Between school drop-offs and pick-ups, grocery shopping, household chores, juggling a full- or part-time job and then some, there never seems to be enough time in a day for a busy mum. Here are some tips to steal some minutes into your life.

1. Plan ahead

“Before bed, make sure you and the kids are packed and clothes are all ready to go for the next day, so there’s no looking for shoes or books in the morning,” says time management coach Barbara Clifford, author of 101 Time Saving Tips for Busy Working Women.

2. Network

Find families who live close by and recruit them as part of your village—people who can share some parental duties. “My son goes to tutoring every week with his mate down the road. I drop off and the other mum picks up,” says Alana Okumu, a busy mum-of-three who works six days a week. “My other son goes to soccer training and the mums carpool. I save up to two hours a week by working together with other mums!”

3. Bedtimes

You get more done when you are not worn out and the key to that is enough sleep. “Many mums fall into the habit of staying up late in order to get some alone time and it often means they stay up too late, sacrifice their sleep, are still tired the next day and are not as alert and energetic, and in turn are less productive,” says Heather Lindsay, from Blissed Out Mums. “Going to sleep at an earlier bedtime also helps a mum get more sleep when the children still wake overnight. Set a timer for your alone time once the kids go to bed and when it goes off, finish what you’re doing and get yourself some well-deserved rest.”

Going to bed early also means you can steal even more time as you are probably able to wake up earlier. Shona Gates, mother-of-two and owner of two businesses, suggests waking up at five or six in the morning so you can get one to two hours of work or exercise in before the kids even wake up. “It sucks the first few weeks, forcing yourself out of bed at 5 am but, once you get into the habit, having peace and quiet while you relax with a face mask on and the rest of the house is still fast asleep is pure bliss!” she says.

4. Weekly family meetings

“Regardless of the age of the children, a weekly family meeting can help save time for everyone by making sure that everyone is on the same page with what is going to be happening in the upcoming week,” says Heather. “This can include things around school, daycare, work obligations, extracurricular activities, social activities, family outings and more. Family meetings are the ideal way to get everyone working collaboratively on the same page towards the same goal, which saves everyone time by increasing communication and decreasing overall family stress.”

5. Embrace the last minute

Shona believes nothing makes you do something faster than a deadline. So she sets herself up with some real ones: “If I want to make sure I clean my house, I invite friends over. If I want to get a bunch of work done, I book a lunch date for the following day. If I don’t get the work done, I can’t go,” she says. “At the end of the day, we all have 24 hours. So stop being a glass-half-empty complainer, pour it into a smaller glass and voilà!”   

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