Do you waste time unnecessarily on chores?

At this busy time of the year when working parents are up their necks in sports days, end of school year activities and requests to down tools and go outside to make the most of the hot weather, Workingmums.co.uk looks at ways to save time.

At this busy time of the year when working parents are up their necks in sports days, end of school year activities and requests to down tools and go outside to make the most of the hot weather, Workingmums.co.uk looks at ways to save time.

Be honest. Does it really matter?
We all know housework and chores around the family are time-consuming, but we want to live in neat and tidy homes where we can walk across the floor without having to dodge stray trainers, tennis racquets, books and two-week-old newspapers.  But if you find yourself telling your children you can’t come into the garden to join in a family game of footie or cricket because you’ve got the vacuuming to do, it’s high time you had a think about the priorities in your life.  You won’t be remembered in years to come for your prowess with the duster or your immaculate mantelpiece – but you will be fondly remembered for the slidiing tackle you carried out when you were the last line in defence in the summer of 2010.  A clean and functioning household where you can find things relatively easily and don’t have to hunt through mountains of piled-up paper is desirable, but a home where no one dares to put down a magazine on the crumb-free floor is not.  Really, no one got points for being too houseproud.

Chaos
On the other hand, if you find you’re missing appointments for the doctor or dentist or lunch boxes for special school outings because you’ve stacked the letter in that pile that never seems to get any smaller, you need to become more efficient.  Spending 15 minutes searching for the car keys when you need to do the supermarket run before school pick-up time will make you hot and flustered and a not-so-nice person to be around once the school bell chimes for the end of of the day. 

Delegate
Four pairs of hands are better than one pair.  Don’t play the put-upon martyr who thinks nobody else is capable of picking up a smelly sock from a bedroom floor and putting it into a laundry basket.  Don’t lay down the law at the top of your voice – it wil have no real effect.  Instead, at a time when you feel calm, find something that one of the family did well, whether it was putting their school folders in order or playing with a younger member of the family while you got tea ready, and compliment them.  Mention how good it is to see the family pulling together and helping each other out and how lucky you are to have such willing and responsible chlidren.  Praise always goes further than criticism.  About half an hour later, ask them to do something – they will be far more receptive to helping you.
 
How can you save time?
* Clean up, and then don’t make the room messy.  It sounds easy, but find a proper place for the items that have a habit of becoming clutter.  Buy a magazine rack for the newspaper and Sunday supplements which you can’t quite get round to reading straight away.  Tell other family members where certain things need to go – trainers under their bed, games equipment in the cupboard under the stairs, etc.  Don’t assume they will automatically know that their detritus can go elsewhere.  Get the family into a habit of doing a sweep around the floor of the living room to take anything of theirs upstairs at the end of the evening. Consequently, it will be easier for them to find items in the morning and there won’t be a last-minute panic before school-time.
* Cut down on trips to the supermarket by planning a list of meals for the whole week.  Include dishes with meat, fish, lots of different vegetables (think of something instead of just alternating carrots and broccoli) and carbohydrates.  Try to make just one trip all week. Pin a list of meals on the fridge door to avoid children having the same meal at school that day. When you do your trip to the supermarket, fill up with petrol on the same journey, drop off recycling goods and clean the car at the same time.  Work out how much time you save compared to the time you’d take to carry out these tasks individually.
* After you’ve done your washing, pick it up, iron it immediately and hang it up in the wardrobe.  This gets rid of piles of unironed clothes cluttering the place up and avoids family members rifling through the heap to try to find their favourite jeans and tops.   If you have lots of school P.E. gear to
* Never go up the stairs empty-handed.  There will always be something to take upstairs. Have a basket at the bottom of the stairs (not too near the stairs to trip anyone up) and pop anything into it which needs to be put away upstairs.  

Don’t spend ages hunting for the…
* Remote controls.  Keep them beside the television, and tell the family whenever they want to switch channel they have to bloomin’ well get up, walk to the television, use the remote and put it back in the same place.  This will save hours of time looking for the remotes down the back of the sofa, underneath the sofa or by the games consoles.
* Car keys.  Always keep them in the same place.  Your handbag is probably the best place, because wherever you go it goes with you.
* Mobile.  Top of the fridge is a good spot. You’re probably never very far from the kitchen.

Top tip
How much time do you spend remembering birthdays, buying cards, checking you have stamps and then sending off cards at the right time? To save tonnes of time and avoid insulting relatives by forgetting their special day, buy a big folder with lots of compartments and add dates.  Buy cards for all your relatives and friends in one go, write them, put the addresses on the envelopes and add the stamps.  Stick the card in the compartment four days before the person’s birthday.  Look through your folder every week,  take out the card and pop it in the post.




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