Category Stay-at-home living

3 Life-Changing Hacks for Home

Mom-life can be absolutely hectic. Your hands are moving at the speed of light but they’re still not fast enough to get the Go-Gurt open before there’s a meltdown. Your mind is racing with a to-do list that’s constantly reshuffling in order of importance. And most infamously, you always need to answer the million-dollar question, “What’s for dinner?”

Cut through the drama of busy days by incorporating a few simple but practical changes to your routine. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!

1. A Good Old-Fashioned Wall Calendar

Yup, some things never go out of style. While phone calendars are essential for on-the-go reminders, sometimes that reminder-ding doesn’t give you much head’s up. Having a wall calendar in easy view helps you remember those important meetings without even needing to pull out your phone.

Not only does a wall calendar improve your own memory, it also keeps every family member—even kids—in the loop. Everyone can see when appointments, baseball games, and extra work days happen so you can plan ahead easily.

2. Always Be Prepared with a Car Emergency Bag

The day will come when you’re out of the house and have a mini-crisis: the kid that’s been potty-trained for years has an accident; the car breaks down in rush-hour traffic and everyone is hangry; who knew that it was going to be below freezing in the middle of September?!

Having a car emergency bag will save you from a variety of headache situations. Always keep a bag in the trunk of your car with “emergency” items, like a change of clothes (yourself included!), extra diapers and wipes, snacks and water, a spare blanket, plastic grocery bags, and other items depending on your climate and age of your family members. Bonus points for necessities like jumper cables, car oil, a first aid kit, and a windshield scraper.

3. Meal Plan

Don’t let this one scare you! While it can be slightly challenging to develop a system that works for your family, once you have a good system, meal planning solves many problems:

  • It saves money – because you’ll get all ingredients during one shopping trip and aren’t tempted to grab unnecessary items mid-week.
  • It saves you from junk food – cravings, running behind, and satisfying whining kids leads to poor resolve to choose healthy options. Ready-to-go healthy ingredients keep you accountable!
  • It saves your sanity – you’ll always know what’s for dinner! Bonus tip: buy a board to write out dinners for the week to keep your family from asking you every five minutes.

Meal planning is made easy through many methods:

  • The List Method – keep a list of 15-30 staple meals and choose from the list. You can also have a list for new recipes to try, side dishes, desserts, and snacks.
  • The Pinterest Method – Pinterest is a mom’s best friend for many reasons, and meal planning is one of them. Search for dinner ideas using the suggested keywords for more accurate results, or simply search for meal plans and take all the head work out of meal planning!
  • The Ultra-Planner Method – if you have the time and drive to do it, you can plan for more than one week at a time—try two weeks or even a month! Canned and frozen goods are your best friend for this method, but allow a quick run for fresh produce once a week.

A Little Sanity

Life with children will always be a whirlwind, but adding a dash of structure gives you some relief and predictability. These methods are cheap and easy to implement but bring a little sanity back to your home life!

3 Unconventional Summer Ideas for Kids

So, school is out. Now what?!

Without their regular routine, kids get bored. Bored kids are crabby kids. Crabby kids make their parents crabby. Don’t be crabby this summer! Try some fresh ideas to keep everyone happy.

1. Splash Parks

A public pool experience has many benefits: your kids are occupied for hours, it wears them out, they make new friends, and you get some chill time. Or do you?

Going to the pool can be a huge commitment. First you’re finding a swim suit that fits, then lathering every exposed inch of skin in sun screen, packing snacks and drinks and towels and dry clothes and toys, and making sure you know where your keys and wallet are in the pool bag. Once you get to the pool and dish out the money for tickets, you’re too busy watching to make sure your kids are safe, re-lathering sunscreen, and wondering if all the chlorine really does kill the pee germs to sit and relax.

Enter the splendid alternative of splash parks. Splash parks are increasing in popularity, especially in larger cities. They’re basically a glorified sprinkler: a concrete slab with various hoses, towers, squirt guns, and other water activities for your kids to enjoy. They’re usually located in a park with a playground, which makes this option even better. Your kids get hot and sweaty while playing on the playground and can then run through the splash park to cool off (while still wearing regular clothes!). While splash parks may not solve all the inconveniences of the public pool (you don’t want to skip the sunscreen!), you get many of the benefits of a pool without having to pay the price—literally, because they’re free!

2. One-On-One Dates

Regular dates with your significant other pulls you out of the rat race of jobs and life, let’s you catch up on important (and trivial) details, and strengthens your relationship. Why not apply the same idea to your kids?

Set some boundaries (the theme park is probably not an option), but let your child pick a place they’d like to go with you. Try to encourage choices that maximize your interaction time, like going to a restaurant or ice cream, the science museum, or a baseball game. While not altogether bad choices, activities like going to the movies don’t allow much opportunity to connect with your child.

Ask questions and get to know them! They just finished a whole school year where there might not have been much down time to connect. They’ve grown since last summer. They have new interests, new friends, new dreams and fears. Most importantly, put down the phone (if your child is old enough to have one, this applies to him too!) and be fully attentive.

3. Find a Summer Program

Provide your kids with a little bit of structure by enlisting them in a summer program. This way, there’s a good balance between predictability and flexibility in their schedule. Plus, everyone gets a little bit of a break from each other!

  • Libraries: almost every library has summer programs to keep kids learning. And often, they come with prizes to keep your kids motivated!
  • VBS: many churches have Vacation Bible Schools where your kids have fun learning about the Bible through activities, crafts, a lesson, and a snack. Have your kids invite their friends for even more fun!
  • YMCA: your local Y offers lots of options for summer programs, including sports and day camps.
  • Specialized camps: camps for academics, sports, arts, and more are a great way to build confidence, passion, and friendships in their area of interest.

Don’t be Crabby… Enjoy Your Summer!

Your kids are only this age once, so celebrate who they are as individuals. It’s often not the big things that make the lasting impacts on our kids, but the little things. Spend time with them, encourage their curiosity, show them you care, and give them space to be active.