12 ways to save time when you’re a mum

Most mums I know run around like headless chickens pretty much every waking hour of the day, every day. Trying to fit in the million and one jobs that being a mum entails.

I have been asked quite a few times recently how I do it, so I thought I’d share how I save time where I can. For those who don’t know, this is what “I do”:

  • Work 35 hours a week as a childminder
  • Write two blogs, this one and Franglaise Cooking food blog (with Hubs)
  • This year I brought out a free e-book, Kids’ outings in the London area: Insider tips, to share with my blog subscribers
  • I have just become a published author with the first book in my series of bilingual children’s books, The Adventures of Elodie / Les Aventures d’Elodie, more on that to come very soon, so watch this space!
  • Then there’s the usual – mum, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, neighbour, dog & cat-owner…

For those of you who find that there are never enough hours in the day, here are my top tips for getting things done and even having time for yourself.

I have been a SAHM, a WAHM and a working mum in the past, as well as running my own company and working in high-pressured job roles, so all of this advice is a combination of what works whether you’re going out to work or not.

1) Get the kids to help

It doesn’t matter how old your children are, they’re pretty much never too young to help out. When L went into Reception we told her she was old enough to help around the house, in exchange for weekly pocket money. She had to lay and clear the table with her things at mealtimes and tidy her toys away every day.

Now she’s 8 she is responsible for tidying her clothes away, preparing her things for school (and dealing with the repercussions if she forgets things). She also has to do her hair every morning (no mean feat when you have curly hair!) and get her own breakfast.

As for C, she has just turned 2 so has fewer jobs 😉 However from the age of 18 months she has helped me tidy all her toys away at the end of the day. She knows that when it’s done she can watch a bit of Peppa Pig, which seems to work!

Toddler tidying toys l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

C tidying her toys away at the end of the day

2) Ease up on the baths

So many mums I know fight with bathtime every day. Now some children do need daily baths for their routines and for calming down before bed, so that makes sense. BUT if you are doing it from a cleaning point of view then stop! It is highly unlikely your small child needs a daily bath. We tend to do baths here every 2 or 3 days, which is fine and it really helps to save time.

Finally on the subject of baths – put the kids in altogether. There are 6 years between our daughters, but they still have baths together, and seem to love it still!

Kids in bath l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

Bathtime fun

3) Sort your laundry out

It’s a sad fact that when you have kids you will forever have a washload on the go. So how on earth can you save time here? Several ways in fact:

– get a tower airer (available pretty much everywhere), and do two washloads one after the other. These airers take up very little floor space and a tall one will easily dry 2 loads of washing at once. So instead of doing laundry every day, do two loads every 2 days, which means you’ll be folding and putting away 2 loads in one go, this helps me save time too.

Washing drying on an airer l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

2 loads of washing drying in very little floor space on a tower airer

– programme your washing machine to finish first thing in the morning, hang that load up straight away, then put a second load on, you should have time to hang the second lot up before going to work/on the school run.
– get the kids to help you with the washing. L loves helping to hang the washing on the airer, whilst C thinks that helping me fold the clothes up is a new game.

Toddler helping with laundry l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

C helping fold the clean clothes

– get everyone to help you with their dirty clothes: if everyone empties their own pockets, turns clothes the right way round, zips jeans up etc it will save time.
– 99% of the year forget hanging clothes up outside (in the UK), as you’ll spend so much time bringing them back in and hanging them up indoors when it rains.

4) Ditch the iron

Stop ironing now. Here’s how:

– buy clothes that don’t need ironing, so L has school skirts without pleats, and I get non-iron shirts for Hubs (ours are from Olymp)
– don’t even consider ironing sheets, towels, serviettes, underwear, pyjamas, that’s just craziness!
– do not tumble dry clothes, they get far more creased in the drier (use a tower airer, it’s kinder to the environment too)
– hang clothes up to dry as soon as the washing machine has finished. For anything that might need ironing, put it straight onto coat hangers to dry – the creases will drop out whilst it dries.

I was reassured that I wasn’t alone here when I read Katy Hill’s round-up of her parenting tips from her time on This Morning recently.

Our mostly unused iron l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

Our mostly unused iron

5) Grocery shop online

Stop wasting hours of your life going out to do your grocery shopping, there are some excellent online shopping options in the UK, use them! We have used Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Ocado in the past, we are sticking with Ocado for now (although their packing leaves A LOT to be desired), as they have the best stock of reasonably priced French food (cheeses, charcuterie and more!).

Grab yourself a shopping list on a magnet, whack it on the fridge and add to it as you go through your week – as things run out or as you think of other bits you might like to have/as the kids request stuff. Then once a week get your list and a glass of wine and head to your computer.

Fridge shopping list l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

Our fridge shopping list & meal planner (from Paperchase)

Most supermarkets will let you set up a weekly list which you can tweak, then just go through your list, searching for each item so you’re not tempted to buy lots of things you don’t need, and before you know it your shopping will be done. Shopping this way will save time and then some. (It’s also so stress-free – the glass of wine is obligatory to add in the zen factor.)

Unfortunately most supermarkets’ fruit and veg leaves a lot to be desired – in-store and online – so Hubs or I walk the 10 minutes to our local fruit and vegetable market, and stock up on a week’s worth in one go. That can be time-consuming but it is so worth it. You’ve got to know when to spend the time and when to cut corners.

6) Eat together

Eat the same meal as your kids, at the same time as them. When I’m childminding the kids eat around 5pm, but they have the same meal that Hubs and I then have later on.

The easiest way to make this work is to eat as soon as you/your partner gets home from work, and have the kids already bathed and ready for a story and bed post dinner. If you both work then the slow cooker and leftovers are very much your friends here, get some slow cooker inspiration from our food blog, Franglaise Cooking.

7) Leftovers & meal plans are the way forwards

You should never cook a meal that will only serve one meal. Save time and money by doubling the quantities, giving you leftovers for the next day/the day after. (Good luck if it’s a dish the kids didn’t like first time round!)

As for meal planning, it is boring but not only will it save time but money too, as you won’t have to resort to takeaways or frozen pizzas in a blind panic. It is more likely that your kids (and you) will eat more healthily, so it really is a win-win.

Use a meal planning list like our fridge magnet, or as Hubs does, a Google doc online. To help you get started here is our meal planning template, which we then fill in each week:


8) Learn when to multi-task

There are times to multi-task and other times when it’s just not a good idea. Catching up on emails when your child is telling you about their day is really not the time.

However if your children have an early tea, take this time to clear up the kitchen and do the washing-up. This means you can be with them, chatting to them and supervising, but not breathing down their necks, and clearing that huge pile of dirty pots and pans at the same time!

Washing-up drying l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

The fruits of my multi-tasking

9) Get synchronised online

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time feeling like my children’s PA, as I arrange playdates and school discos and after school activities. Not to mention work commitments and my own social life. Many moons ago I got a Palm Pilot and my calendar became digital. Fast forward to 2014 and Hubs and I share an online calendar, which is synced between our phones, tablets and computers.

This means I always have my calendar on me, and I can see Hubs’s at the same time too.There are various different calendars you can use, Hubs and I use Google calendars, which works well across all our devices.

It sounds like such a simple thing but it means I save time with this admin side of our family life.

10) Lists, lists, lists

I am, by nature, a pretty organised person, so I love a good list. But it’s easy to get caught up writing list after list after list. My advice is to have one list, or at most two – one for business and one for personal – then enjoy crossing tasks off as you go along. If you want to know just how satisfying this is, and to have a good laugh at the same time, check out Hurrah for Gin’s the bad mums to do list.

Trying to run a family and its household, a childminding business, 2 blogs and a book with its own Limited Company means I’ve got to be organised, and have a list to help me get everything done. I use an app on my phone called “Task List”, which allows me to have two lists side by side (business and personal), and this works well for me.

11) Invest in a cleaner

If you can possibly afford it, get a cleaner. In London they tend to cost £10/hour with a minimum of 3 hours. £30 is a fair amount of money to shell out every week, so work out where you can save this cash elsewhere to limit the time and stress. Unless of course you like cleaning, in which case let me give you my address 😉

12) Get your head round the paperwork

Fortunately in the UK there is very little paperwork to do in general (bureaucracy isn’t a French word for nothing), but you do still need to get your head around it. When you receive email, post or just letters from school with tasks that you need to do, add them to your to do list, with the deadline date.

Wherever possible try and clear your inbox and your in-tray every day. Dealing with these things little by little can take just a few minutes, but when it’s built up into a big pile you end up losing a whole evening or Saturday morning to get back on top. Don’t let it swamp you!

Trays of paperwork l 12 ways to save time when you're a mum l www.FranglaiseMummy.com l French and English Parenting and Lifestyle Ramblings

Some sense of organisation in my paperwork

And those are my 12 ways to save time when you’re a mum. The main reason for these tips is so that you can actually spend time with your kids, your partner, your friends, your family or some precious me time. To enjoy life and to not burn out. Remember your kids are far more likely to remember time spent with a chilled out mummy than a pristine house.

Do you have any tips to add? Have I forgotten any big ones? Do share below 🙂


13 Responses

  1. Julie says:

    Stoked to find your blog. I have gone and followed your cooking one as well. I am so with you on number 4!!!

  2. Tarana Khan says:

    These are fantastic and practical tips! I never bother with the ironing, and air dry our clothes.
    Tarana Khan recently posted…Celebrating festivals as an expat familyMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I’m loving hearing that I’m not the only one to ditch the iron – so much easier 🙂

  3. Jenny says:

    Yep with you on all of those… Although I find meal planning quite dull so tend to do mine a bit more on the fly. I would add that getting milk delivered by the milkman and our fruit, veg & meat from Riverford as well as the basics from Ocado is a big time saver.

    Spending a bit of time thinking about the days/week ahead – figuring out logistics etc helps me feel more organised.

    Making sure all bags (including my own) are packed night before school/ work means the mornings are quite pleasant and focussed on eating and getting ready rather than rushing round packing bags, finding library books/musical instruments/ PE kits etc.

    A recent addition in our house has been laying out breakfast stuff night before – means the kids can get started without me (=more time in bed/ shower/getting dressed etc !!)

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Ooh I like the idea of laying out breakfast the night before. I’m a big one for organising things in advance, and it definitely helps 🙂

  4. Laura G says:

    Did you know that you can get a heated tower airer? Lakeland have them and although they’re a bit pricey they’re an absolute godsend in the winter months. A good long-term investment!

  5. Fantastic list honey! I’m by nature an organised person so a lot of these ring true for me and I found myself nodding as I was reading down the list. (Ok I was talking to you too – out loud – but it’s ok because no-one else is up yet *ahem*). I have a system for paperwork that works well for us – a magazine file that contains an open file for each day of the week, one for the weekend, one for next week, next month and later. I put all our paperwork that needs action into one of those files (including anything I need to read for work) and then pull the file that relates to the next day in the evening so that I’m all set. By the way, loving how you get your gorgeous girls involved in tasks – wonder if I can teach the 2 year old to dust… x
    Michelle Reeves recently posted…The little girl who lost her name and LOVED it!My Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I love the idea of your filing system – I need one of those for me! I’m discovering that you can get the 2 year old to do an awful lot – in fact more than the 8 year old often! Try it out….

  6. Izzie Anderton says:

    Totally with you on ditching the ironing! I only iron occasionally if an item really needs it & this saves at least a couple of hours per week! Great tips as always x
    Izzie Anderton recently posted…What happens at ours…My Profile

  1. 11/12/2014

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