School is officially back in session (can I get a hallejuiah?!) and with it comes all the various extracurriculars, sports and other activities/meetings that somehow monopolize nearly every evening of the week. I love being “involved,” but it can be tough to keep up with the daily grind when your afternoons/evenings are spent at the ball field, agonizing over homework or trying to get dinner on the table at a decent time.
While I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient, it’s right around this time of year that I reallllllllly look to streamline my routine. Sure, it’s to help make room for all the back-to-school activities that are starting up. But it’s also for my own sanity and the cleanliness of my house! Take a look below at 6 things I do to help me streamline my busy weeks. Are these earth-shattering, rocket-sciency ideas that will revolutionize your life? Maybe. Or maybe they’re just quick and easy ways I find a few extra minutes throughout the week while still getting all my stuff done. You decide…either way, I hope they’re helpful!
I don’t like laundry. In fact, I have a needlepoint sign in my laundry room with an expletive on it underscoring how much I don’t like laundry (true story). I try to do small loads throughout the week so I don’t have to face a mountain of dirty clothes every weekend. As I tuck my kiddos in at bedtime, I throw a small load of laundry in and set my washer’s timer for 7 hours. That way, the clothes kick on overnight to wash and are just getting finished as I’m waking up. I can throw them in the dryer early and fold them before I leave.
Grab ‘n Go Bathroom Cleaning
Deep-cleans of the bathrooms in our house are one thing – I’m talking scrubbing showers, mopping floors, etc. But we also have to do those quick cleans of toilets, sinks and surfaces each week. I always found myself looking for my Clorox wipes or toilet brush and then dragging all of those supplies around with me upstairs and downstairs. So I bought one of those plastic shower caddies (yes, the kind college students put their shampoo and shower flip-flops in) and loaded it up with Clorox wipes, glass cleaner wipes and toilet bowl cleaner. Now I just grab that and my toilet brush and make my rounds once a week to do those quick cleans of everyone’s bathrooms. So easy to have all the supplies in one central location, plus the caddy makes it easy to move from room to room.
Leverage Technology to Plan Meals and Groceries
People always used to preach the wonders of meal prep/planning to me, but I just wasn’t hearing it. Until I tried it. Now, I’m here for it! I downloaded the Plan to Eat app (available in the app store with a free 30-day trial) and for $39 per year, I can organize all my recipes, plan my meals and even keep track of grocery lists. I don’t use it for grocery lists (more on that later), but I did create a custom list called “Freezer Contents” where I keep track of all the prepped meals and meats I have in my freezer. It’s so nice to have a quick at-a-glance look at what I already have on hand.
I use a grocery app to keep an ongoing grocery list. There are several apps/retailers that do this now, so search to see what options are available near you for pick-up and/or delivery. I use Wal-Mart’s grocery app and add things to my shopping cart as I notice I’m running low. Keeping that ongoing list in the app means my essentials are already in my cart and I don’t have to worry about trying to remember to add them to my list and then purchase. When I’m ready, I place my order and pick everything up at a time that’s convenient for me. Oh, how I wish this would’ve existed when my kids were babies…total life (and time) saver!
Pack Lunches the Night Before
This is probably a no-brainer, but I’m in no shape to pack lunches early in the mornings. Not sure why, but I just can’t wrap my head around healthy meal options before 8 a.m. So as I’m cleaning up after dinner each night, I take some time to pack my kids’ school lunches and lunches for my husband and me if we need them the next day. We have a small fridge in our garage, so I usually put the lunchboxes in there so we can grab them as we head out the door. Just pop in an ice pack and go!
Keep a Family Calendar
It’s hard to remember who has what activity when and who will be available to chauffeur kids to said activities. So I bought a small dry-erase board that keeps our weekly “hot list” of happenings. I note any sports practices and school activities, as well as any meetings my husband or I have so we know which nights we have to divide and conquer. It also helps with my meal planning because I can plan for leftovers on particularly hectic days.
Make the Rounds to Cut Clutter
No matter how hard I tried to keep our house de-cluttered, I was always finding little piles of “stuff” that made their way to our living room or kitchen. Random, half-built Legos on our kitchen counter, dirty socks on the couch, books scattered about. So I bought this stair basket from Ballard Designs and I keep it on our back staircase. Each night as we’re getting ready to head up to bed, I make the rounds with my basket and put in any items that need to go upstairs. Then my kids and I put everything back in its proper place together – toys go in the play room, dirty clothes in hampers, books on shelves. It’s really helped to keep those piles of stuff from accumulating. Plus, my kids think it’s kinda fun to fill up the basket on the way to bed. Win win!
How do you streamline your schedule when things are hectic? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for maintaining sanity and getting things done!