As school routines and busy schedules start with full force, moms often find their personal free time is gone. Unless a family has the extra funds to hire housecleaning help, there are also a lot of necessary but time-consuming little tasks that will have to be put on the back burner until the next vacation.
As a homeschooling mom of four kids who is a freelance writer, editor and speaker involved in ministry, it’s a rare day where I find myself with nothing to do. Like most of you, I find myself putting some of today’s to-dos onto tomorrow’s list. However, there is another way that I have learned and would like to share with you. It’s a plan to do Double Duty!
Talk Time – Keep a basket of goodies ready for when you need to be on the phone. Your basket should include a rag, a Magic Eraser™, dust cloth and spray and Windex. While you chat with a friend or wait on hold, spend the time wiping down cupboard fronts, dusting knickknacks, wiping scuffs off the floor or fingerprints off doors. It’s amazing how much cleaner your house will look after a long talk on the phone.
If everything in your house is clean, and your basket of goodies has nothing to offer you (I only wish!), open a junk drawer or cupboard and start organizing while you catch up with a friend.
Mail & Magazine Moments – A big time waster is going through mail and reading magazines when you should be doing something else. Pick up a nice wicker basket (ideally with a lid) and an extra rectangle wastepaper bin for your bathroom. When the mail comes in, take it directly to the wicker basket. Every time you visit the bathroom, take time to look at one or two pieces of mail. Put the envelopes and ads into the wastepaper bin immediately. If you need to keep any information, take it out of the bathroom with you and put it away – write the check or get it ready to mail if necessary.
The bathroom is a great place to read a paragraph here or an article there. Reading even a small amount each bathroom visit will allow you to read about one book per month. Limit yourself or you might end up with what my family has affectionately called the Red Ring of Reading Award!
Fridge Fling – While you wait for the coffee to brew, your dinner to finish up, or even your ride to show up, fling open the fridge door and start wiping. Put everything on one side of a shelf and wipe it down. Then move it all to the opposite side and wipe. It only takes about 3 minutes to wipe down one fridge shelf well. If you have to stop suddenly, just close the door.
Take-Along Tasks – Even as we try to schedule things to flow as smoothly as possible, there are times we have to wait. Lessons, doctor appointments, and lunch breaks, can be perfect opportunities to work on tasks that will save us time in the future. Here are some ideas:
A four-sided nail file and buffer or a little manicure kit is perfect for those short waits.
Bring along a box of envelopes and put your return address on them so they are ready to go. Be sure to bring along a roll of non-denominated postage stamps. These stamps never get old and never need to have their first-class postage upgraded – even when there is a postage price hike. In Canada ask your postal service worker for Permanent Stamps. In the USA ask for Forever Stamps. In other English-speaking countries you may need to ask for NVI (no value indicated) stamps.
Take along a box of Christmas cards and start addressing them in September. If you start now, you will even have time to write a personal note in each one and have them ready for the mail by December 1st!
Keep a notebook in your purse to make shopping lists.
While you are making lists don’t forget to make a list of what you’d like for Christmas or birthday gifts. I find moms have lists for everyone else but have no idea what they really want or need. Use some wait time to do a little dreaming.
I’m sure you’ll think of many more ideas as you start doing double duty. What I love the most about doing double duty is that by evening I have free time to hang out with my family because all the little tasks have been taken care of.