(This article was first appeared in Your Baby, Mar/Apr 2014)
Whether you are trying to juggle work, the school run, extramurals and playtime, or struggling to just find enough time to get to the shops and remember everything you need, being a mom is tough. But you can implement certain strategies to help make it easier.
1. Feed me!
Sometimes, the last thing you feel like is heading to the stove after a long day. Get smart and embrace batch cooking. Yes, it will make you feel like Martha Stewart’s lesser twin, but this is a lifesaver for busy moms. Foods such as bolognaise sauce and stews just lend themselves to making extra that you can freeze for later. Make a double recipe and freeze it into meal-sized portions.
Bolognaise is a real winner, because with very little extra effort it can transform into lasagne, cottage pie or chilli con carne. Another great batch cooking idea is to set aside an afternoon and make a number of meals for the freezer. Once that’s done, you just need to grab one from the freezer in the morning and dinner is done.
Read: Simplify your life
On the sweet side, if you know you have a couple of birthday rings coming up at school, make a mega batch of cupcakes and freeze them before you ice them. Then, just take them out the day before you need them, ice once defrosted and voilà!
2. Don’t make it, fake it!
Learn to cheat smart – the key to a clever recipe cheat is to pick substitutions that no one will notice. If a recipe calls for roast chicken, pick up a rotisserie chicken from your local supermarket instead – and you’ve just saved yourself a whole step in the recipe. Buy a premixed wet curry paste instead of blending spices as you cook, and we don’t need to tell you about how to make a stellar dessert from a tub of supermarket ice cream, a bag of bought meringues and a punnet of raspberries, do we?!
3. Pimp your shopping
While you’re taking charge of some bulk cooking, use these simple smart shopping steps to keep ahead of the curve and ensure that you never run out of the basics again. shop online whenever you can – it’s simple to set up a standard shopping list for a retailer like Pick n Pay (www.pnponline.co.za) or Woolworths (www.woolworths.co.za) and it’s a quick click and buy for those boring and necessary staples like toilet paper, toothpaste and washing powder, as well as store cupboard basics like dried pasta, tinned goods, grains and rice. Best of all, you can order late at night when the rugrats are in bed and it all gets delivered to your doorstep.
4. Use your freezer properly
Buy in bulk and you won’t have to rush out to the shops for basics as often. Things you need that freeze well? Milk, sliced bread, muffins, meat (cooked or raw), sliced or prepared veggies, butter or margarine, berries, pasta sauce, casseroles, stews and prepared meals like lasagne.
You wouldn’t think so, but sweet treats such as un-iced cupcakes and un-iced layer cakes also freeze well – just wrap them well in cling film before freezing (after they’re completely cool) to make sure they don’t get freezer burn.
5. Grooming rules
Shave vital minutes off your morning routine with this clever tip from professional organiser Lydia Ndlovu-Nkomo of All Things Organised. Hang clothes in a way that makes it easier to find a complete outfit, advises Ndlovu-Nkomo.
If you group like items together, for example a section for jeans, a section for work pants, a section for tailored shirts and so on, it makes it easier to find the components of your outfit.
To really make this work, group sections for more formal weekday work wear and weekend casual separately – it will make things quicker and easier in the mornings where every minute counts.
6. 15 minutes a day will do it
Don’t be that mom who endlessly tidies up after her children quietly, but resentfully. Get them a bunch of clear storage bins, stick pictures or photos on the outside of the toys that live inside, and even a toddler can help clear up.
Read: Tips for moms who study
Set aside 15 minutes a day at a set time where everyone in the family helps to tidy up – you’ll be amazed what can be accomplished in a short daily burst. Best of all, you’re modelling self-reliant behaviour for them to emulate. Score!
7. Look your best
If you’re like pretty much every other mom out there, you often find yourself pushed for time in the morning. Save previous morning minutes by skipping an elaborate make-up routine and opt for the basics instead.
Use a tinted moisturiser, give yourself two layers of mascara and use a neutral matte lipstick to highlight your cheeks and lips. You’re good to go in just five minutes – and it’s always better to simplify your routine than try to rush through the longer routine and looking like you rushed!
8. Dry your hair last
Let your wet hair air-dry while you get dressed and put on your make-up and only blowdry damp hair. Damp hair dries a lot quicker than soaking wet hair and it’s less damaging to your hair too. Using a microfibre towel to wrap your hair will also help to absorb any extra moisture before drying.
9. Love me a list
If you’re one of the many who needs a list to keep your life on track, there’s an app for that! centralise your to-do list on an app that syncs across your laptop, smartphone and tablet – and your husband/partner/au pair/housekeeper’s phone too. Now, when you add milk to the list, your au pair will know to stop and pick some up on the way – no more late night dashes to the convenience store at the garage.
Our favourites? Any.do, Wunderlist, Todoist and the more heavy duty notetaker, Evernote, all available for iPhone,Android, Windows and Mac (and for free download).
10. Ace your admin
Pay your bills online, once a month, all at the same time. Create a folder or inbox somewhere central (we like a spot on the kitchen counter) where all the bills get put as they arrive, or better yet, get them emailed to you and save them into one folder on your desktop.
This sneaky shortcut will save you from hunting for them when it’s time to pay everything and cut down on the chance of missing something. Needless to say, online banking is an invaluable tool in this exercise.
Are you a busy mom? How do you save time during the day? Send us your comments and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org we might publish your response. If you would like to stay anonymous please inbox us.