Easy Shortcuts for Moms

Take advantage of carpooling to save time.Every year I say that we will avoid becoming over-scheduled. The kids can only participate in one activity at a time. I'll learn to say "no" to some of the volunteer opportunities that fall in my lap (no matter how rewarding). We won't double-book friends or family. We'll know our limits and stick to them! Hurrah!

Somehow, though, we always end up in the same predicament: too much to do, too little time. Since I can't conceivably do it all, I've found a few skip-its and shortcuts that I can use when our schedules get packed. Where can mom cut corners?

Lunch

I'd love to put together a delicious and nutritious homemade lunch for my daughters every day. If I've run out of bread, just realized that the last apple has a bad spot on it, or discovered that the thermos is still dirty and I'm out of freezer packs, a homemade lunch might not work. At first, I felt bad if I didn't give the kids a homemade lunch every day. But school lunches are much healthier than they used to be, and my kids like the grown-up feeling they get from buying a lunch every once in a while. In our family, the school lunch shortcut works!

Carpool

My oldest daughters are able to walk to school, but I have to drive my youngest daughter to her preschool 2-3 days a week. Since she's only there for two and a half hours, the driving time can really cut into my ability to accomplish things during that time. The same is true of soccer practices, Girl Scout meetings, and piano lessons. Carpooling, even just every once in a while, can help you maximize your child-free time and stop you from feeling like you run a taxi service.

Chores

If I want the whole house to be clean at once, everyone in the family needs to pitch in. "Divide and conquer" is the method that works best for our family. If you don't have a ton of time, or need to prioritize, stick with cleaning communal areas and bathrooms and leave everyone to tend to bedrooms on their own time.

Baths

I'd never advise letting your children leave the house unkempt…well, except maybe I would. While a bath every night might keep my girls smelling clean, and a bath every other night is my goal, I've learned that they aren't going to stink up the classroom if we skip a night. Some nights, between homework and activities, it's a saving grace not to have to worry about taking showers and baths. It's a simple shortcut that can really change the course of an evening.

Content by Kelly Herdrich.