I follow a “Time Guru” – New Zealander Robyn Pearce. She recently posted a request for tips in dealing with time management in family life. This started out as time savers and organisational tips, but ended up being money saving ideas as well. These are in no particular order and are a bit of an organic list. It would be great to hear any ideas or suggestions you have.
Tip 1: When you have washed sheets, duvet covers etc, if you are not putting them straight back on the beds, fold them all up and put them into one pillow case. This way, all you need to grab out of the linen cupboard is the full pillowcase, and you have a full set of bedding ready to go.
Tip 2: Lunchbox stuff. Make a double batch of muffins, quiches, etc. Use some of them while fresh, but take 5 minutes to wrap the remainder individually with gladwrap and throw them in the freezer. Then just grab them out in the morning for lunches, and they’ll be defrosted by lunchtime.
Tip 3: Buy in bulk when it’s on special and make double sized meals. Freeze half for another day. Alternately, split the whatever it is into normal sized portions, rewrap and freeze.
Tip 4: Leave the sandwich bread frozen and put the sandwiches into lunch boxes frozen. This way you’re only using the bread you need (no wastage) and especially in summer, keeping lunch meats and so on cooler.
Tip 5: Consider using a laundromat rather than a domestic drier over winter. You can dry 8-10 loads in 40 minutes in a commercial drier, it costs about $6, is much easier on your clothes and is far quicker. You can then just have one giant folding session a week, your power costs are kept down and you don’t have the dampness in your home from running the drier.
Tip 6: Maintain a “family diary” in a visible spot. Try and find something which does a week at a glance, but which you can flip the pages over to see upcoming weeks. If anyone has a commitment – homework, a costume, after school commitments, an assignment and so on, it must be written in the diary. The second you get a school notice, have swimming or music lessons or sports or practices, write it in. Ensure that on a Sunday night, you flip over to the upcoming week and review your commitments.
Tip 7: Network. Build up a network of people with whom you can carpool to the inevitable practices, games etc. This saves time and money.
Tip 8: This is an old-fashioned one and something that our parents and grandparents always did. Make sure you have enough cans in your cupboard, meat in your freezer, flour in your pantry or so on, to be able to produce a meal or dish at a moment’s notice without having to shop, or expand out a meal for an unexpected guest. If my canned tomatoes get below 6 in the cupboard, I start to get nervous.
Tip 9: Do one large grocery shop every fortnight, and just top up fruit and veges as you need to. And even though I don’t do this, consider using a list (and sticking to it!) or ordering online. Although it is more expensive, you will save in time and you’re less likely to add items on impulse.
Tip 10: If you have the freezer space, freeze spare bottles of milk rather than having to buy more during the week. They take about 48 hours to defrost in the fridge, so require a little planning, but then you don’t have to do a midweek (or in our case Sunday morning) dash to the dairy. We also keep a UHT long-life milk in the cupboard for emergencies. Not the best on cereal, but fine in tea or coffee and in baking/ cooking.