The working parents' survival guide: 14 handy tips for an easier life
Being a parent is full-time, but when you've also got a 9-5 keeping on top of everything can feel like trying to crack the Crystal Maze every day. Thankfully, there are tonnes of tried-and-tested tricks so even if you're not completely organised, you'll feel like you are. Whether you're approaching the end of maternity leave or looking to streamline your current routine, these parents have all the advice you could ever need. Phew.
1. Organisation is key
''Keep a list on the fridge and immediately add any essentials you're running low on.''
''Stick a calendar on the fridge and write everything down – such as when one of you is working late or has an appointment – and plan ahead. Look for 'pinch points', particularly busy days and weeks, and plan to do just a simple meal on those nights.''
2. From meal planning to your monthly bills…
''For household admin, get all your direct debits set up – no messing about with bill payments. Just ensure it all happens automatically.''
3. Use your time wisely
''Do all your life admin on your lunch break.''
4. And plan for all eventualities
''Look at emergency childcare provisions – some companies will cover a certain number of days of emergency childcare.''
5. Go go (kitchen) gadgets
''Use a slow cooker – prepare it all the night before and leave it in the fridge. Pop it on in the morning.''
''Get the dishwasher on overnight and unload in it the morning so it's ready to be filled by breakfast and dinner.''
6. Find a laundry routine that doesn't get in the way
''Put a wash on as soon as you get home so it doesn't build up. That will give you time to dry it and avoid your washing sitting wet in a machine all day while you're at work.''
''We set our washer to come on at about 4am so it can be hung up before I leave for work. I don't iron in bulk, just hang/fold straight into wardrobes/drawers, and iron as needed.''
7. And don't waste time on boring things
''I put all my outfits on hangers at the start of the week. It saves me so much stress.''
''Store your children's clothes as complete outfits, rather than by item. It's much easier to get kids ready in the morning.''
''Put your kids' bags out each night so you don't have a last minute rush in the mornings.''
8. Life's too short to spend it dashing round the supermarket
''Online grocery shopping – either delivery or click and collect – is far easier than going to the supermarket. You save tonnes of time and can do repeat orders if you're knackered and don't have the energy to be creative and interesting.''
9. And remember, you're cooking for your kids, not Gordon Ramsay
''If the children get a 'proper' lunch at nursery, don't stress about a cooked dinner every night. An omelette, something on toast or sandwiches are fine.''
''Build a repertoire of quick simple meals – cheesy broccoli pasta, jacket potato, stir fry – then meal plan so you don't have to think about it.''
10. Ditch anything unnecessary
''They have a bath every other night which gives us a bit more time on certain evenings.''
11. It's okay to enlist Cartoon Network when you're juggling the entire world
''Don't worry about using the TV to entertain one child while you sort the other one out.''
12. And if you can, discuss flexible working with your boss
''I work from home one day a week which is really handy – I don't have my commute so I get two extra hours to tidy, clean, do washing or catch up on work if needed.''
13. Do whatever it takes to avoid burnout
''Book a day off occasionally when the DC are at nursery or with the childminder and do something for yourself.''
14. And most importantly…
''Be kind to yourself – eating a ready meal is not a crime, beans on toast is an adequate meal, things will go wrong, the car will break down, the washing machine will go caput, but it will be OK.’’