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Ashlee Neuman
Senior Editor

15 Genius Life Hacks From Time-Strapped Parents

From meal tips to laundry tricks, here’s how these savvy parents maximize their time and make life with kids just a little easier.

The parenting struggle is real. From the second you’re up to the moment you drop, it’s go time—and with a million to-dos on your list, every minute counts. Who has time to search for missing socks or separate the forks and knives from the dishwasher? Not these savvy parents, who have figured out ways to squeeze every drop of productivity from their day. Read on for their tried-and-true life hacks to help make the day run a little more smoothly.

Don’t empty the dishwasher until after breakfast.
“This way, you're not wasting time putting dishes away, only to grab them from the cabinet to use them. After I stopped breastfeeding,, I'd take the bottles directly out of the dishwasher and fill them with milk for the whole day so I wouldn't have to put away the bottles just to take them out again and fill them with milk.” —Joanne C.

Buy all-white socks.
“I regret buying colored socks. I don't know how my three kids lose socks, but I learned the hard way: Buying white socks that are the same length makes things easy to sort!” —Daniela T.

Make baby’s food from whatever you’re eating.
“For the younger kids who do baby food pouches for meals, I love to purée whatever we make for ourselves and make our own baby food. It saves so much money.” —Stephanie M.

Always pack plastic bags.
“When you have a baby, take a plastic bag or two everywhere you go. It's great for dirty diapers (if you can't find the garbage immediately), clothes that have been spit up on, dirty bibs, etc.” —Judy C.

Clue your partner in on your calendar.
“Sharing Google calendar really helps so Dad can keep track of what’s going on.” —Christina C.

Assign each kid a laundry day.
“When it comes to laundry, I do one load for a different member. Monday is my 5-year-old’s day. I load the washer first thing in the morning so it's done by the time he goes off to school. Once his clothes are out of the dryer, I fold them and put them back in the basket. No sorting whose clothes it is—and he puts his own clothes away.” —Oiying M.

When getting ready for school, leave breakfast for last.
“Get your child dressed, brush his teeth, wash his face and put his shoes on. That way, if you're running late, you can always just take a bagel with you as you're walking to school—but you can't brush his teeth or put on his sneakers once you're out the door. I used to get my son to have breakfast first and we were always late!” —Amy Y.

Get the kids to help with chores.
“Time saving is essential. Getting my kids involved in helping with household chores has really helped me, and teaches them too.” —Cindy B.

Lay out a week’s worth of clothes.
“And by that I mean never put away the clean laundry. Instead, just pick freshly laundered items from off the couch, because it’s an extra step to fold and put the clothes away in drawers.” — Jill S.

Use safety pins as sock savers.
“Safety pin the socks together before washing!” —Valerie L.

Choose efficient fruit.
“Eat blueberries and raspberries instead of strawberries to save time not having to cut off the stems.” —Abigail W.

Separate the forks, spoons and knives ahead of time.
“Put the forks and spoons, etc. in designated sections in the dishwasher, so in the morning you just grab them and put them in the drawer instead of distributing individually.” —Joanne C.

Plan ahead for meals.
“We do lots of crockpot meals and freezer dinners!” —Valerie L.

Use mesh bags for smaller laundry items.
“I love using mesh laundry bags to keep socks in. It’s so much easier to keep them together and match them up—and no lost socks!” —Gabrielle K.

Build a family rest day into your routine.
“Sometimes you just need a free day. No cleaning, no work—a day to just stay in your pajamas and relax as a family all day.” — Kelli H.

Published September 2017

PHOTO: Camille Tokerud / Getty Images