Do you find that you have no time to do the things you want to do? Are you so busy running kids from one activity to the next that you find yourself missing time with your family because your schedules are so packed?
If you can relate to being a busy family with less free time than you would like, then read on and I will provide you with seven tips to help free up some extra time in your life. That way, you will have time to do the stuff you enjoy doing while also spending quality time together as a family and perhaps even carve out some time for yourself!
I don’t know when it was decided that parents are supposed to do everything in the home. You won’t earn a trophy for doing everything to run your household by yourself. You will find yourself with more time when you delegate work in the family to others.
Your kids are more capable than you think. They can navigate any technological device in minutes, so they are obviously capable of simple tasks like making a bed, washing dishes, and putting away laundry. All such tasks are less complex than working your average smartphone.
If you are wondering what chores are appropriate for your child’s age, then you can check out the article Age-Appropriate Chores: How to Help Kids Be Responsible, which provides this helpful information. The younger you start your kids with chores, the more capable and involved they will be in the housework as they get older.
Start with simple tasks when they are young, and build upon those tasks and chores each year as they mature and become more capable.
Delegate These Tasks to Your Kids
Below is a list of chores that most kids, ages four and up, can do every day to lighten your load.
- Pick up their toys
- Lay out their clothes the night before
- Put away dishes after they are washed
- Take out the garbage
- Make their bed
- Put away their laundry
- Dust rooms in the house
- Sweep floors and use a dustpan
- Feed the family pets and refill water bowls
- Clear the table after a meal
- Set the table for a meal
- Load the dishwasher
- Vacuum a room
- Bring their personal items in from the car
- Put laundry in the hamper
- Hang up bath towels after use
- Help carry in groceries after shopping
- Take the mail out to the mailbox and bring in the mail
It is also helpful to hire help in areas that are feasible, and the balance of gaining your time back is worth the investment.
Some areas where help is commonly sought out are deep cleaning in the home and yard care. If you can’t afford to get this done weekly or even bi-weekly, then you may want to look into getting service perhaps once a month if possible.
Knowing that your house will be deep cleaned every two weeks can help you focus on keeping the house picked up rather than doing harder, more time-consuming manual labor in the home every day.
Of course, much of the picking up can also be delegated among members of the family. Everyone should be responsible for picking up after themselves. Teach this to your kids when they are young, so you don’t become the maid to your children.
2. Focus on Easy, Healthy Meals
Your meals don’t have to be cooked from scratch by you to be healthy for your family. Other people and companies do this prep work for you, and it can save you a considerable amount of time.
Many companies make affordable meal kits that can be delivered right to your home. If you don’t know where to start or which company to use, then check out this article from Buyer’s Guide: Best Meal Delivery Services.
Many grocery stores also offer freshly made meal options in their deli/fresh food section. This option often allows you to pick up pre-made meals that you simply bake in the oven at home. Everything is already completely prepped, and the time it takes you to remove the cover and pop the meal into the oven is just several minutes of your day.
3. Grocery Pick Up or Delivery
Most grocery stores now offer curbside pick up or delivery at a nominal cost and many are, in fact, free.
I use Walmart’s curbside pickup because it is free and easy. Everything is the same low prices as in in-store purchases. For Walmart, I simply downloaded the app, loaded my cart, selected my pick-up location at check out, selected an available pick-up time, and paid for my order.
Utilizing an app for grocery shopping and not having to shop in-store every week for our groceries, toiletries, and household basics have saved me an average of two hours a week. That is 104 hours a year saved.
Now, I simply add groceries into the app when I realize I need something. I check out once a week and pick up one large order weekly. The hours I would have spent inside shopping and finding everything on my list are now eliminated.
If you don’t know which stores will deliver or have curbside pick up, simply google “grocery stores near me that offer curbside pickup or delivery.” You will find all the options closest to your home.
4. Prioritize Activities
We often have very little free time in our lives because we are over-scheduled. We say yes to too many activities at the same time.
You may need to sit down as a family and discuss this issue. Each family member could determine the one or two activities that are essential so that if you need to reduce activities, each family member has determined which of theirs is a priority.
Sports and after-school activities are a normal part of most families’ lives. However, it doesn’t mean you have to do all the things, all at the same time. Perhaps choose one sport in one season and another sport for the next.
Kids don’t need to have two or three sports activities every week to feel fulfilled. Research shows that doing too many activities at once is burning out many families.
Determine which activities are more essential or meaningful for each of your family members. Have them decide which activities are less essential.
If they have been taking piano for four years and they truly don’t enjoy it, then perhaps it’s time to reassess or take a break from the activity. The sanity and well-being of your family members are more important than learning to play any instrument or being a part of any particular sport.
5. Use Lists and Calendars
Staying organized can help with busy family life. Use a to-do list on your phone or in a small notepad that you can carry with you throughout your daily activities. This list should help you remember what you need to get done today and in the next few days.
When you can’t remember what you need to do regularly because you aren’t keeping a list, then you are wasting brain energy and time trying to remember these things. Save yourself the mental anguish and time by keeping a running list. When you think of something that you need to get done, simply put it on the list at that moment before you forget.
Use a calendar for the same reasons as you would a to-do list. It frees up your mind to think about other things, and you don’t waste time trying to remember whether you had any appointments or what time your kids have practice tonight. Write it on a calendar that is small enough to take with you during the day.
A calendar will help you keep yourself and your family’s activities organized, and you will clearly know what you are doing each day.
6. Car Pool
Using a carpool can be a huge time-saver for you and your family. If you are a parent that spends every evening going from one kid activity to the next, then you may want to look around and see who else is there doing the same thing. You may be able to share the driving and waiting between families.
For example, if your kid has basketball practice four days a week, then perhaps each family can drive two days a week. That would free up two of your evenings from having to drive to and from practice and the wait time as well.
7. Use Wait Time Wisely
We all have wait time during our day. Whether you are waiting during your kid’s sports activities, waiting at a doctor’s office, or waiting in school car line, this time can be maximized.
Assess what you are currently doing during these wait times. Are you scrolling on social media or surfing the web on your phone without real purpose? You may want to decide to use that time more wisely so that you have free time later when you get home at the end of the day.
You can use your wait time to respond to emails on your phone, book upcoming appointments, or work on tasks from your to-do list. Try to make a habit of using your wait time to be productive throughout the day, so that you give yourself free time at the end of your day.
Everyone seems to be increasingly busier these days. We make choices that cause our lives to become overscheduled and too busy. Take the time to assess what is truly important as a family, so you can spend time together as a family.
Your kids are growing up, and the time is fleeting. Make sure you use some of that time together for quality family time rather than more activities that may not change the course of your kid’s life in the long run.
Featured photo credit: Larry Crayton via unsplash.com