Sunday, June 1, 2014

Reclaiming Your Life From Time Bandits

One of the biggest complaints from my readers is the inability to manage their time. Some are overwhelmed with their full schedules. Others can't seem to figure out just how to manage a productive schedule. This is the common complaints of most parents. Time management is easy when you have a job. There is a supervisor over your shoulder micromanaging the job with which you were entrusted. But what about at home?

The first thing to do is to identify where all of your time is going. Clearly it isn't being spent doing what you need or want to do, or you wouldn't be searching for answers. I compiled a list of the most common Time Bandits based on reader response.

The Laundry

If you have your own washer and dryer, you are a victim of the a time bandit. The average person throws their laundry in the wash and walks away. They don't come back until they realize they need to put it in the dryer some time later. When that time comes, the clothes go into the dryer and again, the person walks away until they remember to go back which can be over an hour later. Then the laundry is shoved into bags or baskets and dumped on a couch or bed before the person goes to the next load. In some cases, the laundry either is folded and left out, or not folded at all. The whole family lives out of the laundry pile until the basket is needed for dirty clothes. So the cycle begins again.

The Solution

On Mother's Day there was a Mommy Dearest marathon. In one scene, Christina is in Joan's laundry room after returning from school. In the laundry room there was a table, chairs, magazines and snacks. This is actually how Laundromats began. "The help" would remain in the laundry room and wait for the washer and dryer to stop so that no time was wasted between loads. Laundry was immediately folded or placed on hangers to prevent the need to iron later. Then it was immediately put away. Yes, this is boring. But it saves a tremendous amount of time. What I do, I listen for the buzzers and set the timer on my phone. This way, I can get other things done without forgetting the laundry. I also have a folding station in my garage, available at Target. I gained about 4 hours by simply watching my laundry. Another tip is to hang up clothes in ready made outfits for adults and children. If you're ever running late, everything you need is on one hanger.


Read any recipe, watch any cooking show, and they will tell you the prep time for each meal. Sometimes it's five minutes. Other times it's 15 minutes. Multiply that by the number of meals you cook per day, per week, and you'll find your time bandit. Don't forget the clean-up after meal preparation. 

The Solution

To save time and money, plan at least two meals that contain the same ingredients. You can make the same meal twice or two different meals. For example. I am making frybread tacos for dinner tonight. On Friday, I am making spaghetti and meatballs. Since I am already thawing out bison for the tacos tonight, I may as well use the other half of the meat to make my meatballs now. Come Friday, I'm simply warming up the meatballs and sauce, and cooking the spaghetti. A 30 minute meal, just became an eight minute one. Stick to meals that can be frozen at the prep phase or that has ingredients that will last the week. If you intend to take any food with you to work the next day, package it while you cook. Once you serve dinner, put away the extras while it cools. You'll not only save time, you'll also exercise portion control and expedite your clean up time. Do the dishes after your meal, but before you do anything else. You won't be in the mood to do it later. You'll wind up with double the dishes and half the time. Drink a cup of coffee after dinner to give yourself a boost of energy. Another tip is to buy simple breakfasts that can be microwaved or come ready to eat. Cold cereal and toast, instant oatmeal, Jimmy Dean meals etc. are all examples of quick breakfasts that will save time. If you or your family members are not much for breakfast, make your own Starbuck's protein boxes. Slice some apples and cheese. Add some walnuts and cranberries with whole grain crackers. Put them all in a small container. You and your kids can eat in the car or drop them in their backpacks until they feel like eating. A thermos goes a long way, literally. You don't have time or money for Starbuck's or any other coffee runs. Get a Keurig and take your coffee to go.


It's Sunday night and your kids need a bath, all of them. They all are refusing to bathe because they don't want to go to bed. You finally catch one of them and get him into the bath. By the time he's cleaned and in pajamas, you're exhausted and your back hurts but you may or may not have more children to bathe. This process, depending on the number of children you have, can take two or more hours. Your work extends beyond the bath due to the fact that you have to clean the tub out each time.

The Solution

First, infants and toddlers up to age three can be bathed together. That's at least one less bath. The same is true of children of the same gender and ages. However, the older they are, the less practical this is. In fact, if your child is in second grade or higher, teach him or her to take a shower. Set a timer so the next kid can get in the bathroom. When actually running the water for a bath, place your child in to soak. When you have just enough water to cover the lower half of your child's body, start scrubbing. Let the water out of the tub while you rinse. Clean the dirt out of the tub immediately. Remember, the goal is to bathe everyone quickly, not marinate in Calgon.

Morning Mayhem

Parents or not, many people tell me about how they look at the clock and have plenty of time to get to work on time, then they blink and they're late. Many have tried getting up earlier but wind up paying for it later. Parents tag team the kids, but one always ends up running late.

The Solution

Remember when you were a child, your parents told you to eat your vegetables first? The reason is because once you got through the stuff you didn't like, you could take your time and eat the stuff you liked. It's the same principle with your morning routine. You already know your children are going to slow you down. So start with them. Start by setting two alarms, one to break your sleep, another to make you get up. Wake your eldest child first. Get him in and out of the bathroom, which will be easy since he bathed the night before. Have him dressed in the clothes he laid out the night before or one of the outfits ready to go on the hanger. This is why the laundry solution is so important. Let him feed himself. While this is taking place, wake up the younger children and follow the same routine. By the time your eldest is ready to eat, depending on his age, he can serve his siblings. This is why the simple breakfast options in the mealtime solution is important. When everyone is ready to go, do the same for yourself. Kids love cartoons, let them watch them. It keeps them out of your face while you get ready. Kids also love telling parents what to do. Let one of your kids do the clock watching. Have him tell you the time every five minutes to keep you on track. Limit your morning prep time to ten minutes if you can. Make-up should be simple enough to be done in five minutes. If not, and you're not working, apply foundation and move on. You can finish your airbrushed look after taking the kids to school. I work, so I have a make-up kit at work for the days when I am running late. I apply my foundation at home, then go to work and apply my eye shadow, mascara and lip gloss. However, if you happen to be a morning person and don't need the snooze bar on your alarm, do this solution in reverse. Completely dress and prepare yourself before starting the child prep frenzy. But be advised, once the children wake up, they will be in your face.

There are many other solutions to your Time Bandits. Try these for a while and email me your results at :