Because we’re crazy, this year in our house we have three different school schedules to follow (four if you count the parent/tot class my toddler and I do once per week). The hustle is real! But, luckily, I’ve been able to pick up more than a few hacks over the years that I’ve been momming that make even the most demanding schedules totally doable.
And, if you want to learn how to utilize your time to be most productive, click here to learn more about my minicourse, Mother of Time Management.
Here are 20 mom life hacks to help you conquer crazy weekdays:
1. Snack Baskets
Keep one in your pantry and one in your fridge of pre-portioned, school approved snacks. I let the kids pick whatever they want from the snack basket for school and off we go. This makes packing lunches a breeze too. I just prepare the main item, grab a few sides from the baskets and done! Plus, the baskets help keep you pantry and fridge organized. I take everything out of the bulky, big boxes so it all is contained nicely in the baskets in individual portions.
2. Meal plan
Just do it. There are literally days when I have no idea what’s for dinner, even when I planned and prepped it! Can you imagine how difficult that is when you haven’t put in the planning? Especially if you just meander through the grocery store throwing things in your cart without an agenda. I can’t brain like that. Luckily I’ve got my menu to keep my list and my nights on track.
3. Pack lunches the night before
Your morning self will thank you.
4. Ingredient Prep
While I love the idea of prepping all our meals on Sunday, or stocking our freezer with a month of prepared dinners, it rarely, if ever, happens. But that doesn’t mean a little prep work doesn’t go a long way. Instead of cooking an entire meal in advance, I batch prep the ingredients I need for the meals we’ll have that week on Mondays after we shop. As I’m cooking that night’s meal, I’ll chop up the veggies, start defrosting or dicing meat…etc. for the rest of the week too. Then just I put all the ingredients in bags, labeled with the meal. This cuts down our cooking time because all I have to do is cook — no prep. True 30 minute (or less) meals! 🙂
5. Double your recipes when making dinner and freeze half
As Grandma Judi, my husband’s wise grandma of like, 100 kids, and mother of 5 always says, cook once, eat twice! Sage advice! 😉
6. Take cell phone pics of important notes so you don’t lose them
I’ve mentioned this hack before, but it’s worth noting again. Everytime my kids bring home school notes with important details for a field trip or project, I snap a picture of it on my phone. Then I can recycle the original and still have the info I need right on my phone. To keep it organized and easy to find, I use a free app called, Keepy, to file the photo by kid and date.
7. Time block your days
Have you heard of time blocking before? It’s an amazing strategy where you literally schedule in all the things you need to do in a day and reserve specific blocks of time for to do them. I love it because in one glance of my planner I can see what I need to do when, but also where I have some windows in my time to squeeze in other things (and when I don’t). We do a deep dive into time blocking in the Mother of Time Management minicourse.
8. Do You Have….? Reminder posters/tags
If you have a kiddo who tends to be easily distracted or forgetful, these can be such a help! Create a poster with a list of all the things your kids should have before they leave for the day. We had one on the door to our garage right at the kids’ eye level for an entire year. I also know of a few parents have laminated tags and attached them to their child’s backpack zipper to help them remember what to bring home from school too. Genius! You can download one free here from Understood.org, or use it as inspiration to make your own.
9. Pick out clothes for the week on Sunday
This habit just helps keep everything go so much smoother in the mornings. On Sundays, help your kids pick out their clothes for the week. That way you’re not frantically searching through the laundry pile in the morning for the school spirit shirt, or know you need to wash a load before Billy is clean out of undies. 😉 This is also a great opportunity to resolve any disputes about what to wear well ahead of the rush of the morning.
10. Nightly Pick-Up/Prep Ritual
Kids thrive on routines, and this one helps keep the house in shape too. Every night at the same time, have a quick pick up. I set an alarm on our Alexa for the same time every evening. When it goes off, it’s time to spend 10 minutes picking up toys before winding down. I also have my kids pack their backpacks, including their snacks and water bottles for the next day.
11. Keep a shared calendar
Even if you’re like me and prefer a physical paper calendar or planner, using an app like Google calendar or iCal still serves a powerful purpose in keeping things simple and convenient. Sharing. It’s so much easier to coordinate schedules with your significant other when you utilize a tool that instantly updates every time you use it. No more wondering if you actually remembered to tell your husband about parent teacher conferences, or your Girl’s Night Out plans. When he opens his calendar, it’s there.
12. Wash all your laundry on cold
No need to sort. Wash, and get on to better things.
13. Let your kids put away their clothes
Their drawers may not look perfect, but you don’t have to see it. Plus, letting them put the clothes away empowers your kids to take some responsibility for how much they keep in their drawers and closets and helps reinforce the value of what they have.
14. Have a home for backpacks, gear, shoes and coats that is accessible to your kids
You don’t need a mud room or even a special command center to do this. Even if it’s just a spot on the floor by your door, make sure it all has a home and that everything is in that home each night when you’re doing your quick pick up. Then you don’t have to scramble to look for any missing pieces in the morning. Carolyn from Fennell Seeds has a great round-up of backpack storage ideas for those of us without a mudroom here.
15. Declutter 😉
You knew this would be on the list, right? Remember less stuff equals less to clean equals a place for everything (so you know where it is) equals happier you. 🙂 Sign up here for your free decluttering starter guide for busy moms.
16. Keep a stash of snacks in the car
Sometimes days don’t pan out the way you think. And no one wants to be hangry. Keep some car snacks handy for these little emergencies, for you and your kids.
17. Unpack folders over the recycling bin
And use an app like Keepy to capture memorable work without adding to the paper clutter.
18. Let your kids have some chill time right after school, then dive into the homework and all the things
We all need a little bit of time to decompress after a busy day. Giving your kids the opportunity to chill or play outside and get some exercise and fresh air will help them focus better and fight you less when it’s time to crack open the books.
19. Keep activity bags packed and ready to go
Dance class, soccer practice, a long wait at a restaurant (Yep, I have a mini backpack with things for exactly this purpose)…keep bags packed and ready to go for all the activities in your life. Then everything you or your kids need is in one place and it makes it that much easier to head out the door.
20. Pizza Friday
In our house, by the time Friday night rolls around, we’re all pooped and ready for the weekend. So we made up our Pizza Friday tradition. We put on our pajamas as soon as we can, order a pizza (or make our own), pick a family movie, make popcorn and chillax as we head into the weekend. Dinners are easy to plan and we don’t fuss about anything. 🙂 Establish an easy, low-key tradition for your family at the end of the week and give yourself the chance to put your feet up too!
So, there you have it. 20 of my best mom hacks to help you conquer your crazy weekdays. What are your favorite Mom life hacks for busy weekdays?