Simplifying Mum-life!

As a Mum life can feel like one l o n g to-do list. As soon as we cross 2 things off our to-to list we have 3 to add. However, many of the tasks and errands that fill our lives can in fact be simplified! We Mums can free up a lot of time by simply taking a new approach! One place to start is by cutting out double handling. Double handling doubles the work of a task. Conversely, cutting out double handling can halve our tasks!

A few winters back my husband and I picked up a trailer load of wood. My husband had a plan to make a platform on the ground, and for us to move all that wood out of the trailer and stack it on the platform so it could dry all summer in the sun. That way it would be super dry for burning in our fire next winter. Then he wanted us to move it all again at the end of summer, from the platform into our woodshed. So many steps and many hours involved.

This felt like a big project so the wood just sat in the trailer for weeks on end. I mentioned how we could save a ton of time and energy if we just skipped those middle steps and dumped the wood directly in the woodshed. I said we could leave the shed door open all summer so they could dry out. My husband is really serious about having dry firewood but he agreed. It was not the dream plan but by skipping double handling we reduced this multi-staged project down to a one hour job! My daughter and I threw the firewood directly from the trailer into the woodshed. Done in an hour. ✅ Headspace freed up!

After the wood moving, I was sitting under our mulberry tree picking mulberries, and I got to thinking about this double handling thing in regards to running the home. It is very easy to inadvertently turn a simple task into a much bigger one. We may do that because we want to do something in an ideal way, but we often do it just because we never stopped to think of a better way.

I started thinking hard about our own household and how we run it. I realised there are a lot of ways I have already cut out double handling or simplified chores inside the home. I don’t like stress and so I try to simplify anything I can. I want to inspire you too so read on!

I would much rather sit and chat about life with one of my kids than waste unnecessary hours on chores. How about you?

Here are some ways to simplify everyday tasks and errands.

Plan our shopping missions! Constant driving trips suck the energy out of me. I would rather be at home with family. So I plan (with geography in mind). It cuts my driving in half and that saves time and money- especially now that fuel is so expensive! The secret to driving less is having lists. I keep lists in my phone. One for each shop, like the supermarket, the hardware shop, Ikea etc. I don’t go near these shops unless my list has built up, or if I will be doing another errand close by. This means way less time in traffic. More time with my beautiful tribe.

Keep things exactly where they are used. I keep extra bath towels in the bathroom (one spare per person), extra toilet paper in the toilet, and extra dish detergent in the kitchen cupboard. Then we never need to look for things when we actually need them, and it is never hard to find them. This saves time and hassle.

Buy multiples of the basics. When I am at the supermarket I usually get extras of things that we use a lot of.  For example: apples, tomatoes, milk, toilet paper, etc. I also keep some UHT milk. I don’t want to have to go to the supermarket mid week JUST because we ran out of a basic item. This saves a LOT of time.

Take something with you when you walk from A to B. When my kids were small I developed a habit of tidying as an ongoing process rather than a huge tidy up each weekend. Every time I leave a room I grab a few things that may need to be taken somewhere else and put away. You are anyway walking from A to B. Don’t leave empty handed. If the kids had left things lying around I put them in our ‘lost and found’ basket and it was their job to get them out.

Baskets! Many women have a basket in the car for things on their way to other places. That way the things are already in the car and won’t be forgotten. And some women who live in two storey houses have a basket at the base of the stairs and a basket at the top – for things waiting to go up or down. That saves a lot of trips up and down! When a basket is full take it with you.

Carpool. Network with parents from your child’s school, sports and social life. I have car pooled for decades for trips to school, camps, youth group and concerts. I would not have survived without car pooling. Everyone wins! You save time and petrol cost and can be home with other siblings. When I feel shy to approach parents I don’t know, I start by offering a lift to their child first. For school runs I was in a group of 3 mums and we had a set routine all year long. Smooth! It also helped my daughter and I make friends with those families!

Don’t feed the pets every day! Having a heart attack? Don’t worry, our pets have never gone hungry but we have used large bowls and only had to fill them every few days (with e.g. kibble or grain). The pets eat when they want to, kind of like animals in the wild. I call it free feeding. We did this for our pet dogs and our chickens and they were extremely calm and never 1 gram too fat or too skinny! After the initial excitement in the first week, animals settle down and only eat what they need. I don’t know if it works for all breeds but it is worth a try. Also we never had to rush home to feed a pet! We did complement their dry food with some leftovers.

Hands free bill paying! There are many bills one pays every single month. Electricity, water, phone contract and rent/mortgage. Set them all up as recurring automatic debits or transfers. For this to run smoothly it is also imperative to set up in a separate account to our everyday living account. We have a Bills Account and a Everyday Account.

With some companies we pay the average monthly amount (the yearly cost, divided by 12). Nearly all our bills get paid automatically from our separate Bills account. On payday we move funds to the Bills Account to cover them and then we can forget about them. It’s especially wonderful for when you travel or are sick. I have even set up auto payments for my mum to make her life easier too. 
You can either set up recurring payments on your own bank – that you control, or, direct debits that the company billing you will draw out of your account. If consumption or costs go up I increase the auto payments a little.

How many cups are you washing? Most of us go to the kitchen for a drink of water around 5 times a day. If you are a family of 5 that is 175 cups or glasses per week to wash and put away. To eliminate this slavery of cup washing all you need is that each family member has one, colour coded or marked cup. Make a permanent spot for the cups on the bench and hide the rest of the cups for when visitors come. You can now wash 175 less cups per week!

Don’t double handle the mail. When you get your mail out of the mailbox don’t let it leave your hands until you throw out what you can, and drop the rest in an in-box. A great inbox is one that fits A4 appears standing upright and lives in a central place like the kitchen. If you run a home business, church or club, you need a second inbox for that mail.

Cook once eat twice. It doesn’t take much extra time to make a double batch when we cook. Then dinner is made for the next night! Another option is to bulk cook on the weekend and freeze portions. Whether we have a big family or are single, having some nights off from cooking each week is bliss. It also means we don’t run out for takeaway when we are having a hectic day. Great things to cook in bulk and freeze are bolognese sauce, curries, casseroles and soups. 

Two simplifiers for your washing routine. The first is to hang anything you can on hangers so when they are dry they can go directly from the clothes-line to the wardrobe. That skips a step! (We hang them all on a clothes rack and if it rains we bring in the clothes rack.) Secondly, let the family sort out their own dirty laundry into colours by having a few hampers for sorting next to the washing machine. Saves you doing it. More on washing here: Mum-hacks. Getting on top of the washing.

By doing things in smarter and simpler ways I think I have free up at least 10 hours a week. More time to hang out with the kids or read a book! You can probably think of your own ideas too! Please share any ideas in the comments below!

Hugs to you this weekend,

Siobhan

The book in the header photo is The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Highly recommended!

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