Friday, June 18, 2010

Simplify

As we all know, motherhood is a full time job. I, like many moms out there, am always looking for ways to become better at that job. And ways to make it simpler and more meaningful. Sometimes I have an "aha" moment when something in my brain clicks and I come up with an idea that is so great that I wonder how I didn't think of it sooner. Many other times I get great ideas from other moms. That is what I hope this post will be--moms sharing their "aha" moments or little "tricks of the trade" that have helped them simplify their life as a mother and help the days run more smoothly. I will share a couple ideas to get us started.

The first is one I came up with. When grocery shopping I used to find myself glancing over my shopping list over and over when in a certain section of the store to make sure I got everything that I needed while in that area. Even then I would still find myself going back and forth for things I had missed and end up in the same section of the store more than once. Then one day several months ago, it finally dawned on me. I needed to organize my shopping list! Now my shopping list looks like this:
{I apologize for the image being low quality. Click on it to enlarge and see more clearly}
It hangs on the side of my fridge. When I go to write something down on the list, I write it down in its corresponding section. Lettuce in the produce section, diapers in the baby section, chicken in the meat section etc. It has made shopping so much easier and faster! Now when I am in the produce section of the grocery store, I can quickly look at my list and see everything that I need from that section. No more reading over my list over and over and no more going back and forth in the store only to end up in the same place I started because I missed something on my list. Hooray for more efficient shopping! :) I realize for many of you brilliant moms this may be something you have been doing forever already, but maybe it will help someone who hadn't though of it yet.

Another idea I got from a fellow blogger, Andrea at J and A and Co {seriously girls, this mom is incredible! She shares many awesome ideas all the time. If you want to be inspired, go to her blog. She does a grocery list very similar to mine, but truly takes her meal planning to the next level. She shares it all in a 4 part series in her "What I Have Learned Thursday" posts}. This particular idea is one she got from one of her friends {see how we can all learn so much from each other :)}. I liked it because it was simple but impacting at the same time. She assigns every member of her family a station in her home. ie: mom-kitchen, dad-trash cans and outside, big brother-living room, little sis-playroom, etc. At the end of the day or any time mom says "Check your station," everyone goes to their area and makes sure it looks nice and orderly-the way they would want it to look if they were having company over. This helps so much when a quick run through of house cleaning is needed. Everyone is working together and no one feels overwhelmed. Plus at the end of the night, mom can go to bed with a house that is picked up without feeling exhausted. Who wouldn't want that? :)

Now it is your turn! Please share!!

What are your "tricks of the trade" or any "aha" moments you have had that have helped make being a mommy easier and better?

They can be about anything really, so let us know anything you can think of that works for you!

7 comments:

Heather said...

I so appreciate the shopping list idea. I never thought of that! Some easy things that probably most everyone does but I'll share just in case are:

1. Keep an umbrella stroller in the trunk of your car. You're never without it and you don't have to pack it in along with everything else you are trying to get into the car to be some place on time with your kids.

2. Keep the milk sippy for the whole day. It sounds strange, but when my little man has drained his milk sippy, I still put it in the fridge. There is always a little puddle of milk in the bottom of the sippy just waiting to go sour on the counter. So the left-overs go in the fridge and then I can refill it throughout the day without having to use a new cup each time or worrying about the dregs of milk going bad. In the evening, I just take it out and put it in the dishwasher.

3. Keep their things within their reach. My 4 year old love, love, loves to do art with crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors and glue. I keep her stash of scratch paper full and the art supplies are easy for her to access on her own. She can take care of it without having to get me and they have a reachable place for her to return them when she is done. (She's always had access to these things and they are not something new for her. She isn't one to color on walls and floors, so this works for us.) This same principle works with their board games, books, etc. It's one less thing you have to get out and and one more thing they can feel ownership in.

I'd love to hear other ideas out there.

Chris and Laura said...

I've spent all morning trying to think of the different things I do...I'm guessing that I'm so used to them now, I can't think of them all!

A few I did come up with:

I don't fold baby clothes. They are so small, it's annoying to try to actually keep them folded and put away. Instead, I have sectioned off the dresser drawers--shirts, pants, onesies and undershirts, dresses, etc.--and just pile the clothes in those sections without folding them. I have found that much easier than trying to fold them, then getting frustrated when the whole drawer came unfolded as soon as I took one thing out.

When I go grocery shopping with my two girls, I put my 2-yr-old in the seat of the cart and my baby in the front carrier. That way, I still have both of my hands and no little hands can reach the things I am trying to buy. (This works with two when one is still small...I don't know about three yet!)

When we're going on a longer excursion that requires more supplies in the diaper bag, I move all of my toddler's toys and snacks into a small backpack that she can carry. The diaper bag isn't as crowded, so there is room for all the extra stuff, and she can help carry her own things. She finds it quite fun. :)

I also always keep an umbrella stroller, and the baby carrier, in my car at all times. You never know when they will come in handy!

Raylyn said...

I love the shopping list idea! To simplify I only clean one room of the house a day so I don't feel so overwhelmed. I do my dishes everyday though and throw in a load of laundry as well so it doesn't pile up.

On The Go Family said...

I keep a frozen pizza in the freezer so that we never have to resort to eating out when the day gets away from us, I'm not feeing well, etc. It ends up costing us $3 instead of $15 (the cost of fast food for a fam of five).

I also make up a huge batch of pancake mix and keep it in my pantry (minus the liquids, obviously). I save money by making it myself in bulk and I can throw on pancakes in less than five minutes.

Another thing I have come to really love is cooking and freezing brown rice. I got a rice cooker a couple years back and it is so wonderful -- no more having to stir rice constantly or worrying about it burning on the stove! I make up a whole bag (6 cups) on Sundays and freeze whatever is left in quart size bags. Then, during the week when life gets hectic, I pull it out, defrost and voila -- it's ready in two minutes.

Sometimes I brown all my hamburger in advance and freeze it so that I can make tacos, stroganoff, etc, much faster, too.

Heather said...

Does rice freeze well? I had no idea. It also makes great fried rice if you have leftovers. But I like the idea of freezing brown rice because it takes twice as long to cook.

Jared and Delia said...

I really really like that rice tip!

On The Go Family said...

Brown rice does freeze well. My in-laws have always done it and I didn't believe it when they first told me, but now I'm a believer!

I do tend to make fresh rice if we're having guests, but for our regular family meals, nobody has ever noticed the difference.