We all need a hand sometimes keeping up with our busy everyday lives. I have a bunch of tips and tricks up my sleeves that help me get more done each day even when being a mom of many, a caregiver, and a work from home mom makes balancing the eggs in my basket a challenge.
Make feeding your family easier.
Freeze leftovers in single servings for easy reheat meals. This is a handy way for me to keep a stock of meals on hand for the kids to make themselves or my husband to enjoy after work. vacuum sealing freezable meals and filling breastmilk storage bags with soups and stews is a great way for me to keep this stock up without taking up a lot of space.
Take advantage of a slow cooker or an Instant Pot to reduce how much time you are cooking. Slow cookers can be set on low and go all day while you are gone. Some models of Instant pot can be programmed to turn on and cook so your dinner is ready when you are. This will make it easier to feed your family and save you money on eating out on busy days.
Prep your meals ahead of time. Use a Food Saver to seal your prepped meals and add a sticker with directions for easy meals. This is a great way to just toss everything into the slow cooker before you go to work or start a busy day.
Serve meals in a buffet-style to make it easy to get everyone fed and to the table. As a large family, we have learned that serving meals this way makes it easy to get everyone fed and everything cleaned up. A heated buffet server allows everyone to filter in as they are ready for breakfast.
Keep all of your favorite recipes handy in a recipe biner to make finding them easy when you need them. This can even be a great gift to make a copy of for your kids when they move out on their own. —> Find a printable recipe binder here <—
Get an electric tea kettle. This can save you time on boiling water to make something for the kids or just speed up using your french press to make coffee when you need it most.
Feed your family a lot of fresh raw produce. This is one of my best tricks to getting my family to eat whole foods. From the garden of my favorite fruit market-fresh, raw fruits and veggies make great snacks and fillers to go with meals and do not take a lot of time and effort to give to the kids. When they are hungry and my hands are full I tell them to go much some fruits and veggies. There are a lot of great tricks for keeping produce like berries from going bad until you are ready for them.
Build a stockpile of food. From canned goods to filling your freezer having a stockpile can allow you to have everything you need even when life gets in the way. While many of us seen empty shelves this year you can also benefit from a stockpile simply because an extra bill came up or you are too tired to run to the store.
Make lunches ahead of time. Just like if you were sending your kids to school make you lunch for anyone that will be home ahead of time in the morning or the night before. This can make serving lunch easier and take the stress off of you when you do not have to think about what you will do about lunch in the moment. Meal prep boxes make this easy to do for the whole family.
Make cooking faster by gathering ingredients before you start cooking so you do not have to hunt anythign down or figure out subsitutions on the fly.
Make bringing groceries in a breeze by keeping laundry baskets in your trunk. Place everything in the baskets when you leave the store to make them easy to carry in. Another great way to use this system is to sort the cold from the shelf-stable items so the cold items can be put away first without hunting them down when you get home.
Make a menu plan. Menu planning may not be the most exciting thing to do but it can be an amazing way to reduce stress and make your life easier. If you know what meals you planned to make and with what is in the house it is easier to avoid eating out and lower your grocery bill.
Installing a jar opener on the underside of your cabinets makes opening jars a breeze and you will never have to go ask a guy to open a jar for you again. Unlike canning jar wrenches that do some amazing things as well, but this is one you can’t lose.
Tricks to find more time in your day
Wear a fitness tracker watch. Not only can your watch tell you how much you are really moving (A huge eye-opener) but you can set alarms on your watch to help keep you on a schedule. Think of it as your personal assistant nagging you to get things moving. I use an iTouch Air SE and I love that I can set alarms along with a movement reminder and it can track my heart rate and O2 levels to help monitor my health as well and help keep me in the fat burning zone more often.
Stop multitasking. Finishing one task at a time will make you more likely to get everything done rather than everything partially done. This can be a big advantage for people that struggle with finishing things when they don’t stay focused. That is not to say all multi-tasking is bad. Like wearing your baby so you can get more done without an extra set of hands is a great way to multi-task without seeing a drop in your overall productivity.
Get yourself a planner. While it can be easy to overlook a planner because many of us end up starting with one and not finishing it can be a major advantage to helping you get more done each day. Get a planner and use it to make tasks that need to be done and appointments you need to remember to help you stay on track.
Make lists. One great way to get more done is to make lists and use them to track what has gotten done. One trick I use to deal with anxiety from my responsibilities is to make a list breaking down tasks into smaller chunks. As I get each smaller thing marked off I feel less stressed and I have the motivation to keep going.
Delegate tasks to other members of the family. l There is no reason you should have to do it all on your own. In fact, your kids can really benefit from helping chip in to keep the house clean or get meals on the table. It is okay to ask for help and not do everything yourself.
Cook meals in double batches. This can be a great way to save money and time when you need a meal quickly. Simply freeze the other half.
Make your finances easier to handle.
Automate as much as you can. if your chicks are steady or you have found yourself well enough off that you can set your bills to auto-draft you can save yourself the stress of paying bills and money in late fees. These days you can even automate your investment spending. Lower your food budget without coupons by choosing to shop at stores like Aldi where the prices are lower and for many items, the quality is better than national brands. No couponing, no grocery rebate apps, just simple saving.
Make getting ready for the day easier
Set out everything your family needs the night before. This is a great way to make sure you do not have to hunt down shoes, bags, and any other thing you may need in the morning when your too tired to get things done.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get an outfit put together when you are in a hurry. Instead of having a large wardrobe full of things you are less than in love with clean out your closet or build a capsule wardrobe. Keep pieces that mix and match and stick to a color scheme that makes you happy so getting dressed in an outfit that gives you confidence is a breeze.
Keep your makeup simple. While full face make up may make you feel great it can take a lot of time to get done. Instead, save that look for when you are going out and find a simpler look for your everyday make-up syle. Often all we need to look fresh is a little concealer and a quality mascara.
Make cleaning your home easier
Swap your kitchen sink drains for larger drains with deep baskets. This makes cleaning up messes that land in your sink much easier and can help keep your kitchen drains clear if you have kids that often put things in the sink that they shouldn’t.
Use dryer balls to speed up your drying time and reduce static. After you pull everything out of the dryer just toss them back in for next time.
Declutter often. Avoid having to deal with the mess later when it gets out of control by cutting down on clutter before it becomes an issue.
Create a monthly cleaning schedule to make it easier to keep up with your housework. —> You can find a great printable monthly cleaning schedule here <—
Invest in a steam cleaner. This can be used to remove tough messes, clean fabrics that can not go in the washer, and it is great for overall disinfecting around your home.
Get a multi-purpose floor cleaner. Cut down on your cleaning load by getting a wet-dry vac that can be used on hard floors and carpets. The Crosswave wet/dry floor and carpet cleaner to allow you to clean all of your floors with one tool so you can go from room to room stress and hassle-free.
Set a laundry schedule to make keeping up with the laundry easier on you and your family.
Keep your home organized with an organizing checklist (Like this one) to help keep on top of things and reduce stress from clutter.
Find a place for everything and LABEL IT. Making sure everything has a place to go and that everything is well labeled making it easy to find what you want and need without making a mess while looking.
Reduce work life stress
Limit how many times you check your email. While it can be a habit to check your email multiple times a day this can be a source of stress when you feel you should be replying to emails right away. Instead, limit checking your email to 3 to 4 times a day so you can focus on other more important things. If something is vital people will usually opt to call you rather than send an email.
Set work hours and stick to them. This can be a big deal if you work from home or are self-employed. When you never really leave your work because it is in your home it is easy to find yourself on-call 24/7. This can be a major source of stress and is not good for your mental health or your family that needs you to be present.
Don’t take on more work just because you are asked to. I know it can be hard to say no but taking on more work than one person can do just leads to stress and disappointment when you don’t manage to get it all done.
Use a headset when making calls to make it easy to multi-task by leaving both of your hands-free. Choose a wireless headset so you can walk around and leave your phone on the charger.
Create a schedule to keep on task while working. This can be a big help if you are working from home or working for yourself.
Make it easier to stay fit
Bone conductor headphones are a great way to work out and still be able to hear everything around you. I use them for when I am running or doing DDP Yoga while the baby is asleep. They stay in place and I can hear if my grandma or one of the kids needs me. When running out of the house I can enjoy music and hear if anyone comes up behind me.
Build healthy habits. Each habit we build towards a healthier lifestyle makes staying healthy easier. Start with getting more water in your day and move on to bigger habits like getting in a daily workout.
Get a large water bottle and carry it around with you all day to ensure you are getting plenty of water each day.
Meal plan and prep ahead of time to help make eating healthy easier. You can find great meal prep containers to make this easy.
Try a streaming-friendly workout option that allows you to get your workout in anywhere even if it means going outside to be sure you can sneak in your workout while everyone else it running around inside.
Tips top Make life with a baby easier.
If using cloth diapers fold and prep them ahead of time to make them easy to grab and use as you need them.
Use a baby carrier to make it easier to get things done when you have a baby in the house. Simply put the baby in the carrier where she can feel safe and secure while you have two hands to work with.
When changing the diaper of a baby that likes to run away place the new diaper under your baby before opening the old diaper. This will make it easy to get the new one on as soon as the old one is done beign cleaned up.
Amber teething necklaces are a blessing for mom and baby. Even long before your baby is teething they can help reduce inflammation and discomfort. For younger babies tie a knot in the necklace to make it fit better and prevent choking. Always use a clasp that can break away.
Think about putting a mini-fridge and bottle warmer in your bedroom or the nursery if you are bottle feeding. This will allow you to pre-mix bottles for the night and warm it when your baby wakes up without going down to the kitchen with a screaming infant.
Make parenting a toddler and preschooler easier
Make vegetables fun for kids by giving them fun names. My kids like to eat “tiny trees” otherwise known as broccoli. This is a great way to get kids to willingly try something new and help curb picky eaters.
Get down on your child’s level when talking to them. This makes you seem less intimidating, helps build connections between you and your child, and can make it easier for your child to focus on you while you are talking. This same trick works well on kids with ADHD.
Feed your child smaller amounts more often. Toddlers are often grazers and encouraging this behavior with healthy foods is a great way to ensure they are getting enough to eat even when they can not focus on sitting still for a full meal.
Play with your child and use toys to teach. Flashcards won’t have the same memory building potential and learning through play. Instead, play with blocks and name their shapes and colors while playing to help your child make connections.
Limit screen time. Often screen time can make it hard for toddlers to sleep and can lead to a fussy trot. Instead, save screen time for when you really need a break for a moment and use it to your advantage.
Make parenting big kids easier
Just like with the little limit screen time so it feels like a treat and can be used to make your life easier when needed. Kids love screens but they can lower your child’s attention span and cause behavioral issues. Have your child earn screen time or save it for times when you just need some quiet for your won sanity.
Keep playing the focus of your day. Until about age 7 kids should be focusing on play-based learning and even after the more, your child plays the more they will grow in every way from emotional skills to motor skills.
Get your child active every day. Even if it’s just dancing around the kitchen before school. Getting them active can help make it easier for them to stay calm and focused throughout the day. If your homeschooling you will see the difference yourself in how your child fidgets, if your child goes to school their teacher will be grateful for your effort.
Spend one on one time with your kids as often as possible. Even if this is just having them hang out in the kitchen with you while you cook. This can help build connections with your child at an early age that will help when your child is older.
Tips for parenting pre-teens
Encourage reading now more than ever. If you have a reluctant reader here are some times for encouraging kids to read. This age is when children really absorb what they are reading at a very fast pace making it an amazing way for your child to learn.
Have the tough talks with your child around this age and do so often. Pre-teens are often becoming sexually active and knowing your child has the right information and a strong set of values is your best defense. Plus talking to your child often in the preteen years means they are more likely to feel comfortable coming to you when they are teens.
Keep the lines of communication open with your child by ensuring that you regularly have one on one time with your pre-teen. Just like children of other ages pre-teens thrive when they have one on one attention even if it is just for a short while on a regular basis.
Tips for parenting teens.
Set limits and boundaries in a loving way. While teens need limits you should be careful about how and where you set those limits. Sometimes it can backfire if you rashly set limits that are unreasonable. Like my own parents forbid me from even talking to the man I eventually married, because they wrongly assumed he was much older than me and didn’t take the time to actually find out… yeah let that sink in. Boundaries are great but they need to be reasonable or your child is likely to throw them out the window.
Keep tabs on your teen’s phone. Just like with the younger kids my young teen knows I can look and see what she is doing at any time. This will fo course change when she is an older teen but at this point, her safety comes first.
You can place a tracker on your teen’s phone to make it easy to see where your child is when out and about. My teen has my old phone that is still logged into my email address so I can even ping her phone using Google to make it ring if you have it on silent when I need to get her attention (If your child goes to school do not do this during school hours.) I have a friend that uses the Life360 app to track her teens.
Give your child a say in what they do. Teens are more likely to rebel if you strip away their choices and free will. It can be hard to step back and give them space to fall and make mistakes but you would rather them learn when they have you to fall back on later.
Have your teen work. Having a job teaches your teen responsibility, discipline, and money management skills. If they can’t find a job in the current economy have your teen start their own business.
Tips to make your marriage easier
Step away and cool down when fights get heated. Your relationship is not worth saying something you can’t take back simply because you didn’t take a moment to clear your head.
Give your partner freedom. One thing I see women often do is try to be too controlling of their partner. While it can be a bit weird being the wife that doesn’t say not to your husband going out with the guys and just askes to be told if he will be late it has a lot of advantages. Like having your spouse not hide going out and even check in to be sure you don’t need them first.
Do small things for your spouse on a regular basis. Make him feel lived even if it’s just waking them up with breakfast in bed. When you make a point to do for them they will be more than happy to do things for you when you need it.
Use programs like Cozi to help keep track of the entire families schedule sending reminders to both of you so there’s never any confusion over appointments and such. While a paper planner is essential this is much easier for communicating with your partner.
Make caregiving easier
Set up an adult diaper station. This is one of the best choices I have made. I attached a box of gloves, a gropcery bag dispenser, and a basket to hold adult diapers, wipes, and hand sanitzer to the side of a cabinent to make changing grandma a breeze.
Use baby gates to keep your charge out of dangerouse areas. After grandma became a hazered with the kitchen put could still figureout the saftey features we installed we decided to use baby gates to keep her out of the kitchen. Using a couple zip ties and a carbiner hook we made it where she can’t open the gate while I sleep.