Over the years, I have come across some absolutely brilliant time- and face-saving parenting hacks for working parents (not all of which I could repeat or recommend).
When it comes to working parents, one of the key issues is always going to be time – lack of it, how to spend it wisely and trying to be in the right place at the right time. Often it can feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for the things you want to fit in. So ideas that help working parents save time and achieve their goals (have their cake and eat it!) are always worth sharing.
Here is a selection of top parenting hacks for working parents (by working parents!) to help you maximise quality family time, keep up appearances (without putting in the hours), and maintain good relationships but still get to work on time….
Move their birthday
Statistically, there is about a 5:2 chance that your child’s birthday will fall on a weekday and therefore probably on a work day. And if you have ever packed your small darling off to Nursery at 7.50am on their birthday, you’ll know how rubbish that can feel. If you are really unlucky, your child’s first, second, third and fourth birthdays will all be on work days. And taking the day off is not always an option.
But most one-, two-, three- and four-year-olds don’t have a brilliant grasp of dates so why not just move their birthday to the weekend? Agree amongst family and friends (and make sure you tell Nursery too!) that this year their birthday is on Saturday and your child will be none the wiser. Allow their actual birthday to pass by without mention and focus all your efforts onto a more convenient date. Your child will get to spend their birthday with you and the celebrations can be drawn out all day unfettered by work commitments.
Downside? This only works with very young children and it can be quite stressful making sure no well-meaning adults or older children spill the beans!
Put them to bed in tomorrow’s clothes
Brilliant for the night before early holiday flights but also worth a thought for early starts on a work day if the morning routine is just too stressful. Works best with babies and toddlers and obviously requires comfy jogging bottoms and t-shirts rather than dresses and buckles. This tip came from a working mum at one of my Stress-free Morning Routines seminars and she absolutely swore by it!
Cakes through the post
Now, I have to admit, this particular parenting hack didn’t come via a parent. I received a tweet out of the blue from Baker Days asking if I would like to try their letterbox cakes and it instantly struck me as potentially one of the best parenting hacks for working parents since the inventions of duvets and online supermarket shopping.
I love a bit of home baking and there is a special place in every home for home-made cookies and sprinkle-laden cupcakes. But, despite watching every series of Great British Bake Off, my cakes do tend to look as if a child has made them – rustic, shall we say?!
So the idea that someone will make a professional cake with perfectly smooth icing personalised to my own design and then pop it through the letterbox the next day is frankly genius. You don’t have to leave your desk to order one and nobody has to wait in for delivery.
Mine arrived in a sturdy tin, so no breakage, and tasted great. These are only small cakes (they wouldn’t fit through the letterbox otherwise…) so a brilliant alternative to sending flowers or gift cards and guaranteed to make whoever receives them feel special. Perfect for letting the kids know you are thinking of them when business means you can’t be there.
(And if you are very sneaky, you could always pretend you’ve made it yourself.)
Leave the hoover by the front door
When you are a working parent, you have to prioritise, so it’s perfectly acceptable if housework slips down the To Do list. But, for some of us, that twinge of guilt when guests arrive can be a bit uncomfortable. The solution? Take your hoover out of the cupboard and leave it in the hallway (or somewhere nearish the front door). It can live there permanently or you can just bring it out when guests are expected. Then, as you answer the door and usher them past the hoover, say “Excuse the mess, I was just about to hoover.” The perfect way to maintain the illusion that you have enough time and energy to be house proud without actually doing the housework.
And if you are really lucky – or have a very small baby or triplets – one of the guests might do the hoovering for you.
Put the clocks forward on New Year’s Eve
So, the kids are old enough to want to stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve? But you know they will be a nightmare the next day from lack of sleep. And, frankly, you’d like to be a grown up and swig champagne, snog and sing Auld Lang Syne badly without the children present. The answer? Put the clocks forward! With any luck, the kids will be tucked up in bed by 10.30pm thinking they have seen in the New Year and you can snatch a bit of adult time, with or without friends. Or just go to sleep.
The downside? Make sure you synchronise every clock in the house and you’ll need to ban all electronic devices. You will also need an explanation up your sleeve if the fireworks and singing wake them up at the real midnight….
Thank you to everyone who shared these fab parenting hacks for working parents with me and also to Baker Days for the free cake. Let me know how you get on and please leave a comment with your own recommended hacks below!
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