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If you have a young kiddo, you know about the dramatic time morph that happens when they arrive. Tiny chunks of freedom take on new meaning. One minute? That’s a shower. Two minutes? Dinner. Three minutes? It’s possible you could re-tile the bathroom.
Here are a few of my parenting hacks for saving time, or finding a little for yourself, in the spaces between heart-shaped pancakes and bedtime stories.
One Minute Sock Fix
When Hank was a baby, I could never find a pair of matching socks. They were so tiny, one was inevitably missing. I know, I know — I could have solved this issue by buying all white socks. But! Those are not as cute; so boo on that. Instead, when I took Hank’s socks off at night, I’d take a minute to pin them together before I threw them in the hamper.
I still keep a little bowl of safety pins in his sock drawer next to the hamper. Now socks rarely go missing, and I don’t have to pair them out of the wash. Next I shall turn my attention to resolving all conflict between nations. I’m pretty sure the solution involves safety pins.
Two Minute Sand Trap
Speaking of socks, when we get home from the playground or the beach and it’s time to take off sand-filled shoes, I fold the top of Hank’s socks down until they cover the opening of his shoe, then remove his shoe and sock simultaneously, so the sock traps the sand. Before this stroke of genius, I was perpetually walking around with a thin layer of sand clinging to my bare feet. Glargh.
Three Minute Mani Pedi
I give Hank a bath every night before bed, and while he’s filling and emptying jars in the bathtub, I do an incremental mani-pedi. On night one, I remove old polish. Night two is filing, night three base coat, and so on. Once a week or so, Hank asks me to paint his nails, and I oblige. Then some kid in class says “nail polish is for girls,” and then I explain about rock stars, and then I paint his nails extra. With intent.
Four Minutes of Solitude
This no longer works for me, so caregivers of the four-and-under set please listen up. Hide-and-seek is your closest ally when a kid is too young to grasp that you might prefer a New Yorker article to a Dora the Explorer marathon. So send the kid off to hide, and then open your magazine. Wander around in the wrong rooms while reading. Occasionally yell “Where is Johnny? I just can’t find him!” “Wherever did Ava go?” while you learn about how Truman Capote held New York society captive with his Black and White Ball invitations. Eventually you should gather up the child, tickle them, then send them off to hide again. Ooo! Joan Didion.
Five Minute Dinner
All right, this last one is so simple I almost feel silly mentioning it, but it changed the way we eat. Every once in a while, I make a huge pot of soup and then take a few minutes after dinner to divide the leftovers into individual servings. They keep for weeks in the freezer and are just as good upon reheating. Once I have a few different types of soup stored, I can skip dinner prep a couple nights a week without ordering out, and we can still eat healthfully. It also saves me from having a quesadilla every day for lunch, which is too bad because quesadillas are so good for my bum.
So those are a few of my tricks for keeping our little family running on schedule. If you’d like to see what other parents are saying, you can check out Clorox’s Facebook page and contribute your own ideas — they’re putting together an e-book of tips as part of this project.
Meanwhile, what do you do to save a few minutes here and there? Let us know in comments.