When you’re parenting little kids, the daily grind can feel unrelenting and oh-so-exhausting. No sooner have you washed the breakfast bowls, it’s morning tea time. What do you mean you don’t like banana? You liked banana yesterday.
As you clean up one mess, another 3 take place. Why are there bread crusts in the toy box?
Here are my practical mum hacks for making daily life with little kids more sane and so much easier.
1. All hail the humble lunch box
This hack was born when I found myself cutting up the eleventy billionth apple for the day. And it was only 11am. Day in, day out I was in the kitchen all day. Now, I set my kids’ lunch boxes up on the bench as I prepare dinner.
While I’m in and out of the fridge and pantry, I pop things into the lunch boxes for the next day. It’s like a 2-for-1 deal. I’m capitalising on time I would already be spending in the kitchen and setting myself up for the next day, meaning one less thing to organise during the morning rush. Even if we are spending the day at home, having a packed lunch box means that I’m not in and out of the kitchen all day. And it also equates to less dishes which is a massive win in my books.
To be perfectly frank, food is my main parenting strategy. I highly recommend squirreling snacks away wherever you can. In your handbag, the pram, the car… because you never know when you might be faced with a hangry kid or just want to enjoy a cup of coffee while it’s hot.
2. Pack the bags
I still have two kids in nappies so having a well-stocked nappy bag is imperative to any outing. This learning comes after one too many public nappy blow-outs and not having spare changes of clothes – have you been there?
Once we’re home, I try to re-stock the bag so it is ready for the next outing. If I’m in Super-Organised Mum Mode, I’ll even load all required bags into the car the night before we have to go somewhere. Because trying to get a preschooler, a toddler, a baby, a baby capsule and all the related bags out of the house is not a pretty sight. In fact, it usually involves Shouty Mum making an appearance.
I’m also a big advocate of the Car-drobe. Having spare sets of clothes and nappies in the car, for those “just in case” moments.
3. Laundry like a boss
I’m slightly embarrassed to share this tip with you as it makes me sound like a total loser, but I try and hang my laundry on the clothesline in sections according to family member. So my son’s clothes all go on one side of the line, the baby’s clothes go on another and so on and so forth. This means that when you take everything off the line it is already sorted. Extra points if you fold as you take items off the line.
I’m also working on the habit of putting a load of laundry on at night, so that it is ready to hang out first thing in the morning. I am the Queen of “Hang-On! We-Can’t-Leave-Until-The-Washing-Is-Done.” A toddler waits for no laundry.
And we all know that when a washing machine displays one minute left on the load, that this will be the longest minute ever experienced.
4. Everything has a place
It really is mind-boggling how having kids means more stuff. And all that stuff needs a place to live otherwise it feels like you are drowning in all. the. stuff. (Shopkins, I’m talking about you.) If everything has a place, and the kids know where those designated places are, then cleaning up is much quicker.
Teaching kids to clean as they go is a super-useful life skill. If you soundtrack packing away to music, it could even be considered fun.
5. Be prepared
I started to take note of the times when I found it tricky to get things done because my kids were bickering and melting down.
It was generally always after breakfast as I attempted to get the day underway and always as I tried to prep dinner.
So now, I try to embrace my inner-Scout, and be prepared with simple activities to keep them entertained during these tricky periods.
Simple set and forget activities to buy you the peace and quiet needed to get stuff done.Here are my 9 ways to keep kids entertained with invitations to create and build.
6. Meal plan
I often heard people raving about meal planning and wondered what all the fuss was about. Then I tried it.
Meal planning really is a game-changer. It means one less decision in a day already filled with a bazillion decisions. It also means less food waste as you can plan based on what is in the fridge.If you’re a clever cookie, you can cook double batches and freeze a serve which is a massive time saver. Try this: How to Meal Plan Like a Ninja
7. Make the bed twice
I love it when my child wets the bed in the middle of the night and I have to change the sheets. Said no mother ever.
Here’s a hack to make changing sheets in the dead of night a little easier.
Make the bed as usual with a mattress protector followed by a fitted sheet. Then put a second mattress protector on top. Top this mattress protector with another fitted sheet. Then if your little love wets the bed in the middle of the night, you just strip off the top fitted sheet and mattress protector. The bottom fitted sheet and protector means that you don’t have to fossick through the linen cupboard at 3am for a new sheet. Hopefully, this will minimise the amount of time you spend awake and out of bed.
8. Pick your battles
My preschooler had a forty-minute meltdown this morning over socks. Socks! After making peace (and soothing my nerves with coffee), I realised that I had prolonged the situation by refusing to back down. I probably could have avoided the battle by choosing not to engage.
A wise teaching colleague advised me once that you have to pick your battles. Otherwise you spend all your time battling and nagging and cranky. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
It’s okay to let some things slide.
9. Back yourself
This point comes courtesy of my mum. (I got to point number 8 and ran out of ideas. So I did what I always do when I need advice. I asked my mum.)
She often marvels at how parenting seems to have become more complicated thanks to social media. We are bombarded with information, studies and Photoshopped images of what parenting “should” look like. Be open to other opinions but don’t compare yourself to other parents. You’re doing things your way. You know your kids best. Trust your gut and be your own biggest cheerleader.
(Thanks, Mum. I apologise if I ever had tantrums over socks.)
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What hacks do you use to make life easier with little kids?