(Nearly all of these strategies can be applied to those who aren’t returning to work ;-))
Get rid of the clutter before your maternity leave ends. Box up all the baby clothes that you want to keep and put them in the loft and then sort the others out into “recycle”, “give away” and “sell”. (Did you know you can recycle clothes even when they are covered in stains?)
Do not buy lots and lots of toys for your children, they will not appreciate them. Especially as they will be spending some time in nursery or at a childminders or somewhere else that will have toys. The toys that you have, make sure you can tidy them up easily and quickly.
Find a place for everything and “train” the rest of the family to put things back where they belong. In our house, Miss NHM is way, way, way better than Mr NHM at doing this, possibly because it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks :-D. (Hi Darling! :-D)
Make sure there is a place near the front door for your car keys, mobile and wallet. Not too close to the front door and high enough that small children can’t get to them. I have a friend (Hi Jo! :-D) whose toddler was notorious for hiding car keys and she could never find them and was often late to things as a result.
Getting rid of the clutter and giving everything a home reduces the time you spend putting things away and hunting things down. Time you won’t have when you are back at work.
2. Get a cleaner
Our cleaner is awesome. She costs £40 a month and comes to clean for 1.5 hours every two weeks. Yes, it’s £40 but for the sake of your sanity and spare time, it will be the best £40 you will ever spend. Tracy, our cleaner, has literally saved my marriage on a number of occasions! Lol.
Yes, I know that some of you can’t bear the thought of having someone clean your house (Hi Laura! :-D) but if you can get over it, you will be doing yourself a MASSIVE favour.
3. Don’t iron anything
Yup, I’m lazy and hate ironing, so I don’t do it. If anything in our house needs ironing I get Mr NHM to do it. Or I just don’t buy anything that needs ironing.
If you are desperate, use the hot shower Tip. This saved me on a number of work trips abroad! 😉
4. Meal plan
There is nothing worse than falling through the door after work and thinking “S**t, we’ve got nothing for dinner!?!?!?!”.
This post HERE that I wrote in 2012 is still the system that we follow in our house for meal planning.
5. Have a slow cooker, preferably two
We have two slow cookers. One that is massive (it’s big enough to fit a whole chicken in) and one that is small and makes enough for the thee of us with no leftovers. I’m so in love with my slow cooker that I even take it on holiday with us!!
Roast chicken in the slow cooker is a dream and the leftover chicken can be used the following few days in, chicken salad, paella, etc..
Last year I sent out lots of slow cooker recipes that I have tried and tested. If you would also like a copy of these recipes please email me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com and I will forward them on again.
6. Beg, borrow or steal* a tumble dryer
This one speaks for itself.
You especially need access to a tumble dryer if you are returning to work before your child has finished weaning.
7. Beg, borrow or steal* a large freezer
I have a “slummy mummy” confession to make… we often “freezer dive” for meals when we’ve both been in the office.
I recommend checking out this link HERE about potential emergency meals. Or make your own if you have time ;-).
8. Beg, Borrow or steal* a dishwasher
And teach your husband, partner, children, how to load it and unload it 😉
9. Batch cook
Check out my previous post about A day of freezer cooking.
I often try to make extra of a meal and feezer into meal sized portions, just to take the pressure off another day.
10. Use technology to its best advantage
Make sure you sync all your email accounts to your mobile. This is mandatory, especially if your nursery or school uses email. It’s also mandatory for keeping on top of things.
Get yourself a Goggle calendar set up and make sure each person in the family has a google calendar and you can access and edit it. This is fundamental for when you are in the office and need to update diaries.
Synchronise your diary with any “adults” in your family at least once a week. Mr NHM and I review the following month every Sunday evening. Without fail. The times we haven’t done this someone there has nearly always been a schedule crisis that week.
11. Subscribe to your doctors, dentists, nursery and vets text message alerts
There will come a time when you get distracted by work and forget to add something to your calendar in your mobile. A text message from the doctors reminding you about your child’s immunisation shot appointments can be a god send! ( I speak from experience here, <blush>).
12. Charge your technology every other evening
This is ironic because I never do this, Mr NHM has to do it for me! lol. However, in my work rucksack I have chargers for each mobile (I carry three with me) and I also splashed out and bought mobile chargers for my car.
13. Get a car with a hands free phone built in (but only if you can afford it!!)
This has revolutionised my life. I actually have conversations with my friends these days, albeit nearly always on the way to or from work.
14. Find a reliable Babysitter
We asked around at Miss NHM’s nursery and her key worker has been our babysitter for the past two years. She’s pretty much part of our family now! lol.
If you are struggling with finding a babysitter, please check out my previous post on NHM HERE.
15. Have a regular Date Night
I know that going on a regular Date Night when your children are small is really tough. It’s so worthwhile though. We can really tell in our household, when Mr NHM and I haven’t been on Date Night for a while 😉
If you are looking for some suggestions of what to do, please check out these previous posts HERE, HERE and HERE. Or, just arrange for a babysitter and go out for a walk. It’s a great way to chat in a neutral environment whilst getting some light exercise at the same time.
16. Find a mobile hairdresser
You will not have time to make a hair appointment because they are nearly always in working hours. Unless you want to get up early on Saturday morning, but who wants to do that after a week at work! So find someone who can come to you out of normal working hours. It will save your sanity, and hair many, many times.
Check out these pages on NHM for a list of mobile hairdressers and mobile beauticians
17. Do NOT schedule lots of classes on the weekend to make up for your guilt about putting junior into nursery in the week
This one speaks for itself ;-). Weekends should be family time.
18. Online Food Shopping
Learn how to order your shopping online BEFORE you go back to work and try to find an online service that has an App on your phone. I actually cheat and use a competitor app because it’s really good, and then transfer it across to the supermarket I use when I make an order ;-).
We also have a regular vegetable delivery each week and fresh fish delivered to our door every two months. It’s one less thing for me to think about.
19. Before your maternity leave starts, try to wean yourself of any TV soaps you are addicted too
You won’t have time to watch them when you return to work. Yes, seriously.
20. Only have one child
Ok, so this one is a little bit flippant, but I’m well aware that having more than one child is at least double the work and then some.
I have no idea how people with three or more children manage it. Mucho respect!
21. Find something for YOU!
When I returned to work I became a mother, wife and worker and it felt like I was nothing but those three roles. However, you are still you, with hopes and dreams. You still need time to be you, so do not feel guilty about taking time out for yourself. I know this is easier said than done. I’ve been there.
But you will be a better Mum, wife and worker if you do make time for yourself. Have a look at this post HERE I wrote a few years ago, for some ideas for time for yourself.
22. You are doing an amazing job!
Every so often, when at work or at home, congratulate yourself on being a superior multi-tasker.
Being a parent is very hard at times and the learning curve can be very steep, but it’s an amazing life skill :-D.
*Obviously I don’t really mean you should steal these items 😉