Time Saving Hacks
Mike and I were chatting recently about how much time we had pre-kids. Like, literally, we would watch a movie every night and just have so much chill time. You don't realize it until it's gone, so if you're reading this pre-kids - enjoy it while it lasts! Anyways, that got me thinking about what I do to make sure I still have some time to do the things that I need to do for myself to stay sane. I am two things by nature (1) a procrastinator and (2) an introvert. The procrastinator in me can really get me into some stressful situations now that I have zero time and the introvert in me absolutely needs some down time on a daily basis. So, I have compiled the top ten hacks that I have implemented since becoming a parent to make sure that I'm not procrastinating and that I get my down time each day [even if it's just an hour or so].
The importance of the food fan (linked here) can not be understated. When you are making a meal, and you have one, two, three plus hangry children screaming it can get pretty stressful. You do not want to be standing at your kitchen counter blowing on multiple plates [or even one plate] of food hoping it cools off fast so you're kids will stop yelling at you to be fed. I introduce you to the FOOD FAN. It has saved countless minutes each day and lots of hungry children from yelling at me. It also doubles as a water bottle for bed head in the A.M.
Little humans learning to eat is a messy business. When you have multiple little humans learning to eat at the same time it's more than double the mess. It goes something like this: Tot #1 is eating like the little angel she/he is, Tot #2 decides to be "mischievous Tot of the night" and starts throwing food. Tot #1, who was not initially predisposed to throw food then starts throwing food, in turn leading Tot #2 to throw even more food because it's soooooo funny to throw food. Oy. When this is happening multiple times a day, cleaning up can be a time consuming event. Enter the Eye-Vac (linked here). This was actually Mike's brilliant idea. He was at his barber one day and noticed they were sweeping all of the hair into this little gadget that just sucked everything up automatically. We ordered one on Amazon that exact same day and have saved so much time and effort since having it in our house. It sits in a corner near where the twins eat their meals and we literally sweep everything into it after each meal. I mean everything - bits of chicken, french toast, pancakes, rice, veggies - you name it, we've swept it into the eye-vac.
Okay, full disclosure, I started using dry shampoo about 3 months ago and only because my hairdresser begged me to stop washing my hair everyday [because it was killing my hair] and to only wash at most 2 times per week. I told her I'd give it a try and stick with it for at least a month. I did that and have loved it ever since. First, it's a total time saver! Washing my hair daily was making my morning routine about 45 min - 1 hour every damn day [not good]. With dry shampoo, I can get ready in about 25 mins tops most days since I'm not washing and blow drying my hair. Second, my hair is so much healthier! It is noticeably shinier and my ends aren't frizzy or dry anymore. I use the Moroccan Oil dry shampoo for dark tones (linked here) and about mid week add in the Oribe dry texturizing spray (linked here) to get more volume in my fine hair.
4. Prep your coffee every night. I know this might seem obvious but it is literally one of the most important rules in my house so I did not want to leave it out. Mike and I have a saying - "if all else fails, just make sure the coffee is ready for the morning". We live by this. Starting your morning off right is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of your day. It just seems to set the tone for the day. I find it hard to come back and have a good day if my morning starts off shitty. It is so nice to come down in the morning and just press a button to start the coffee maker instead of filling the water tank, pouring the beans, grinding the beans, measuring out the grounds in the coffee maker and then waiting. Having a few less things to do in the A.M. will seriously change your morning.
Before I had the twins I was obsessed with learning about all things sleep related. I like to sleep. I need to sleep. I literally cannot function without the right amount of sleep. I knew that if I wanted to continue working [and being good at it] I needed to make sure I was sleeping and that meant the twins needed to be sleeping. My two favorite books on this issue are linked in the photos below (I read the one geared for multiples but I have included the same book geared toward singletons as well). Some parents have elaborate bed time routines - we do not. We have a simple and strict bed time routine. The babies get a diaper change, lavender lotion, jammies, kisses goodnight, and then in the bed [Scottie of course still nurses in conjunction with her bed time but she's only 2 months]. That's it. It all takes about 15 minutes at the most. There are no bottles, no stories, no playing in their bedroom. It has been like this since the twins were about seven months old. Prior to seven months the only difference was that the twins had a bottle before bed. How I think I was able to establish this bed time routine will require a longer, more detailed post which I will be posting within the next two weeks. However, for now, my two main rules for getting your kids to go to bed are (1) establishing a routine and (2) no playing in their bed room - bed rooms are for sleeping, not playing.
Pre-kids when it was just Mike and me, [and even in college] I would do laundry once a week [okay maybe less than once a week in college]. That was totally sufficient and I got the job done in like half a day. So, after having the twins, I continued doing that because it's what I always did. Uhhhhh, not working so much. I suddenly found myself drowning in laundry and running out of clothes. One weekend, with piles of dirty clothes, I separated them all and instead of trying to do all of the laundry that day, I just did one load and for the rest of the week I made sure to wash, dry, fold, and put away one load of laundry. I don't always stay on top of this and immediately regret it when I do get behind of my one load of laundry a day rule.
This is an app available on iTunes. Essentially WunderList is an app where you can keep lists and have shared lists with other people who can either see the list or edit the list. Mike and I initially used it when the twins were in the NICU and I was living in Charlottesville and he was commuting between Northern Virginia and Charlottesville because he was working still. I would add things to the list that I needed him to bring from home as I realized I needed them. We now primarily use this app for keeping our grocery list through the week. Before WunderList I would sit down every Saturday or Sunday and figure out what we needed in the house then I would go out and get it. Most of the time on various days of the week Mike and I would be like "oh, we need Q-tips" or "oh, we need more dish soap" then when I was making our list later in the week, we would both forget that we needed those things. Now, with WunderList, not only am I not spending like 30-45 minutes to make a grocery list, but we aren't forgetting things either. WunderList is on our phones and we have a shared grocery list so when Mike realizes he needs more razors, he just adds it to the list right away. When I pour my last glass of wine [sike that never happens, I always have wine] I add it to the list. You get the idea. It's a total time saver and stress reliever.
News Flash: I do not bathe my kids every day. I don't even bathe them every other day. I probably bathe them 2-3 times per week, tops. Whatever, it works for me, it works for them, and they're totally fine with it. Two rules here - have a designated bath day [or days] and if you have to bathe one kid off schedule [because lets face it someone is going to rub ketchup in their hair on a non-bath day], bathe all the kids and just adjust the schedule.
I recently started using a grocery delivery service and it is life changing [especially for working mamas!]. Y'all have probably seen my insta stories of our early-as-hell Wegman's grocery trips. Our Sundays used to revolved around the Wegman's trip. Not anymore! I discovered the app InstaCart that finds all of the stores near me that offer delivery service. I have two grocery stores and a CVS that I can get items delivered from! For three weeks in a row I have had my groceries delivered which has given me more free time to enjoy time with my fam. Here is a code to get free delivery and $10 off your first order of groceries.
I know that this is an extra expense that not everyone can afford, however, for me, this was a no brainer. I work full time and the last thing I want to use my two days off for is cleaning my house. It's worth the extra expense to me. If you want to analyze your expenses to see how you can fit a cleaning service into your budget, take a look at my post on tracking your income and expenses here.