One of my very favorite things is to witness women helping women. And in today’s installment of Mom Hacks, you get just that.
I put out the call on Facebook for the best sanity saving hacks involving managing family life. I wasn’t sure quite what I was going to get, but found it really interesting that all of your tips fell into two different categories. First, there was time management. And second, there was organization. Now, I don’t know about you, but those seem like the holy grail of mom hacks! Especially for a mom with all of her kids in school and activities.
In addition to those areas, today’s post will also include an Expert Tip from my friend, Deb. So grab a pencil, open the notes app on your phone, or whatever you need to remind yourself of some of these gems. Here we go!
Time Management – Planning
Get a large family calendar! In today’s e-culture, an old-school calendar might seem outdated. But no! Several people (myself included) seem to function best as a family when there is one central location where everyone’s activities are present and accounted for. For us, this takes the shape of a giant whiteboard in a spot we all pass frequently, with color-coded entries for each person. For others, it might just be a large paper calendar. It’s up to you!
Discuss the daily schedule ahead of time! No mom wants to be surprised with added activities. And, for that matter, neither do many dads or kids! So this was great advice from reader Liz. By setting aside a few minutes at breakfast in the morning or at dinner the night before to discuss what is coming, you can avoid throwing on a straw (activity) that might break the camel’s (mom’s) back!
Keep a shared e-calendar. As with most things, there’s an app for that! Lots of people depend on Google, but our family uses FamCal to keep track of evening activities. Reader Amanda said that keeping a joint calendar with her husband and their parents has saved her behind many times when it comes to running a two-parent working household. It keeps kid schedules, work schedules, and child care as clear as possible.
Mom’s calendar is the boss. This is my own rule. In my way of thinking, if it doesn’t exist in my phone, it doesn’t exist period. While calendars and planners are fantastic in general, I won’t always have them with me when plans are made/changed. My phone, though, is pretty much always in my back pocket ready to be updated at a moment’s notice. Therefore, it wins.
Time Management – Execution
Use your Notes and Reminders app! Let’s all take a minute to thank the Good Lord for inventing computers that can fit in our pockets. Ladies, we have the technology so let’s make good use of it! My Notes app helps keep track of everything from kid’s medicine schedules and fever/vomit times to my ever-growing To Be Read list. Setting reminders for things like trash day, library book due dates, and even (yes) when to leave to pick the kids up from school is insanely helpful!
Utilize online ordering and curbside grocery pickup! Reader Monica (my lovely sister) said that in this season of having 2 kids aged 2 and under, online ordering and grocery pick up is saving her life! Others commented on how it not only saves them time, but money, too!
Keep up with bills! There are a couple schools of thought here. Some would say, pay them as soon as you get them. Others might say, sign up for all of the auto pay options you can. As for me, I have auto pay set up for anything that is a fixed/steady amount (i.e. auto loan, insurance, cell phone, cable, etc). For anything that is variable, I divide them out through the month and sit down every two weeks on payday to take care of them. Also, all of the bills get put in one specific spot, separate from the rest of the mail, when they come in the house. That way, I’m always able to know at a glance what needs to be taken care of.
Follow the “one-touch rule.” Reader Megan says that this is her saving grace with school papers. The idea is that when you check your child’s folder, each paper gets touched only once. Sign what needs to be signed, pay what needs to be paid, and toss what can be tossed. That way, things get dealt with immediately and have a lesser chance of getting lost in an endless game of shuffle.
Lay out clothes the night before. Now, I daresay, we moms could use this rule for ourselves and not just out kiddos! Anything that can shave time off of the morning rush is a win in my book. Making sure that all items are clean and that sock and shoes are paired up and ready to go just seems like a smart thing.
Cook ahead! Whether is breakfasts for the whole week or making lunches the night before, this is another great morning sanity saver. Breakfast options such as baked oatmeal, pancakes/waffles, and yogurt parfaits are great!
Quick Tip from an Expert
OK, so do you have that friend whose opinion you pretty much always trust? Like, if she recommended an appliance, you’d buy it. If you needed a recipe, she’s the one you’d ask. Well, that would be my dear friend Deb. She’s one heck of an awesome mom, you guys and when she saw my bat signal for kid and family hacks, this is what she sent me.
Get yourself a chalkboard. Put it right in the hub of where your kids go after school to snack or do their homework or whatever. On that chalkboard, keep a running list of chores/responsibilities that each person has. That way, they always know what is expected of them and can monitor their accomplishments for themselves! Genius, I tell you! Another nice side effect, Deb says, is that she no longer has to be the bad guy. The kids know to check the board before they come ask her if they can go play. When their tasks are finished, their time is their own. Love it!! Take the burden of being mean mom off of my shoulders and teach the kids some responsibility? AND spread the workload among the family? Win-win-win!!
And don’t forget to check out the other Mom Hacks, while you’re at it!!
Mom Hacks: Housekeeping Edition