time.  Seems that I had a tire that was low and I put air in it and watched it per my hubby's request, when I really wanted to buzz down to the honest and beloved local mechanic.  15 minutes away from my sister's house and a good half hour down an unfamiliar road because we didn't want to risk a blow out at highway speeds, we had to whip out the donut tire.  Oops.  So keep up with the little things before they cause you to lose precious and valuable time later on.
  • 8~ Always have a check list when you prepare to travel.  And I realize this may be a silly item to write on the list, but the very last item should be "lock the door".  I can't tell you how many times we've turned around because of that "Did I lock the door?" question.  Seriously.  I can't tell you how many times!  Better yet, get in the habit of locking up together so you both know the house is secure!
  • 9 ~ Plan errand days.  I try hard to plan a certain day to do all (or most) of my running around.  I save time by combining a trip to the bank, the dry cleaners, the grocery store, the post office, etc. all in one day if possible.  Though it can be tiring to do a marathon jaunt around town, it saves me lots of time (and gas) since I am not running out all the time for just one thing.  Try to pick a day in the middle of the week when traffic is lighter, especially if you have to run to the mall.  
  • 10 ~ Subscribe to lots of blogs!  Shameless plug?  Perhaps.  But I subscribe to a ton of frugal bloggers such as myself, both via email and on Facebook.  I find lots of deals I would otherwise miss that save me time and make my life easier.  I find great freebies, coupon match ups, and special deals that I wouldn't necessarily find on my own.  I also use deals sites to help me find the best price so I don't have to run to every brick and mortar store to check out items before deciding who has the best deal.
Those are some of the things that I do to help me save time and make my life just a little bit easier.  Also, if I had to add an 11th item, I would have to confess that I abhor ironing and therefore, don't!  Well, maybe a few times a year at best.  I specifically look for clothing that is labeled "iron-free" so I know I won't have to spend time slaving over a hot iron and board!

What tips do you have to make your life easier? Leave me a comment (or if you're a SocialMoms blogger, a link to your blog post about this topic!)

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Disclosure:  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.
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