7 Time Saving Hacks for Big Families
I don’t feel like we have to manage a big family anymore, now that our 3 oldest are out on their own.
But I still rely on these things to make our lives run smoothly.
If you found me through the Mega Motivation playlist, I know you’ve heard from minimalists already, but I have to say it: If you want more time, get rid of all the non-essential items in your home, in your car, in your garage, on your calendar – basically, go all-in on minimalism, and you will have more time and less need for time management hacks.
2. Set up systems.
Math teachers teach a formula to do a math problem. There may be other ways to get the answer, but typically, if you follow the formula everything is done more efficiently, and there are fewer times where we have to go back and redo the work. That’s what routines do for us. They are a formula to keeping a clean and organized home. Setting up a system or routine is simply noting what time you need to start to get it all done, and what order makes sense for the things you have to do. My routines are:
- Daughter’s hygiene routine. We have set times for the kids to shower, brush their teeth, all that stuff. Naomi showers in the morning before school. We know that Naomi needs to eat and make her lunch before leaving for school at 7:40 AM, so she starts her hygiene routine at 6:15 AM and is out of the bathroom by 6:30 AM.
- Before-school routine. I get into the kitchen and pull out lunch boxes from the dishwasher. The boys get up and start putting their lunch together and then eat breakfast. When Naomi is out of the shower, she gets her lunch together and then gets in the shower. I either fill the water bottles or remind the kids to.
- Morning reset. After breakfast, and when everyone is done making their lunch, I put everything away, wipe the counters and stove and wash the dishes.
- Laundry routine. I haven’t needed to be so careful about staying on top of the laundry since the older boys moved out. But when they were at home, we had to do a load of laundry every day. Doing it every day means I spend 4 minutes on laundry and then I don’t have to think about it anymore. Yes- reducing the number of clothes each person has is a critical part of that, we reduced it to about a week’s worth of clothes for each person.
- After-school routine. The kids come up and I have them empty their backpacks. The lunch containers go in the sink, masks get washed, backpacks get put away. This is also a good time to have the older kids help mom – take out the trash, fold and put away laundry, sweep or vacuum, just 10-15 minutes before they run off to do their own thing can be so helpful.
- Dinner routine. On average it takes 30-45 minutes to get dinner on the table, so I know what time we need to eat dinner, and I start cooking 45 minutes before that time.
- Evening reset. After dinner, we all clear the table, someone unloads the clean dishes from the dishwasher, someone loads the dirty dishes, we put away all the food and wipe the counters off. I’ve heard many people use the term: the kitchen is closed. That means that after the dinner stuff is cleaned up and put away, no one is going back in to cook or eat- the kitchen is closed. This helps to reduce snaking, and it helps to reduce waking up to a mess.
- Boys Hygiene routine. We know that the boys need to be in bed by 8 PM, so at 7:30 PM, they need to start their hygiene routine of showers, pajamas, and brushing teeth.
- Weekly reset. Saturday morning we all work together using the Weekly Home Reset checklist and clean the house. Having a time when the house is completely reset takes all the daunting mental energy I would use before THINKING about what I need to clean.
3. Make time for yourself.
It seems counter-intuitive to say take time out to slow down when you’re here looking for ways to get more squeezed out of your day. But it’s true. When we take time out for ourselves to slow down, breathe, enjoy some fresh air, allow our mind and body to rest, the work we do will be more productive. If we are in a frantic overwhelmed state, we’re not working productively. Even just taking 10 minutes a day to sit in the quiet (which is why so many moms say get up before your kids) can help you feel calm and collected. The truth is, we do better when we feel better, and if we only ever stress about how much we need to do, our energy will be spent up with the thinking and the stressing, and not actually any doing.
4. Have something easy on hand
I cook a lot of real food, I want to feed my kids healthy food I make, it’s one of my things. But there are days that have a lot going on, and I will be tempted to order pizza or drive through. So I have premade options that I buy, that are not quite as healthy as cooking from scratch, but they are definitely healthier than fast food. Even eating a bowl of cereal for dinner sometimes is ok. We require so much of ourselves and sometimes we don’t feel well, or we’re rushed and stressed, and just giving yourself permission to do something EASY, is important. You’re not failing if your kids eat peanut butter and jelly again, they are still getting fed, and that’s what matters.
5. Batch-cook Breakfast.
Many people meal prep, but just like I never wanted to set aside a full day to clean, I’ve never wanted to set aside a full day to shop, chop, mix & freeze. But it does make sense to me to make large batches and eat leftovers for a few days.
6. Communicate & delegate.
I would love it if my husband and kids anticipated the things that I wanted to be done or had the same desires for the state of our home. But they don’t. Those are my desires, I’m the one that wants a clean house, I’m the one that wants laundry done daily, I’m the one that wants to serve homemade food. So I’ve had to learn to communicate my desires and expectations to my husband and also guide my kids through the things that I want them to learn. So if my husband is sitting on the couch and I’m working in the kitchen, instead of being angry at him for his lack of attentiveness, I just have to say “Can you clear the table, will you take care of the dishes tonight, or please help the boys take out the trash.” It’s not that he’s unwilling, it’s just that those things aren’t important to him. For me, I don’t care about cars. I just want it to function the way I want, and I don’t care how it looks. I don’t think about driving through a car wash, I don’t care if the paint gets scratched or there are rust spots – it never crosses my mind. So I have to acknowledge that we all have our things, and mine is wanting a clean house, so I either need to be happy doing it all, or I need to ask him to participate and also tell him how I want him to participate. Because if my husband asked me to clean the car, I would vacuum it, but I still wouldn’t think to take it through a car wash. So let’s not say “do the dishes” and in our mind EXPECT them to also wipe down all the counters and sweep the floor.
7. Let go of perfection.
I know I’ve talked about it before, but it goes with point #6. If we’re going to delegate to our family we have to be ok with things not done exactly like we want them done. The point is the dishes are done, it doesn’t really matter how they were stacked in the dishwasher or the draining rack. Perfection prevents us from taking action on how home, because “I don’t have time to do it right, so I just won’t start.” But really, we already have a home that needs care- getting a little bit done every day still means the house is getting cared for. It doesn’t matter if it’s done “perfectly.”
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