Being in position to have someone come in and help with any aspect of your household is great. But so many people aren’t able to do that. Myself included. But as a parent of 5 kids I do have a some tricks to buy yourself time up my sleeve.
The thing about hiring help is that it’s often a pretty substantial cost, especially if you need it routinely. That being said, a few little tricks can’t entirely replace a second set of hands. What they can do, though, is help save a few minutes here and there each day.
And that can really add up.
My Best Tips and Tricks to Buy Extra Time
Before I get started I just want to say that the tricks and products in this post are ones I actually use. This post wasn’t sponsored. Just advice that I’ve learned over the years raising 5 kids!
Let the Dishwasher do the Work
We JUST got a dishwasher installed about a month ago. I know, crazy, right? It took 3 years in our house for that to happen! I honestly can’t believe how much time I save not having to wash dishes.
One thing I noticed, though, is how much time we still spend rinsing the dishes to make sure they will come clean. Here’s the thing, though: Dishwashers were made to clean your dishes! As long as things aren’t too stuck on most of the time everything comes off anyway.
Another thing I used to do when I had a dishwasher before was not put big stuff in. Especially pots and pans. Now absolutely everything that’s dishwasher safe goes in that sucker. I would rather run it twice a day than be bothered washing a bunch of dishes!
Finally, if things are really dirty I just use a stronger cycle. My dishwasher has some pretty awesome power wash settings that I haven’t even taken advantage of yet – but I’ll bet they’ll be lifesavers next time I cook Christmas dinner.
What I buy
- Good quality dishwasher detergent
- Water/electricity for more or powerful cycles
What it saves
- Time rinsing dishes
- Time washing dishes by hand
- Worrying about whether or not family members have rinsed properly
Buy Good Quality Cleaning Products
I am the kind of person who usually likes to have more natural things in my home. That usually extends to cleaning products. But lately I’ve been taking an new approach, especially with the pandemic, that seems to be working for our family.
I keep good quality (sometimes expensive) cleaning products in my home. They seriously save me so much time scrubbing!
Here’s a few of my favourite cleaning products:
This stuff has seriously been a lifesaver for those times where I do need to rinse dishes or quickly wash something. It works so well and saves having to mess around with the liquid dish soap.
I use these all the time, especially with kids. They’re great for getting crayon off the wall and cleaning up stubborn messes that I just can’t get off with anything else. I also use them for cleaning up antique and vintage finds that just need some TLC!
Before I bought this I couldn’t get my stove clean. Seriously. Having a nice clean cooktop makes me feel better about being in my kitchen and making meals. Make sure you get the scouring pads that don’t scratch, though!
This is an area that you have to spend carefully and specifically. There are so prepackaged foods, especially frozen meals, that are terrible value for money and awful for you. We like to eat healthy in our house.
I also find that there are some places where buying something prepackaged just doesn’t make sense. Other times the prepared food saves so much time.
One of the best examples is cheese. Cheddar cheese we always buy in the block because we eat it both sliced and grated. For homemade pizza night, though, we use the Kirkland pre-grated pizza cheese. That probably saves 20 minutes or more of prep for our family!
Other places you can save are buying pre cut fruits and veggies, especially if you’re trying to eat healthier. Another great purchase is rotisserie chickens, especially from Costco. They’re great for meals or just to snack on.
To stay on budget try and buy packaged or pre-cut foods that create the biggest time problems for you or that you struggle to prep ahead. For example, one of my kids won’t eat the honey-soaked apple slices I put in the kids’ lunches (so they don’t turn brown) but likes the store bought ones.
Morning Routine Time Savers
This can be anything but for us it’s things like cold cereal, coffee creamer, and extra pairs of socks. Really anything that can save yourself time or help get the kids out the door applies.
Mornings are really hectic when the kids are in school so we limit hot breakfasts like eggs to just a couple days a week. Some weeks we only have cereal. Of course, this is pretty normal, but for us it does save time.
Other things you can do are streamline your own meals, buy yourself convenient solutions for your coffee (like creamer or a Keurig), and invest in good quality beauty products that make getting ready easier.
You’re probably wondering why socks saves us time. Well, my kids always manage to lose them. So we keep extras around just in case so we’re not searching for a match or someone’s missing pair.
Entertainment for the Kids
Sometimes a few bucks can buy me hours of work. A great example was buying the kids Among Us on my switch. It’s allowed the little kids to play with the older ones which can sometimes get me 30 minutes or more of uninterrupted time.
Another thing we did when lockdown hit last year is buy the twins the Amazon Kindle Fire tablets. They’ve held up great and the kids still use them all the time. They even have Minecraft! While I don’t think screen time should be a 24-7 babysitter there’s nothing wrong with letting kids play for a bit to have some quiet time while you take care of work or chores.
Using Subscription Services or Curbside Pickup
I personally take advantage of both of these for those times when I just can’t get to the store. First is the subscriptions: Since I’m in Canada we don’t have a lot of options. I use Amazon Subscribe and Save to take care of few staples. Mostly things like hygiene products and cleaning supplies.
Now I don’t have to think about what we’re going to run out of or remember to go to that side of the store. Things we use regularly just show up at our house every month. I’m all about automation!
Curbside pickup I started using at the start of the pandemic and I can’t believe how much time it can save. I often use Walmart since it’s closest to us. What I do is I’ll create a pickup time for a week or two ahead and then slowly add things to my cart as I think about them. It’s been super handy!
The only downside is now that things have opened up I started shopping at Costco again and they don’t offer it (or delivery) where I live.
Updated for 2022: Walmart’s new instant pick up is another great way to buy yourself time. It’s only 5 bucks here, and lets you put your order in within an hour of pick up. It saves me so much time in the store when I need a last minute trip.
Ready Made Meals
While I don’t eat these all the time, I like grabbing a couple ready made meals to have on hand just in case. When work is super busy, these are a great way to buy yourself time and help avoid turning to take out (and spending more money) at the same time.
I especially love the Costco ones since they’re relatively affordable and quite tasty! Frozen meals are also good too.
If you’re really strapped for time, keep a rotation of ones you can eat instantly like tacos or sandwiches in the fridge for busy evenings. Great for sports and activity nights too.
Another great idea if you want to buy yourself time on food prep is to buy rotisserie chickens. My kids love to snack on them and they also make great quick meal ideas or sandwich and salad additions.