One of the most astonishing talents possessed by seasoned mothers is our ability to do a remarkable number of things with just one hand. Dads haven’t a clue what multitasking really means! You know I’m right. Rocking a teething baby while helping build a birdhouse and addressing Christmas cards is just a run-of-the-mill trifecta for us! Some of us excel at stretching a dime into a dollar, while others find a way to attend every single school function, while trying to make partner. No matter where you stand, mom life hacks come in handy. Simple solutions to enhance the flow of one’s abode are a good thing, gals! Enjoy what I consider to be the 25 greatest mom tips ever!
1. Guilt-Squashing Bacon Bowls We tend to get hard on ourselves after a series of days pass by, and we have served bowls of cereal each morning, when we really want to serve a spread that rivals brunch at Tavern on the Green. Of course, keeping it simple is essential, and bacon bowls are baller for efficiently serving a healthy breakfast. How to: wrap bacon inside muffin tins, and pour scrambled eggs inside. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes, and voilà! Cheese, mushrooms and other omelet-type ingredients can be added, depending on your family’s tastes.
2. De-Feet Nasty Coughs Pardon my awful play on words there, but did you know that Vicks VapoRub can soothe a persistent cough throughout the night when placed on the feet? Spread the aromatic ointment all over the soles of both feet, put on socks and enjoy a quiet night, pardoned from the woes of a dry, uncomfortable cough. This is safe for older children, but use caution, as you want to ensure there is no chance of a child getting the salve into their mouth.
3. Puppy Pads in a Pet-Free Home Puppy pads are a rad item to keep around from birth, to the completion of toilet training. For starters, they are great disposable, on-the-go changing pads. When diapers are a distant memory, and the introduction of potty training means waking up to change wet sheets almost nightly, placing the pads under the fitted sheet in a double layer means wet bedding can be stripped and dealt with in the morning. The second layer, already in place, guards against a subsequent nighttime accident.
4. Crowd Control Moms worry excessively about children wandering away at large places, like the mall or an amusement park. Using a camera phone to snap a shot of the kiddos upon arrival means that in the rare event you need to describe to police what the children look like and are wearing, you have the most up-to-date photo possible. A second safeguard is to use a marker to write your phone number on a child’s arm if he is too young to have it memorized, and put liquid bandage over it, to prevent smearing. Do not write names, since you don’t want the DIY tattoo to lend out that much information to everyone you are in contact with throughout your excursion.
5. Clobber Clutter Budding artists bring home a slew of masterpieces from school, and we cannot keep every handprint and asymmetrical watercolor rainbow. If you are like me, and far too sentimental, you want to save every one, but space becomes an issue. Besides, if you stash everything, starting in preschool, that’s going to yield quite a collection! I’ve remedied my need to save ‘em all by photographing art projects and storing the photos digitally. Doing so preserves the memory, without taking up physical space.
6. Ensemble in a Bag There’s a fine line between simple organization and compulsion, and this tip stands to be a bit polarizing! When I travel, I pack my youngest children’s outfits for each day in individual Ziplock bags. This way, when waking up in a strange environment provides enough strain to our morning routine, I’m not scrambling to match little socks to tiny tees. Compulsion? I think not! It saves a ton of time.
7. Magnetic Magic Occupying wee ones in the car is a never-ending struggle on long trips. Want cheap and easy? Bring a large cookie sheet and magnets along for the ride! This occupies toddlers and utilizes the primary color medley of alphabet fridge magnets we all love to hate. They’re ugly. I know it. You know it. Ease mom guilt by actually making great use of them, without sacrificing the aesthetics of your uber cool, modern fridge!
8. Stubborn Stains We’ve all been there. You spend a bit too much on the designer nautical outfit because it’s just so darn cute, but during its inaugural wear, peas are spit all over the front. Spend away, my friend, as I have the recipe for success. Combine 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, 1 part Dawn dish detergent and 1 part baking soda. Dump it in a spray bottle, and let the solution sit on the stain for an hour. Launder as normal, and the stain should be removed.
9. Sandy Baby Have you ever spent a day at the beach and cursed sand when it was time to pack up and go home? Suddenly, toddlers seem to have approximately 498 bends in their body, and wet sand is caked everywhere. Here’s how to handle the sand madness: sprinkle baby powder on your babe’s sandiest bits. Baby powder absorbs extra moisture, making the sand much easier to remove.
10. One at a Time Put a load of laundry in each morning, and dry at night. This way, you will not be scaling a mountain of dirty garments on weekends. Also, forget ironing. It’s not the 50s, and you are not June Cleaver. Hang as much as you can, and even install a second, lower, rod in children’s closets, if needed.
11. Top-Secret Code Moms of older children share the common complaint that weekend chores are readily ignored. We don’t like to nag or distract ourselves with constantly checking if tasks are checked off, but also, we want to get kids in the groove of doing what they are told and making effective use of their time. A good way to engrain responsible behavior is to provide a checklist of chores, and withhold the day’s wifi password until they are finished. Sure you have to go through the legwork of changing the password regularly, but hopefully completing chores becomes second nature. Or it won’t. But at least they won’t be on YouTube when the full garbage is stinking up the kitchen!
12. Leave the White Sofa at Ethan Allen You have kids. Better Homes and Gardens is not considering your home for a photo spread. Think about how everything will wear when making major furniture and flooring purchases. Light beige carpet in the living room looks great, for the span of about six months.
13. Ice, Ice Baby Here’s a hack I love. And it’s simple. Freeze water bottles to bring anywhere and everywhere. In the cooler, ice lasts longer when bottles of frozen water are added. Even if you are not traveling with a cooler, frozen water thaws fast enough to provide needed hydration. Also, kids won’t down the whole bottle and need a bathroom trip or a second bottle sooner than later. Brilliant!
14. Moms’ Best Friends Are Other Moms Errands take twice as long with your active brood in tow. Trade errand duties with another mom. She watches your lovelies when you hit up Costco, and you do the same for her. Sanity: check.
15. Bulk Buying If you read the last line and wondered what’s Costco, it is time you learn more about buying in bulk. Besides Costco, many other bulk-buying clubs offer fantastic savings. The key to success here is only buying what you need. Will you use all 80 rolls of toilet paper in that massive package? Yes, yes you will. Pass on the four-pound container of organic animal crackers, though. They will be stale long before they are consumed.
16. Mom, M.D. One of the greatest ways to outfit yourself for minor emergencies is to keep a bin full of first-aid supplies somewhere handy. Store hydrogen peroxide and bandages of all sizes, along with antibiotic ointment, anti-itch cream, gauze and medical tape so you are ready to tackle skinned knees and bug bites like a boss!
17. In Love with Layers Teething babies drooling like a St. Bernard go through a ton of bibs per day. Layering a few bibs eliminates the need to change them every half hour. Sure it’s not a significant time savings, but when every minute counts, saved moments add up!
18. Freeze! Take advantage of early weekend mornings, when the house is quiet, to whip up a few meals to freeze for later use. While it’s hardly the most indulgent use of elusive quiet time, you’ll thank yourself on harried weeknights or when your mother-in-law drops in unexpectedly on a night you planned to serve sandwiches!
19. The Check’s in the Mail If you are late to the game to sign up for online bill paying, stop reading this, and enroll with every company you do business with that allows it. First of all, you don’t have to worry about missing due dates and accruing late fees. Secondly, it’s a time saver and no stamps required!
20. Scheduling Sensibilities Schedule doctor and dentist appointments in the morning, whenever possible. Doing so reduces the risk of the office running behind and you being forced to corral a busy toddler. Another great waiting room tip is to bring your own small bag of toys. Publicly shared toys are a cesspool of germs!
21. Monkey Around Many children struggle with fine motor skills, and if you are concerned about your child’s dexterity, encourage him to dangle from monkey bars! Large muscle activities, such as hanging from playground equipment, help children learn to coordinate the muscles and use them more effectively overall. This is fantastic for children grappling with proper pencil gripping.
22. Crisp ’N Healthy Store healthy snacks in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Kids can easily access nibbles without your assistance. Great additives include string cheese, baggies of grapes and yogurt.
23. Shop ‘Till You Drop One of the biggest budget busters is gift purchasing. Moms normally have a tribe of children to buy for at Christmas, not just their own. Then there are the obligatory children’s birthday gifts for all the parties your social butterflies attend. One way to ease the financial burden of gift-buying is to regularly pass down clearance aisles in department stores, and buy in advance. You’ll be so happy when it’s nine at night, and your third grader reminds you she was invited to a birthday party the next afternoon, and you have something perfect in your stash.
24. Hang in There I like to keep the entryway as clutter-free as possible, and that’s quite a chore. Households with multiple children become so hectic, and hooks are the answer. Install single decorative hooks on the wall, low enough so kids can reach, enabling them to hang their own coats. Use wreath hangers over doors for bulky, heavy backpacks.
25. Baby Bath Basket A marvelous milestone occurs around age one: baby can sit in the tub and play with bath toys, but those slippery buggers seem to always float out baby’s reach. The solution to this is to put the baby in a laundry basket submerged in the water. This way, toys stay near for easy access, and you can enjoy watching your chubby cherub play, instead of constantly reaching into the water to direct toys toward your tot.