Ways to make your life easier as a working parent
Getting out the door, doing your job, running a home and keeping up with children is a LOT to cram into each day. Mumsnetters share top tips for making it through the working week with your sanity intact
1. Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork
"Depending on age of your children, get them involved in chores as soon as possible - bribe if needed! They can tidy, strip beds, dust, do the dishwasher, fold and put clothes away etc depending on their age. Start this young and it becomes habitual."
"Having a nanny really makes a difference, though I appreciate that this won't work financially for everyone."
"Having a partner that pulls their weight is a big help."
2. Make every second an opportunity
"Never go upstairs empty-handed."
"I clean the bathroom whilst running the bath. A quick spray and wipe keeps on top of things."
"I do a load of washing while cooking dinner. I then hang it up after dinner on my lakeland heated dryer, leave the clothes there for 24 hours (not with heater on!) and fold them the next night."
4. Use your time wisely
"Do chores in your lunch break. If you get the tube/bus/train use the time to eat your breakfast, catch up on emails, organise the week ahead, do life admin, etc."
5. Plan ahead
"Something that I have found very helpful is buying big boxes of cards and wrapping paper once or twice a year. They have saved my bacon on many an occasion."
6. Have a system
"We have a whiteboard in the kitchen with who's doing what and when, including all pickups. Every day is different so that really helps us to feel organised."
"I combine my work and personal calendars on my phone, so I always know exactly where everyone is, who is in charge, and what needs to be remembered."
7. Meal plan and always have reserves
"Slow cookers are a godsend. Batch cook where possible: soup, mince and gravy or spaghetti bolognese. If you do a Sunday roast, chuck in some jacket potatoes for the following day. Have a list of quick go-to dinners and ensure ingredients are always in the house."
8. Don't be ashamed of using the electronic babysitter
"I noticed a big change when I started letting my son watch a DVD for half an hour when we get home of an evening, while I unload bags and make tea. Until then I was all for the anti-TV approach, but it was very stressful trying to manage him in the evening, when he was already wiped out from a full day at nursery. Don't feel guilty about it."
9. Be flexible where you can
"I work from home one day a week, and it helps enormously. One less outfit to sort, and I can get a few other jobs done during the day too."
"Starting and finishing work half an hour early means you beat the commuter rush."
10. Let standards slip from time to time
"I'm trialling paper plates for dinner on particularly busy days. My children enjoy using them."
"Go easy on yourself. Your house is not going to look like they do in the adverts."
11. Don't stress over creases
"Choose your clothes wisely when shopping. Avoid anything that creases badly and requires pressing. I live in jersey-type dresses that look smart even after commuting or straight from the dryer."
"DO NOT IRON! Life is too short for a few measly creases and certainly not worth wasting money on."
12. Make savvy investments
"Buy a Roomba. You only need the most basic model, since they're all the same power. We do a quick tidy up and then switch it on before we go out, or get it to do upstairs while we're downstairs eating a meal. It's also a good way to get the kids to pick up their toys: 'The Roomba is going on in five minutes, any toys left out will get eaten!'"
13. Let someone else take the strain
"Get a cleaner, even if you have to cut back on other treats or luxuries, even if you can only afford it once a month. We've never looked back."
14. Utilise all your resources
"Take advantage of hot meals at nursery/school/work, so that you just need to make a sandwich in the evening."
"Have as many duplicate school uniform items as you can so you're not always needing to put a wash on."
15. Get everything ready the night before
"Every evening, pack bags, make lunches, and organise clothes for everyone on individual hangers so you can just select a pre-made outfit in the morning."
16. Give yourself a break
"The most important thing for us has been keeping weekends really low key. We're all knackered and have been out of the house all week, so need the down time."
"Remember that in a few years the house will be clean and quiet... try and embrace the noise and mess!"