Life Hacks

The other day I was thinking about how helpful it could be to share the everyday shortcuts that I use. I’m all ears to hear about what other people do to make their household run smoothly. My “hacks” aren’t just for moms, or women for that matter. Anyone can benefit from the laundry idea! I’m sure there are more things that I do that are considered a shortcut- but these stood out to me as hacks that I use on a daily basis.

We have a large family, and keeping up with laundry was a pain. Getting behind was never a problem for us, because I’m a stickler for cleaning often! However, I was on the lookout for ways to make it easier. Enter the Daily Laundry Hamper- it gets filled and emptied EVERY day. Everyone in the family (ok, usually kids but sometimes James and I will use it as well) takes off their dirty clothes at the end of the day and tosses them in the hamper. We keep it in the laundry room right in front of the machines. I am usually the one who empties the hamper into the machine. After they have been dried, we fold them, and put each person’s on a step. They get carried up to the bedrooms when each person goes to bed. That’s it! Daily laundry, all mixed together, done once a day rather than doing each person separately once or twice a week. For us, this works!

t-3 Our family hamper for daily laundry.

The bane of our existence as parents is socks. My husband and I hate asking “where are your socks?” ninety-two times a day. Each child has 2 feet, and yet I always find one sock at a time- always. How do you take off one sock at a time? EVERY time? and they are usually thrown in two opposite corners of the house. It seems to me that this would like way more effort than putting the socks together in the same place, you know? They multiply- like fungi- on every surface of our home and yard!! haha. My husband reached a breaking point where he had HAD IT with the socks getting lost, and being all over the house. His solution was to get a zippered laundry bag off of Amazon.

This purchase was life changing for us! When everyone disrobes and takes off their dirty clothes, they put the socks in the hamper as well. After clothes are washed, the socks do NOT go to bedrooms or closets; they stay in the laundry room. When people are getting dressed, they go to the sock bag and grab a pair when they are downstairs and about to walk out the door. This was supposed to completely solve the sock problem- it did not. However, it is a vast improvement! Do the socks always match? No. Are they the wrong size, i.e. a big sock for a preschooler, sometimes. The kids are responsible for putting their socks into the hamper, and then dumping them back into the sock bag- clean. Somehow, a magical sock troll eats one from time to time so we wind up with an odd number. So, all of my kids share socks. No one has their own drawer or bucket in their room, because it was a waste of time (to me) to track down each person’s socks, keep them clean and together, and in separate closets. We share! A lot easier. Proviso- Lana has a few of her own that I keep in my room. She also wears some out of the laundry room grab bag!

 

After socks, the second worst part of our day consisted of the great shoe hunt. Oftentimes, the shoes outsmarted us and remained unseen, neatly tucked away under the dining room table, behind a chair in the basement, or beside the toilet in the powder room. It used to drive me nuts when my husband and kids would take their shoes off right inside the front door when we lived up north. The house was small, and the front door opened right into the living room. I was always carrying them to the tiny mudroom off of the backdoor. This way, we had more room and we weren’t tripping on the every time we opened the door. I understand how their way is easier- the shoes come off of your feet, and you don’t track dirt or germs around the house. They are right where you need them as you are leaving the house. When we chose the house we live in now, one of my favorite features were the shoe cubbies! The “lockers” reminded me of something I would have spotted on Pinterest. We have 4, and I wish we had more! I love the lockers.  If you are able to build some, or are looking to buy a house- I highly recommend these! They have been a game changer for us. It’s easier to be organized, keep the floors clean, and find the shoes when you are getting ready to leave.  I also bought straw baskets from IKEA to keep random sports paraphernalia in, and cold weather gear: baseball hats, baseball gloves, scarves, hats, mittens, and umbrellas.

 

Several years ago, I developed a femoral hernia that caused very sharp pain when I walked up and down stairs. During the pregnancies especially, I tried to avoid any activity that could make the pain worse. It was really tough for me to run upstairs and grab clothes for the kids. If they spilled something, or needed pajamas- I would have to have help. Now they are a lot more independent and my hernia got fixed (lol) but we still get pressed for time. It took me a few years to figure this out, but boy am I glad I did! The next life hack that helps our days run smoothly is having a place for clothes in the kitchen! That sounds a little odd. It started out as something to help me, because walking, in general, was difficult. Now, it’s a time saver and a way to help the kids be more independent. They can pick out their own pajamas by the age of 3, help put laundry away by the age of 3, and change clothes without a big hassle. We keep a lot of underwear, t-shirts, play-out-side-get-muddy shorts, and pajamas in a little storage area in our kitchen.

 

On the rare occasion that we forgot to make lunches the night before, we found ourselves running around like chickens with our heads cut off, throwing anything we could find into a lunch box. The kids wouldn’t have a thermos or anything to drink and forget about a napkin! Preparing lunches ahead of time is a MUST for us. We shop in bulk for healthy, quick snacks that the kids can use to make their own lunch, and my husband and I set up an assembly line to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches en masse, ahead of time. We stock the freezer with the pb&j, and for nut-free places, I keep pigs in a blanket in the freezer too.  Keeping the freezer well stocked helps with making lunches ahead really easy and uncomplicated. However you choose to make meals, I am a firm believer in doing it the night before- not the morning of an event!

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I cannot get going in the morning without coffee. Have you seem those memes about people who can’t walk/walk/make any decisions before they’ve had their coffee? That’s me. I used to tease my husband about using a French press, because I thought it looked a little fussy and high maintenance. Then…I tried it a few times. I made my own cold brew and I changed forever! I am obsessed with cold brew. And chocolate. The two things are a marriage of my favorite substances on Earth- coffee and chocolate. Cheesecake is a close third. I pre-make my coffee ahead of time so that in the morning, all I have to do is pour and go- no brewing. My tastes may change in the cooler weather, but I have been drinking iced coffee for a while now and that’s my favorite. I use a creamer with cacao in it, coconut oil, and a super food blend with a lot of vitamins. It’s not from a direct sales company- just something that I read about, and ordered online here.  If you are a stickler for eating clean, it fits the bill. If you want more superfoods with dense nutritional value, this is a winner. It tastes ah-mazing!

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My husband keeps track of a google calendar that integrates which shift he’s working at the hospital, with sports practices and games, with my doctor appointments, with everyday life commitments. I have that icon on my phone so that I can see when he’s working at any time. Personally, I still need to have something in front of me- a tangible calendar. I use Erin Condren’s life planners, because once you’ve tried it, nothing else will do!  She says that you are 42% more likely to reach your goals if you write them down! I’m kinda nerdy when it comes to organization, so I get a wide variety of colored pens to write in my calendar. Each planner is highly customizable. I am able to do meal planning, write down every practice for sports, long term goals, well-visits for the kids 9 months out, and a whole lot of other things! I have stickers to mark birthdays and special events also. A great day planner is invaluable. I keep it in the kitchen- where I can see it when I’m cooking, drinking coffee, unpacking/packing the kids’ bookbags, and watching the news in the evenings.

 

Before I leave the house I put on a little make-up. Like a LITTLE little. I have to take my kids to preschool in the mornings, sports events and church on the weekends. For weekends, doing something social or going on a date with James, I’ll spruce myself up even more. Since most of my social contact revolves around the kids at school or sports, I don’t need to look like I’m competing in Miss America. I would, however, like to cover up under eye circles, brighten my complexion (I can get pretty pale when not in the sun), and put some color on my lips. I look healthier and feel more confident when I make a small effort to look pulled together. My go-to for all of the above is Maskcara. It’s quick, doesn’t look heavy and product can be used for multiple purposes. For instance, I take the cream blush and it looks great and lasts as lipstick, I can use the illuminator on my eyes as well, to brighten them up! The contour color gives my face more dimension and cheekbones more definition! I am known for having very round cheeks- which is really cute when you are 5 years old, a little less so when you are 37.

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Each one of these hacks helps make my life easier. I can go from one activity to the next with less stress, more planning, more intention, and saving money. We don’t lose as many socks and shoes, I buy fewer groceries when I can meal plan and stick to it, I only use a little bit of make-up and I love it, I don’t brew more coffee than I can drink before it tastes stale or bitter, and my children can more self-sufficient because I’ve given them the tools to do things at their level. The laundry, the bookbags, purses, socks- everything is easier to keep up with, keep organized and I don’t feel overwhelmed as often. Of course life gets to me and I feel like I’m drowning from time to time! Doesn’t everyone know that feeling? Coming up with hacks definitely helps me feel more put together.

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