Mommin’ isn’t a cake walk and we could all use some quick short cuts to keep our sanity. Here are some tried and true “Mom hacks” to keep business running as smoothly as possible.
When we were training our brand new puppy (before kids were in the picture), our trainer recommended that we have a special toy just for when we were eating meals. This would, in turn, keep our puppy focused on this special toy and allow us a peaceful dinner with no begging. The toy was put away when we got up from the table.
Fast forward a few years and we wanted to continue eating out with our kids and not rely on electronics to get us through that difficult “wait for the food to come” period. We implemented “restaurant toy” for our kids. They are only allowed to play with this special toy when we go to restaurants, which is not very frequently, so it stays very motivating. Restaurant toy stays the same for a period of time and, when we see that their desire to play with it is weaning, we change the toy (this is not more than 2x a year tops!)
Ideas for restaurant toy include: “busy books” – the books with the small figures – buy them at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Sams to find them on deep discount, paper and crayons or pens (crayons fit very nicely in a bar soap container), other small figurines (enough that it’s not earth shattering if you leave a few behind), activity pads with hangman or mad libs, hot dots, etc.
COLOR CODED CHILDREN
I know I’m not the only parent to live by this and I highly recommend it. Our oldest’s favorite color is blue. Therefore she has a blue water bottle, blue backpack, blue overnight bag, blue hook in the bathroom, etc. Middle’s is pink – same system. Youngest’s is purple. Done. I can’t begin to tell you how much less fighting there is over water bottles and any other item we have in multiples when they are “assigned” a color and we stick to it.
VERTICAL WALL HOOKS
This summer I went hunting for (yet another) way to contain the back to school chaos. I was already worried about tripping over backpacks and coats and sweaters … and we had tried to horizontal hooks by the garage entry system (fail.) Behold beloved Ikea and their vertical wall hooks! (Also, $9.99!!) We bought 3 and hung them behind the FRONT door (where most of the droppage occurred) and, again, assigned one per kid. With hooks for each going up and down, there was room for the backpack and coat and random sweaters, etc. Problem solved.
Want to become the cool mom? Put a small trash can in your car. For some reason, I thought this was a staple in cars – maybe because we’ve got car sickness in our world – but we keep a trash can between the driver and passenger seats in the front. We keep it well stocked with grocery bags and just reload and empty as needed. Not to say this has solved our messy van issue, but I find a lot less surprise moldy things in the back seat. And pre-teens I give rides to comment without fail on what a cool idea a car trash is. Any time I’m cool with the pre-teens, I’m pretty much living the dream.
While we’re on the car topic, let’s chat a bit about road trips and food. A few years ago we started traveling with round or square cake pans – again, one per kid. To entertain themselves, they can use the back of the pan to play with various, laminated magnet characters (whatever they’re into – we’ve got from Strawberry Shortcake to all of the Harry Potter characters and many in between). When it’s time to eat, the pans flip over and serve as lap trays for their food. Less mess, easier to pass back and forth. For more travel specific hacks, see this post.
Have you bought your vertical Ikea hanging hooks yet? Ok, good. Because these will fit perfectly on the top. With 3 kids, we’ve got an activity or 2 (or 10) in our lives, plus different daycare depending on the day of the week. We laminated different colors of construction paper and labeled them with the day of the week (one per kid) and then wrote that day’s activities on the page. That way we can flip to the next day, see what is coming up, and everyone is on the same page about their schedule. We also include specials at school to cut down on the “do I need gym shoes today?” question every. single. day.
HELP A MAMA OUT
What are YOUR mom hacks? I know you’ve all got some good one to share with us. Email me at [email protected] and I’ll add a few more of my tried and true hacks with YOUR additions in March (I’ll even send the credit your way … which basically makes you famous 🙂 I can’t wait to make all our lives easier one hack at a time
Credit for a portion of February’s hacks – my own mom – who loves lamination, organization, and helping keep our world running on all cylinders. Thanks, Mimi!