10 Ways to Free Up Time in Your Busy Schedule So You Can Be Present with Your Kids

Does life feel busy?  Do you need more time? 

As a mom of 3, a wife, a business owner, a professor, AND a PhD student, I love efficiency!  Here’s a list of things I’ve discovered really work to free up time so I can spend more time with my kids:


1. Share shopping with friends.  Anytime I go to the grocery store, I text a neighbor or two to see if they need anything. (“Headed to Costco. Need anything?”)  They’ve started to do this in turn for me…saving me multiple runs to Berkeley Bowl, Safeway, etc. for little things during the week.

2. Cook in large quantities.  Get a food processor to make chopping tons of veggies easy work.  Takes the same amount of time, but you’ll have leftovers for future meals.

3. Make a loose meal plan for the week.  We do Mexican Monday (usually homemade veggie burritos), Italian Tuesday (pasta and salad), Wacky Wednesday (something weird for dinner- like snacks, breakfast, etc), and Soup Sunday (HUGE vat of soup).  Thursday/Friday/Saturdays we eat leftovers and usually pizza at least one of those nights (keepin’ it real here).  Having a loose schedule eliminates thinking and makes it easy to grab items quickly if I’m randomly at the store and know we need something for dinner.


4. Exercise WITH your kids.  Take the kids on a hike or to the park, and rather than sitting and watching them- move your own body too.  Walk, try the monkey bars, climb, hang upside down, do some push-ups or sit-ups.  Or if you’re like me and use exercise as your “me” time, go early in the morning before they even get up…I love doing this and feel it starts my day off right.

5. Batch process your email.  Try to only check email 2-3 times per day and set a time limit for doing so.  I’ll admit- I’m the worst at this one, but I KNOW it would free up valuable time if I diligently followed this rule.

6. Track your social media usage.  Rescue Time is an app you can add to your computer that will track how much time you spend on social media.  Always a good wake-up call when you see the actual number of minutes. (I have no affiliation with Rescue Time- just like it and use it.)

7. Use Trello to help organize your whole life.  Trello is my new best friend in managing my life: my to-do lists, my projects, my teaching, and my business. It works like a digital bulletin board and allows collaboration and communication with other people as well. (Again, no affiliation…just a service I love.)


8. Clean the bathroom while you brush your teeth or take a shower.  Don’t laugh…it works!  If you’re like me and don’t have a housekeeper, this is a real time saver.  While you brush your teeth, wipe down the sink with some vinegar and water.  While you take a shower and wait for the conditioner on your hair to soak in, take a minute to scrub the tub with some baking soda.

9. Use checklists to automate daily processes and minimize thinking.  Any time we have to THINK about things we take more time to do it.  Use bedtime checklists, morning checklists, after-school checklists…create whatever checklists you need to automate processes to free up more time to do things you love.  This is a good routine to teach kids too: First the must-do’s, then the get-to’s.  Easy Daysies is a cute scheduler created by a teacher/mom (again, no affiliation), but you can easily make your own too.  A magnetic wipe off board on the fridge works in a pinch!

10. This last one may be relevant only for the preschool/early elementary parents, but I advocate we should let young kids sleep in their clothes for the next day. (They usually wear soft cotton clothes that are like pajamas anyway, right?!)  They change at night into clean clothes, sleep in them, and wake up dressed.  This eliminates extra laundry and eliminates the need to get dressed in the morning…one less opportunity for a morning meltdown. Yay!


Hope you got a tip or two you can use to make your own daily life easier…and have more time for the things that TRULY matter in life. Have some fun with your kids today with the time you freed up in your schedule.  Take a walk, do some birdwatching, read some good books, or just snuggle. :)

Tell us busy parents, how do YOU find time to be with your kids in creative ways??? Comment below! Share your tips and tricks with our OKOT community!