10 Tips to Cheat 20 Minutes of Sleep

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10 Easy Shortcuts to Cheat at least another 20 Minutes into Your Crazy Day

These are shortcuts I would never want you to tell my mother about, but I do recommend them if you are feeling bonkers and cannot keep up with life’s amazing catapulting pace.  They require more than the usual  “go with the flow” attitude and lack of fascination with what others think of you.

  1.  This is an easy one that I am sure you already know about- Let the dog and cat drink out of the toilet bowl when they are out of water.  They will figure it out rather quickly.  This saves 45 seconds a day, which is about how long we get alone in the bathroom before the kids discover we are hiding in there.  Share it with the dog.
  2. Boiling pasta does not make the big spaghetti pot dirty.  Don’t wash it out afterwards.  It is just water, and the next time I use the big pot, it is for pasta anyway because that is all my 12-year old will eat 4 nights a week.  This saves you 3 minutes every other night.
  3. If the dog happens to get to the cat’s litter box before we get it scooped, I look the other way.  I know you are grossed out, but after the dog does it about 23 times, you lose that immediate repulsion and see the benefit.  He has saved us a step.  His breath is disgustingly, morbidly awful, but hello- he is a dog.  It is unpleasant in the first place to put your face near his.  This saves you 10 minutes each week if you don’t spend too much time distracted by how nasty his breath is.
  4. This one is comparatively much easier.  If the dog happens to pre-wash the dishes in the dishwasher, I don’t say anything either unless I have company… in which case the poor dog is confused and gets an irate scolding.  They are eating off of your dishes- it is important to present a clean front for them (I suddenly hear all the dinner invitations I have out to friends being rejected as they read this…).  I am not advocating an ill-trained dog as a time saver.  Just pick your battles with your dog and remember that he can be of assistance rather than just a dog food recycler in your household.  I hate washing dishes before I put them in the dishwasher.  Did I buy a “dishwasher” at Sears or not, for heaven’s sake?  This one saves a lot of extra time each day, probably 9-13 minutes a day that you could be sleeping!
  5. I am ok with thawing meat out on the counter if I have not thought out far ahead enough to thaw it in the refrigerator.  Really do NOT tell your mom (or my ex-mother-in-law) about this one: Last night I was looking for the hamburger I thought I (acting with more forethought than usual) set in a bowl in the fridge to thaw.  I couldn’t find it.  My daughter found it in the cupboard with the other bowls…  Hmmmm, big dilemma here.  Should I start over with new hamburger for tacos or risk botulism?  It was 5:45 already.  You know me well enough by now to know what I did.  Everyone lived.  It all worked out just fine.  You can do it too.  I give you permission to save food prep time and thaw out your meat on the counter.
  6. If my kids forget their a) lunch, b) mittens, c) coat, d) homework, etc., I do not bring it to them.  This is actually not laziness but good parenting, as it promotes natural consequences for my kids.  They will remember next time and won’t a) starve, b) get frostbite, c)f reeze, or d) flunk out of school and end up unemployed living on my couch when they are 25 years old.  I have actually never brought anything to my kids at school, so they do not expect me to save their little butts.  My daughter wore slippers and socks to pre-school often enough that she figured out a system for herself to keep shoes in the car and thus on her feet.  This one saves you 3-75 minutes a day depending on your current habits.
  7. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I bring my dog in the car with me periodically to help clean it out (everybody in my household pulls some weight, no one gets a free ride!).  He is much better skilled than I am at getting the gold fish and old granola bar chunks jammed down between the seats.  Remember the important last part though:  roll all the windows down and keep your mouth shut during the last 10 minutes while you drive really fast.  All the dog hair he leaves behind swirls up in a cyclone and flies around the car, eventually getting sucked out the windows (don’t wear lipgloss).  This honestly works, and saves you 2-17 minutes each week that you could use meditating new ways to get your dog to operate the vacuum cleaner.
  8. Never match up your socks again.  Ask your kids to do it.  Grade-schoolers think it is cool, and your teenager needs more chores to do.  I have not met a teenager who pulls their weight in their home, including mine!  No matter who does it, they will do a mediocre job.  That is ok.  Let go of your socks matching exactly and enjoy 13 more minutes a week in the shower- use the eucalyptus-mint body scrub.
  9. Never hem anything (as if you considered doing this in the first place!).  Use double-sided tape instead.  If a button falls off, you can use it there too.  Just use new tape between wash cycles to avoid pulling a Janet Jackson.
  10. Let your kids make dinner once a week without your help.  Don’t worry, jelly toast is a perfectly square meal if they add carrot sticks and milk.  This saves you 20 minutes a week and many migraines later when the precious little bobbins are taller than you but still live at home, expecting you to cook them dinner while they sit on the couch texting friends and playing Xbox because they don’t know how to take care of themselves.

You will notice I did not recommend you put makeup on while driving.  It is too dangerous, and your kids are watching your habits anyway.  Allowing the dog to help out with the litter box is one thing to let slide, but not safety and careful, obvious, heart-felt care for you and your family.

I don’t know if these tips add up to 20 minutes or not, I just used that line as a way of tricking myself to think I was writing a very important article for Self magazine.  Just try to sleep as much as possible with the extra time you have saved with all of these heart-warming tricks.  We could sleep even more hours (like  maybe even 7!) if we just “let it go” a little more often.  That is the theme here of course, let go and relax.  You are already good enough…


    1. Well, without a dog you miss out on so many precious moment, that is true… I will send you a picture of Max dining from the litter box.

  1. Hysterically funny. I was going to hem my skirt. Now will not. Ever. Bravo, Anne! This is so good, love it!

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