The alarm goes off. You’re already thinking about your to-dos as a parent:
- Wake the kids up,
- Cook breakfast,
- Get them dressed,
- Brush their teeth,
- Pack their bags,
- Don’t forget it’s spirit day!
You rush out the door for another long day of work, where your thoughts are flooded with, “I need to pick up groceries;” “Did I switch the laundry?” or “Do we have anything easy to cook for dinner?”
When you pick the kids up from daycare, little Johnny is crying for a snack, while Sara flings crayons across the car. And it’s only Monday.
Sound familiar? It takes time to adjust to a new school year with new routines, new teachers, new projects. Add all of this to your normal routine and life can start to feel a bit overwhelming.
While we don’t have the secret to stopping time, we can give you a few quick tips to better balance your family’s schedule and routine this fall.
Here are 6 tips for parents to save time during the school year.
1. Buy in Bulk
If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, you understand the joys of buying in bulk. This may help you save money, but how does it help save time? Less trips to the grocery store!
Save yourself a few trips to the grocery store by buying in bulk. Whether it’s at a wholesale store or your regular grocer, stock up on your household favorites including:
- Canned goods
- And more!
Of course, some items expire sooner, so consider freezing! (Think meat, fruit, and bread).
Pro Tip: To avoid the crowds, shop first thing in the morning, or midweek if you can.
2. Meal Prep
We know, we know. Meal prep is such a buzz word. But it can really work! On a Sunday evening, set up your crockpot, turn on the oven, and make a few large meals for the week.
- Prep a lasagna the night before, then pop it in the oven the next day.
- Make your kid’s favorite chili to last a few nights during the week.
- Bake chicken to make with a few family favorite sides.
Whatever you decide to make ahead of time, make enough to last more than just one meal. And get creative with it!
Pro Tip: Let your kids help in the kitchen for some great family bonding!
3. Pack for On-the-Go
If you know Johnny wants a snack every day after preschool, come prepared! Set up a snack bag for the car so he has a few options to choose from every day. This is where buying in bulk comes in handy!
You can also pack on-the-go toys to keep the kids occupied during your commute home from school. Sara doesn’t like her crayons? Include her favorite stuffed animal or a small book. Keep your snack pack and collection of toys in the car for your afterschool trips home, weekend family trips, and more!
4. Divide and Conquer: Chores, That is
On top of grocery shopping, meal planning, packing backpacks, and getting the kids to school on time, there’s also chores?!
- Use this as a teaching moment and get everyone in the household involved.
- Divide up the chores between each family member (just be sure they are age-appropriate).
- Then, show each child how to accomplish their chores.
- Make sure to thank them for doing a job well done!
Rather than switching up tasks each week, let your children own their specific task until they’ve really mastered it. This gives them a sense of routine and accomplishment. And, as your children grow older, add on new chores or establish a chore jar!
You can even set up a family calendar to keep track of which days each chore should be completed. Which brings us to the next point.
5. Set a Family Schedule
Kids love routine, so set a weekly family schedule to keep everyone on track. Create a family calendar so everyone can see all the events and activities going on in your family’s lives. Include:
- Family meals
- Grocery trips
- Preschool spirit days
- School events
- And more!
Set aside time each week to prep for upcoming events and activities. This will help you avoid scrambling at the last minute and feeling overwhelmed.
Pro Tip: If schedules are prone to change, use sticky notes and move them when needed.
6. Make Time for Yourself
With all the hustle and bustle throughout the week as a mom or dad, it’s easy to get burnt out. Following the tips above will help you save time, but make sure to use your extra time wisely. Set aside some of your newfound time for yourself to refresh and unwind.
- Read that book you’ve been keeping on your nightstand.
- Go for a walk alone or with a friend.
- Spend a Saturday morning at the market.
- Catch a game of golf.
- Pamper yourself (whatever that means for you!).
- Make a phone call to an old friend.
We assure you, making time for yourself will give you peace of mind and the rest needed to go about your busy days.
As a parent of a preschooler, time can be hard to find. Put these tips in your toolbox to help save time and find balance this school year.