As a working mom of 2, there have been few times in my life that I could classify conditions to be “slow.” Between swim lessons and dance practice, meal prepping and meal packing, and the countless little things that pop up throughout the day, I often wonder if I will ever get a minute to just breathe.
Again and again you hear the same advice – you have to make time for yourself, but how can you do that when you work 8 hours a day, cart kids around all evening, clean, walk dogs, prep for the next day, and then barely have half an hour before you need to go to bed to get a full night’s sleep? I was constantly wondering what these other moms had that I didn’t, how they were able to get it all done while I was drowning in laundry and cereal-for-dinner meals.
Let me be clear – I do not have all the answers. I did, however, spent countless hours (and dollars!) finding tools and strategies that have helped me to simplify and automate my life in a way that gives me more time to enjoy the little things in life, rather than long for them. Keep reading to find my tips and tricks!
#1 – Go home for lunch.
This is a time hack that I have been implementing for the longest. Sounds simple enough, right? In the past, I had been staying in my office for lunch, lounging and decompressing from an undoubtedly hectic morning. What I found though, was that after an entire hour of doing nothing, it too so long to get motivated and back in productive mode that I was more miserable than before I had left.
The solution for me was simply going home. I have an hour for lunch, which leaves me about 35 minutes at home after travel. I use this time for some major chores. I know what you’re thinking – what in the world can you get done in 35 minutes? My answer? whole heck of a lot!! Here is a general idea of what things I aim to get done in my time at home:
- Let the dogs out.
- Start a load of laundry.
- Put dinner in crockpot or prep dinner to cook after work.
- Tidy from the morning mayhem.
- Fold one load of laundry to put away after work.
Of course I wish I could fit more in, but the goal of this post is to slow down, so getting as much done as physically possible is not my desired end result. Instead, I work in a circle-type routine, so it’s more like second nature to me now. I come home, let the dogs out, start a load of laundry and head to the kitchen to prep dinner and eat. Then, before I leave, I do a sweep of all the toys and things left out from the morning and voila! I suddenly have extra time open in the evening to spend with my husband and kids and less of a workload in the evening. An extra perk is I come back to work feeling accomplished and energized, and I’ve avoided the post-lunch slump.
#2 – Automate EVERYTHING
Automation is my life-saver. The more I can set up to run on its own, the better! Additionally, it frees up mental space so that I can use it for something else! It took me a long time to find the right combination of tools that work best for me, and some of these may not work for you. That’s ok. Keep searching, because once you find the perfect combo, your life will simplify immensely!
- Sign up for Auto-Pay on as much as you can. Ok, this isn’t a tool, but it is incredibly helpful. I sign up for automatic payments on everthing, which means I spent practically zero time thinking about when bills are due or if they need to be paid. In fact, I am so used to not thinking about bills, if I don’t immediately set up auto-pay on any new bills, they won’t get paid!
- Google Calendar for the entire family’s schedule. I have spent an ungodly amount of money on different planner and productivity apps in the last year. Like, so much that I refuse to calculate it because it’s so embarrassing. Don’t be me! Google Calendar is the absolute easiest, best (free!) app you can use to sync everyone’s schedule. This app is so great because you can share your calendar with everyone in the family. I love it because my husband can keep up with his own schedule, but I can still see it and know of any events or travel without having to ask (cause lord knows he wouldn’t tell me until the last minute)! I also share my calendar with my in-laws, since they take care of my son after preschool. It is amazing how much time you save when you aren’t constantly trying to coordinate schedules or remember events to tell the family. Everyone can see it, so everyone wins!
- Instacart, Instacart, Instacart! This app has changed my life. Literally. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in 6 months. You can download the Instacart app or use the website (instacart.com), and pay a small fee to have someone else do all of your grocery shopping!! Or, if you plan to use this regularly like I do, sign up for Instacart Express. You get free delivery on every order over $35, and costs $99/year (totally worth it for me to save literally hours grocery shopping). Check out the website (and get $10 free!) on my referral website here.
- Amazon Subscribe & Save for household basics. There are some things that every household will buy over and over and over again, for the rest of forever. Think toilet paper, pet food, dish soap, etc. When I did my own grocery shopping, I would forget these things at least twice before I finally remembered to pick them up on a run to the store. Every had literally no toilet paper in the house? It sucks. For all of those little things that I will forever forget, I use Amazon subscribe & save. You can set how often items are delivered (every 2 months, 3 months, etc), and you get a bigger discount the more you order. Total lifesaver. Try Amazon Prime free for 30 days (including subscribe & save) here!
#3 – Delete Your Time-Suckers.
Ok, so you don’t waste time grocery shopping, you get tons done during your lunch break, and you’re auto-paying bills like the boss lady you are. Now what?
One of the harder things for me, but probably the single most important thing I did is identify and eliminate my time-suckers. What are time-suckers, you ask? Simple – anything that is not productive, that takes your attention away from spending time on what matters.
Let me give you an example. I have a problem. A big problem. With Candy Crush. The second I download it onto my phone or iPad, I can guarantee that I will spend at least an hour or more matching colored candies in groups of 3. Honestly. Insert face palm.
Take some time to identify your time-suckers. They may be games, social media scrolling, smoking, pinteresting, Netflix-binging, etc. Identify and (here comes the hard part) delete. Ok, don’t delete Netflix, but maybe take it off your phone, or set an entertainment timer so you don’t waste hours on it – deal?
You will be amazed at how much time you have. After deleting Candy Crush, I had so much free time at night that I actually got bored. Bored!! I haven’t been bored in years, cause there is always something to do. It was glorious.
#4 – Prep as if your life depended on it.
And honestly, my organized life does depend on it.
I am not a morning person. I can get the bare minimum done, but mostly I want to sit and drink my coffee and make things as easy as humanly possible. That became a problem when I had kids. Not only do I have to get myself ready, but I have to get two kids ready and out the door as well. Which Lord knows is not easy.
I prep everything I need the night before. Literally everything. I get kids’ clothes set out, my clothes set out, lunches made, bags packed and coffee maker set. When I wake up, I get a hot cup of coffee, get myself dressed, wrangle kids into their clothes and we’re out the door. It’s… dare I say it… easy.
I can’t promise miracles, but I can say that these four, simple things have given me more time than I’ve ever had as a working mom. Try these out, and let me know how they work for you! Have other tips/tricks? Share them below!