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Do you ever wonder if our parents and grandparents felt like we do about time? There never seems to be enough of it and we all spend time trying to find out ways to use it more efficiently. Free Time? Who has any of that?!
Gretchen Rubin says “The days are long, but the years are short.” Isn’t that the truth…
We all know time goes by fast, but what if we could use our time better to have more free time? Everyone could use a little more free time even if it was only 30 minutes worth. Could you imagine 30 minutes of free time a day?! Yes, a day!
Since I do not think I am the only one going through this phenomenon of no free time, I started looking for ways to make better use of my time. I have compiled a list of things I try to do to increase my free time. Feel free to tweak these things as you see fit. What are you going to do with all of this extra free time?!
1. Meal Plan
I have been such an advocate for meal planning. I typically meal plan for 2 weeks but try to meal plan for a whole month. This helps reduce the time I have to spend shopping. Not only will the number of times you will need to go to the grocery store be reduced, but also how long you spend there. It also helps a TON with the budgeting side of things since you won’t be throwing as much money away. I have a whole post about meal planning here, but I will tell you a few thing here.
- I have a binder of recipes so I can easily page through and pick meals out. I can also make a grocery list from the printed recipes.
- I have each family member pick out a meal or two so I do not have to “think” so hard. It also helps reduce complaints.
- One(or two!) night(s) a week are for leftovers.
- I save old meal planning sheets so I can “recycle” them if I am short on time or feeling in a rut.
- You don’t have to waste time “thinking” of what to make for supper tonight
- Prep can be done on the weekend to make things easier later in the week
2. “Sunday” Basket
This is a newer thing for me. I heard about this Sunday Basket on my favorite podcast, Biz Chix. Anyways, Lisa has this concept of doing a Sunday Basket where you collect every.single.loose paper in your house and put it in a basket. One day a week you go through your basket and address the paper (or keep it in the basket to address it the next week). This allows you the freedom of paper clutter as well as things not getting missed(such as paying a bill). This is a very forgiving system that allows you to address many “adulting”activities at once. No more missed bills or un-signed permission slips.
3. Time Blocking for Cleaning
Many people have different strategies for cleaning. Some say to do a little bit of cleaning every day and then there are others who say to do all of your cleaning at one time. I personally like to get it all done at one time, but my house is 1,600 sq feet. I feel cleaning it all at once is pretty manageable, especially when I have kids to help me. But, the important thing is that I have a constant schedule of when I do my cleaning. Every Sunday the cleaning gets done during a specific time of the day. This is also important because I have my children help with cleaning. Since they help with the cleaning, they know what to expect and when it will be happening. Also, a little disclosure, my 8-year-old helps with age-appropriate cleaning tasks and my 2-year-old helps with her own “cleaning tools.”
4. Pick Out Clothes For The Week or Other Small Tasks
I do not know why this is such a “big” task, but picking out my clothes every morning slows me down. If I know what I am going to wear that day, for some reason I am able to get ready faster. I guess this is one of the reasons why Steve Jobs wore the “same” outfit to work every day. This should also be done for your children so help their mornings go more smoothly. We all know how stressful school mornings are, so anything to help it move along more is a win in my book!
Some other things you could do to help with the week is:
- Prep Kids School Lunches, if they are old enough, let them “pack” it. Money Saving Mama had a great idea in this post, and I think it is genius! You spend little time getting things together(sandwiches and bagged snacks) for the week and then it is all ready for the week!
- Have your own snacks/lunch ready for the week
- If there are activities going on during the week(sports or appointments) make sure everyone knows the day and time of those appointments, sports, etc. Make school notes(if your child needs to be released from school early or vice-versa) and line up rides or babysitters if needed.
5. Take Some Time For Yourself
I think we often forget to do this in our day and age. As moms, we tend to put ourselves last in regards to needs. But, I am here to tell you to stop doing that. Every week, take a minimum of at least 30 minutes to recharge, but if possible, do it every day! If you can, end every day with a book or take a bath. Make sure your family knows that during these 30 minutes you are not to be interrupted. I know this can be difficult with small children to have “me time”, but take that time either before they wake up in the morning or after they go to bed. Even better, if you have a significant other that can be on “mommy” duty for that time. Ultimately, taking this “me time” allows to stay charged for other demanding activities.
Team Free Time!
Take one or two of these items and incorporate them into your week. I would love to hear what worked and what didn’t. Even better, what do you do during the week to help incorporate free time?