It’s not easy being a parent, particularly of young children. Whether you have one, three, five or more children, the premise is the same: It’s your job to provide 24/7 care for these little people. How do you do this without becoming completely exhausted? Here are some energy-saving ideas:

1. Chunking. This simply means mentally dividing your life into chunks instead of a thousand little to-dos which can easily overwhelm you. For example, all you have to do today is get the kids ready, run errands, play with them, and orchestrate the evening routine.

2. Buy in bulk twice a year. Call your local big-box store or retailer of choice and ask when they have their best sales each year. Plan to shop only during those periods and buy every non-perishable item you think you’ll need for the entire year. For example, toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, diapers, wipes, cornstarch baby powder, toilet paper, paper towels (or extra dish cloths, a more environmentally friendly choice), trash bags, lotion, birthday/holiday cards, etc. This will save you so many hours of shopping and gallons of gas that you would have spent on frequent trips to the store.

3. Delegate. You’re not the only one living in your house so why should you do everything? Enlist your family to help you. Some families make a list of chores and post it on the refrigerator. Each family member (or if your kids are little, just you and your partner) chooses the chore they like best – or the chore they find the least objectionable.

4. Say “yes” to everything. Sounds crazy, but hear me out. The more you say yes to things, the more friends you will have. The more friends you make, the more help you will receive when you need it. Give what you need and eventually it will come back to you.

5. Don’t do everything for them. Okay, if your kids are very little you more or less have to do everything for them. But if they are around three years or older, teach them to do things for themselves. The sooner they are self-sufficient, the easier your life will be. Plus this helps your children build self-esteem when they can do things for themselves.

6. Stick to the routine and you’ll reap the rewards. Do you have friends whose kids go to bed late at night or whenever they want to? They need sleep and you need time to yourself and time with your partner. Enforce a consistent bedtime policy each night and watch how easy it becomes to put them to bed.

7. Be flexible. Make a daily to-do list but be prepared to ditch it if something more fun comes along. Or, with kids, you never know who is going to get sick at the last minute, act like a crybaby, or just feel clingy. Your main job is to be there for them; the rest of it can wait.

Most importantly, remember that they are only young for a short time. Ask any empty-nester and they’ll tell you that time goes by so quickly. Be sure to take some time each and every single day to focus on and really notice just how precious your children are.

Katie B. Marsh is author of The Parenting Game Plan: Negotiate, Compromise and Explore the Parenting Journey Together. A Unique Workbook to Help New and Expectant Parents.

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