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May 11, 2018
Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I’d love to take time to celebrate all those mamas out there, whether you’re biological, adoptive, a caregiver, a guardian, a dad or family member who plays the role of mama, those who have suffered loss and infertility, and those who love on other’s babies as if they were their own. I get emotional writing this because being a mom, aside from marrying my husband and giving my life to Christ, has been the greatest decision of my life. I get to watch two INCREDIBLE kids grow and see the world–two kids who could potentially do something great to make a huge impact on this world. I don’t take my job lightly, but ya’ll, sometimes it can really be a JOB. That is not to complain about the opportunity of being a mom, because it truly is a GIFT! But I think others can agree with me when I say that mothering has its challenges. In honor of this special weekend, I wanted to help some mamas, parents, and caregivers out by sharing a few life hacks I’ve learned over the past three years as a mom! Some things are product-based (NOT SPONSORED), some things are practical practices, and others are just plain fun. I’m NO EXPERT, but these are some things that have worked for me and have helped keep some peace and grace into my life while loving on Nora and James!!
Use Long-sleeved Art Smocks/Aprons To Keep Their Clothes Clean During Meals
Children are not graceful eaters. Especially while they are first learning how to it. Everything is with their hands and it just gets EVERYWHERE. Art Smocks can be used for more than creating masterpieces; they can also keep your kid’s clothes clean during meals! This comes in handy for me when we take James and Nora out to eat after church. No one wants messy church clothes, right? Put a waterproof smock over them while they eat, and all you’ll have to clean is their face and hands at the end of the meal!
Purge Clothes and Toys Before Birthdays and Christmas
If your children are loved by a lot of people, like mine are, you are constantly getting new toys and clothes for them to enjoy. But space is always a major issue, am I right? Plus, no one wants their living room with antique furniture to be overcrowded with bright and loud toys (P.S. If you have antique or specialty furniture and have small kids, more power to you!). Birthdays and Christmas has the highest surgent of gifts in our house and many households, so making room for new things is necessary and will keep the clutter away!
For Clothes: Go through their drawers and fold old clothes into a box. If you’re thinking about having more kiddos, they will be available for use later on (yes, even Nora uses James’ hand-me-downs from time to time!). If you’re the sentimental type, hold on to a couple onesies of special significance for a shadow box–maybe that’s their going home outfit, or your favorite booties. Put clothes they have grown out of in a box or bag for hand-me-downs, or to give away to a local clothes drive. My church has a clothes closet to give away free clothes to those in need, and they are constantly looking for children’s clothes. The thing to remember is if it’s in bad shape, or you wouldn’t gift it to a friend, don’t give it to a clothes drive either. There are also consignment shops for children’s clothing where you can trade or sell your kids’ lightly used clothing for other clothes or for cash!
For toys: Go through the toy box and bag up the toys that are at the bottom, first. Likely, those have not been touched in a long period of time, and a lot of time, the kids don’t even remember them. You can even ask your kids what toys they feel they don’t need or don’t play with and allow them to help you put them in a bag. If you’re hoping to do this by yourself and are worried that the kids will get emotional over toys being taken away, go into their room during meal time and hide the toys in a guest bedroom or closet. This will give them a couple days to “move on” to another toy they have and forget about the one they lost!
This may be a controversial subject, but while you’re at it, allow your kids to help purge their toys and clothes and frame it as a teachable moment to give back and bless others with the things they’ve been blessed with.
Use A Backpack + Ziploc Bags
I love my Skip Hop Chelsea Diaper Back Pack!! It carries all my essentials for BOTH kids, has MANY pockets and compartments to store all those much-needed items, including mine. Plus, it is stylish, yet light-weight, and SO easy to clean. As the kids get older (3+ years) you can give them their own backpack with their favorite character (we’re Mickey fans over here!) to take some of the weight off you, and start teaching them to be responsible for their belongings.
And use and clear ziploc bags! Put their change of clothes into bags (squeeze the air out first) to keep them clean. Put snacks in small containers labeled with who they are for and when they were packed (no one wants to find a moldy banana in the bag! Yuck!). Pack 2 extra gallon ziploc bags labeled for trash and for dirty clothes, so when you get home they can easily be placed in their respective receptacles. Pack pacifiers and small toys to keep germs away while the kids’ aren’t using them. Pack crayons in a ziploc and a small notepad and keep it in your backpack at all times. You never know when you’ll have to wait in line, and that’s a great way to occupy them.
In short, Ziploc bags and backpacks are the bomb. Period.
Check The Menu Ahead of Time and PLAN When Going Out To Eat
No parent wants to stay inside the house all day long, so the rare occasion you get to go out, TAKE IT!! Meals outside of the house can seem like a lot of work, but if you plan ahead it can be much easier!
When you choose your restaurant, check the menu on the way there and when the server comes for your drink order, be ready to order the kids’ food first. Kids…they just don’t like to wait to eat. And while teaching them patience is a great thing, allowing them to scream and tantrum over food that’s not there in a public setting is not so fun for you or the people seated close to you.
Pack coloring books and crayons for them to use when they finish their meal. If you don’t mind a little screen time for the kiddos, set up your phone or tablet with their favorite show at the beginning of the meal to get a little peace while you eat.
Do Some Major Research Before Buying Items For Your Kids
Do extensive research before purchasing essentials, and toys for your kids! Seems like a lot of work but it is necessary to make sure the items you buy are safe, and the best bang for your buck. We use a Google Chrome Plug-In called Honey to help us shop online. When I go to a website to search for an item, it will automatically tell us if the item is at the best price at that store, or if I can find it cheaper at another site! This helps tremendously when Christmas shopping online during Black Friday!!
Before spurlging on a popular toy, check out real reviews from other parents on YouTube. Likely they will show you how to use it, how to assemble it (Santa’s workshop is actually us, ya’ll…so many tiny parts!!), and if it’s worth spending your money on it or even safe for your kids to use.
Sign up for rewards programs for diapers and other essentials that will provide coupons and cash back options for those items. If you’re into the subscription thing, Amazon allows you to subscribe for items to be shipped to your house after a determined amount of time (you can schedule it on the website) so you don’t have to worry about running out of the things you need!
Pack A Suitcase With Clothes, Essentials, and Toys and Leave It In The Trunk
Keep a suitcase with at least 3 outfits and essentials for the kids and 1 extra outfit for you in the trunk of your car. This is a huge time saver if your little has an accident or you forget to pack diapers or other essentials. And you never know when one of their accidents will get on your clothes, so it’s always great to have something in their for you just in case. Also, in the rare moment of an emergency, you can whisk the kids out the door without having to worry to pack a bag! While you’re at it. Keep a couple old toys that you purged in the trunk too. This way when you go to a friend’s house and need to preoccupy the kids, they have accessible entertainment ready to go!
Keep Grocery Bags In Your Car To Collect Trash
You know all those plastic bags you get from the grocery store? Put them in your car. Trust me, as long as there are children there will ALWAYS be trash around the car. Use one of the hooks on the side of the door or the trunk (in our van they are on the backs of the front passenger seats), to hook them for easy access.
Let Your Older Kids Help You!!
Would you believe that 2 minutes before I took this picture, Nora was screaming? All it took was James giving her a hug and singing to her to get her to calm down. So sweet!!
If you have an older child/toddler along with your younger babies, LET THEM HELP YOU. Ask them to bring a diaper for the younger ones, take a bottle to them, entertain them, rub their back or sing to them when they won’t stop crying, read to them, etc. Not only will you be teaching them empathy, compassion and responsibility for another human being, but you will also get a few more minutes of your time to breathe during the day. Plus it’s so cute to capture those sweet moments on camera!!
Put Diapers and Wipes on Registries and Gift Wish Lists
When planning your registry for babies, ask for lots of wipes and diapers. When people ask what they want for their birthday or Christmas, say, “Diapers and wipes.” Yes, the clothes are cute, but that will be what you use most and where the largest expenses will come from. Even though James is potty trained, we still use about half our amount of stash of wipes on him because children just plain ol’ make messes. Also, wipes somehow clean up EVERYTHING! Get to go packs and take them EVERYWHERE!
Moving? Put your kids in a moving box with crayons and let them go to town!
If you’re moving with a toddler, use one of your big boxes, dump a bunch of crayons in there, and let them color the inside and outside. During our last move, we did this with James and got about 2 hours worth of packing done in peace–very coveted time with a 2-year-old, ya’ll!
Find Your Village
You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child?” No truer words have been spoken. I am only as great a mom as the people I surround myself with. Josh and I are blessed with so many family members and friends who love our kids so much and help us love and care for them each day. Not everyone has close family near them to help with their kids, but that’s okay. Find people that you trust that will love your kids as if they were their own. Find people that your kids will call Aunties and Uncles, even though they aren’t related. Find people who will allow you to call them in the middle of the night when you just can’t figure out how to get that baby to sleep. Surround yourself with people who will treat you like they do their own family. Doing so will make your mama-heart whole, and help you breathe a little easier?
What are your Mama Like Hacks? Write them in the comments below!!
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