Secrets to maximising family time

Many of us say we spend so much time cleaning, working and taking care of the house that we don't have much time left for family — especially during the week. Advances in technology means that we are now available 24 hours a day, we're juggling our personal and professional lives whilst trying to excel at everything. With all this continuous activity going on in our day to day lives, we are finding it harder to switch off and concentrate on enjoying time with those that matter.

Good news, there are ways to stay ahead of the game - making small changes to the way you do things will have a big impact on important family time. Here are some tips to start you off:

Compose a list

Divide your to-do list into two categories: Delegate, and Do. Consider 'what happens if I don't do this?' If someone else can do it the tasks then add to the Delegate column. Can someone else walk the dog? Empty the bin? Put the laundry away?

Two birds, one stone

Manage errands by location so that you can finish as many of them as possible in one trip. By forward planning this way you are saving time and energy through being more organised. For example if your To Do list looks like this:

  • drop off dry cleaning
  • go to the supermarket
  • pick a parcel up from the post office

...plan ahead and combine all three tasks into in trip where you can do everything at once. A little prior planning can save a lot of time, money and stress.

Make a game of it

If you have small children and lots of toys that get used, invent a cleanup game - involve your child as much as possible in the tidy up as it gives them a sense of accomplishment and independence. Make a race of it and compete to see who can get the most done in the fastest time. Read our article on motivating children to clean up after themselves.

Getting by with a little help from your friends

If friends or family offer to help out take them up on it - don't be shy in reaching out. Can the dry cleaner pick up as well as deliver your clothes? Remember not to take too much advantage of one person's generosity, and don't forget to thank them!

Organise clutter

Prevent the early morning stress by creating an organised system – give each family member a cubby hole near the door to store keys and other essential items in. Ensuring coats are hung up in the same place each evening will also reduce chaos! Read our storage space article for more clever hints.

Speak to the world

Check work or personal emails before the kids get up in the morning. The same goes for the phone - wait until the kids are in bed before making calls. This gives you uninterrupted time to focus without being disturbed.

Make your job work for you

Managing work/life balance is becoming increasingly important for our busy lifestyles; sometimes working outside the office environment improves your productivity – see if your company will let you go to the office earlier (or later), or work from home one day a week.

Shop till you drop (from the sofa)

Online grocery shopping can save a huge amount of time and convenience, according to ShopperVista around a fifth of households are buying groceries online every month. Avoid the crowds and shop from the comfort of your home.

Double up dinner

If you're making dinner, double up on the recipe and freeze for later in the week. Cook extra vegetables and put them in the fridge to drop in pasta salad the next day. Keep the freezer stocked and remember, it's okay to give yourself a break once a while by keeping a couple of frozen pizzas for when you don't have time to cook.

Know yourself

You're not superhuman. Figure out what your priorities are and do the things that help you feel happy or less stressed. If you feel calmer without clutter on the dining room table, involve the kids in helping you clear it. If you can live with a few stray items and prefer to cook, do that instead. Change the task to match your lifestyle - spend time on what's important to you.

Time for you all

Don't wait for holidays to come together as a family. Weekend breakfasts, Saturday film night or shopping can bring everyone together. Try not to deviate from scheduled family activities – these should be sacred; whatever tradition you choose, make sure everyone honour's a set time.

Read more of our hints on saving time and keeping your house clean for longer.