By Alayne Flores -
You’re tired. We’re tired. We never have enough time. We always have too much to do. Nobody deserves a few shortcuts more than we do. Here are a few of our favorite hacks and insider mom tips that we wish someone had written up into a required-reading manual for us.
Most working moms have no choice but to grocery shop on the weekends, maybe even with grumpy kids in tow. Win back a few hours of your time to do something fun with the fam instead by ordering your groceries for pick up. Whip out your phone while you wait for an appointment, on your lunch break, or while you watch a show in the evenings. Choose the time that works for you to swing by the curb, have your groceries loaded in your car, and you’re off! No shopping trip, no delivery fee, no wondering if the perishables will spoil on your doorstep. Added bonus: you’ll be more likely to stick to what you need and skip the impulse buys brought on by whiny kids or your comfort-craving exhausted self.
How many times do you have to remind, repeat, and then yell at your kids to do their chores? How annoying is it that your husband doesn’t pull his weight in the housework arena? How much do you hate cleaning your house? If you’re like us, the answers are so many times, so annoying, and SO MUCH. Try surrendering to the inevitability of housework in a new way: by making it fun. First, schedule a regular time each week when everyone in your family is home and set aside 30-45 minutes. Second, assign roles to every member of the family; even little kids can help with light jobs like dusting, picking up, or at the very least shadowing you with their Melissa & Doug cleaning sets. Ideally, everyone will be assigned the chores that they dislike the least. Third, blare some music that can be heard throughout the house – country, R&B, pop, kids’ tunes, or whatever makes your family happy. Get silly before you clean – have a quick dance party or make up a go-team-go cheer. Finally, reward your hard work with a treat that only happens after a cleaning party (this is key), like root beer floats, pizza, a movie, or an activity your family enjoys doing together. You’ll be amazed how much work gets done in a short period of time if everyone focuses on set tasks in a fun ambiance, looking forward to an exciting reward, and knowing that the cleaning won’t last long.
FREEZING AND COOKING IN BULK
We are huge fans of bulk cooking – it doesn’t take much extra effort to double or even triple most recipes. Make enough for several meals, then freeze the rest to pull out on a night that you just don’t have time to cook. You can also rely on the freezer for individual ingredients. Steam a Costco-sized bag of broccoli and freeze what you don’t need or chop and sauté extra onions and peppers so that next time you don’t have to. The freezer is also perfect for fruits that are a little riper than you prefer – the extra sweetness will be perfect for smoothies or oatmeal later. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas (take off the peel!), peaches, mangoes, and more freeze well. If you have a baby, don’t forget that you can freeze your purees, too. Steam your sweet potato, peas, carrots, or whatever baby is going to eat in the next few weeks. Puree it in the blender with a little water if needed, and then fill as many ice cube trays as needed and freeze. Stick them in a plastic bag when frozen solid. When you want to serve baby, just grab as many cubes as you need and thaw them on the stove in a small pot, or thaw in a small container in the fridge or on the go so you have a baby snack during an outing.
These are our favorite cooking gadget. Use them to cut chicken or beef directly into a pan – no dirty cutting board! Use them to chop up the kids’ food. Let us loose on a bowl of spaghetti with kitchen scissors and even a one-year-old can finish her meal without a (big) mess because she can get a bite with a spoon.
Baking soda and vinegar are your friends. Save a little money in the laundry room (or the garage). Add a cup of baking soda directly to a load and about a half cup of vinegar to one of the liquid chambers. You’ll cut way down on the amount of detergent you use. Baking soda is also great sprinkled on stains – as soon as the spill happens, soak it in a stain remover and sprinkle baking soda on top generously. After it sits for a while, scrub gently and wash a load. It works wonders.
Another handy laundry tool is mesh bags for wrangling all the little socks and undies that get lost inside fitted sheet corners every time.
SAVING FOR THE HOLIDAYS
No matter how much we try to budget for the holidays, it always sneaks up on us, and we always spend more than planned. This year try our little saving trick. Instead of not saving for the holidays or having the money in easily accessible savings accounts or cash, fund a prepaid Visa card every month starting in January (that’s, like, yesterday!). You can either do a realistic analysis of how much you spent this holiday season and divide it into 12 so that you save the exact right amount for next year, or you can just add a little each month. As little as $25 per month means you are guaranteed $300 to spend on the holidays! This strategy would also work great for other big-ticket items like a car, a vacation, appliances, or a car repair fund.
How do you cut corners and save your sanity? Share your mom hacks in the comments!