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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Top ten time saving tips for moms

Time is the most valuable of all the resources we have been given. Each day, we have 1,440 minutes. Wasting days as our children grow is like watching footprints in the sand or snow fade away. We can't afford to waste a single one. As a work-at-home, homeschooling mom, saving time is very important. As part of my career before I made the decision to stay home with my babies, I took part in a time management seminar. Of course, all the tips I learned were geared toward business. Even so, I have been able to implement them into my daily life as a mom to save time. Here's ten ways I save time:

1. We homeschool! While homeschooling takes up a great amount of a parent's day to prepare lessons: and, a great amount of the child's day working on the lessons, it really is a time saver in many ways. We hear the school bus come and go. Everytime I hear it, I think how much rushing around the house we just avoided simply by staying home to get our work done.

2. I have a house full of night birds. We are not naturally morning people. Taking time at night to prepare for the next morning saves an incredible amount of time in my house. I ask the kids to get their clothes ready and set out for the next morning.

3. Being homeschooled and working at home, if we have no appointments or co-ops or library programs or dance classes that day, we have PJ day. It's amazing how much time is saved by just getting out of bed and heading for the school room, or laptop. Of course, we all brush our teeth and take care of basic hygiene as well. We're not sloths - just like to take advantage of our choice to stay home in every way imaginable.

4. We pay as many of our bills online as we can, including using new technology. This avoids having to find a stamp and make a trip to the post office or even out the door to walk a bill to the mail box.

5. Technology is a huge time saver, when it works well. Apps are one of the best time-saving inventions. In our house, mom and dad don't fully wake up until we've had some sips from our "cup 'o Joe" - Coffee. Instead of brewing coffee every morning, we treat ourselves to Starbucks. We use gift cards which we can now manage, reload, check reward balance and pay for with the new Starbucks for Android™. It works on the BlackBerry®, iPhone® or iPod® Touch. When we travel, it even helps us find the nearest Starbucks. Believe me - This is a big deal to us! There's just something about Starbucks coffee that brightens our mornings and helps us function with a happier attitude.

6. Nurse on the go! When my babies were infants, I found a way to nurse them in any and every situation. The first born had the privilege of my undivided attention and time spent rocking, holding and feeding for hours. When the second and third baby comes along, you're busy keeping up with the toddlers running around, and nursing time can begin to seem like it's stealing your time needed for other duties.

7. Make time for time outs. In my time management seminar I attended, I remember learning that for every hour of planned work, you need to plan extra time for interruptions. When raising children, interruptions goes hand in hand with the job. But, it's these little interruptions that give value to what I do.

8. That Proverbs 31 woman really did know what she was writing about. I have found that when I wake up before my family is awake, I can accomplish more in a couple hours than I can all day. That quiet, early morning time (even though I'm dreadfully not a morning person) the time I spend in the morning sets the tone for the entire day.

9. On any given day, our house tends to look like a tornado went through it. Keep in mind, my house is used as a house and essentially as a daycare, a school, an office, after school ativity gym, etc. One thing we do keep organized is where we put our shoes, coats and sports attire. Being held up to try to find a missing shoe can drive a person bonkers. I make sure when the kids take their shoes off, they are put in their rooms in one location so they can easily be found and worn when needed. The same is true with dance leotards and swim suits. I keep the swim suits in the laundry room with some towels to grab and the leotards in a special drawer, along with tights. The dance shoes are kept in a dance bag in the car at all times. There's nothing quite like getting to dance class and finding out you have forgotten the tap shoes.

10. Though it's a time investment at first, I teach my little ones how to do the household chores that I do every day. They help me mix up batter, or put clothes into the washer. When they are of an appropriate age (which differs with each child) they begin taking on a household chore. We have assigned nights to who loads the dishwasher, and my 9 year old daughter has now begun to do loads of wash. she even puts her own clothes away into the closet and drawers. This is a huge time-saving help!

Of course, there are some things that deserve time given to them. When I realize I'm rushing things and begin to feel panicked that we need to go faster - this is the time I remind myself to slow down. The reason I stay home with my kids, and part of the reason I homeschool them, is to spend time with them. I don't want to miss a minute of their childhood. So, when I feel myself trying to rush things, I remind myself that it's time to take a break. I stop all activity and give the needed hug or listening ear to a child in need of my attention and affection. If I feel stressed and begin to feel the need to raise my voice, I go into the other room and take a time out. Sometimes this might even include loading up the van and taking the entire family out to the park. Other times, it might involve a moment of quiet time just between me and God till I can catch my breath. Grab ahold of these precious footprints in the sand. Set them in plaster o paris and save them forever by making the most of every minute you have with your kids.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here."

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