Those of you who read my blog on the regs will know that I am a Mum of very little sleep. So much so, in fact, that I even wrote a while back about how I’ve survived so far on sweet FA in the sleep department.
A couple of months on from that post and things are still fairly skinny on the restful hours front. This week alone I have been woken for various reasons including:
By my 13 month old:-
Appearance of a first molar…This child is destined to have more teeth than a shark if they continue to appear at such a rate.
4 x Losing her dummy in the cot
15 x just for the fecking sake of it: Because it would appear that my 13 month old is actually some sort of nocturnal creature. A Honeybadger perhaps…
By 4 & 6 year olds:-
2 x Bad dreams: Standard.
1 x needing a wee: And obviously I need to be woken in order for this to occur…
1 x thinking there might be something scary outside their bedroom: At 3.30 in the morning, how do they not understand that by waking me I AM THE DANGER?!?
I’m pretty knackered right now.
Fake it Til You Make it
I have recently re-entered that kind of nether land where I feel not entirely conscious most of the ‘waking’ day.
It’s times like these that I need cheats.
I need easy ways to get through the day / week / seemingly endless stint of sleeplessness to make sure that I at least look like I’ve sort of got my shit together. I need to make sure of the following:
1.) My kids are fed, at least a small proportion of which needs to have some nutritional value.
2.) My house does not descend into some kind of swamp comprising of yoghurt smears, dropped toast, undigested ricecakes, and lego.
3.) I don’t smell, and have hair that at least passes for clean from a distance.
4.) My kids are relatively clean, and are wearing clothes without crusted on bits of Weetabix on them.
5.) I don’t forget anything pivotal, thus avoiding utilities being cut off / children starving / missing important meetings, deadlines and events.
The Ultimate Cheat Sheet
When I started thinking about writing this post, I realised just how many small things I do throughout the day / week which ensure various crises are avoided whilst my brain is in rest mode. But even so, there are times when I feel like I’m just about hanging on by the skin of my teeth.
I’ve asked around in my Facebook group, Googled, rifled through Pinterest, and pumped my fellow (and no doubt infinitely more organised) Mum Bloggers for info. Combined with all the bits and bobs that already save me from chaos, I’ve put all this info together to create what I reckon is the ultimate cheat sheet for sleep deprived Mums.
Here’s my mega-list:- Tips, hacks, apps & tricks for knackered, busy Mums….
First and foremost, when you’re knackered, your memory is shot, and your brain has the consistency and cerebral function of a blancmange. You need to be able to remember stuff to stay on top of it, and to remember it you need to commit the info to something other than your decrepit memory banks. Here are my top resources:-
Old school I know, but having a blackboard has done me a world of favours. I just painted a section of the wall by kitchen with blackboard paint, and when we’re running out of stuff I write it on the list.
It saves me from affecting a thousand yard stare for endless minutes when I’m doing my weekly shop trying to remember what we actually need.
Essential for remembering all things related to kids school stuff. We seem to receive an endless stream of requests to bring in random items, dress them in random outfits and attend random events.
There is f*ck all chance I’d ever remember more than a fraction of all this without my Google calendar pinging me reminders to my phone.
YOU NEED THIS.
This was a handy tip from the blogosphere. Stick up a wall planner with a column for each member of the family. Add in all events & activities for each family member so you can see where you need to be and avoid double-booking. Brilliant for larger families.
Trello, oh how I love thee! If you’re not familiar, Trello is an awesome app for organising to do lists. I’ve got mine set up grouped by the type of task, and then colour coded according to what sort of time scale I’ve got need to finish things in. Really handy, and looks pretty too.
Now you’ve got the means to actually remember the shit you’ve got to do, you need to find the time to do it all in. I find that I’ve got certain habits in terms of how I plan my days to help me make the most of the (not enough) time I’ve got to get my shit done.
Plan and Prep EVERYTHING!!!
Overwhelmingly, pretty much all the Mums who I asked about this came back with this one piece of advice. I think that it’s the one thing that saves me from a descent into madness every weekday morning.
If you’re on a tight schedule, you need to plan ahead with military precision, the need for which increases exponentially with additional children / multiple drop-offs / disorganised husband etc.
These days, if the next day is a school day, I get everyone’s clothes out and ready the night before.
I also prep school bags and packed lunches, get any money out and into envelopes for any school trips / comic relief / children in need / other random charities as demanded on an ongoing basis from school ad nauseam. That way I’m not caught out by any last minute panics (unless sprung on me by the kids on our way out of the door, which is always a delight).
Bunch Similar Tasks Together:
Another tip I picked up from more organised blogging Mums.
For example, have one day a week where you run all your errands in one go: Go to the post office. Pick up that prescription. Return that top you thought looked good in the changing room, but in the cold light of day makes you look like you’ve got back fat.
Do it all in one fell swoop. You’ll spend less time overall reducing the to-ing and fro-ing, and you’ll feel really chuffed that you can cross a bit wadge of stuff off your to-do list in one go – Mmmm… satisfying.
Cooking can be another thing that sucks up your time (and perhaps, if your children are fussy gits, your will to live) so anything that makes it easier and shaves off time spent doing it / organising the stuff you need for it.
Lots of lovely Mums hit me up with this tip… I really want to get into meal planning. Obviously you need to lay the ground work first, but according to anyone to does them, once you’ve done it life gets loads easier… This is definitely on my to-do list now (Hello, Trello!)
If you’re still doing your supermarket shopping in an actual shop whilst toting around a small child / children you are classifiably insane. Crack on with the online shopping vibe. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.
Regardless of who you shop with, you’re better off doing it through this website. This is because mysupermarket is basically your grocery shopping mentor. You can compare prices on items, look at special offers and collect additional nectar points on your shop.
You can also load previous orders and just amend them to suit your current list, which saves LOADS of time. Once you’ve done your shop you can send it to the supermarket and where you confirm your shop and delivery slot and pay.
Pre-Chopped Frozen Veg:
Best. Tip. Ever! Courtesy of Emma at Not My First Rodeo.
Why have I never done this before?!?!
Chop up all the veg you use on the regs; onions, carrots, peppers etc, and then you can just grab a portion whenever you need them and it takes seconds. Genius!
Is there anything more satisfying than being knackered and not really wanting to cook, then realising you’ve got a whole meal ready to go in the freezer just in need of a defrost and whirl in the microwave? I’m a hearty advocate for batch cooking.
It doesn’t have to be a major undertaking, just make double portions of curries, casseroles and whatever else freezes well, and freeze the uneaten half.
Future you will love you for it.
The Slow Cooker Revelation:
Owning a cooker is a bit like being a Freemason. No-one really knows about them, unless you have one, in which case you have THE KNOWLEDGE. I wrote a post a while back about easy recipes with a big wadge of slow cooker ones, but the basic premise is that you can chuck the ingredients in and then just bimble off to do other stuff for a few hours whilst the slow cooker works it’s magic.
Chore Cheats and Household Hacks:
If there is a hell, there is sure to be a massive f*ck off pile of laundry in it that never gets smaller, no matter how much washing you do. I hate laundry… But I do find these tips help;
1.) Save endless sorting by having separate baskets for light and dark colours
2.) If, like me, your brain becomes more sieve-like the less sleep you get, you’ll probably forget to get the wet washing out to dry sometimes, and when you get around to it it smells like a wet dog, so you have it put it on again, no doubt to forget all over again a couple of hours later.
End this cycle of doom by using Lenor Unstoppables. These little grains of joy are a bloody lifesaver! Even if you leave your wash in there for 24 hours you can still hang it out and it still dries smelling lovely. WIN!
3.) Organised folding: When I fold dry laundry I put it into separate piles according to which bedroom they’re destined for. Saves rifling through it when you get around to putting it away.
1.) Clean as you go – Have sets of cleaning stuff in different rooms ready to use, so that you can give the sink a quick wipe or shove a bit of bleach down the loo as soon as it starts looking grotty. It only takes seconds but it keep the place loads cleaner.
You can go a step further and clean the shower screen when you’re showering or give the bedroom a quick dust when you get dressed in the mornings for extra pzazz.
(…Frankly pzazz is not a word I tend to attribute to my own lacklustre attempts at housekeeping, but I don’t know if you’re a secret domestic goddess at heart. Horses for courses and all that.)
2.) Several Mums recommended setting up a cleaning schedule, doing small chunks every day, which make loads more sense than letting it all build up.
I think I definitely have more tolerance for short bursts of housework rather than gearing up to do a few hours at once, so that’s got to be a winner in my book.
3.) I usually have a basket which I carry with me, into which I chuck everything that doesn’t belong in the room I’m in, and redistribute things to their correct place when I get there. Anything left over I can go through at the end of the cleaning session.
4.) If household chaos has reached fever pitch, you can try this brilliant method from Mums Make Lists I’ve tried it, and it works!
5.) If your kids are old enough, try this amazing technique from Wild Mama, Wild Tribe. The Sunday Box is a brilliant idea which teaches your kids to clear up their own things. I love that it’s a quick fix clear-up but also trains your kids to do for themselves. Recommend!
And last but not least, your good self…:
I’ve read loads of blogs and articles about doing all the house stuff in time / hassle-saving ways, but for me part of the struggle is also about not looking like Stig Of The Dump, at least for some of the time. It’s easy to let it slide when you’re knackered and you DGAF.
However, I do try to employ these tips to sort of resemble my old self from time to time…
Even if you don’t have time for a proper shower, just hopping in for a 2 minute blitz freshens you up no end.
Dry Shampoos and body sprays:
For those mornings when you’re so knackered you are prepared to sacrifice precisely zero minutes of sleep for any reason whatsoever, spray for the day baby!
A bit of dry shampoo for grubby hair and a swish of body spray before getting dressed will at least spritz you up temporarily, and you will feel less self-conscious about going showerless.
Epilators:- Not actually medieval torture devices:
I know it seems like a horrific idea, but I swear by epilators. Like waxing, the more you do it the less it hurts, and IMHO it’s worth sticking it out. I love that I can use one to do my legs, and it takes about half an hour, but then I don’t have to shave them for 3 or 4 weeks, which is aMAZing!
If I left them that long whilst shaving I’d be able to donate to Locks of Love every time I got around to it.
Multi-task your way to fitness:
Another fab tip I was given was to invest in a jogging buggy, and jog on errands rather than having to take time out especially for exercise. I LOVE this idea… Might take a bit of time to get off my arse and organise it though tbh…
And that’s my lot – at least what my dozy brain can muster at the present moment. Feel free to hit me up in the comments if you’ve got a corker you think I should edit in here (I’m always up for tweaks).
Keep on trucking Motherlovers,
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Not forgetting a big fat thank you to the lovely Mums (and Dads) in Blogland who I haven’t already mentioned, who gave me loads of ideas for this post. Check ’em out, they’re a lovely bunch:-
Sal at Hello Little Lovely, Jenna at Then There Were Three, Kirsty at Winnettes, Sinead Latham, Louise at Pink Pear Bear, Jemma at Have Kids Will Travel, Victoria at The Growing Mum, Lynette at New Mummy Blog, Emma Reed, Naomi at The Organised Life Project, the lovely Liberty on The Lighter Side, Sophie at Mama Mei, Sally at Mother and 3 Sons, Nicole at Tales from Mamaville, Katie at Mum of 2.5, Claire at Bumps, Babies, Tots and Teens, Pip Milburn, Nicola at Mummy Wales, Benny at DaddyPoppins, and Kate from Kate on Thin Ice. Thanks a million guys x.