As a working parent, one of the things you will feel most is that there aren’t enough hours in the day. I certainly felt that way when I went back to work after our first daughter. Suddenly I was working four days a week with a hour’s commute each way and the time I was at home I wanted to spend with my family. Of course there are other things that need to be done when at home so I had to try and find ways to manage my time effectively to make life easier, for us all.
One of the biggest secrets of being a successful working parent, whether that’s working in an office, from home, part time or full time is to be honest with yourself and about your limits. It is impossible to do it all, so at some points you may need to accept help or push back on certain things.
Here are the things I have learnt in my new role as a working parent.
8 time saving tips for working parents
- Plan, plan, plan
It sounds obvious but plan everything. As a couple we always try and sit down on a Sunday evening and plan out our week. Who is out when, who has a work commitment, who has a big deadline. We could then work out any problems with childcare or who might need to do more that week. This made life so much easier, we could schedule in help from family if needed and it saved us time worrying about things as they came up.
We also meal plan, religiously. I plan out meals for the girls every week, we use Hello Fresh and we have a slow cooker. It really has saved us so much time. We spend less time thinking about meals on a daily basis and less time doing top up shops, which has also saved us money.
I also try and batch cook when I make certain meals. Having a meal for the children in the freezer can be so handy and doesn’t take lots more effort.
- Do your preparation
We get everything ready the night before. Bags are laid out, lunch boxes are packed as much as they can be and we check clothes for everyone so there are no last minute panics in the morning when we can’t find shoes or nursery clothes.
Try to also work out when your little ones rise and get up a few minutes before. This will allow you to get ready without a child climbing on you and will speed everything up once they are awake.
A little extra tip… Get ready and then throw on a light dressing gown. If sticky hands, runny noses or breakfasts get close to you it just means you can whip off the dirty dressing gown and your clothes are work ready. This has saved me many times!
- Say no
Time is precious full stop, but time is even more precious as a working parent. Think before you accept something, do you really need to do this task? How much time will it take? I said yes to far too many things before having children and often regretted some of them. Being a working parent has made me much stricter on my time.
- Use your ‘free time’ to get stuff done
Commutes (if on a train) and lunch breaks are valuable ‘free time’. Use this time to get meal plans done, online shopping ordered, pay bills and life admin organised. This means that when you get home you can spend time with your family instead of worrying about getting all your admin done.
- Get your house working whilst you’re away
Put on a wash just before you leave the house, then put it in the tumble drier when home. Buy a slow cooker and have meals ready. Hire a cleaner to do the big jobs like cleaning floors and bathrooms. All of these things will save you time in the long run as you won’t be waiting for a wash to finish at 9pm and dinner can be ready.
- Don’t save everything for the weekend
It’s so easy to leave jobs for the weekend if you’re tired after a full day at work, but once the weekend arrives it can feel overwhelming if you have left everything for those two days (when you also have a child/ren to amuse). Split the jobs out over the week and it will leave precious time for the weekend.
- Divide and conquer
It may sound awful to have a rota but splitting jobs and having roles in the house can save so much time. If one person always empties the dishwasher and the other always takes out bins it means it’s not all left to one person and things can be sorted quickly in the morning.
For us routine has been key. We had a schedule for who was dropping up or picking up, we had set bedtimes for everyone and we tried to always get up at the same time. This avoided any last minute rushed mornings, made sure everyone had sleep and we had no ‘who is getting the baby from nursery tonight’ panics.
With preparation, communication and accepting help being a working parent doesn’t have to be stressful and can work really well.
Sarah is a work at home Mummy of two girls aged three and one. Before her second daughter Sarah worked as a Business Director at a London media agency and now is a full time blogger/vlogger and social media consultant.
Sarah blogs over at www.surreymama.com and you can also find her on Youtube by searching Surrey Mama.