The Awkward Girl’s Guide to Saving Time
Before Max came along, I had absolutely no idea how much time babies – and particularly toddlers – take up. None whatsoever.
People tell you about the sleepless nights, and the fact that that your home will be systematically destroyed. They mention LEGO frequently, and take great joy in telling you how incredibly painful it will be when you step on it – which you will. Repeatedly. What they don’t tell you, though, is that you won’t be able to use both hands simultaneously ever again: or until the child is in high school, at least. For me, this has been the most challenging aspect of parenthood by far: the fact that, everything I do now has to be done one-handed, and with a person perched on my hip. It’s like being on one of those Japanese game shows where you’re challenged to perform a number of seemingly impossible tasks, all while dressed as Picatu or something, only, in this case, the impossible tasks are just the normal, everyday things you used to take totally for granted. Making the bed. Combing your hair. Unloading the dishwasher.
Yesterday it took me 20 to unload the washing machine, because every time I removed something from it and placed it in the laundry basket, Max instantly removed it, and threw it in the bin. He’s currently at a stage where he’s either totally adventurous, or incredibly clingy, so if he’s not scaling some piece of furniture, with the intention of throwing himself off the top of it, he’s clinging to my leg, shouting, “UPPA! UPPA!” (“Pick me up!”) Which, honestly, makes it absolutely impossible to get things done unless he’s either asleep, or being looked after by someone else – at which point I have to rush around in a panic, desperately trying to accomplish a week’s worth of tasks in the space of 20 minutes. I’m not saying I deserve a medal here, but I’m not NOT saying that either, if you get me?
Still, things have to get done somehow, and every minute is precious, so, over the course of the last fifteen months, I’ve had to come up with some ways to save myself some time, and make life a little easier. Here are just a few of them…
Showering at night, rather than in the morning
I’ve always been a morning showerer. I just don’t feel like my day has started properly until I’ve jumped in the shower, so it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that there’s no rule stating that showers can only be taken in the a.m, and that, actually, I could just shower last thing at night, instead: imagine!
Now, I’ll be honest: I’m still not the biggest fan of night-time showers, but it was either that or start getting up at 5am, so I could fit it in before Max wakes up for the day, so I managed to come around to the idea – well, a few days a week, at least. Of course, the showering takes up the same amount of time regardless of when you do it, but I’ve been forced to streamline my morning routine as much as possible since having Max, and I find the that fewer things I have to do first thing in the morning, the easier the day is.
Robot vacuum cleaner(s)
We have two of these now: one for downstairs, and one for our bedroom, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. I have each of them programmed to clean once a day, and while I know vacuuming isn’t the most time-consuming household task, it’s good to have one less thing to think about every day – and it’s also nice to come downstairs in the morning to freshly cleaned floors, too. If only someone would invent a robot who could unload the dishwasher…
(For anyone interested, we have a Roomba and a Eufy, and – full disclosure – both were sent to me as part of blog collaborations. I live in perpetual fear of them breaking down, though, and if/when that sad day arrives, I’ll have no hesitation in buying new versions, because I’ve convinced myself I can’t live without them now. I mean, I COULD live without them, obviously, it’s just… I don’t want to.)
When I realised that pencilling in my eyebrows every morning was taking more time than the rest of my makeup routine combined, I decided to get them microbladed – and, honestly, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done, appearance-wise. Yes, it’s expensive (You can expect to pay around £200 for the initial session, and then another £50-ish for top-ups), and yes, it hurts a bit, but it means you wake up with perfect eyebrows every morning, with absolutely no effort required on your part, and that makes it all 100% worth it, as far as I’m concerned.
I reviewed my microblading experience here, and can highly recommend it if, like me, you have high-maintenance brows, and are lacking in either the time or the skill to manage them yourself.
Eyelash extensions / LVL
Also in the interests of saving time in the mornings, last year I started getting eyelash extensions every so often: partly because I like the way they look, but mostly to save a bit of time, and help streamline my morning routine every more. This obviously wouldn’t be a huge time-saver if you were having it done all the time, because it takes at least an hour to have the extensions applied, and they need topping up every couple of weeks, but if I’m going to be travelling, or am just expecting to be busier than usual, I find the time I save on a day-to-day basis is worth the time I spend on the initial appointment. (Er, other than THIS TIME, obviously…)
(Also, I haven’t tied it myself, but I’ve heard great things about LVL slashes, which lasts for six weeks and adds length to your existing lashes, so this would be well worth considering, too.)
Adopting a ‘uniform’
Despite having written dozens of posts about them in my time, I’ve always said I’d never be able to stick to a capsule wardrobe, but, over the past year or so, I seem to have adopted one almost by accident. This is partly the result of my changing style drastically reducing my wardrobe choices, but it’s mostly because I no longer have the necessary time to plan outfits and put together different looks, so sticking to a smaller selection of mostly classic pieces has definitely made my life a whole lot easier. (And, yes, it’s also made my outfits a lot more boring, but we can’t have everything, can we?)
You can find all of my posts on capsule wardrobes here: I don’t stick to my ‘uniform’ too rigidly, and am hoping that when I have a bit more time on my hands, I’ll be able to be a bit more creative with it again, but, for now, I’m mostly relying on the same old outfit formulas over and over again, and I have absolutely no shame in admitting it.
Online grocery shopping
We’ve been buying our groceries online for years now, and it saves so much time that I honestly can’t imagine going back to weekly supermarket trips. This particular tip doesn’t just save us time, though: it also saves us money, because we’re much less likely to succumb to impulse shopping when we’re doing it online, plus it’s easier to search for discount codes and deals. We also save time – and I appreciate this won’t be for everyone – by buying more or less the same groceries every week, so all we have to do (Or all TERRY has to do, rather, because he’s in charge of grocery shopping in our house…) is to log into our Tesco account every week, quickly change or add anything we deem necessary, and then re-book or slot. If we think of something we want to add to the list mid-week, meanwhile, we just tell Alexa to add it and it’s done: easy!
Online courier collections
Online grocery shopping might save us a whole lot of time, but the same isn’t necessarily true of online clothes shopping, purely because I always end up having to return items, which means seemingly endless trips to the post office. (Also, I’ve noticed recently that quite a few retailers have stopped offering free post-office returns, in favour of Hermes Parcel Shop. This is a particular bugbear of mine at the moment because the nearest Parcel Shop is a few miles away, which makes it even more of a hassle: to the extent that I try to avoid buying anything from retailers who don’t offer a range of options for returns…)
Or, at least, it USED TO require endless trips to the post office: these days I send almost everything via courier, so it gets picked up from my doorstep. Quite a few retailers offer this as a free service (ASOS and H&M will both send a courier to pick up your return, for instance…), but, for those who don’t, I find it’s only slightly more expensive than sending the item via Royal Mail, and that extra cost is well worth it for the time it saves me driving Max and myself to the post office and then standing in the inevitable queue to send my package.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned these before, but, for those of you who’ve never heard of them, they’re little laundry sheets which you pop into the washing machine to soak up any dye that comes out of your clothes while you’re washing them. They do this so effectively that that they allow you to wash different colours at the same time, without having to worry about the colours running, and all of your clothes turning pink, or whatever, and I absolutely swear by them. For reasons that have never really been clear to me, adding one tiny person to our household didn’t increase our laundry by a third, as you’d expect: no, Max seems to generate enough laundry for ten people, and if I were to separate everything out into white and colours, the washing machine would never be off. My Colour Catchers, however, allow me to just throw everything in together, thus saving a bit of time. So far there haven’t been any accidents, either, so fingers crossed that continues…
(Also, there are few things more satisfying than removing the used Colour Catcher from the washing machine, and realising that it’s turned black from all of the dye it’s soaked up. Well, not for me, anyway…)
Finally, by far the best way to make some extra time in your day is probably easier said than done, and it’s by being super, duper organised in every aspect of your life. In my case, I’ve always been a fairly organised person, but having Max has meant that I’ve had to kick things up a notch. I just don’t have the time to search the house for that missing memory card, or rummage through cupboards every time I want to make a sandwich (And, I mean, WHO DOES, really?), so I’ve really had to do my best to get organised, and – more importantly – stay organised.
Now, I honestly feel like a bit of a fraud even writing this, because, for the past two months, our house has essentially been a building-site-slash-obstacle-course, and it’s been impossible to find ANYTHING in it, but, in general, we’ve been doing pretty well in our attempts to go minimal and get organised this year, and while the initial clear-out and re-organisation WAS pretty time-consuming, once it was done, it made a huge difference in terms of saving us time, and just freeing up some mental space, basically.
And I think that’s it. As always, though, if you have any tips to add to this list, I’d love to hear them!