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Great Time Saving Tips for Parents

8 simple strategies to make you feel more organized and energized.

Your little munchkin has turned your world upside down (and, if you’ve got a toddler, maybe your purse, underwear drawer, and linen closet, too). "As a new mom, the best thing I ever did for myself was get systems in place," says Stacey Crew, author of The Organized Mom and a mother of two in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Here are some ideas from the pros that’ll help you get it together so you have time for what matters most:

Write it down. Keep your to-dos organized and you’ll automatically save time, says Nina Restieri, founder of MomAgenda, a professional organizer, and a mom of four in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. She’s a fan of having one master list where you can jot down all of your must-dos. "For long-term, non-urgent projects, such as creating photo albums, I write those tasks down on a separate list," she says.

Do deliveries and drive-throughs. Whether it’s groceries, prescriptions, or dry cleaning, if they offer delivery or have a drive-through window, use it. Also, group errands geographically, so you’re not running all over town (the environment will thank you for using less fuel, too).

Try a meal routine. Every Monday is baked chicken, Tuesday is lasagna, Wednesday is tacos, and so on. "It makes grocery shopping go much faster," says Restieri. You can also cook a couple of dishes on Sunday night and freeze portions for the week.

Set up a laundry schedule. Try to do baby’s laundry every other day. If you let it pile up, notes Crew, and suddenly it’s a huge time suck you’ll dread. Have a week when you’re completely overwhelmed? Bail on laundry and borrow clothes from pals whose kids outgrew theirs.

Create zones in the nursery. Set up different areas for changing, sleeping, rocking and reading, and playing, and then group like things together to eliminate clutter. For instance, keep the hamper and diaper stacker next to the changing table, the bookshelf next to the rocker. Also, keep only the clothes that are relevant in the dresser and use clear, labeled containers to store overflow—outgrown sizes in one and bigger sizes in another.

Organize your diaper bag. Use clear Ziploc bags: one for little things (such as the nasal aspirator and nail clippers); another with diapers and wipes; and another for your personal items.

Pack a sanity saver in your car. Keep extra diapers, wipes, some granola bars and bottled water, and an extra change of clothes—for both you and baby—in your trunk. "If you’re at the playground and you get hungry or need to change your child’s shirt, you’re all set," says Crew.

Tackle it the night before. Restock your diaper bag, empty the dishwasher, and catch up on email before you hit the sack. There’s something energizing about starting the day with a clean slate; you’ll be revved to do lots more.

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