Who knew that reading the latest novel in bed on a Sunday morning would become a complete luxury? Or that tucking into your lunch and actually tasting it, rather than bolting it down, would be a treat? As for meandering around the shops and trying on different outfits just for the fun of it – what a distant memory. However much we love our little ones all of us crave a few minutes to ourselves.
A recent survey by Wilkinet Baby Carriers revealed the one thing mums want more of is time. And no wonder – extra minutes give us the chance to feel like ‘us’ again. But if finding time feels like an unachievable goal, try one of these tricks the next time you’re wondering how other mums seem to do it all.
Sorting the Washing
TIP: Sort the load as you put the dirties away.
Keeping your lights and darks in separate baskets from the start saves you stress and time sorting as you’ll know there’s no red socks in with the white shirts! If you have space you could even buy different hampers for family members. We like Tesco’s ‘lights/darks’ basket.
ME minutes gained: 10
TRY THIS TOO: Different hampers for types of clothes can save time, too. Even one separate hamper for underwear can make a wash a far more approachable prospect.
TIP: Sign up to direct debit.
Once you’ve signed up (your provider will talk you through it on the phone or you can sign up online) paying by direct debit is invaluable. Many companies offer discounts for paying by direct debit, too. And you won’t default on a payment, either.
ME minutes gained: 60
TRY THIS TOO: While you’re online make sure you’re not paying over the odds and do a bill comparison.
TIP: Team up with a friend who has a child around the same age as yours. Make the most of her mum skills and give your child a great time with a friend, while you land yourself a stress-free shopping trip.
Everyone knows it’s next to impossible to get anything done with a toddler on your hands, whether you’ve got one little rascal or two. But if you and a friend take it in turns to look after your toddlers for the afternoon you can buy yourself hours of free time to get on with the tasks that always seem to remain on your to-do list at the end of the day -or just a chance to go shopping in peace!
ME minutes gained: 1/2 day
TRY THIS TOO: If you can’t get any time on your own, at least share the childcare load with other mums and organise a good old fashioned coffee morning at home, or a tea party for you and your children. Being at home means the washing machine can still go on or a delivery man could arrive.
TIP: Save time with the help of innovative iron technology or even something as simple as a new cover for your ironing board.
Reaching those hard-to-reach creases takes up bags of time when ironing, but irons have gone all space age, and the Comfigrip Iron by Morphy Richards has super-powerful steam, which makes ironing crumpled clothes a breeze.
If you haven’t got lots of cash to splash, then try the JML Ironing Board Cover, which reflects heat and steam for faster and more efficient ironing.
ME minutes gained: 30
TRY THIS TOO: Look out for ‘non-iron’ clothes – many shops now use fabric that makes shirts less ‘creasable’.
Preparing the dinner
TIP: Start slow cooking (ironically). You can prepare the ingredients in the morning, pop them in the slow cooker and leave your dinner to cook throughout the day. There’s no need for stirring – in fact it’s better if you don’t lift the lid at all during the cooking process. If you use a large slow cooker (we like Crock-Pot’s Slow Cooker) you can make extra portions that can be frozen for a quick meal at a later date, giving you the convenience of a ready meal with the nutrition of a home-cooked one.
ME minutes gained: 30
TRY THIS TOO: Cook a batch of simple dishes such as chilli or ratatouille and freeze in old takeaway pots to make your own ‘microwave meals’.
A slow computer
TIP: Use the SpeedUpMyPC software. A slow, older PC can waste loads of time booting up and opening files. With this software, system settings, internet usage and disk clutter are all automatically scanned, cleaned and optimised for peak performance. Two minutes can save you hours of frustration and crashes.
ME minutes gained: 2 hours
TRY THIS TOO: If you’re wasting time waiting for pictures to download, try Snapfish where you can download, order and share with friends all in minutes.
TIP: Buy car tax online instead of queuing. It may be only once or twice a year you need to do it but queuing at the post office to renew your car tax can sap a good hour from your life. But now you can buy it online rather than queuing up.
ME minutes gained: 30
TRY THIS TOO: If you spend too much time queing up to photocopy those important documents then the ESP 9 printer/ photocopier is a must! Plus the inkjet printer saves money because its ink cartridges need replacing less frequently than some other printers.
TIP: Shop online. Instead of spending hours trawling the shops, struggling to get a heavy buggy through doorways and pulling silly faces to entertain your toddler while scouring the shelves, simply make yourself a cuppa and sit down infront of your computer to browse your favourite high street stores online.
ME minutes gained: 30
TRY THIS TOO: If you’ve got a big do coming up, sign up to newsletters from major stores such as Oasis, Dorothy Perkins and Gap. Not only will they highlight what’s trendy, you’ll be in the loop for discounts, too.
TIP: Try out a 10-minute hair dye. Ah, the days when half of Saturday could be spent having highlights and reading a magazine. Now you’re a mum, hair dyeing probably seems so time-consuming you’ll never do it again. New 10-minute permanent hair dyes (we like L’Oreal’s Excell 10) are a godsend for busy mums. To avoid marking your head, try putting a smear of Vaseline around your hairline to avoid any tell-tale stain marks.
ME minutes gained: 15
TRY THIS TOO: Ask the hairdresser to take you back to your natural colour – you may miss your highlights but you won’t miss your roots showing through.
Keeping the family organised
TIP: Buy the Dodo-Pad of Household Stuff, an organiser that helps you get your household matters in order. It has special sections for recording birthdays and sorting bills and heaps of pockets and pouches to store stuff in. Being organised saves time and energy spent scrabbling around looking for nursery forms and shopping lists.
ME minutes gained: 20
TRY THIS TOO: New from 02, the Joggler is a super-clever digital calendar with different sections for each member of the family. It can be updated via your mobile and even sends out text message reminders. Just like having your own family PA.