Time and Sanity Saving Tips for Parents

Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Trying to balance cooking, cleaning, and parenting in general is not an easy task. The good news is that you are not alone! The Park Slope Parents Working Moms group had a discussion of how to make life less hectic that they have found to help stave off the insanity. We have compiled the helpful tips and advice on how to balance it all while still finding time for yourself.




“Clean” is a relative term.  I clean the kitchen after I put my child down and pick up his toys. I do quick little sweeps each day instead of vacuuming. We only vacuum about once a month. Our place isn’t as clean or tidy as it could be, but it’s good enough that I don’t feel gross.”

Our house (or child’s play area) is never really clean. I find that if things can be organized or tidy I feel pretty good.”

Baskets corral the mess. I have a ton of baskets around the living room/play area so I can just scoop up my child’s toys and throw them in there at the end of the night.

Buy the right vacuum. “As for cleaning, the best investment we made was our dyson cordless vacuum. It's so easy to use that I mostly spot-clean in small bursts instead of doing one big vacuum session.”

“I have all hardwood floors in my apartment. I found that investing in a Miele canister vacuum actually made a really big difference over my upright vacuum (which is designed for carpet). I believe, in general, in having the best tools you can afford as a way to cut back on time and make things a lot easier. I found that buying the right cleaning tools makes cleaning more enjoyable and waaaay faster (like 5 minutes to do the whole house).

Or get a robotic vacuum. “One minor but recently life changing tip for reducing housework that I can add is getting a robotic vacuum cleaner. Every day when it rolls out on schedule at 6pm it brings a smile to my face and I’m amazed how much cleaner the house feels.”

A robot vacuum also really helps. There is an affordable one for under $200 called the Eufy, recommended by Wirecutter.”

Make cleaning a meditative practice. “I am a fidgeter by nature and so I get up early a couple of mornings a week and quietly clean the kitchen/bathroom/pet areas. It makes me feel a little bit better to leave the apartment in a decent state but the deep cleaning is what's missing.”

Keeping bathrooms clean. Disinfecting wipes on hand to quickly clean the bathroom are really helpful.

Outsource to a cleaning person. “Honestly, the best thing we did was get a cleaning person. She/her team comes once a month, and they do all the deep clean stuff we would never do, so we can just maintenance wipes when needed.  But before then, we would just do the best we could.  When we had people coming over we’d do a massive clean, but outside that we would do enough to make sure that things weren’t dirty and live with it, even if it was cluttered.  Of course, that was before my child became mobile - now we feel like keeping things uncluttered is more of a priority.”

“Our house is lacking a deep clean but there’s no way around that and I plan to get a monthly cleaner too as it’s just not worth the discussions with my husband.”

As a single mom (not the original plan), I constantly feel like both time and money are tight. The biggest game-changer has been having a housecleaner come in once a month to do a deep clean. The cost is more than worth it. That means I can’t afford to do takeout, ever, but the trade off is worth it!”

“I recommend si se puede for cleaning services!”

“I just hired wecandoit.coop as well for a once a month deep cleaning. Before that, I think I scrubbed the bathtub twice in 1 year. I'm looking forward to outsourcing deep cleaning and only doing wipe downs like everyone said.”

Declutter and be minimalist. “I find that decluttering and taking a more minimal approach to “stuff” has been hugely helpful. For example, we have maybe 20 toys for my child, that mostly all fit in 2 giant baskets from room and board (they are amazing and hide all the clutter - we have one in our living room and 1 in my child’s bedroom). We also limit ourselves to 3 pairs of shoes each for any given season so that there’s less shoe clutter around the house, books that fit on one narrow Ikea bookcase etc. We have almost zero memorabilia with the exception of 4 photo albums that we put on a floating shelf. Machine washable rugs in our kitchen and dining room help hugely with keeping the place clean (Lorena canals). And our plate ware is limited to just what we need (i.e. 6 of each). For clothes too, it’s the same roughly 6-8 sets that get worn. In all, I’ve found that having fewer things keeps my brain more organized, leaves more space in my head, and allows for fewer things that are of higher quality. It also makes nightly cleanup a breeze (vacuuming and wiping down stove and counters takes maybe 15 min total).”

“I totally believe in Konmari. Once I Konmari'd my dresser, it was a lot easier to maintain because after pregnancy and nursing, turns out I only liked 6 shirts (!).”

“Definitely outsource whatever you can afford, because not doing it is definitely better than doing it. But on top of that, being a little more minimalistic: the less things in your house and life mean less things to clean. Reducing your child’s wardrobe means less laundry. Less toys means less clutter and things to get strewn about. There is a ton of this stuff online (or you can watch Mari Kondo on Netflix)!”

OUTSOURCE-- JUST DO IT (if you can)

Rely on servicesWhen work gets really hectic we rely on services. We order fresh direct every week and send out our laundry. Just those 2 things are a big help.”

Amazon it! “We use amazon for almost everything.”

Laundry services. We used washclub for our laundry pick-up service and were generally pretty happy with them. I went in fully expecting an item or two to be destroyed and sure enough that was the case, especially when I forgot to specify an item to be low-air dried.... Was worth it though when we didn't have laundry in our apartment.”

“We get our laundry done. It all helps make us feel a little more sane.”


Schedule it and do it. “I recommend just scheduling it in ahead of time. I often try to do stuff post my child’s bedtime which can be exhausting (so usually it’s one drink with a friend or a manicure) but I feel I get my hour after work with him and I can still do something for me.”

“Holy sh*t it’s hard. I’m not great at ME time, aka getting out of the house (although I’m excellent and lying on the couch at night with the tv). But my advice is, just schedule it. Book the workout class or facial. Give your husband notice that saturday morning you’ll be out. And then flip-side, he also gets part of the weekend to himself, so you both get to recharge. Or just designate every night from 9-10 as “me doing whatever I want” time. And honor that.”

Split up parenting duties. “Solo parenting.One major thing that my partner and I realized was getting in the way of getting anything done was too much family time. For whatever reason, we kept spending the entire weekend together and were miserable. Now we split up the weekend so that for 75% of it, only one parent is with the child. One of us takes Saturday wake up to 3pm and then hands off and vice versa on Sunday. That means the other parent gets me time and time to do chores. This has been a game changer. One good friend of mine told me that she has observed that the friends who are doing the best in their marriage with young children are spending most of their time apart and switching off parenting.”

+1 million to solo parenting — it’s a huge lifesaver and my wife and I agree that we are both better parents when we are present once we’ve had some space to recharge. Honestly, as well, it seems most of the “bad things” happen when we are “both parenting” — “why is he eating dog food? I thought you were watching him!” “I thought you were watching him!” Etc.”

Make time to exercise. “I’m just coming back to exercise, and it’s hard to find the time but it also helps me feel more energetic and resilient. I’ve been surprised that when I do at home yoga or interval training and lay out a mat for our daughter she gladly participates and let’s me get on with it (her downward dog is actually not bad!).”

Take mental health days from work. “I get sick time from my company. I will take "mental health" days for me time. It is truly a game changer. Once in a while, my husband and I will take it on the same day and go watch a movie while baby is at daycare. I also WFH whenever I feel overwhelmed so I can take care of some household things at the same time.”

HELP WITH MEALS: Outsourcing, Organizing, and Making it Easier

Cook more than one meal at a time. “I cook big meal items that are easy to reheat, like soups and pasta dishes.” And, “As for cooking, I try to cook as much as possible, but will often get pieces of the meal pre-made or pre-prepped, to cut down on time and effort.  And, frankly, many nights I just don’t have the energy and we do delivery.”

Organize Shopping lists. “I use the iPhone Reminders app to create a shared grocery list with my husband. We add things to it and we both take turns shopping for groceries. I make 2-3 meals for the week on Sunday afternoon and try not to cook during the week. I just bought a bunch of Cambro food storage containers which are awesome for this. I use the Instantpot and I have also fully embraced frozen chicken nuggets, pizza, cheese and bread and packaged snacks like Ella's Kitchen. I also do things like bake Japanese sweet potatoes on Sunday so that I have it on hand any time my child wants a snack.”

Relax about the cost (if you can). “We've relaxed a lot about spending money on eating out. We just do it now and don't worry about how we could be saving hundreds of dollars instead.”

“Park” the kids while you cook. “I have rediscovered my love for cooking and have been enjoying doing that a few nights a week to ensure we all eat a good meal together. When [hubby’s] not traveling for work my husband watches our daughter while I do that - otherwise I’m not above putting The Wiggles on the iPad for 20 minutes. It’s a small pleasure but food is a priority for me so...”

Meal kits are the best… I've really appreciated having meal kits delivered since I really like cooking but get overwhelmed with the logistics (e.g., What to make? What to buy? When to buy? etc). Taking decision-making points away has been so helpful. I tried a few services and sunbasket is my fav.”

Frozen foods pass for home cooked! “I get a lot of Trader Joe’s frozen stuff, which is healthy enough and cheap. Yesterday for dinner I did a frozen sautéed veggies medley from TJ’s with scrambled eggs, canned black beans and avocado on tortillas. That’s a ‘home cooked meal’ in my book”

Get meals delivered. “We recently started getting meals delivered from Jennie’s Kitchen and it’s changed our lives. Food is dropped off Sunday or Monday morning (you pick) and you can order the minimum ($100 for three meals that serve two adults and a toddler-2019 prices) or you can go nuts and stock the freezer with soup, get burritos for lunches, pick from a wide variety of breakfasts, desserts, etc. The food is local and organic and cooked locally and delivered basically ready to eat with some exceptions for re-heating or baking (for example, her amazing buttermilk biscuits are sent uncooked and you bake them yourself). It’s really delicious and tastes like elevated home cooking as opposed to take out or frozen food. It’s a total game changer to come home after a hectic work day and know that dinner is ready and that it’s not one of the five boring things I usually make. Plus, we actually sit down and eat together for the first time since my older son was born 3.5 years ago.” 

ASK YOURSELF: Is it REALLY worth it?

Let go of guilt. “I am at peace with the fact that I don’t have time to cook except rarely. And that we probably cook at home only 2-3 times a week. And that my 19 month old hears the door buzzer and yells “dinner!” We have a laundry service delivery (which my child also yells “dinner!” when it arrives). But no. Things are not awesome. We are not living in a clean house. But everyone is fed nourishing food, everyone is safe, everyone is loved, and everyone is wearing clean clothes.” 

Check your priorities. “Stop and ask yourself if it matters. REALLY matters. Does it matter if the bathroom is deep cleaned or can it just be wiped down? Do I really have to send holiday cards, or can I just give myself permission to sit it out? Do I have to buy our cat food at the local small business or can I let amazon do the work?”

Remember that some chores are choices. “Your happiness feeds your family more than how clean the bathroom is. I’m not perfect at this by any means, but I think we have to realize that some chores are choices. You get to choose how you spend your time, and so if it’s not absolutely serving you, automate it or forget it. “

Something’s gotta give. “I think at a certain point something has to give, and for us we prioritize time with the little dude and our sanity over a perfectly clean home, a home cooked dinner every night, and crisply folded laundry in the drawers. And I think that’s okay! I hope you can figure out what works for your family - and don’t feel bad if you make the decision to just let certain things slide!”

Let it go. “I've learned to let go a lot now that I have a full blown toddler who loves to throw his toys and I can't keep up with him and kindly make sure he puts away a toy before he plays with another (Dream life). There are toys everywhere, sometimes I don't put them away at night so that I can watch Netflix instead and I live with that decision.”

Want more support and more ideas like this? Join Park Slope Parents (especially the Working Moms group) to help you have less stress and more sanity.