No mom is an expert, that is for sure, but I can say that I am pretty well-versed on my own family. The tips I offer today aren’t one-size-fits-all, but you may be able to walk away with some helpful hints at hacking motherhood. Certainly feel free to offer up some of your own mom hacks, even if you think you have nothing to put on the table. That is what I thought, too, until I made a list:
Mom Hack #1: Command Station
I would be absolutely lost if it weren’t for the wall in our house that holds our past, present, and future. This is where the family can go to keep up-to-date. Sure, a lot of families are going to electronic methods, but we aren’t one of them. Maybe in the future, we’ll make a change, but my wall says, “doubtful”.
- Calendar–Because I’m
a littleType-A, everything is written in black and used to be color-coded with highlighters. Then we had our fourth kid and they just don’t make so many highlighters! While I’m still working on what works, I’ve switched to Sharpie’s Fine Point markers.
- Key rack with dry-erase board–I keep keys here. I know that sounds silly, but I didn’t used to be that way. It took a lot of training for me to put them where they’re supposed to go. I encourage guests to hang their keys up, too; so when they’re ready to leave, we’re not searching for them. Honestly, I only use the Dry-Erase Board for baby-sitters–it has our phone numbers, address, and neighbor info on it.
- Menu-Board–I’ll talk more about what menu-planning looks like in our home, but I try to put our daily meals on the board for two reasons: to hold myself accountable and to fend off the question, “what are we eating for dinner?”
- Bins–I bought that rustic wood panel with four metal baskets (at the bottom of the picture above) at Hobby Lobby in an effort to ward off the ever-growing piles of mail, bills, receipts, coupons, and school/church papers on the kitchen table. The bins still fill up, but they don’t look too unsightly–even when full, and we don’t have to move them in order to eat. We sort through them weekly.
Mom Hack #2: Scripture
I’m including this one because of the interest generated by my most recent #cmbtakeovertuesday on Instagram. Being Christians, we are constantly searching for ways to incorporate Christ into our words and actions (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Part of doing this is memorizing and meditating on scripture. So here are just a few ways to do that:
- Dry-Erase Markers on windows–I can’t claim to have thought of this one. A friend of mine shared it with me, and I’m ever grateful! We wrote this verse on our patio door. We see it every time we are at the kitchen table. It has helped all of us to memorize this verse, even our two-year-old!!
- Copywork–I don’t know about you, but I love to write important things down. There is something about actually putting pen to paper. I choose to write verses, sometimes even entire chapters, just to get a deeper sense of the words. My children copy verses to work on their handwriting and cursive.
- Printing verses and displaying them–As I said in my IG story from December, I am often at my kitchen sink (if I’m not in a Chick-fil-A drive-thru), so putting verses on display there has helped me refocus and remember it is a gift to serve my family, rather than a chore. Some are just written out, others are printed on photo paper, and others are on card-stock. I even keep some of these in my car.
- As Art–Again, Hobby Lobby comes into play here. I have bought several pieces from them and I display them on my wall as art and as inspiration. You can certainly make your own. This is something that I intend to do in the new year… just have to work on my hand-lettering first.
Mom Hack #3: Laundry/Clothes
I am fairly certain that I never did a load of laundry myself before I was married. Thankfully, The Mister is very forgiving despite having been in the military. He doesn’t mind that I believe all clothes are created equally and I don’t iron. Our lives aren’t complicated by this witchcraft, haha. Although, seriously, they should be. One day I’ll be better at this, but 2018 isn’t the year for that! I do, however, have a couple tips that help in our house:
- The Hamper–If it were up to me, the clothes would sit in there for eternity. Because I have to clothe other people, I can’t do that, so our oldest little mister takes the hamper down each night after we change into pajamas. Our daughter takes it to the basement and sorts it. Sometimes she puts a load in the washer ready to go for in the morning.
- A Load a Day–I read that if you do a load a day, it keeps the mountain of laundry away. I feel this… hard. I know it isn’t the most effective or energy efficient means of doing laundry, but for a family of six, it is life-changing. Loads are smaller, which means less to fold and put away at a time. It also means we have cleaner clothes more frequently. Downside: clothes wear out sooner (but with three boys, who can tell?), and our boys have the option to wear their favorite shirts all-the-dag-gone-time (but I’ve got a hack for that, too… read on!).
- A Closet Organizer–I bought one of these years ago for our daughter to help her ease into the school-week. Now I use it for the boys so that we can pick out their clothes and they can’t wear that favored shirt every day of the week, even though they can still add it to the rotation.
- Glove Box–I would love to have a beautiful mudroom with mirrors, hooks for coats, benches, and corresponding bins for each person in the home. Instead, we have a Rubbermaid bin in our entryway closet. When we first started our family, there was a bin for everyone, and each bin held that person’s hats and gloves. Now each drawer holds different items. Also… keep your kids in mittens for as long as you can!
- Coats in the Car–Since kids shouldn’t wear their coats in carseats (who wants to anyway?), I use a large bag to hold all of the coats and accessories. Along with the diaper bag, this is the first thing that gets “refilled” when we get home, and double-checked before we leave the house.
Mom Hack #4: Meals
I’m not the best cook, but I can make quite a few meals that my family loves! Just don’t ask to see the inside of my pantry; I don’t have tips for that!
- Don’t be afraid to cook the same things over and over–Don’t get me wrong, you should try new things and so should your kids. But I used to wear myself out just over what to cook! Now we have Spaghetti Mondays (sometimes tortellini or stuffed shells), Taco Tuesdays (this includes nachos and fajitas on occasion), per another friend’s advice we make a soup on Friday and eat it throughout the weekend, and usually order pizza from Larosa’s with our Buddy Card on Saturday night.
- Meal Plan–Speaking of the above, you have to have a plan! I recently started doing mine two weeks out. This is to stick to our budget and utilize leftovers in the best way. I go to the grocery once for the big items, and then again as we need milk or fresh fruits and veggies.
- Go to the grocery story OR order online–My mom hack here is to find what works for you. I’ve done both, and so should you. I understand the allure of ordering online and just going to pick up items that someone else shopped for. But I was totaling $250 a year for this service and I wasn’t 100% happy every time, so I quit. I now go to the store again… with a better mindset, and sometimes all four kids in tow.
- Use Cash–I hate spending cash. It’s bad! I turn red, I begin talking incessantly–nervous chatter, and I sweat… everywhere. All that being said, you have a budget and you have to stick to it.
- Dishwasher–Ideally I run this every night so that I have clean dishes in the morning and I’m not having to wash dishes before I use them, which I have never had to do, of course! Never.
- Secret Veggies–Ok, they’re not really a secret, my family knows about them, but it is a nice addition to add nutrients and stretch food. When making ground beef (for tacos), I add minced carrots and zucchini to the meat. Delish!
- Dessert in a pinch–I learned not long ago to make cookie dough and freeze it. In doing so, I can have freshly baked cookies in no time! They’re also a nice treat for a Momma. Again, not that I would know. And not that you should eat raw cookie dough.
Mom Hack #5: Bathrooms
Bathrooms are curiosities–when they’re clean and well-stocked, we think very little of them, but get a bathroom that isn’t and it is The.Worst.
- Clean it before it is dirty–This is the best advice I ever received regarding bathrooms. I have a weekly rotation in our household–read that as “no fun” for the kids. My oldest little mister disinfects light switches and door handles, my daughter cleans the sinks and mirrors, and I clean the toilets (inside/outside/surrounding area). This is working for us, but full disclosure: we still have two boys in diapers.
- Keep cleaning supplies handy–Each bathroom has all the cleaning supplies needed under the sink. There is no more running around to find items, nor is there a question as to what goes where.
- Extra toilet paper–Find something to openly store an extra role of paper or two. I like the one that hangs on the back of the toilet. My son checks this every day and refills as needed. We haven’t run out of paper, yet!
- Homemade make-up remover–One Halloween I was in a bind thinking about having to remove eye makeup from my daughter. The mere thought of it was torture. A quick Google search and I had a recipe: one part olive oil and one part witch hazel. It was amazing and I have used it daily ever since. I can’t tell you if it is for oily or dry skin, and I don’t know what it does as far as preservation of my youth, but I like it, so whatever.
- Extra toothbrushes–This is a MUST!! Inevitably, you will have a child spend the night and they will need a toothbrush! Also, your child will come home from Grandma’s, or a friend’s, and they won’t have this essential item with them. Backups are always nice!
- Water Bottles! The Mister and I carry ours around everywhere and our kids do, too! Everyone has their own, and it gets used throughout the day–even at meals. This way we’re not doing a ton of dishes and whenever anyone is thirsty, they have an option. Bonus points because that option doesn’t spill!
Please share any and all mom hacks that you have! I would love to learn from you!