I’m an avid collector of time management tips. And as a mama of 4, home educating for over 10 years and ever on the lookout for ways to make better use of my time and generally super-charge my efficiency… I’ve collected a rather mighty haul of productivity packing power tools.
Today, I want to share some of my absolute favourites. I give you, the top 7 trusty time management tips I use everyday as a home ed mama of 4.
But you don’t have to home-educate or even be a mama to benefit. All loving parents and carers welcome here.
There’s a reason I use these particular time management tips everyday, and it’s because they make my life better.
And that’s what I want for us all. To love living and learning with our children, and to enjoy the precious time we get to spend together. Without feeling like we’re constantly behind, or not good enough.
So if you’re looking for some simple, but super efficient time management tips to help you gain a handle on life with those gorgeous lovelies of yours, let’s go…
Tip 1 : Shower at night
I said these tips were simple, and this one, especially easy-peasy. And a complete game-changer. So grateful to the lovely lady who shared this tip with me, you know who you are 🙂
The knock-on effects of showering at night, huge. And if we get dressed first thing into clothes we chose last night. Well, that’s my first bonus tip. You are most welcome 🙂
For most of us, even with night wakers, jumping in the shower straight after our little ones fall asleep is the best time. Maybe the only time? But I know for some of you, fitting in a shower AT ALL might seem like wishful thinking.
And I get it. When my fourth child was born, I wasn’t sure how I was gonna fit in washing my face. Never mind showering. And as for my hair, right off the radar. Just a coincidence many advocates of the no-poo vibe are mothers? I don’t think so.
Hang on, that’s given me another idea for a bonus tip. Woah, they’re coming thick and fast – just like your hair will be, once you stop washing it 🙂 Cut, cut, cut. Not your hair, although go for it if you like. Cut whatever you have to, to make life manageable.
Not the stuff keeping those lovelies safe and fed and watered, obviously! But, really, if it’s not essential, it might just have to wait, or never get done at all. And that’s okay.
Tip 2 : 5 minute room rescues
There are so many ways to harness the power of 5 and this is one of my favourites.
When my eldest children were little, I read a lot about how they might struggle with transitions. But it turns out, I’m rather challenged by them too.
Take cleaning for example, it can take a lot to get me started. If that sounds familiar, I highly recommend these guys. But once I get going, ahem, I could get lost there all day.
Thank goodness for Flylady, I say. I’ve learnt a lot from Flylady over the years. But one of my most treasured discoveries, has to be the 5 minute room rescue. Literally, rescuing a room in 5 minutes.
Not convinced it can be done?
Granted, I may not have seen your house. But I have seen mine 🙂 And in some pretty dire circumstances. And it’s nothing short of miraculous what can be achieved in five minutes.
All you need is a timer and you’re good to go. Add in some music and dancing with a happy helper or two… Okay, it might slow you down a tad. But the payoff in terms of lifting the mood and resetting the energy and atmosphere of our entire home? Off. The. Scale.
And if you really don’t have five minutes, tackle a hotspot for two. Bonus tip number 3, if anyone’s counting? Or you could just try out my next tip…
Tip 3 : Race the kettle
Otherwise known as the microwave principle. But we don’t have a microwave, we drink A LOT of tea and we like racing, so we’ve re-appropriated it.
But really, it could just as easily be – the waiting for the washing machine to end principle. The toast principle. Or the call centre music to end and someone, anyone, please pick up the phone already, principle – you can make it your own 🙂
Using the gaps in our day, when we’re waiting for something, or someone, like natural timers.
Rather than scrolling through social media or staring out the window, we could actually get some stuff done. Quick stuff, like drying dishes, folding washing or wiping surfaces.
Although, hang on there, let’s not be too quick to diss staring out the window. If that’s what you’re called to do, maybe you should go with it. At least some of the time – more on that in tip 6.
Tip 4 : The 5 second rule
This racing the kettle lark’s alright once we’re up and moving. But what about when we’re just too tired to get up? Like. Ever. Again.
Hmmm, visions of me reading aloud with the sun streaming in the window and whoops, maybe I’ve just zoned out. No reflection on the books we’ve been reading, I can assure you. But when we sit down and it’s so dang cosy, sometimes we drift off… NOT ANY MORE. Starts counting backwards… 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 –
And I’m up. A quick walk to grab us all a drink of water. Another bonus tip – keep well hydrated. At the very least you’ll have to keep getting up to wee and that’ll wake you up 🙂 Then back to reading. And this time I get to enjoy it.
No, I wasn’t hypnotised. That was the 5 second rule in action. Whenever we need a boost of energy, we’re reluctant to get moving or started on a new task, this simple brain hack can help. Check out this video where Mel explains the science behind it –
Tip 5 : Loop scheduling
Honestly, scheduling makes it sound way more complicated than it needs to be. In essence, loop scheduling is a list of tasks or items you want to visit on a regular basis.
Once you’ve decided on your list, work your way down. And when you reach the end, circle back up and begin again from the top.
You can keep it real simple or jazz it up as much as you like.
From a simple rolling list of household tasks for the week, to a super detailed inventory of the entire year’s household maintenance. You can duplicate items you’d like to hit more frequently, and even create loops within loops or a tiered list, if you wanna get real fancy pants 🙂
Depending on what kind of homeschoolers you are, you might want to loop read-alouds, resources, projects on the go, topics you want to cover, parks to visit, meals to cook, whatever works for you and your family.
Like most things in our life, we’re pretty relaxed with our loops. But I am rather partial to a good looping list. And we use them loads for household tasks and exercise routines, along with projects we want to remember and work on regularly.
If you’re not sure how loop scheduling could work for you, this video has tons of examples 🙂
Tip 6 : Making rest a priority
A while back, this tip would’ve been, get up early. Convinced I was a night owl for most of my life, a few years ago I discovered the delights of the dawn. Now, waking up around 5.30am is one of my most favourite things. Such a gorgeous time of day and with no-one else about, we can get oodles done.
Having experienced both being woken by my children, sadly sometimes rather resentfully. And the alternative, getting up before them and feeling, oh so pleased to see them when they come down. I know which one feels nicest.
If you’re able to get up before the rest of the family, even just for ten minutes, go for it. And if not, stick that little bonus tip in your back pocket for later.
As for me, if you’ve read my post on living with pain, you’ll know I’ve been dealing with some health issues lately. And what with the lighter nights and having almost a house-full of grown-ups these days, grown-ups that looove to chat late into the night 🙂 Well, let’s just say, getting up at 5.30 isn’t as easy as it once was. Figuring this out is a work in progress here.
And I’m sure for some of you, this season of life and getting up early just doesn’t fit, never mind getting up before those super early risers.
But really the time you go to bed and the time you get up aren’t that important. Although, the more consistent these are, the better we tend to feel.
What matters most is getting enough rest.
And by rest, I do mean sleep, but not just sleep. Sometimes, however hard we try we just can’t get enough sleep.
And then we need to make doubly sure, to prioritise rest. Whenever, wherever and however we can. Rest. Napping on the sofa, having a lie-in while the littlies catch up with Stampy, or just staring out the window with a cup of tea. Rest.
It can feel counter-intuitive, for sure. Shouldn’t we be rushing around if we want to get it all done, and we can rest later? The trouble is, there’s always more to do. And slowing down, even just for a quick 5 minute meditation, can boost our energy levels no end. Actually making us far more efficient in the long run. So go on, put your feet up and reap the rewards later 🙂
Tip 7 : Putting our relationships first
I may have said this before, just a few times on this blog. And that’s because it’s so important and changes lives. We know it 🙂
But again, this might feel like nothing’s ever gonna get done. The pressure and practicalities of having a clean and vaguely tidy house are real, they can certainly make life run more smoothly. And yes, getting cleaning and household tasks out the way first, might leave us more relaxed and willing to play.
But, isn’t the whole point of time management to make more time for the people and projects we love most?
So why not go straight to the important stuff first.
This doesn’t have to mean we always hang out with our children before we do anything else. Although I’m all for that 🙂
It’s more about designing our life with the big rocks in mind. If you’re not familiar with the idea of big rocks, check out this vid for a great explanation.
If we think of time as an expression of love, paying attention to the proportion of our time we’re spending with our children can be eye-opening.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that if we’re spending tons of time working to pay the bills, or to care for others, that we don’t love our children, or that they don’t feel that love. This isn’t a simple equation and quality really can win over quantity. Sometimes we feel valued and seen in an instant while at other times, however long we’ve been in company with others, our existence feels barely acknowledged.
But putting our relationships first might mean we let some things slide, the hoovering or washing up might have to wait. Maybe some days it doesn’t get done at all. The whole coming down to a clean kitchen each morning is far from an everyday reality for us. Although we are working on it, and morning speed runs are fab at getting us back up and running in a jiffy.
It’s a sobering thought, but if the house and children are both calling out for our attention. You can bet, the children are gonna give up first. That house ain’t going nowhere.
But that doesn’t mean we have to live in complete chaos, there are many ways we can organise our lives so that both our children and our homes, and for that matter anything else we love, gets the attention they deserve. Keep your eyes peeled for a bumper post coming soon rounding up all the sweet time management hacks I’ve picked up in more than ten years home-edding.
Any contributions gratefully received. Let me know in the comments, what’s your best time management hack?
If you’re a blogger too, you might also like this post I wrote a few years ago.
For now though, I’ve got one more sneaky bonus tip for you –
Bonus tip : Meal planning
I don’t use this one everyday but wish I did. Makes such a difference, I had to include it. Not only is meal planning good for your budget, reducing food waste and healthier eating, it saves tons of time and even electricity. No more standing at the fridge, bang on 4, opening and closing the door wondering what on earth we’re gonna make for dinner. Sound familiar? Hmmm, me too!
Meal planning can even lead to the magical land of preparing food ahead of time, and the beautiful bay of batch cooking. Places I get to now and then and long to visit more 🙂
Promising you yet more goodies – a round up of meal planning resources heading this way soon. Please subscribe to the blog if you’d like to be notified when all new posts are published. And as ever, enjoy those children and keep keeping it kind x
Oh I am so going to try loop scheduling. I find I get overwhelmed by all the aspects of certain tasks, and so end up wasting time and energy deciding what to focus on. This sounds like a simple way to streamline that x
Hey Sophie, thanks for your comment. I’m so with you on the decision fatigue, such a waste of our time. Hope you find the loop scheduling idea helps, I’d love to know how you get on 🙂
Hayley, these are great. I think I remember reading about the 5 minute room rescue in another one of your posts. I had done a version of this to knock off a bit of the overwhelm several years ago, but the name “room rescue” is more energizing. I’ve been giving the showering at night (well, early evening) a go and not only do I find the mornings easier, I think it’s helping me sleep better. Thanks for these very doable ideas. 🙂
Oh yes, we love room rescues. And I’ve definitely mentioned them before 🙂 So refreshing and energising. Yet there’s often that temptation to put them off – I love how the 5 second rule can really help with that. Thanks for your comment Erin and so glad to hear you’ve found the ideas helpful.