It’s the question parents throughout the ages have asked themselves: “How can I keep all of the proverbial ‘balls in the air’ while staying sane and holding it all together?” For me, it’s a tall order – with two kids, seven after-school activities, a dog and a guinea pig to keep alive, a house that needs upkeep and a business to run. Which is why I’m constantly looking for ways to save time.
Believe it or not, there are several ways to shave off 5 minutes here, 30 minutes there when dealing with the one simple topic of clothes. I’ve come up with a few handy tricks that I have used with my kids over the years and I’m hoping they can help you, too. Because, after all, we’re in this together!
#1: No More Hide and Seek
Both my girls play travel soccer (emphasis on the word “travel”!). This requires two different uniforms each, along with a host of equipment. You know… like special socks and shin guards, one of each which always seems to go missing 30 minutes before the game, which of course is located 30 minutes away. Not fun.
My kids are now responsible for packing their own soccer bags so that everything they need is always packed on game day. The same goes for school backpacks and camp bags. Leave them packed and ready to go by the front door the night before. I can’t tell you how much last-minute stress this has saved for all of us.
Time saved: 10 minutes sock-hunting
#2: Stop Morning Negotiations
Have you ever had the pleasure of “negotiating” what your kids will wear on school mornings, simultaneously while cooking eggs and brushing hair? Save yourself the agita and have your kids pick out their outfits for the week. And the night before, put the outfit for the next day on top of their dresser. They have the freedom to pick what they want to wear (within reason!), and there’s no decision-making necessary at 7am when everyone’s still half asleep.
If you really want to get fancy, put their sneakers by the door with socks in them, and untie and open them up for easy slip on. If I had a dollar for every time the school bus pulled up while my kids were still trying to undo the knots in their shoelaces…
Time saved: 10 minutes
#3: Label and Stop Guessing
When my kids were young, it was impossible to keep track of the different sized clothing… 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months… they all look the same! When you’ve got one arm holding a baby down on a changing table, the last thing you need is to be fumbling around with the other arm, trying to find the right sized onesie.
My cheap and easy solution was to use a label maker to label the shelves with the different sizes (you can also label a basket or a drawer). Seems obvious, but most don’t realize that a little organization up front saves a lot of time on the back end.
Time saved: 2 minutes multiple times a day
#4: Purge and donate
We have a bi-annual “closet purging day” in our home. It starts out as some sort of disorganized “fashion show”, with the kids trying on everything that seems small, and ends with a pile of clothes/shoes/books for donations. We do this usually once before the spring and once before the winter.
Trust me: there is a direct correlation between organized closets and sanity preservation. The closets are never overstuffed with clothes that they can no longer wear, and we make room for new stuff as they grow. When we’re all done, my kids come with me to a local shelter to donate everything. They enjoy being a part of the process and giving back to the community.
Time saved: more like sanity saved!
#5: The 2-Wear Rule
Have a 2-wear rule (or 3-wear rule if you can eek it out) before putting the clothes in the laundry (underwear excluded!). My kids are notorious for having three wardrobe changes a day, with multiple clean outfits filling the laundry basket daily. I swear, before I can fold and put away the last load, the kids’ baskets are already filled. This rule will cut down on the number of loads of laundry necessary each week, and is just better for the environment.
Time saved: at least a load of laundry per week
#6: What’s Mine is Mine
Speaking of laundry, here are two easy tips to save a ton of time. I have a hard time remembering whose underwear and socks are whose. To make life so much easier, throw each kids’ underwear and socks into their own labeled, washable mesh bag. They are inexpensive, and will save you the guessing game (not to mention screams of “Mom, that’s not my underwear!”).
Also, while folding the laundry, I put the clothes into piles (pants together, t-shirts together, etc.) so that putting them into the closet is quick and easy.
Time saved: 15 minutes
Even if you only do one of the above, the time saved can truly make a positive difference in your life and those of your family.
Renee Levine is a mom of two energetic girls, marketing professional and Co-Founder + CEO of ParentNation, where you can find what’s best for your kids with reviews and advice from local parents. Visit ParentNation at www.parentnation.com.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.