I know it, you know it: There’s not enough time in the day. Raising a family and having a full-time job requires maintaining a rigorous schedule and constantly searching for time-savers. The fact that you’ve even made it this far into an introductory paragraph impresses me.
So, let’s get right to it. I consulted with my parent-friends and collected these working parent life hacks that will save you time from morning until night.
In the Morning
1. Invest in a Coffee Maker With a Timer
So your liquid fuel is ready the moment you wake up (or, more likely, the moment your children wake you up).
2. Keep Your Bathrobe on Over Your Work Clothes
Until you walk out the front door. This will help you avoid any morning messes—spit up, sippy cups, bottles, or unidentified sticky messes flung across the room—so you won’t have to waste time changing an entire outfit.
3. Capitalize on Your Kids’ Competitive Nature
And make getting ready a contest. Set a timer to see who can get dressed first. Race your kids to the bathroom once they get out of bed. Anything to get those little feet moving toward the front door and away from the television.
4. Moms, if You’re Breastfeeding, Pump While You Drive
Most pumps have a battery back-up, so connect the parts in your driveway, throw on a nursing shield, and make that commute work for you.
During the Day
5. If You or Your Parenting Partner Is Able to Web-Surf at Work, Use Your Downtime to Set Up Auto-Ship Services for the Essentials
Diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, and so on. Services like Amazon Prime and Diapers.com sell these items on the cheap, and they’ll be delivered to your door with free shipping.
6. Use Your Lunch Break to Pick Up Fresh Produce
That you’ll need for dinner, and do all of your other grocery shopping on the weekend. Or, look into a grocery delivery service, which, like the services I mentioned above, are less expensive than you might think.
7. Use Location-Based Reminder Apps
These apps, like Checkmark, chirp out an alert when you’re near a designated location, reminding you to do something. For example, you can set a reminder that alerts you the next time you’re in Target to buy milk, or the next time you’re near a post office to buy stamps.
In the Evening
8. Make Meal Planning Mandatory
You likely want to spend the moments between arriving home and bedtime playing with your kids, not staring dumbly into the refrigerator. So, plan meals ahead of time, invest in an affordable meal planning service like Fresh 20, or try a make-ahead program like Dream Dinners or Let’s Dish. Oh, and repeat after me: Breakfast for dinner is totally fine.
9. Shower at Night
And, when necessary, embrace dry shampoo.
10. Have the Whole Family Lay Out Clothes for the Next Day
For toddlers and babies who can’t dress themselves, purchase some “lounge wear” that can conveniently transition from evening to day, so only their diaper requires a change in the morning.
On the Weekends
11. Keep Diapers and Wipes in Baskets Around the House
So you’re not hauling your little one (and any siblings or pets that tend to tag along) to the changing table 10 times a day.
12. For Teething or Drooling Babies, Layer Several Bibs
So you can just remove throughout the day.
13. Make Your Grocery Run as Efficient as Possible
By making a list coordinated to aisles or store sections. Take advantage of coupon apps (many grocery stores have them). And if the whole family has to come along, get everyone involved: If you can walk, you can shop.
Of course, every happy family comes with its own chaos. A perfect schedule with down-to-the-minute routines wouldn’t be fun—or sustainable. But implementing even a few of these time-savers will make your work week a little bit less of a grind.