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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

make it simple, mama!

We are such busy mommas. 
Going here, doing that, driving there, packing lunches, changing diapers, wrapping presents, remembering when to feed and bathe and take to play dates. It's a big job that we do. There is no spare time, I get it. We barely can shower in a day, if we're lucky, right? I definitely understand.

However, I'm a strong believer in the idea that if we put in a little time every now and then to organize our lives, houses, cars, work, etc. then we can end up saving time later and simplifying our life in a way that de-stresses us and makes life a whole lot less overwhelming.

So bear with me. I'm not saying these things could be done overnight or even in a weekend or month's full of weekends. I know life still goes on, despite your wishes and attempts at cleaning up around the place. BUT if you keep this list handy and try to go to it as often as possible (whatever that looks like for you is fine! Just keep doing it!) then I swear your life will get easier, you will be happier and feel more in control of this chaotic mommyhood.

Tips for Simplifying Your Life by Organizing Your World

1.Save gift bags and tissue paper from your own family parties. This way you always have pretty things at home to put gifts in, save money and don't need to rush around finding something at a store.

2. Save birthday cards. My son got a zillion second birthday cards last year. Really cute ones from his friends. But we didn't need to save them all, so I cut off the covers (which have the other side blank) and used those as birthday cards for some of his friends in the next year who were turning 2 also. Very easy, cheap and a nice recycling idea. Saved a ton of time instead of having to find more cards. For the adults in your life, make sure you have some blank cards on hand for all occasions really (showers coming up? graduation? thank you notes needed? sympathy? blank cards work wonders.)

3. Plan ahead. If you have a theme in mind for your child's party (not that you need one, but some people like them), then keep that in mind early so you can be looking at stores for supplies without even really looking. If you have ideas in mind then you will end up stumbling upon cute things like paper plates the exact color you wanted or things on sale. Also with planning ahead, make a list of the kids' parties you think your child will be invited to this year (family at least) and when Target has its huge toy sale (July and January every year) stock up on what you need (a friend does this and saves big!). This will save you time and money.

4. Send E-vite invitations. EASY. FREE. Sooo easy. End of story.

1. Make meals ahead of time. Take a few hours on a weekend (nap time? after kids are asleep for the night - whatever works), and make several meals you can freeze for later. Take these out when you are flying solo for the dinner routine with the kids or during busy weeks or when you're sick and not feeling like cooking. Also, getting a crockpot is a good idea to plan ahead and let it sit.

2. Grocery shop without the kids. Seriously, do I need to explain this one? You forget everything because you're too busy trying to get the toddler to stop throwing things out of the cart so you end up having to go back anyway. Leave 'em home with Dad.

3. Keep a list on your fridge. With Mom Brain happening who the heck can remember if you ran out of butter or oatmeal or dish soap? Write it down as soon as you run out of it and keep the running list on the fridge. 

4. Make homemade baby food. Yes, sounds like tons of work at first, but I swear it isn't, and it SAVES tons of money in the long run, which could be better spent on having fun with you fam!

1. Keep a spare diaper bag in the car.  This is a must! Keep it stocked with up-to-current-size clothing for the kids, diapers, wipes, etc.This is the one that remains in the car, doesn't go to and from the house.

2. Sun hats. My son loves the playground, so oftentimes if it's nice out we'll stop there after I pick him up at school after I get out of work. He has fair skin so needs to wear hats often, so I keep a couple in the car always.

3. Clean it out once in a while! I recently cleaned my car and took out an entire bag of my kids' toys and books, as well as about 10 pieces of crackers and granola bar pieces (hey, we lived in the car this summer going to and from playgrounds!). Just clean it out every now and then to make sure you have room to sit in there.

4. Wipes. We keep a big box in the car because if we're gone for an entire day or a long period of time those smaller cases that we usually have in the diaper bag are not enough. This is also nice for after playing outside when my son gets messy it's easy to clean him up before he gets in the car.

5. First aid kit - You are on the go, you need band-aids around!

6. Stroller - Leave it in the trunk at all times. You never know when you'll need it.

1. Leave the diaper bag there on Monday, pick it back up Friday to re-stock over the weekend. Don't take it back and forth daily. Leave it fully stocked on Monday and just take it home on the weekend to update anything missing.

2. Pack lunches/bottles/breakfast, etc. on Sunday evening. Get these all set for the week, drop at daycare Monday morning, and then start over the following week. MUCH easier than packing daily.

3. Pack each night instead of each morning. Set out clothes for the kids the night before. Get shoes and coat ready in the spot that you intend to dress your child before heading out (it's just easier than chasing your toddler around the house to get ready). Put near the door whatever you need for work or daycare that day. Fill the sippy cup of milk the night before and have it ready in the fridge. Take out your cereal bowl if you need to. Do as much as possible the night before so you aren't rushing the morning of.

1. Go through the medicine cabinet. Toss whatever is old. Add to the grocery list whatever you might need - band-aids, children's toothpaste, cough medicine because winter is coming, a thermometer that actually works, etc. Then update. You will be grateful you did this when somebody is sick at 2 a.m.!

2. Go through toys often. Get rid of whatever is not being used. Rotate toys so it seems like things are brand new. Donate!

3. Keep addresses up-to-date and in one place. Address books are helpful for when you need them!

4. Go through the fridge often and clean it out. Putting things in the right place = spending less money on groceries.

5. Keep a basket of things at the bottom of the stairs to take things up later. Anything that doesn't belong in a room, toss in the basket, deal with later when you go up.

6. Get address labels. Saves time putting on a sticker versus addressing envelopes.

7. Keep photos organized. Make photo books as you go instead of every few years when things are overwhelming, busy and too crazy. Just try to update once a month.Same with baby books - do it once a month, every week write down things on post-its at least that you can transfer later.

Do even one of these things and I swear your life will become easier in the long run. Yes, it takes a little effort at first, but it's worth it if it makes things easier down the road. 

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