TIME. When did it become such a precious commodity? I don’t know what is happening in my life right now — OK, a toddler is happening in my life right now — but I just feel as though I never have any time to do anything.
That’s probably untrue. Time doesn’t change, after all, it’s how we choose to use it that alters. And I know I could probably spend a hell of a lot less time on social media for example, making better use of those minutes (ahem… hours).
With this in mind, here are some life hacks – some things I’ve found can help shave a minuscule but pleasing amount of time off my day (that I’m then free to waste away on Facebook, sorry, to use for work).
Get ready for bed while your child is in the bath
It helps if they are old enough to at least look like they’re playing and can play long enough that you can swipe off your make up, rub some face wash in, rinse, take out your contacts and slap on some moisturiser. Sometimes I get my pyjamas on too. This is tiny, but knowing that you’re ready to fall into bed as soon as they are, or that you can just snuggle in if they wake up, is great.
Wash your dishes and stick on the laundry right after tea
URGH. I know, boring, so boring. But future you will love past you in the morning, when you stumble bleary-eyed into a clean kitchen instead of one that still smells like whatever last night’s tea was. There’s nothing worse than fishing around in a grotty sink, trying to find a clean spoon so you can Just. Make. Some. Coffee.
Also, somehow, getting these things done before I collapse for the evening makes me less likely to just collapse in a heap. I feel slightly more able to have a productive evening when I’ve got those tasks out the way.
Prep your breakfast the night before
Again, past you will be shown a lot of love. I find getting up early in the morning is so much easier when you know you have something nice to eat to look forward to. I love overnight oats for this, which are so ridiculously easy yet so satisfying:
- Put 1/2 cup of plain uncooked oats in a bowl or tub with a lid, mix in 1/2 cup milk of your choice (almond is delicious)
- Add a sprinkling of cinnamon, maybe some chia seeds, stir, cover and stick in the fridge
- In the morning add fresh berries, chopped banana, a swirl of peanut butter, maple syrup – whatever takes your fancy
Or, if it’s wintry and you’re in need of warming comfort food, this baked carrot cake oatmeal from Green Kitchen Stories is amazing. It’s my go-to in the winter months. It helps that it makes the kitchen smell like a Christmas-y bakery, too.
Podcasts are your friend
One of the best ways I’ve found to unwind and multitask lately has been through podcasts. I love a podcast. There is such a variety, in length and subject, and sticking one on while I do the tea or some cleaning or even just when I’m playing with my son has been a great way to bring a bit of joy and variety to the day.
Some of my favourites include Radio Cherry Bombe (the podcast of indie food magazine Cherrybombe, which celebrates women and food); TED Talks, which never fail to inspire; The Guilty Feminist for laughs, and Singing Bones – a podcast that looks at the origins of fairy stories – for complete escapism.
Audio books are also a good way to use any time that you don’t really have. I’d completely forgotten about my love of audio books until I was pregnant, when I’d go for long(-ish) walks, listening to Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. (Which is beautiful, but incredibly long, I doubt I’d have considered picking it up had I seen it in book form.)
Delegate. And accept help
This might see like a strange one and maybe you’re already good at this, but I know I’m not. Sometimes it can feel as though if we’re not doing everything, and doing it well, we’re failing. It’s NOT TRUE. If anyone offers you help – take it. Maybe your friend offers to make dinner or your mum asks if she can wash dishes… SAY YES.
This applies to people with new babies, older children, busy working people – all of us, essentially. Delegating tasks and getting help with things doesn’t mean you’re not coping, it means you can use the time you have more wisely.
Photograph by Louise Thomason.