Let’s face it- life as a
mom grown-up can be busy and all-too difficult. Throughout the course of the day, there are so many things that require our attention, and if we don’t stay on top of them life can start to feel sort of overwhelming. With new Baby Girl on the way, I decided to share a few shortcuts in hopes that you may have some words of wisdom to share back with me. Let’s get started!
- Streamline your tupperware… and anything else that’s a hot mess. This past year, after a plastic food container avalanche nearly cost me my eyesight (and sanity), I decided to nix all the mismatched cups and lids to start afresh. I invested in two different types of food storage containers, one set of bowls and one set of plastic boxes, so that they would nest neatly in my cabinet and always have a top to match. After doing some research, I decided to go with the inexpensive containers that a lot of restaurants use for carry-out food. I have loved how easily these stack in my fridge and cabinet, and their low cost frees me from freaking out every time I lose a lid or bowl. This same method also proved to be helpful while organizing my spice cabinet. In lieu of a million mismatched and weirdly stacked bottles, I invested in uniform glass spice jars that I labeled and alphabetized in a drawer next to my stovetop. Life in my kitchen feels so much less cluttered just by instituting these two hacks. You can check out the tupperware I prefer here and here and see the spice jars I purchased here!
- Buy baby wipes and keep them everywhere. I longed for the day my children would be out of diapers, but soon after George had finished potty training, I found myself instinctually reaching for that ever-present bin of baby wipes. Perfect for sticky fingers, milk spills, and cleaning washable crayons off the wall, baby wipes are one of the strongest tools in my arsenal of Mom hacks. I keep a container hidden in almost every room, and it has made keeping my house free from stains and smudges so much simpler. A friend of mine says this same trick applies with disinfecting wipes in the bathrooms. If you’ve got young boys (or a lazy husband) who can’t keep the seat clean, a tub of antibacterial wipes might save you some germs and heartache.
- Run your dishwasher OFTEN. Nothing gives me the hives more than a sink full of dirty dishes. As a food blogger and Mom of two, it seems the dirty dishes never stop. Instead of letting a mountain of disgustingness grow in my sink or countertop, I load and run my dishwasher often and let my detergent of choice, Cascade pure essentials, do the work. With its seriously tough performance and simplified formula, Cascade pure essentials works hard for a reliable clean that I can feel good about using in my home. Free of phosphates and chlorine bleach, this liquid-top detergent is infused with essential oils for a citrus-clean scent, and it totally keeps my dishes sparkling. I finally have a detergent I can trust, now if I could just find someone to unload the dishwasher for me…
- Keep a stocked diaper bag in every car. I’m not just talking a minimal diaper and wipe situation, here. This is a serious tool bag that should stay well-stocked with anything your little
mongrelsangels might need- a change of clothes, toys, packaged snacks, bottled water, antibacterial wipes, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, washable markers and paper, and maybe even a treat or two for Mom and Dad. We keep a blanket, extra socks, and even a few suckers in ours, because you just never know, okay? Having a stocked bag in every car prevents a last-minute misplacement of the essential items, and if you don’t have an extra tote to fill, a couple of grocery bags or XL plastic bags will do the trick.
- Share a calendar with all the grown people in your home. A friend of mine says that the joint calendar saved her marriage. Now there’s no mistaking who won’t be coming home for dinner, when the dance recital is, or when you need to mentally prepare for the in-laws to come into town. A joint calendar will help keep you and your significant other on the same page, organized within the context of digital days. We use iCal, but you can opt for any interface that syncs best with your life. Along the same lines, check out apps like AnyList and Wunderlist for joining grocery lists, to-do lists, and other errands.
- Keep shoes conveniently close. Nothing kills me like rushing out the door only to be frantically hunting for the match to someone’s shoe. We are overrun with bitty shoes in our house and making a close and convenient home for them by the door of our house has made life so much easier. Grab a basket (or even a shallow laundry hamper!) to throw in a coat closet, garage, or hidden corner near the door for little humans to deposit their shoes when they come inside. Having a permanent, convenient home for all the little feet coverings will minimize the number of times you have to play hide and seek on your way out the door.
- Make a home for the toys in the living room. When there are little people on the loose, toys are bound to make their way into the common areas of the home. We don’t have a designated toy room or play area in our house which means miniature cars, baby dolls, and books wind up EVERYWHERE. To maintain some order, we established two semi-concealed baskets in the living room for toys to be gathered. Having a designated catch-all space for stray trinkets and stuffed animals has served as an excellent learning tool for my toddlers (“Put all of the toys back into the baskets!”) and also makes for simple group clean-up when friends come to play with their kids. If everyone knows where the living room toys go, it takes some of that stress off of Mom.
- Make leftovers cook dinner for you. I’m not really into meal planning. I tried it for a short time, but found myself frustrated when ingredients went bad, cravings changed, or when a last minute change of plans found us eating out instead. Now, when preparing dinner, I look to double or increase the portion I make of certain foods that I know can be repurposed later on in the week. For example- if I’m grilling chicken, I throw on a few extra pounds of meat because I know I can freeze or refrigerate whatever I don’t use for later. Extra rice, quinoa, couscous, and other grains can be tossed with vinaigrette for tomorrow’s salad or the weekend’s stir fry. Extra roasted vegetables taste great on pizza, in grain bowls, or pureed into a little baby’s snack pack. I love to cook in bulk when it comes to items I lean on regularly (meatballs! veggie soups! chili! cookies!) and save myself some time down the road.
- Invest in a hand vac… and more than one broom. Make clean-up easier in your house by having the right tools at your disposal. Cordless vacuum cleaners make crumbly messes on your sofa, the stairs, and upholstered dining room chairs a cinch! Instead of brushing messes between the cushions of your couch or into the grain of your rugs, lean on a tiny hand vac instead. In addition, keeping a broom and dustpan close to entry doors, the kitchen, and any areas where kids may snack or leave dirty messes on the floor will keep you from running from one end of the house to another. You’ll stay on top of the messes if they’re quick to clean up and it will make for an overall cleaner house.
- Keep a basket of snacks (and a basket of treats!) ready for action. Having ready-to-go snacks bagged and ready for snatching will make getting out of the door easier. We keep a basket of pre-packed snacks, bars, dried fruit, trail mix, etc. ready to throw into my purse to keep little bellies full while we’re on-the-go. If you have a designated bin or basket for them in your pantry, there’s not mistaken what type of “snack” your kiddo can grab for themselves when you’re occupied too! Likewise, we keep a dessert basket for the little people who have won themselves a special nibble. It makes for a great catch-all for Halloween candy, birthday party goodie bag treats, and those little peppermints that grandparents and the old ladies at church are constantly throwing our way.
So what are your Mom hacks? Tell me all of your tips and products that help you to meet your family’s needs the best! With Baby Girl on the way, I need all the intel I can get, so share away! Many thanks to Cascade for sponsoring this post! High fives to you all for supporting brands that make Wood & Spoon possible.