It feels like families are busier than ever. Parents have demanding jobs. Kids participate in multiple activities. There are events with extended family, school concerts, vacations, and all sorts of commitments to keep people on the go throughout the week. If you feel like you can barely pause and take a breath, it’s time to take steps to carve out a little extra time and regain some peace.
With so many commitments, it’s important that everyone is on the same page. A shared calendar where family members add appointments, meetings, practices, and other important events can make it easier to manage a busy schedule. You should also communicate tasks you need others to take on. For example, you might say to your partner, “Don’t forget I have a meeting tomorrow night, so I’ll need you to take care of dinner.”
Schedule Family Time
When you’re creating your shared family calendar, don’t forget to make time to spend together. Maybe every Friday night is family night or maybe you hold a regular family meeting once a week. If you are intentional about putting family time on the calendar, it will be easier to avoid interruptions. Your teenagers might not always be big fans of family time, but we promise they’ll appreciate it when they’re older.
Embrace Routines and Organization
Routines can become boring, but they can also be a great way to save time because they don’t require a lot of planning. For example, if every Tuesday night is Taco Tuesday, you don’t have to spend much time thinking about what’s for dinner. If kids always hang up their backpacks and put their shoes in a basket when they get home, you don’t have to spend as much time looking for lost shoes in the morning (although inevitably one or two will still escape).
Just like your kids can put their shoes in the shoe basket when they get home, they can take on responsibilities around the house. Check out a list of age-appropriate chores to see what tasks your kids can reasonably help with. You can give kids an allowance in exchange for the work they do or simply consider the work to be something that is expected of them as a member of the household. Having kids complete tasks might require some extra time and effort initially as they learn how to perform the task to your standards, but eventually they’ll catch on.
When it comes to delegating responsibilities, think about what jobs you can hire out too. Maybe you can have a cleaning service come in once a week or twice a month to tackle some of the bigger cleaning tasks. Many grocery stores also offer online ordering and curbside pickup. Some will even deliver the groceries for you and a few will put them away too! Yes, these services come with fees, but the fees can be worth the time they save.
The more you can plan, the better. If you’d rather go to the grocery store than order items online (or the service is not available in your area), make a list before you go and stick to it so that you can get in and out. Also, look for smaller blocks of time when you might be able to fit in a trip to the store between events. This is a particularly good idea in the winter when items can sit in the car for longer periods of time without going bad.
Before you run errands or go from activity to activity, take some time to plan out your route. You might not realize that you’re wasting a lot of time by stopping at the pharmacy before you go to the grocery store or by dropping your daughter off at dance practice before your meeting when your spouse has to be somewhere closer and could do it instead.
Declutter and Downsize
The more stuff you own, the more work you have to do. Cut down on picking up toys and doing laundry by decluttering and reducing how many items you own. Spend a day going through the house and trying to get rid of anything you don’t use anymore. You can donate the items to a local charity or sell them on a local buy/sell page to make some extra money in the process.
Also, try to avoid clothing that requires ironing, dry cleaning, or other special care.
Lower Your Standards
Do your floors really have to be so clean you could eat off them? Does every dish have to be washed before you leave the house? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be neat and organized, but sometimes it’s okay to let your standards lapse a little.
Get Plenty of Sleep
People tend to move more slowly when they’re tired. Don’t let yourself become so busy that you neglect to get a decent amount of sleep each night. You might think you can’t afford to get 8 hours, but if you get that much sleep consistently, chances are you’ll find yourself being more productive during the day.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Whenever you can, prepare things ahead of time. Rather than scrambling to find clothes for school in the mornings, lay them out the night before. Try to pack lunches before bedtime too. And when you make dinners, consider making a double batch and freezing half of what you make so it’s ready to pop in the microwave or oven on a night when you’re too busy to cook.
Turn Off Technology
It’s amazing how much of a distraction phones, televisions, and other forms of technology can be. When it’s time to do homework or complete other tasks, put the devices away and turn off the TV. Chances are the work will be completed in half the time
Track Your Time
You may not realize how long certain tasks take. Want to sit down and browse Facebook for a few minutes? Time yourself to see how long you actually spend looking at the latest “news.” You may find you’re wasting a lot of time with idle tasks. Track your time for a week and see where you can cut down on distractions or add in extra tasks.
Once you know how much time you spend on your various activities, consider setting a timer to keep yourself on track. Just don’t let the timer control everything. For example, a heart-to-heart conversation with your child may need to take more than the 5 minutes you’ve allotted to it and that’s okay.
You want to do it all, but at some point you have to admit that it’s not possible. Don’t be afraid to say “no” every now and then, whether it’s taking on another responsibility or agreeing to run your teenager to the mall. If that activity will stretch you to the max and decrease the amount of margin you have in your life, say “no.” We promise the world won’t end even if your teen says it will.
Sometimes you just need a little extra cash. Maybe you’re saving up for a trip to see a famous mouse in Florida or you had an unexpected home maintenance issue. Whatever the reason, you don’t have stress. All it takes is a little work and a little creativity to bring some extra funds into your household. Best of all, your kids can help with many of these ideas.
Start a Landscaping Business
A landscaping business can turn into a full-fledged operation or just focus on a few homes. It can involve mowing lawns or simply weeding and trimming bushes. You decide the services you want to offer. Start by asking a few neighbors if they need any work done. Some may even offer their own equipment so you don’t have to purchase a quality lawnmower and other tools. To find business beyond your neighbor, share a post on social media and look for local Facebook groups where people regularly search for services or post their needs.
Care for Pets
Turn your love for animals into some extra cash. If you’re home during the day, make some money by walking dogs or stopping in to feed people’s pets at different times during the day. Know friends who are going out of town? Offer to pet sit for a small fee. Even young kids can help out by filling water bowls, playing with the animals, and giving them tons of love.
Do you have elderly neighbors who can’t get around? New moms who don’t have time to go to the grocery store? Hardworking professionals who need someone to pick up their dry cleaning? You can become an errand-runner for these individuals. Offer to make trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, dry cleaners, or even the repair shop for a small fee. Can’t find work in your neighborhood? Consider signing up for a service like TaskRabbit or Postmates.
Restaurant delivery services, such as DoorDash and UberEats have really taken off and you can make money by signing up to work for them. You can also visit local pizza joints to see if they’re looking for delivery jobs (many usually are). If delivering food isn’t your thing, consider other delivery options. If you have a pickup truck, you can advertise on a local online messaging board that you’re willing to help transport large appliances and equipment from hardware stores. You may also want to consider delivering for a service like Amazon Flex.
Become a Secret Shopper
Many companies use secret shoppers to ensure their employees and stores are providing a quality customer service experience. To get started, simply download a secret shopping app such as Mobee, EasyShift, iSecretShop, Field Agent, or Gigwalk. Some areas have more opportunities available than others. If you’re in a saturated area, just check your app regularly and jump on opportunities when you see them. Be sure to figure in the cost of gas and the time to get to the secret shopping mission and try to stack shops in the same area so you actually make money during the process.
Get Money Back While Shopping
Don’t underestimate how much a few cents here and there can add up. Use a program like Ebates or Swagbucks when shopping online. You can also get deals by adding an extension such as Honey to your browser to ensure you get the latest coupons applied to your order. And don’t forget programs like Paribus which automatically send e-mails to try and get you money back when prices drop on items you’ve already purchased.
Sell Your Own Goods
Go on a purging spree and find items in your home that you can sell to make money. Sure, those baby clothes are cute and have memories attached to them, but choose one or two of your favorite pieces and sell the rest to a consignment shop or at a garage sale. Do the same with children’s toys and other baby items. If you don’t have enough items for a full-fledged yard sale, advertise your items online through a site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Just be sure to choose a safe spot to meet up to give the buyer the goods. Many police stations have set up places to help you do that. Don’t forget about sites like eBay for selling items too.
If you’re artistic or have another crafty skill, consider selling your work. You can set up an Etsy shop to sell things online. You can also set up a booth at a local craft show. The holiday season is a prime time to find a lot of small craft shows. You may also find booths available at local fairs and festivals during the spring and summer months.
Do you like baking? Turn your love into a business by offering make cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts for local events. Start small with items for parties thrown by friends and family members. Then slowly branch out by advertising your services on social media. Be sure to fully consider the cost of ingredients, packaging and the time involved (including delivery) to make sure you’re not losing money as you work.
If you’re always the photographer at family events or have a fancy camera just sitting on a shelf, you may be able to find work as a photographer. Ask some friends or family members to serve as models so you can practice refining your skills. Then use those photos to advertise your services online. To get more business, set up a day of special sessions where you create a seasonal backdrop and families can sign up to get their fall, spring, or holiday pictures taken. November is a great time to take photos for holiday photos. Easter is also a popular time for photos with families.
Do your kids love to watch YouTube videos? You can try to get on the viral video train by setting up your own YouTube channel and starting to film videos of your own. Have your kids participate in crazy challenges. Talk about life as a family. Record yourselves playing video games. You might not make a lot of money right away, but if you catch on, the money could add up over time. Be sure to think about privacy when setting up your channel. Consider using a generic name rather than your real names and don’t allow your kids to respond to comments left on the videos.
Rent Out Your Home
If your home is in a popular tourist destination or has some unique features, consider renting it out a few days every month. This is ideal if you have other family members you can stay with for a few nights or if you have a mother-in-law suite or guest room with a separate entrance. You can also rent out your home if you’re already planning to be out of town. Just make sure there’s someone nearby to check on your home and available to come by should a problem arise.
Parents are always looking for affordable babysitters. Advertise on a site like Care.com or Sittercity. If you know your church, children’s school, or a local organization is having an event for adults, consider working with the organization to provide on-site childcare at a low cost. You’d be surprised how many parents will take advantage of a parents’ night out opportunity.
You might not need extra cash now, but that doesn’t mean the need won’t arise in the future. Consider making regular investments through an app like Stash or Acorns. Your bank may partner with a program that allows you to round up each purchase and automatically save or invest your extra change. You can even just put a set amount of money into a savings account every month so it’s available when you need it. Small things, such as making an extra mortgage payment each year or making purchases that help you qualify for income tax deductions can also help you find extra money over time.
As you make these financial decisions, talk to your kids about what you’re doing and get them involved. It’s important to teach kids about money and help them learn about personal finance so they can make wise financial decisions when they get older.
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On May 25th 2018, the most comprehensive change to privacy legislation ever undertaken —the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)— takes effect.
Here at Hub, data protection is something we take very seriously. As a cloud-based company entrusted with our customers’ data, we’ll continue to view the treatment of our users’ data as a top priority.