2/02/2012

20 Things to Make Life as a Mom Easier

Life as a mom of two little ones two and under is crazy! Often times I feel like I am doing everything I can just to keep up...and I feel like keeping up isn't enough. Over the past couple months I have done some things that have helped make life a little easier for me as the mom/cook/cleaner/organizer/driver and helped me to feel a little more put together and less stressed. Here they are:
1- Get Rid of the Junk & Find a "Home" for Everything
After Christmas I felt like I picked up after my toddler all day and that things got tossed from one room to the next and soon realized that in order for this to stop I needed to find a "home" for the gifts we had received. I also realized that in order for that to happen I needed to make room by getting rid of some older things/"junk". I finally gave up some toys, clothes, etc. I had been holding onto but were never used. It was hard to get rid of some things but I have LOVED the freedom that's come from having less.

2- Plan
My planner has become my best friend...not really, but I use it lots! I like to plan week-by-week. Our family plans every Sunday night and it really has helped the week run smoother. We plan by letting everyone know what type of appointments/games/responsibilities are taking place during the week. I also like to plan my meals for the week so I know what to buy when I grocery shop. The other thing I like about planning is it helps me remember special dates like friends/families birthdays.

3. Read Mail Everyday
I have gotten in the habit of reading the mail as it comes rather then putting it aside. This helps keep it from stacking up and ensures that I get everything done on time.

4. Trash & Recycle Bins
This is such a simple thing but it really has made life easier. I bought one white trash can for trash and one blue for recycling and put them right by each other. I find myself recycling lots more because the recycle bin is right by the trash. I also don't continually feel guilty for throwing stuff away.

5. Organize Computer Pictures as I Go
I used to get way behind in keeping my computer organized...especially my pictures. At the start of the year I created a 2012 Folder for my pictures with a folder for each month inside of it. I have loved how much easier it's been for me to organize things and  find things.

6. Reuse Towels
We only have 2 towels for each person in the family (a total of 8 towels)! We each have a hook in the bathroom and hang our towel on it when we are done using it and reuse it a couple times before we wash it. I love this...less to wash.

7. Cleaning Day
I like to do all my cleaning on one day...for me it's Thursday. I spend about an hour and a half and do everything: dust, wash windows, walls, clean bathrooms, disinfect kitchen, sweep, mop and vacuum. It's a lot to do in one day but I love the feeling that comes from having everything clean at one time. I also love having a day because I know it's done every week.

8. Hygiene Day
I do what I call a "hygiene day" every Wednesday. On hygiene day I make sure all the little things that can easily be forgotten when it comes to hygiene are done for me and the kiddos. I clip nails, clean behind ears and in between toes and belly buttons, wash hair really well, ect. It only takes a couple minutes but helps me keep up on all the little things I tend to easily forget. I love knowing its done every week and don't find myself thinking "yuck, we need to cut your fingernails" or wondering when I last did something.

9. Use Totes and Bags
I started keeping all my bathroom cleaners in one tote and all my kitchen ones in another. I love the totes because I just grab the one I need for the room I am cleaning and clean away!
I also have a small bag full of all our swimsuits and pool stuff. I used to keep everyone's stuff in their own room but usually when we need it we all go together...this helps save time and space.

10. Keep Extras in Vehicle
I recently stocked the car with the "extras." I put an organizer on the back of the driver seat with treats, diapers and wipes, distractions, ect. I also put a small shoe box with an extra outfit for the baby and my toddler who still has occasional "accidents." I love the freedom this has brought...I can go somewhere without the diaper bag yet the car still feels clean and organized.

11. Rotate Food as I Buy It
I have gotten in the habit of placing food at the back of the cupboard/fridge/pantry rather than at the front when I restock. I hope to someday have rolling organizers but for now this helps.

12. Organize Storage
This is still a work in progress but I have started buying storage totes that go with what's being stored in it. Our Christmas Tree and Ornaments go in a green tote, other Christmas decorations go in a red tote, Halloween costumes are in an orange tote, boy clothes are in a blue tote, girl clothes are in a pink tote, ect. I stored all other decorations other than Christmas in clear totes so I can easily see whats inside.

13. Use Key Rack & Purse Clip
We recently started using a key rack for our keys to keep our toddler from getting them and me from loosing them. We also hung a clip up next to our garage door where I can hang up my purse.

14. Use Hand Vac
We have used a rechargeable hand vac for years but I just had to write about it. I love our rechargeable hand vac! It makes it so much easier to clean up after meals, snacks and hair cuts.

15. Bleach Dish Rags Each Month
One of my least favorite things is the smell of dirty rags/dishcloths...especially when I've just washed my hands. I have started bleaching my dishcloths every month to prevent them from smelling.

16. Use Pumps on Lotion, Shampoo, ect.
This is another simple things but it has helped me a ton! I love having a pump because I feel like it keeps things cleaner and it makes it easier when I am bathing or getting kiddos ready or when I only have 1 free hand.

17. Rotate Toys
I have been rotating toys for a long time but I usually keep a lot out. I recently started storing more then half the toys but rotating them more often (when I feel like the kids are ready for a change.) There is a lot less to clean up and the kids love when I pull stored toys out...so do I.

18. Childproof/ "Toddler-Proof" Home
I thought I was finished childproofing after my first started to crawl but I was way wrong. Childproofing for me is really more like "Toddler-proofing." The best thing I have done when it comes to child proofing was moving our DVD's and Games to higher shelves.  

19. Use Hanging Shoe Organizers for Kids Outfits
This is something my mom used to do but I didn't start doing it until recently. Rather than hanging my kiddos clothes or putting them in a drawer I group them into outfits and put them in shoe organizers. The blue one is for my little boy and the white is for my little girl...nothing fancy but I love it!

20. Bins (Too Big, Too Small, Donate)
I feel like I am constantly organizing my kiddos clothes...they grow way to fast. I created these bins out of baby wipe boxes, one for things that have gotten to small, one for things that are still to big or out of season and one for things to donate. This has helped me keep up on things easily rather then feeling like I am always pulling everything out to re-organize.

I use blue totes for my boys clothes and pink totes for girl clothes these baby wipe boxes are just to toss things in as we go. When they get full I put them in a more permanent location. 

I hope that some of these things help make your life a little easier too! I would love to hear what you do.

65 comments:

  1. Wow! This post came at the perfect time in my life. Thank you :)

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    1. I agree. I am about to move into my own place and I can not wait to put this advice to the test.

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    2. I agree. I am about to move into my own place and I can not wait to put this advice to the test.

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  2. Anonymous2/08/2012

    My sis and I stumbled upon a good tip. She lives in my basement with her family and sometimes we watch each other kids. We realized we can use skype as a kind of baby monitor. Our kids are a little older so we feel comfortable doing this. But I realized using skype to monitor children could be useful in other scenarios as well, I'm sure.

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  3. Allison Worf2/09/2012

    These are great ideas!

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  4. I need to do the toy rotation thing.

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  5. Thanks, Heather! I do something similar to the huggies wipes boxes, but with normal totes... only problem is, keeping straight which kid they're too big/too small for... :-D 4 kids 5 and under leads to chaotic clothing explosions at times, that's for sure. I totally want to make one of those PVC pipe tote storage things (if you haven't seen this, ask me, you'd TOTALLY love it.) Anyway, I really need to get one of those organizers for the van, it's always crazy in there, and that's with the kids only being in it once a week or so. Love your blog!

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  6. You have some great organizing ideas. Many of them I have used for years. One that I use to organize the many sizes of clothing as children grow is...I would have a small boxes labeled Girl Size 2 or Boy Size 4. I would rotate until my children out grew the clothing then I would move them to the donate to Susie's kids box. Would help when I was in need of a new size and saved me time. I still have one of the small boxes with the Donate to Susie's kids stuff in it. Found it in our last move... Now it is vintage. LOL

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  7. I use a lot of these but I LOVED and I mean LOVED this post!!! I love the cleaning day once a week I feel like I am constantly cleaning something... and I like that it is not on Saturday... I feel like Saturdays are so busy that all my cleaning never gets done the way that I want it to. My favorite is the car organizer... I will be doing that this week. I hate carrying my diaper bag everywhere... and I love having extras in the car:) Thanks for this post I LOVE it!

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  8. Anonymous2/15/2012

    Toothpaste does come in a pump.

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    1. Anonymous10/16/2012

      Yes it does, I think its the mentadent........I'm not 100% sure if 1- I spelled it right lol and 2- if that is the brand

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  9. I am so excited to hear that toothpaste does come in a pump...totally didn't know that and I am a dental hygienist:) Haha...I am going to get me some. They even have my favorite- colgate total in a pump...SWEET!

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  10. We put the kids shampoo in a pump and are saving on shampoo! They use less. My favorite, purse clip on keys. I just told my husband last week that I must spend a week a year looking for my keys in my purse. Thank you!

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  11. Anonymous2/19/2012

    I loved this post! I was surprised I already do most of these. I like the clothes idea for organizing out grown clothes or clothes that are too big. I am going to have to try this! For the week the only thing I do different is lay my kids outfits for a week worth of time on laundry day and prepare my dinners for the week on Sunday. Thank you very much for the cleaning idea with the baskets I always find myself going from room to room forgetting the windex or something.

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  12. Heather,
    Thanks for a great post! With 5 littles (ages 2 - 12), we already use a lot of these, and they are great tips! I'll be pinning this to pass on to my friends.

    I think my favorite ones that I don't already do is the Cleaning Day and Hygiene Day!! I hate feeling like I'm cleaning allll week long....and I will still have maintenance of course, but putting some music on and busting through it all makes it more doable I think.

    And the Hygiene day is brilliant! I constantly am asking one of the kids, "When is the last time your fingernails were cut??" lol!

    You reminded me too that I *have* one of those car organizers...I just need to fill it and put it in the van!! =)

    Thanks again! =)
    Mara @ Super Savings


    p.s. I just saw on Pinterest an idea to use the 12-pack boxes of pop for can rotation (cut a hole at the back top corner and put new ones in there....then they roll out toward the original opening in front! I'm excited to try that one in my own pantry, because I too dream of fancy organizers. =)
    (http://pinterest.com/pin/256845984968338259/)

    Oh, and I agree with using pumps for soap - it makes things so much easier! I actually refill foaming pump dispensers with the cheaper big bottles, and make my own DIY foaming handsoap and baby wash -- it goes so much further!
    (http://supersavingsblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/diy-homemade-foaming-hand-soap.html)

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    1. Anonymous9/03/2012

      Wrap a rubber band around the pump squirt to save even more soap.

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    2. LOVE the rubberband trick. I think pumps always dispense too much so I'll definitely try this tip!

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  13. I already feel so much more organized.. Thanks for the tips ladies! :)
    x a Dutch mommy

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  14. Anonymous2/29/2012

    I do several of these already and it's nice to know others do as well! There were a few that I never thought of but also as a mother of two, two years old and under, I will definitely try! Thank you :)

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  15. Anonymous3/16/2012

    Thanks so much for the ideas i will be implementing some of these as i NEED to be more organised with 3 kids 5 and under!! :) Thanks again!!

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  16. Thanks for the tips ♥ ur blog!

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  17. So glad I saw this on Pinterest! Fantastic and simple ideas, Love it! Thanks for sharing. I don't know why I have such a hard time getting rid of junk especially because I feel so much better when it's gone.

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  18. Anonymous3/29/2012

    This is why I love Pinterest!! Love so many of your ideas!!!

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  19. Love it! Thanks for sharing......As a busy mom of 6 kids, I find these are very helpful tips.

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  20. I am so glad they are helpful! Have a wonderful day!

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  21. Anonymous5/01/2012

    Thanks for sharing ! And a tip to help with smelly wrags ... VINEGAR!!! When you do all your kitchen wrags on wash day, just add some to your load with the bleach... Never a stinky rag again! Even on clothes... Helps set colors and keeps them brighter!

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  22. Thanks for the tip...I will be trying it!

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  23. Hygeine day is genius! I'm always missing those little fingernails for some reason, and then my kids are scratching someone during a wrestling session! I already do everything else, but my husband and are kinda OCD about cleanliness & simplicity. Simplifying seems to be the key to EVERYTHING as far as home order, so my main extra idea to you would be this mantra my hubby and I live by: "If you have too much stuff to 'take care of' that you can't keep up with it all, then you have TOO MUCH STUFF. SIMPLIFY." Have less clothes, so the drawers aren't bulging (the answer is NOT to get MORE storge to hold it all). Stop buying hundreds of books, filling up shelves and spilling out everything- just go to the library and rotate big bags full of them (and only buy your absolute favorites). Less Less LESS of EVERYTHING is the answer, and then just take good care of what you DO have. It feels SO much better.
    ALSO, making something similar to THIS a year ago has changed my life big time, since bills/paperwork was my least favorite mom thing. Now, absolutely NOTHING gets lost or forgotten in a stack, or paid late: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0gareEerZC4/S0TQ-MkUzuI/AAAAAAAABx0/E1ihSL_jM-4/s400/mailsorter11.jpg

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  24. i like to use vinegar on my stinky towels/rags because it works like a charm and is a lot less harsh than bleach!

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    1. How do you do that? Just throw a cupful in with the laundry?

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    2. I use the downey ball. fill and throw

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  25. Anonymous5/25/2012

    I luv these ideas. I use Norwex to clean, it cuts the time a ton! Only need water, no chemicals to deep clean. I need extra time with a family of 6. www.Susanparry.norwex.biz

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  26. Lovely tips!!!
    So going to use them :)

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    1. Anonymous6/08/2012

      Most of these I already do and they help so much (the pool bag is my favorite). I can't wait to try 4, 8, and 20 though. I have two kids in diapers so it really helps me to keep a full supply of diapers and wipes in the bedrooms and living rooms, diaper bag. I also keep a pretty basket in the living room with diapers, wipes, Balmex, change of kids clothes, baby lotion, and kids comb. It looks nice and comes in handy. Also, I'm guilty of spending to much of the day in sweats, so I've been trying to bathe and dress me and my two babes bright and earlier. It makes the day more productive and your sure to be ready for any changes.

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  27. Thanks for your ideas! I will be trying them. Yes, I would have to say #8 Hygiene day has been one of the best things I have done to help keep on top of the "little things."

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  28. Anonymous6/26/2012

    Instead of bleaching your dishcloths monthly. Wet them down at the end of the day, pop them in the microwave and nuke for 2mins. They will emerge piping hot, & smell free.

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    1. Anonymous9/02/2012

      I like this one!!

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  29. Anonymous7/19/2012

    I totally use the shoe organizers for outfits!!! well i use them as dressers because my kiddos are climbers and it saves toooons of space!

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  30. Anonymous8/05/2012

    I love your idea to keep items in the car. It would be nice when you have to make a quick run somewhere that you don't have to drag the diaper bag with you for the "just in case" moment

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  31. You guys have a great blog!!!

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  32. Anonymous8/15/2012

    #21: proper spelling. It's "ETC" not "ect." And your family PLANES every Sunday?

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    1. Anonymous9/18/2012

      Wow....you must think really highly of yourself to feel the need to correct her in the rude way that you did! Glad to know there is at least one perfect person in the world and that you have never spelled anything wrong! Bet its fun being you.

      Delete
    2. The correction was not done rudely. It was done in a straightforward, information-sharing way.

      You're the one engaging in a personal attack. Re-read the comment and I think (I hope) you'll see the difference in tone.

      By the way, "etc." is the abbreviation for et cetera. There's nothing wrong with getting it right!

      The gracious reply by the blog authors was much more appropriate than your put-down of the person who offered the information.

      Delete
  33. Thanks for your help editing:) I never have been a great writer or speller but I am working on it and learning lots. Thanks!

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  34. Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful mommy tips. Great Post! ;o)

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  35. I love storing our DVDs in a large cd case. That means I've tossed all the cases and can grab the case when we go for a long trip. Plus my son cannot figure out how to open it yet. Huge plus! I even alphabetized them!

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  36. Anonymous8/28/2012

    See if your local school needs extra clothes for when children have accidents. Great way to free up room and help out.

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  37. Put a strong magnet on your keychain and sew another inside your purse (right at the top under the zipper. When you put your keys in aim in the general direction of the magnet and voila! no more digging for keys :)

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  38. Thanks for these tips! I like how you formatted this post! Easy to read, great tips! You should make these into a book!

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  39. Fun list. I like the idea of having a cleaning day so that everything is clean at once and know that it got done that week. I am definitely going to try the pump on the shampoo for the kids - why did I never think of that?

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  40. Anonymous9/30/2012

    Not sure if anyone said this before but be careful about reusing towels. They are a breeding ground for bacteria. Staph infection is no joke. Every other tip is fabulous!

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  41. Anonymous10/07/2012

    We hang up our bath towels after use and they dry and never smell.

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  42. I put about a cup of bleach in with the water in the washing machine then throw the rags in.

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  43. The only thing about the key and purse hooks are I'm worried about break-in's. I have an anxiety disorder. So I'm paranoid that if someone broke into the house while I was sleeping they'd have full access to my house and car and finances. I don't keep a garage door opener in the car either. Just a little idea. Maybe keep a key hook and purse hook in your room or closet rather than next to your front door or garage.

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  44. The only thing about the key and purse hooks are I'm worried about break-in's. I have an anxiety disorder. So I'm paranoid that if someone broke into the house while I was sleeping they'd have full access to my house and car and finances. I don't keep a garage door opener in the car either. Just a little idea. Maybe keep a key hook and purse hook in your room or closet rather than next to your front door or garage.

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  45. Anonymous12/03/2012

    This post was such a blessing... thank u for taking the time to share your gifts. I've desperately been looking for order in my home and this post was an answer to prayer.

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  46. These are great ideas. But what I really want to know is how in the world you clean your house in an hour and a half. I'd love to have you over to demonstrate! ;) Maybe with four kids I should allow 3hrs... ;)

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  47. Thanks! Yes, it really only takes an hour and a half each week...I get up before the kids so I am not cleaning up after them while they are awake. It never last long but in my mind it's done so I am happy. I also live in a fairly small house (only 2 bedrooms and 1 bath) :)

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  48. Wow our 4 bed 2 bath takes a whole day, may go a bit faster if we organise clutter first though hey?

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  49. you mentioned your portable, rechargeable vacuum. i've been wanting and needing a dustbuster type vac for awhile now, but there are so many kinds! and my last one only made it a year before the battery was worthless. what kind do you like?

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    1. Yes, I love it! I received one for my bridal shower over 5 years ago and it is still running great. I have had to replace the filter once which was pricey but worth it for as long as I have had it. Mine is a Black and Decker Dust Buster (4.8V)Good Luck with your search.

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  50. I've used the large (huge) ziploc bags for my childrens out grown or two large clothes, I can see what's in them they can squish in the attic and I can have enough for every size. Now I'm ready to get rid of them all if someone asked if I have some boy's pants in 2t I can just look for the 2t bag grab it down and let them pick. It's worked great for me.

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  51. Great tips - I love the hygiene day idea. It's such a battle to get hair washed and the other little things are easy to forget

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