Since having my daughter almost six years ago, one of the worst changes to my life has been never, ever having enough freaking time — and I have a partner and only one kid! With no other family nearby to pitch in, and a limited budget for babysitters, it’s no surprise that on any given day, I’m lucky to meet 50 percent of my family’s needs, let alone my own. (Though I can barely remember what my own needs are anymore.) To create some semblance of equilibrium, I’ve had no choice but make some major changes to my child-full day. Here’s some things I do to add hours back into the week:
1. I only cook on the weekends. Sautéed kale with crispy tofu. Quinoa with black beans, red peppers, and corn. Arugula salad with walnuts, apples, and goat cheese. (Can you tell my partner’s a vegetarian?). Nutritious and delicious — on Saturdays and Sundays. Monday through Friday, I pledge allegiance to glorious pre-packaged food. Frozen margherita pizzas and chana masala. Canned lentil soup. (Can you tell I live near a Trader Joe’s?) Take away the words “frozen” and “canned” and it actually sounds pretty gourmet. Oh, and my picky eating daughter only wants mac and cheese every night anyway — she’s the one who inspired this! (P.S. For those of you worried about not getting enough nutrition in, my doctor, an MD and ND, told me that as long as we’re getting the dark, leafy greens on the weekends, we’re doing fine.) Besides, I’m sure all the toxins in the microwaved plastic are building up our immunity.
Time saved per week: 5 hours
2. I use a housekeeper. If you don’t already use a housekeeper, please, I beg of you: Stop everything you’re doing and find one immediately. I know. I know. Most of you are saying, “I can’t afford one.” But let me tell you this: If I can afford it, so can you. Here’s why. Your time is money. How? When you have more time, you don’t need a sitter as much (money saved); you can work more part time hours (money earned); you’re more productive at your job because you’ve actually relaxed on the weekend instead of washing the kitchen floor or scrubbing the bathtub clean. Ewa, my housekeeper (who’s family now), comes every other week, and charges me $90 for our two bedroom apartment. That’s $45 a week. Money I created in our budget by downgrading my dog’s fancy holistic dog food and ditching Donny’s whole wheat mac and cheese to regular. Also, instead of going out for a family brunch or movie, we chill out at home with a $3 mid-afternoon movie from Amazon, (voted on democratically) and sip on seltzer (Donny) and highballs with bottom shelf bourbon (us).
Time saved per week: 2 hours (Ewa cleans 4 hours every other week.)
3. I only shower once a week. Yes that’s right. I’ll say it again. I only shower once a week. Now, it’s not as gross as it sounds. The six mornings I don’t shower, I take a “whore’s bath” instead. (Translation: I clean my smelly parts with a wash cloth.) On mornings I’m not feeling too smelly, or when I’m running late, I skip the sponge bath entirely. On days where I’ve worn SPF, or am covered with sweat from exercise, I quickly wipe down my entire body. The one day I do shower — usually Saturdays — I take care of business. Lather up my whole body. Shave. Deep condition my hair.
Exceptions to this: going swimming, especially at the beach
Benefits to this: Lower water bill ($ you can use towards the housekeeper!) The dead skin cells left on your body prevent bad bacteria and chemicals from getting in. Leaving oil on your skin not only keeps your skin moister, the same oil may help in the absorption of Vitamin D from the sun — something most of us don’t get nearly enough of.
Time saved per week: 1 hour (Sponge bath takes me 2 minutes. Showering takes 12.)
4. I only give my daughter a bath once a week. One of my closest friends, a mom to two boys, was repulsed when I told her this. (But she showers, washes, and blows out her hair every morning herself. I haven’t had the heart to tell her about my own bathing protocol.)
Now, I can’t take the credit for this brilliant idea. My partner and I started cutting back on our daughter’s baths during a period when she started hating them, turning bath time into a royal pain in the a*s that required way too many bribes. But as it turns out, even more than me, she’s really not that dirty most of the time. Except for her butt, which gets a wipe down every other night.
Exceptions: Summer or camp days, when she’s had SPF and/or insect repellent on. Then we do a quick sponge bath.
Time saved per week: 2 hours (Her baths take longer than my showers.)
5. I don’t wear makeup. Or better said, I only wear lipstick (bright red usually, which not only makes my face pop but also distracts from all my face skin’s flaws). I also like my reflection better in the mirror when it’s on.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE makeup. Walking into a MAC store or Sephora could mean serious trouble. But between commuting, getting the dog walked, or rushing to get Donny to school on time with a packed lunch, having a made up face had to go. On the weekends, I bring the glam back in with bold eye makeup and mascara.
Time saved per week: 1 hour (I don’t use foundation, and sometimes skip blush. If you do it all, you’ll probably save 2 hours).
6. I skip the skin regimen. Here’s a benefit to not wearing makeup. You don’t need to clean your face much. At night, instead of washing my face, I just give it a quick swipe with a gentle toner on a cotton square, and of course wipe away the remaining lipstick. (I then use the same cotton square to clean out any hair in the sink drain catch. Multi-tasking!)
As long as your face is clean when you go to bed, a celebrity dermatologist I recently interviewed said the only thing your face needs in the morning is a quick splash of water.
Time saved per week: 20 minutes (I only need a minute now compared to the 3 to 5 minutes I needed before.)
7. I wear the same outfits every week. Some more than once. This takes the thinking out of one of the most hectic parts of the day: the morning. Yes, most of us have a closet full of clothes, but if you pick out seven outfits that you really like for work or home (outfits that not only look good on you, but make you feel good), you’ll cut out the usual a.m. deliberation and hesitation.
Time saved per week: 35 minutes (and that’s being generous. Clothing contemplation can easily suck up 10+ minutes a morning).
8. I only allow my daughter one playdate/big outing a weekend.
Like the imprisoned disciplined mom that I am, I’ve gotten pretty good at lining up an activity for my daughter each weekend, whether it’s dropping her off at a friend’s house (my favorite!), having one of her friend’s over (demanding parental time for lunch making, petty fighting intervention, and playground supervision), or just taking a family outing to the park, a museum, or one of our friend’s homes.
But let this be your mantra: Never overbook! Because overbooking your kid means overbooking yourself. That means never accepting two birthday invites for one weekend, and no weekend classes and lessons. There’ll be plenty of time for all that claptrap later.
Time saved per week: 1-4 hours (dropoff playdate-bigger outing dependent)
TOTAL TIME SAVED PER WEEK: 13-17 HOURS!!!
Once you integrate even some of these into you life, here’s an even bigger challenge: Using that extra time for yourself. May the force be with you!
More Mom Hacks:
- 9 Baby Oil Hacks Every Mom Should Know
- How to Deal with Constantly Hungry Kids (without Losing Your Mind)
- 13 Simple Ways to Feel Less Stressed