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Tips & Tricks to Make Errands / Responsibilities Easier for Busy Moms

(3 minute read) Following up on last week’s blog with tools and tips for busy moms on How to Manage the Family and Free Up Time, here are 4 extras (but these aren’t all about the kids).  

1) Grocery Shopping

This is a biggie. What a time suck! To assist in the process, I have a standard grocery delivery two times a week. I know some people like picking out their own produce, fish, and meat, but even if that’s the case, you can still have your packaged goods delivered: milk, butter, eggs, etc. Once you’ve made the leap, there’s no turning back. Of course, I still have to supplement with items the delivery service doesn’t have, or things I run out of in-between deliveries. But it’s always a quick in and out of the store with 20 items or less. If only someone started a biz where that goes to all of the grocery stores for me (like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Costco, Stop & Shop), that would save a ton of time. Until that happens, here is my approach:

I actually make a list for every grocery store I shop at.  Each sheet has a checklist of all of the items I buy at that store. (I have a folder with lots of copies of each). Before I go shopping, I take out the list and check the house to see what I have / need (this is especially helpful for Costco). I also try to just check things off as we finish things and ask my family and babysitter to do the same. Want to know the best part? If I am at the store list-less, I can ask someone at home to look at the list and then see what we need (an example of why copies are a life-saver).  You can do this through apps as well!

It’s also great to grab an unmarked list, or have access to one (like a printout in your car/purse or a picture of it on your phone) so I am less likely to forget what I need when I get to the store. When I look at the list, it jogs my memory. You would think that going down the aisles would be the same, but I’m always trying to get in and out of the store quickly so I’m not really looking! If you have the opposite approach and enjoy browsing the aisles, it can lead to a cart full of items that you really don’t need! Having a list can help you stay on track.

Another helpful tool is to have a wipe-off board in the kitchen or main hub of your home. When you run out of butter or eggs or something, just write it on your list. Don’t forget to train your kids to do the same. When they eat the last yogurt, they have to add it to the board. I told my girls that if they don’t write it they can’t expect me to buy it because I often forget. Having this list is so convenient — when I’m running out to the market, I snap a pic of the board with my phone. Or, if I’m not home, again, I just call the house and have someone read it to me.

2) Travel / Packing

Instead of making a list of what you need to pack every time you go away for the weekend or on vacation, why not create a master list and simply print it out each time you need it (just like the grocery list)?  For mine ,I created various sections (ie: meds, toiletries, clothing, shoes, electronics, games/toys/books, other), including sections with items for warm weather vacations and cold weather. I also have a sleepover list for each daughter so they can pack themselves without forgetting anything (like their toothbrush, inhaler or lactaid).

3) Cleaning

Ok, if you aren’t thinking that I am a little crazy / OCD at this point, you’ll likely think it after you read about my cleaning list. Whether you have someone to come in and help clean your house on a regular basis, periodically, or never, creating a cleaning checklist is the way to go. Mine is by room-and very detailed. It includes the frequency, ie: every week, every 1st and 3rd weeks of the month, etc. When you have someone cleaning for you, it means you know it will get done because you can have them check off the items on the list as they do them. If you do it yourself, it feels so satisfying knowing it’s getting done. And the list even makes it easier to solicit your kids or hubby to help out. I must confess that I have a second cleaning list for special projects – the deep down dirty cleaning that gets done just a few times a year, like cleaning out the cutlery drawer or fridge, moving the stove, dusting on top of the high cabinets, cleaning duvet covers, etc. I know…exciting stuff!

4) Emergency Plan

Perhaps the most important tip is this one – having an emergency plan. I know we hear it all the time, but I also know that most of my friends don’t have one. I created mine after September 11th, along with a to-go bag, and was so happy that I had it when all of the electricity in Manhattan went out in 2003…when I was pregnant.  

My emergency list includes what to do if you’re not home, if your kids are at school, and where to go / meet based on where you are and where the problem is (ie: if it’s a problem in the city and your husband works there, maybe you have him walk over the 59th street bridge and meet him in Queens. And the backup plan is meeting elsewhere if the 59th street bridge isn’t accessible.)

 

Our list also includes things to consider doing if you are home based on the type of emergency, like plug in a real, non-cordless phone (that is if you even have a home phone number), filling pots and tubs with water, sealing windows, etc. It’s easy to panic when you can’t get in touch with loved ones. But hopefully, with a plan like this you can have some peace of mind.

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