When people ask me what my secret is to getting things done, I say, “Be home!” The main reason that I am able to accomplish what I do is that I am home more often than I am not.

When you’re home, you can take care of your to-do list.

You’re not too tired to work on what needs to be done because you’re exhausted from running errands. There is something about being in the car and driving around that usually leaves one feeling exhausted. I try to avoid that feeling by being home more.

Now, we all have things that we need to buy, such as food and clothing. We also have places that we need to take our children (and ourselves).

However, it is a myth that you need to leave the house every day in order to be happy. In fact, I find that I am happiest when I have crossed things off my to-do list–that aren’t errands–and that when I do run errands, I don’t always have time to get things done at home, which leads to my feeling unsatisfied with the day.

How can we spend less time away from home? Here are my five suggestions:

1. Shop less often

For food: When you go shopping and find a great deal, buy more of it so that you don’t need to go to the store as often. Buy enough eggs to last for 4-6 weeks. Buy more apples and oranges in season and keep them cool so that you can make them last longer. I bought 152 pounds of oranges and over 60 pounds of apples in December when they were on sale. (Oranges were 19 cents a pound!) By doing this, I don’t need to buy fresh fruit every week. Grow a garden to keep yourself from needing to go to the store as often. Keep a well-stocked pantry.

For clothing: Make a good list of what you need, including the number of each item. For example, you know your child needs 5 short-sleeved shirts, 5 long-sleeved shirts, 2 sweaters, a jacket, a coat, 5 pairs of shorts and 5 pairs of long pants for the year in the next size up. Rather than going to multiple stores several times, try reducing your shopping trips.

Look online for clearance deals if you’re planning on buying new. Often you can find a free shipping code, and if not, shipping may be equal to or less than the cost of gas to get to the store. Plus, you can browse multiple stores online for the best prices without having to go anywhere, and it can be done in a shorter amount of time than it would have taken you to drive somewhere.

If you plan on buying used, plan a couple of trips to the thrift store a year, rather than going every week. If you find the thrift store too expensive and prefer to shop at garage sales, try going to neighborhood garage sales to get what you need, so that you can spend less days shopping and get to more sales at once. You can also check Craig’s List for garage sales that list clothing in the sizes that you need.

For toiletries: Again, stock up when sales and coupons line up for what you need. This keeps you from needing to run to the store because you’re out of toilet paper or feminine hygiene items. Buy enough to last you for a while so that you always have what you need on hand.

2. Combine errands

One of the things that I have noticed while gardening in my front yard is how often my neighbors leave during the day. These are not people with small children, who are taking them to school or lessons. These are people whose children have grown–and yet they leave the house 5 times a day, every day.

We live close to many stores. Instead of going to one store, coming home and unloading everything, and then going to another store, combine your errands. When you do need to go to the store, plan your route so that you only have to be exhausted once.  Go to the library or run an errand that doesn’t involve perishables first. Make your route using the least gas and time from there. Keep a cooler and cold bags in the car so that you can keep perishables cold in between stores. When you come home to unload, you’ll be done for the day.

3. Carpool

Are your children involved in activities with other children who live nearby? Rather than wasting time and gas taking them to and picking them up from everything, talk to other parents about carpooling to school, youth groups, and Scouts. You’ll only have to drive sometimes, leaving you with more time to take care of your projects at home

4. Find another way

Find a music teacher who comes to your house for lessons. Have your child ride his bicycle to his friend’s house or a Scout meeting. Ask your spouse to run your errand on the way home (for example, my husband’s office is not far from the library, so he can easily return books for us without going far out of the way, saving us gas and time). Renew library books online so that you can make fewer trips to the library.

 

5. Be Organized

For each store at which I shop, I made a list of the items that I normally buy at that store. I then put them in the order in which I shop that store. For example, I usually shop the grocery store by first going to the produce department, then to the meat department, and then to the dairy department (I rarely purchase anything from the center aisles). By writing a list of items that I usually purchase at that store (when they on sale), I can print that list and highlight the items I’ll be buying that trip. This saves me time making a list and time walking around the store–plus, by looking at the list, I might be reminded of something else I need at that store that I would otherwise have forgotten–which keeps me from needing to return to the store for just one thing.  The organized list also helps me to keep from backtracking all the way across the store for one more thing, which can shorten my shopping time by as much as 10-20 minutes.

 

6. Play at home

Rather than taking endless trips to the park or another place to play, find fun in your own backyard. This can be as simple as playing in the snow, watching lady bugs, catching grasshoppers, turning cartwheels, or reading a book in the shade.

If you add play equipment, your young children can easily run outside to play. Every day, someone is jumping on the in-ground trampoline, playing on the swings, or spinning on the merry-go-round at my house. Our swings are higher than the ones at the park, and no parks here have a merry-go-round. My husband and his brother built the swing set and the merry-go-round, and I’m so glad they did, as they are wonderful for keeping my children active and occupied. Once chores are done, they can easily run outside and play–while I make dinner. If the dinner is a meal that I can put in the oven and walk away from for a while, I can go outside and push them on the swings, cut something fresh from the garden, or pull a few weeds.

What tips do you have for running about less and enjoying life at home more?

Other posts in this series:

My Schedule

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25 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for the info about Sams Club pulling items for you! I am going to start using that. I work more hours than my SO and that would be a great way for him to pick up what I need and make it easier for him. What we have been doing is I make a list and print it out, but then it takes him a long time to walk around looking for things and sometimes he’s not exactly sure what he is even looking for! 🙂

  2. I am so grateful for this post Brandy! My family and I have been staying home a lot more as a result of shopping and eating out very little and being overall more mindful of gas expenditure, ect. However, we had to combat the mindset that we were “lying around” or being somehow less active by not being out and about. We love to be at home and are realizing it’s totally ok! The house is clean, we enjoy our pets, sewing, cooking and soon will have a container garden too. I work three 12 hour shifts, so for my days off relaxing at home is great. I am productive and active and get to spend time with family. I think people run around shopping and avoid going home because sometimes home is chaotic, especially when not tended to. The beautiful new things in the stores are an escape. You have offered great tips on how to love our home and make it a true place of respite.

  3. Probably you have said this before, but do you have two refrigerators? I couldn’t keep all that fruit and eggs with just the one. We have chickens and when thry are laying a lot, I end up with lots of eggs and not much else in the fridge!

  4. I recently broke my right foot (dropped the slowcooker insert on it – be careful of those things!) – and I also ended up needing surgery to repair the tendon. As a result, I was not able to drive for six weeks. At first, I couldn’t figure out how my life was going to function – 4 kids, suburbia – panic! But the funny thing is that it did work out – we combined errands, carpooled, and I just pretty much stayed home during the day. After the initial pain had subsided, I found that I rather enjoyed my quiet days at home. I can’t say that I was super-productive, hobbling around with a big boot and all, but it was strangely gratifying. Especially in the lead-up to Christmas, I realized how much calmer it was just baking and preparing at home, rather than dealing with crowded stores and irritable shoppers. It was a very revealing experience all in all – and even now that I can drive again, I find that I am doing so far less often.

  5. Dear Miss Brandy and readers,Thank you for posting views that may be different from the views of your readers (referring to facebook posting regarding this post). I have noticed more and more blogs only posting the “positive” feedback on their blogs. (I don’t mean a blogger should post negative comments that sound personal or attacking.) I like to hear from different points of view as well–as long as it is said with respect. I appreciate that you, Miss Brandy, allow readers to make comments that are different from your point of view. My life has been so difficult of late and sometimes “different” points of view either have taught me a valuable lesson or made me appreciate my life a bit more.I love this blog and the readers. I love that we can share our own perspective in a respectful manner. I love that Miss Brandy will post comments that might be a bit “controversial’ but that she tries to explain her position or clarify her thoughts on a topic too. University professors are called professors because they “profess.” Sometimes professors “profess” different points of view that creates a lively debate in a classroom but the overall goal is to learn from each other. I personally like blogs that are real and relate to me as a real person. I like lively debates because I learn from divergent views as well. Thank you Miss Brandy for presenting information in a different light and thank you to readers who share different points of view as well. I am learning to be frugal and to be a better homemaker from all the knowledge readers share on this blog.Respectfully,Anna

  6. My husband mows when he thinks it needs it, not on a schedule. Don’t know if I should admit this or not…but I’ve never mowed a lawn in my life. Or used a snowblower or rototiller. In fact I read this earlier while my mother was here and my sister and other female (older) relatives and asked them. They said the same thing. “That’s brothers work” they all laughed. My oldest daughter and two of her cousins did a collective eye roll at us! She said the days of brothers work and sisters work is over, it’s just work.

  7. Oh, your comment has really moved me! I am glad that you are so well! I hope I can do the same with my less agreable chores, I will certainly try! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  8. Since I work all week, I love being able to stay home on Saturdays. I rarely get to do it, but I did today. It has been wonderful. I decided that I could wait until tomorrow after church to get my groceries, since I would be out anyway. I get so much more done knowing I don’t have to go anywhere.

  9. My favorite thing besides the convenience is that I can price check on the computer. For example the last time I ordered flour the Bakers and Chefs 25lb bag was 59cents a pound. The Gold Medal AP flour 10lb bag was 49 cents a lb. If I was in the store I might have grabbed the bigger one because I was in a hurry, but since I had a second to look I was able to do the math!

  10. I finally learned to be content with my home and life when I stopped mall shopping, watching decorating shows and reading home magazines. These things(in my opinion) exist only to breed discontentment .

  11. “One size does not fit all.” When I served my mission for the church, that was the one phrase our mission president used with some frequency. And it’s a credit to you, Brandy, that you have readers that feel comfortable enough to share their personal experiences and choices, even when they don’t align with yours.My husband and I are in that stage of life where our children are grown and out of the house, scattered all over the country. It’s just the two of us. We both work five days a week at our respective careers, and we both have church callings that occupy much of our free time. Sunday is for church and relaxing, and Saturday is the day we run whatever errands we couldn’t do during the week, and enjoy whatever activity we’ve planned for ourselves. We love our home, but, we also enjoy being out and about, too.But as I think back, we did a lot with our children away from home, too. Church activities, parks, museums, trips to the library for books and special events, community sponsored events, sports, vacations/visiting relatives. When our children were at home, my life was quite different. I stayed home with my children until the youngest was in school all day, then I went to work during the hours they were in school. I woke them up in the morning, made breakfast and packed lunches, dropped them off at school, then headed to the office. I was the one who picked them up after school, and I made sure I never missed a school concert, play, sporting event or conference. We could have allowed the children to take the school bus to and from school, with me waiting for them at the front door, but we did not want them exposed to some of the less than ideal behavior we knew existed on those buses. Nothing very alarming, just not in line with how we lived our lives. I always felt our Heavenly Father blessed me with my career, one that I could use to help others, and I felt I needed to share it with those outside my immediate family. When the time came that my youngest was off to school full time, he guided me to a position that fit our family perfectly. I had to be extremely organized in order to get everything done that needed to be done, as well as keep our home in order. My husband had what he called his “Honey Do” list, and my four boys and one girl each had their daily chores. This lifestyle worked for us, with much help from our Heavenly Father, of course. I try never to forget that some mothers simply have to work. They don’t have a choice–they don’t live near family that can help them out, or perhaps their families are in the same financial position. They don’t have a yard to grow their own food, or they live in a city with no community gardening plots, and never have enough money to stock up during sales, and therefore aren’t able to can or preserve. Many families truly live pay check to pay check, having already cut expenses to the bone. For those families, the difference between living in their cars or in a shelter means mother going to work. It is never the ideal situation, and must only be undertaken, I feel, after much prayer, but many families, especially those in major cities and nearby low income communities, truly, sincerely, have no choice. I know that you realize this, Brandy, as do your regular readers. I just I needed to voice my feelings on the matter. Once again, you caused me to ponder. Thank you!

  12. Last summer when I moved to a new city and was out of work, I mowed my lawn by hand. All my neighbors hired a landscape guy who came once a week and mowed everybody’s lawn but mine. The guy charges $40 per lawn. We all have big lawns, so I would usually do mine over the course of several days when it needed it (not every week). There is no way I would pay so much to have it done, and I felt good about saving the $$$ for other household needs. Now that I’m working, I’m slowly turning my yard into an edible garden so I’ll have even less to mow.

  13. This is something I fight within myself. I don’t like to be home everyday. When I went 5 months with no car, I went for a really long walk every day.At times I am running from a messy house, at times I do just need a break from the kids. Mostly I am just a very social personality, and I need to spend time with othersI have one child like me who needs more friend time and one that would stay home 7 days a week. I am trying to compromise and make a schedule that accounts for when we will be gone that way everyone knows what to expect.

  14. Thank you for your wonderful comment!Just a note for those to whom what I said may not be clear: the point of the post is to spend less time running errands so that you have more time to accomplish the things you want to do at home. Whether you are a homemaker, work full-time, have children small or grown or not at all isn’t the point of the post. It’s about making the most of the time that you have by being more efficient with your errands.

  15. Ugg. This is so true! I’ve not felt well for a month…flu, bronchitis, yuck. I simply did not have the energy to do once a week shopping trips for groceries, etc. If there was a few small items I needed, I ran to the next town and quickly picked up just those items. Well….today I’m almost totally recovered and was preparing for my regular once a week shopping trip. And I found myself dreading it!!! I was gone a total of 2-1/2 hours, 40 or so minutes of this being drive time. I’m thinking I’m going to try to do a “big” shopping trip every other week and see how it goes…..maybe I can get down to once a month! 🙂 I am “in the city” one other evening a week so I can always take advantage of sales at one particular store. I wouldn’t care to do the big trip on these nights as I get home a little later than usual and would have to put away all that stuff.

  16. I first went to once a week shopping to once every other week shopping. That 2 1/2 hours that you save twice a week–so 5 hours total–would be wonderful for you to accomplish something else on your want-to-do-list. Eventually I started shopping once a month, and that gave me so much more time in my schedule. I wish you the best as you seek to shop less often!

  17. I don’t like to be gone at night since I am gone during the day for work. When the children were young we had a piano teacher that came to the house. That really helped. We’re active with church, but since I work there all day, I always limited my own group and committee involvement. I have to be on the Christian Ed committee and then I pick and choose throughout the year what other things work. So basically I am home daily from 4p on. I am a night person so that leaves me 7 hours or more every evening. Sunday is church only, not for errands. I can run errands at noon or on way to work, and basically don’t have lots of errands to begin with. I do like to grocery shop first thing Saturday a.m. It may be more crowded but it is also the time that the store is fully staffed and they are doing the samples. It may be quieter at night, but then only one checkout lane is open and it is harder to find help and the stockers aren’t there to get you stuff that might not be on the shelf. I found by having the children do the same things (which will not work out for everyone, I know) that saved too many trips to various venues…they all did piano, all did cross country, all did 4H. Once the oldest got his license he took over the high school route so I did not have to pick up and drop off there any more. In good weather it was in walking distance of my school so they could always walk over after school and wait for me.My husbands schedule is really odd. He can be gone on a job 1 hour up to his longest was 3 weeks. That is for one job. His woodworking business is out on our property…that can send him all over also with deliveries and client meetings. He will run errands for me if I leave him a list with instructions and coupons.

  18. Not sure if this is an option for you situation, but has your husband considered bike commuting since it’s only a 5 min drive?? This would free up time for you, be easier with one vehicle, save a little bit of gas money and vehicle wear and tear, AND be great exercise that fits into the day rather than requiring ‘extra’ time.

  19. Okay, so I’d never heard of an in-ground trampoline, so I had to look it up. Wow! That is so cool. I had no idea people did that…sounds so much nicer and safer! My question to you is how you pulled it off inexpensively. The prices I see online are outrageous, so I know that unless it was a gift, you did it cheaply somehow! Please tell! : )

  20. Sam’s Club! At the time you could buy them without the surround (which doubles the price) and I believe we paid $150 for it. You don’t need the net surround when they’re in ground. We have had to replace parts of it since then twice; we kept the frame and then ordered replacement parts online from Trampoline Parts and Supplies. The sun is really hard on them here and wears them out much faster than in other places.One thing you should know, though–most homeowner’s insurance companies won’t cover you if you have a trampoline. Our previous insurer dropped us when they came to do an inspection and saw the trampoline and merry-go-round.Our insurance agent said there were two companies that would cover us with one–and when they do, they also EXCLUDE the trampoline. I pay more for insurance to be able to have a policy to keep the trampoline. That’s something a lot of people don’t realize (I certainly didn’t!) My children use it every day, so it’s worth it to me to have them active and happy and getting out all of that energy! I just looked outside and someone is on it right now!

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