Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tips, tricks, and products that will make your (mommy) life a little easier.

With three little ones, I could have it a lot worse than what I do. I have a lot of people who come to me for advice on how to still manage a household while staying on a schedule and taking care of their kids. I can't count how many times I've sat and wondered why people ask me that, especially since I have so many days that I'm in tears once every one is in bed because the day has just been so insane. I've already done a bit on scheduling and I don't feel like that is something that really needs to be gone into in depth again, but I will touch on it. The following list is just some tips and tricks, plus a few products, that make my life a little easier and I think most moms will benefit from.

  • Sort and organize: Cleaning with kids around isn't easy. However, I'm the obnoxious mom who gets a little irritated with the moms who compare cleaning with kids to brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. It shouldn't be that way. Kids react to the environment around them. Throw them into a room that has toys piled up where they can't even tell what they are, trash all over the floor, broken toys taking up space just because, and dirty clothes scattered about and kids will act NUTS. I mean they will tear more stuff up, they will climb on furniture, hit each other, and just act barbaric. This is because chaos is all around them so they act chaotic. The easiest way to prevent this and encourage independent PLAY and not just following mom around all day is to just organize things and help them learn to keep them that way. It doesn't take a big budget to do this, most of us have enough stuff around to do it spending nothing or very little. Don't just clean rooms when someone is coming over or when the mess is so much that you almost break your neck walking in. Instead, do a 15 minute clean every couple of hours. This prevents you from having to do a 1 hour clean later on. EVERY day, take a handful of Walmart or grocery store bags into your kids room and pick up trash. Involve them in this. Make it a fun thing to do and do it constantly, and they will eventually do it on their own. If a toy is broken, throw it away. Talk to them and let them know it serves no purpose now, it is broken. As parents we tend to hold onto our children's toys forever because of the attachment we have to them. What most people don't realize is you have an attachment to the memory, not to the toy. So let it go. Use clear organizers (I use Rubbermaid) and put them in an accessible spot. I line ours up. Each box has only certain toys in it. Using my boys' room as an example, we sort like this: Superheroes and action figures in one box. Cars and trucks in one box. Tools in a toolbox. Stuffed animals on the bed. Its simple and because the boxes are clear, they don't feel the need to dump a box out to get the toy they're looking for. They always know where they are and how to get to them. Buy a container with a lid attached and you can put these boxes up in the closet or somewhere they can't get into and if you don't want the toys out, they can't get to them. We also have one designated shelf for "big" toys that can't fit into boxes like our singing Mickeys, Spiderman and Batman town sets, and remote control cars. Another good idea for kids old enough to have things like this around without hurting themselves is to put figures in a sandwich bag and store them with the things they go with. My daughter has a Cinderella castle and it has lots of little add ons that don't have another place to go. So instead of putting them somewhere else and having them get lost, we take all of Cinderella's furniture and accessories and put them in a sandwich bag, and then we put the bag inside the castle. Same goes for Captain Hook's ship and all the pirates it came with, and Spiderman and the Bat Cave. This can be carried on into the family room or anywhere that toys are played with a lot, and here you can take it a step further. Get an organizer (or in my case, three) and put each child's picture on the front of the box. Because these don't have to be as durable, you can use a shoebox, a bucket, or even a large storage bag. I personally like to use the huge Ziploc bags and then stick them all into a clear organizer. Once the child has their picture on the container, place the toys that they play with the most in that area into it. When a guest announces an unexpected visit, all you have to do is have the child find all of their toys that are out and put them into the designated container. Easy! I could go on and on about this because it is truly a lifesaver. It can be done in every room of the house with various things (bath stuff, snacks, art stuff, etc). Just have a place that the child knows to use for their things, and it will be used. If you have a child that has an allergy or kids that always complain about wanting a different snack than the other child, you can make boxes or bags with the child's name or picture (just anything that lets them recognize that it belongs to them) and then place their favorite snacks in them. When they want a snack and have permission to get one, they can just go grab one and there is no worry on mom's end. 

  • Stop being brand loyal: This is something I see people do too often and its just ridiculous. We associate being a good mom with using the most high end products on our children. That is just dumb. I'm sorry, but it is. An amazing mom can take the cheapest most useless products and make them something great that their children can benefit from. A few things I don't worry about "splurging on" include wipes (not for diaper changing but for clean up), disinfectant spray, shampoo, paper plates, and juice. I am brand loyal when it comes to wipes for changing my baby, but when it comes to wiping hands, faces, and bellies throughout the day, cheap wipes are the way to go. I can buy a refill pack of Huggies wipes to use for diaper changes and have it last me a month because I use cheaper wipes for clean up jobs. Parent's Choice, Dollar General, Up & Up... These wipes are all great. They don't always hold up as well on diaper changes (most people report having to use twice as many wipes to get the job done when they are using cheaper brands, which means you end up buying wipes MUCH quicker than usual which eventually defeats the purpose of buying the cheaper brand!), but when it comes to getting sticky hands clean again and getting spaghetti off faces, they work just fine. Because kids tend to get sick so often, most moms will keep disinfectant spray and wipes around at all times. Buying those cans of Lysol can get pretty expensive though, so I grab off brand disinfectant. I can get three cans of DG brand spray for the same price I can get one can of Lysol and it is just as effective and still has a great scent. Shampoo might have some readers going "WHHHHHAAAATTTT?" but let me explain. Kids get a lot of baths. And most of them don't do a hole heck of a lot. You just wash it to make it look pretty on most days and to make it smell nice. I mean, most of them don't even have much hair. So I don't always get Johnson & Johnson's or whatever else I might want to pick up because they go through it SO quickly. There are lots of less pricey versions of kid's shampoo that smell just as yummy and obviously clean their hair just as well. Paper plates and juice pretty much get the same explanation. They're both things we go through a ton of and buying the most expensive brand would just not be cost effective. My off brand juices contain less sugar than the more well known brands which is an added plus. Paper plates (if you use them) get really expensive especially considering you just trash them afterwards. Most of what my kids eat off of them are small light things like sandwiches or snacks, so even the less sturdy cheap plates can be used. Of course I wouldn't serve them pasta on them, but for most kid's meals, they're fine.

  • Meal plans: This is one of those things that if you don't do it, you're just going to slap yourself for not thinking of it. Make a meal plan every week and you'll never have to panic over what you're going to make for dinner and whether or not you have every thing you need to make it. Plan out every meal you'll make, not just dinner, and when you're done making the meal plan for the week, make a list beside each meal of the ingredients you need to make it. Then you can compile a grocery list and go to the store once a week and get EVERY thing you need. You can do this by the month, by the week, or bi-monthly; whatever works for you. Every night before you go to bed, check your meal plan and make sure you don't need to lay anything out to thaw for the next day. This will save you the midday panic tomorrow when you remember you were supposed to lay out those pork chops :)

  • Stay consistent with your timing: Obviously, schedules aren't necessary for every household, nor do all moms like to have them. Of course I love schedules but I know they're hard to stick to, especially if you work outside of the home. If there is any consistency that will help a household out though, it is having a set time that eating and sleeping are done. If you eat at the same time every day, it actually signals to your body when it is and isn't time to eat. Not only does this make it easier for you, but its HEALTHY. It is a great way to protect your kids against obesity. If you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time every day, and have snacks at the same time, kids will eventually begin to eat only at those times and they will adjust to it and won't do so much nagging because they'll already know when it is going to be time to eat. If your child gets sleepy every day around the same time, use that as a way to gauge when nap time should be and stick to it. I know that my youngest will always go right to sleep so he can be laid down at 10:50 for his 11:00 nap. My 3 year old will fight sleep and has to play for a bit before she will actually fall asleep, so for her 2:00 nap, I send her to her room a little after 1:00 and tell her to go play and wind down. They all go to bed at the same time every night, so I can usually tell just by their behavior when its 9:00! And an added benefit to knowing when every one will be in bed is knowing when to make time for myself. Because there isn't a fight over what time to be in bed, I know I can workout, clean up, take a bath, or watch something on TV without being interrupted. It makes for a little less stress because I know I have ME time coming EVERY day, not just sometimes!

  • Invest in a plethora of do-it-all products: I'm not personally a fan of 2-n-1 shampoo and conditioners, but when it comes to other things, I'm completely onboard. Rather than having 10 cleaning products for every room in the house, I use vinegar and water, sometimes with added baking soda. It costs nearly nothing and cleans better than any of the chemical heavy crap they sell in stores. Beauty products that do it all are a mom's best friend. Almost all cosmetic companies have beauty sticks that function as shadow, cheek color, lip color, and highlighter. Great for on the go glam looks. Tinted moisturizers with SPF= MUST HAVE! I just discovered coconut oil and I am SO thankful I have. There are hundreds of uses for it and I intend to take advantage of them. Use it as lotion, eye makeup remover, diaper rash cream, conditioner, hair treatments, anti itch cream, and of course cooking. There is almost nothing you can't do with the stuff! Shampoos and body washes all in one for kids are awesome and a huge time saver. 

  • If its in your budget, get a water table: This is something I don't even know how I have gone this long without having. We don't have a pool, but even if we did, that would be a huge supervising job. A water table provides the same outdoor fun without all that worry. We got one at Toys-R-Us that is by Little Tikes. It cost $45 and we got our money's worth out of it in one day, no kidding. All three of the kids love it and they will stay outside all day playing in it. My kids are NOT easily entertained, so finding something that occupied all of them that had enough for each of them to do was a miracle in itself.

  • Make some meals ahead of time: A lot of meals can be made ahead of time which will inevitably cause you less stress. You can brown some ground beef (or ground turkey in my case) all at once and pack it into freezer bags to be used through the week. This will turn what would have been 20 minute meal prep into 10 minutes and its super easy. You can use the ground meat for whatever meals you want: chili, spaghetti, Hamburger Helper, soups, tacos, etc. You can also grill chicken and freeze it in storage bags so it will just have to be heated back up and thrown into a salad or in some veggies. Vegetables can be sliced and frozen too, making it a no-excuse way to always work veggies into your meal.

  • Set up certain days of the week to do household tasks: There are some household chores that don't have to be done daily. To stay on top of these tasks so they don't all end up taking an entire weekend to finish up, just set designated days for each chore. If you change sheets every weekend, start doing that one day during the week. Same for scrubbing the baseboards, dusting the ceiling fans. Here's an example:
      • Monday- Change sheets
      • Tuesday- Dust fans & dust catching areas above doors and in corners
      • Wednesday- Clean tubs
      • Thursday- Clean outside area, driveway, etc.
      • Friday- Clean windows
      • Saturday- Clean out car
      • Sunday- Steam clean carpets
    • Take it one step further and do a monthly chore list
      • First Monday- Purge toys no longer played with
      • Second Monday- Donate or pack up clothes that kids outgrow or do not wear
      • Third Monday- Clean doors, spots accumulated on walls
      • Fourth Monday- Clean out the refrigerator
      • Fifth Monday- Clean out cabinets, clean inside of oven, dishwasher, washing machine.
None of these things will completely make your life chaos free, but these are at least a few of the ways that I make it through the day without completely losing my mind :)


  1. good tips!! I have used many of them!! my kids have gained so much from living in a big family..they are the go to person in high school and college because they know how to do many things and also stay organized....keep it up!!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thats awesome to hear about your kids. Thats what I hope for in life. People ask me what I want them to be when they grow up and all I can say IS INDEPENDENT! Thats my biggest hope for them!

      've followed your blog as well. Looking forward to getting to know you!

  2. Hey :) To follow my blog you can always copy my url http://mommy24zz.blogspot.ca/ and go into your Blogger Dashboard and add to your reading list :) Thanks for letting me know my follow button doesn't work lol. I'm glad to find another mommy who is willing to try at home hair dye too! I'm now following you :)

    1. I'll do that! I'm sure it'll be an easy fix getting it to work again :)

  3. Hello! Found you from Mom Bloggers Club! You have an awesome blog. Following you via Google Friend. Stop by and visit me at http://simplyathomemom.com/

    1. Thank you doll! Love that Mom Bloggers Club! I look forward to reading your blog!

  4. Great tips to make life easier and less stressful! I keep a giveaway box in the playroom and I schedule a donation pickup each month. We try to have at least one full bag to give away every month!

  5. I really think purging the toys pretty often is a VERY necessary thing for parents to do. Otherwise you get overrun really quick!

  6. you are mum on the ball! i suppose you have to be with three toddlers ;) so impressed!
    i visiting from MBC :)


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