While life is grand, it sure can be chaotic as a mom. Since life is definitely too short to do things the long way, I compiled all the ICM writers’ favorite mom hacks to share with you. We’re covering everything from the home and food to kids and road trips!
Manage ALL the paper: Have a station at home with a magnetic white board to see the school lunch calendar, sports schedules, and a wall file for each kid to manage their individual papers, keeping your counters and dining room table clean!
Keep things on the kids’ level: Keep snacks and napkins down low in the kitchen so they can get what they need themselves. Have hooks for backpacks and coats when they get home, and a basket next to it to put hats and gloves.
Make things work for you: We took the door off our entryway closet and made it a mini mudroom.
Toothbrushes in the kitchen: Brush right after breakfast and after supper, before leaving the kitchen!
Do the kids’ hair while they eat breakfast: Keep a tub with hair ties, clips, detangler spray, a brush, etc. on top of the fridge.
Fridge: Use slotted racks over things in the fridge to gain extra “shelf” space.
Cookie sheet covers: Use foil or parchment paper on cookie sheets when baking to easily clean the pan. BONUS–you can soak the foil in soapy water and reuse it multiple times.
Tornado ready: During tornado season, keep a phone charger, snacks, water, diaper, wipes, etc. in the basement or in your safe room.
3-hamper system for laundry: Everyone throws their laundry in three hampers: whites, colors, and darks, which roughly corresponds to hot, warm, and cold for most of our clothes. You can easily see which hamper is fullest, and anyone can grab it to start a load! Check out all these laundry hacks and stain tricks, too.
Cleaning on a schedule: Earmark specific chores the same day every week. For example, strip bedding and wash sheets every Wednesday, vacuum on Tuesday/Thursday, etc.
Teach your kid “move out skills”: Have them do their own chores that they’ll need to know: laundry, clean their bathroom, etc.
Hire someone to come clean your home: This is totally worth the money if you have it in your budget, and it forces you to keep your home ready for someone to come do the deep cleaning.
Stop cleaning up after everyone: Let everyone see what it feels like to live in a messy house and hopefully they will solve the problem themselves! (Don’t hold your breath, though…)
Stop matching and folding socks: Put socks in a bag or bin and let each person get their own. (We’ve got lots more kid clothing hacks!)
10 minute tidy: Before bed, everyone helps and makes sure the toys and books are put away, dishwasher loaded and run, counters and table cleared and wiped down. It takes 10 minutes with everyone helping and makes getting out the door the next day so much easier!
Prep the next day the night before: Clothes laid out, lunches packed, backpacks packed, prep supper the next night, get the meat out to thaw, etc.
Get up before your kids: If you are ready, you can get them ready and the chaos is so much less.
Automate your bill pay and savings: Try this one small switch that can change the way you budget!
Stop grocery shopping yourself: PICK UP IS THE BEST! Walmart, Hyvee, and Target all have it now, or use Instacart for Aldi, Costco, etc. Use our Guide to Online Grocery Shopping.
Keep your toaster on a small cookie sheet: Not only does it catch crumbs, but it makes it easy to slide in and out of a cupboard and keep your counters clear!
Egg in a mug: Need a fast, healthy breakfast? Spray a coffee mug with cooking spray, crack in an egg, whip, and microwave for about a minute.
Make-ahead egg cups: Make a dozen egg cups every Sunday so you have a quick, healthy breakfast to eat on busy mornings.
Smoothie shortcut: Make a blender full of smoothie, then freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays. Throw 4-5 “cubes” in a container for kid lunches. By the time lunch rolls around, it’s thawed to a slushee consistency. Filling lunch with protein=done.
Grab & Go: Make five peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunches on Sunday for a grab & go lunch that week.
Publish your plan: Plan the menu for the week and “publish it” on a white board in the kitchen and on social media for accountability. I post every Monday on Instagram and it keeps me accountable!
Thaw the meat: Pull meat from the freezer for planned meals and put it in the fridge at the beginning of the week—I’m less likely to say, “Let’s get take out” if I have food that will go to waste if I don’t use it!
Theme nights: Have theme nights with meal planning—Meatless Mondays, Try me Tuesday (new recipe night!), etc.
Buy & Cook in Bulk
Make two: When you are making a meal, eat one and freeze the other for a future meal for yourself or a friend!
Cookies on demand: Make and freeze cookie dough balls for cookies on demand
Extra storage: Buy in bulk when on sale and store it in a different space. We have a shelf in our garage that is our dedicated grocery shelf. Before buying groceries, we go “shopping” in the garage and re-stock our pantry inside. This trick gives us fewer trips to the store, fewer impulse purchases, cheaper, eco-friendly, and less packaging!
Make extra of the time consuming things: Whenever I make rice, I make a big batch and then freeze the leftovers in gallon freezer bags. You can take out just what you need to microwave for lunch bowls, quick clean-the-fridge stir fry, etc. Pro-tip: Freeze your extra Chinese take-out rice and save it to make fried rice for another meal.
Money Saving Foods
Cheap meals: Have a list of super cheap meals and serve at least 2-3 of them per week. Rice and beans, clean-out-the-vegetable-drawer stir fry, homemade pizza, pancakes, eggs & toast, and anything vegetarian are all cheap hits!
Plan 3, Leftovers 3: Plan three meals for supper each week, eat leftovers for 3 nights and your final night is take-out or an easy frozen pizza and bagged salad! REPEAT!
Morning bath: Kids don’t have to have a bath at night! Move it to the morning or afternoon if it is easier.
Swim lessons: After swim lessons, have the kids shower there and have them wear their pjs home: they’ll be ready for bed and you’re saving on laundry!
Stomach bugs: When your kid is puking, cover everything in towels, blankets, or puppy pads–so much easier to clean up!
Kids taking regular medication: Use a permanent marker and create a chart on the medicine bottle. Or text your partner each time you give it so you never forget or double up.
Diaper box method: As your kids outgrow clothing organize it in their current size diaper boxes!
Stop buying new: Goodwill, yard sales, online free sites, etc all offer good-as-new or actually brand new gifts. Buy throughout the year and stash away for your gift needs!
Present stash: Bulk-buy kids’ presents when they go on sale and keep a stash hidden away—maybe even wrapped and labeled with a post-it note. When the neighbor surprises your kid with an unexpected holiday present, no sweat! You just so happen to have one for her, too.
Rule follower: Telling kids “ I don’t make the rules I just follow them” is a GREAT phrase that gets my toddler and preschooler to listen.
Lie: Yes, sometimes it’s needed. The park is closed, mom’s phone doesn’t work in the van, Santa won’t leave presents in a messy house . . . all totally worth it.
Photo list: When we go shopping and the kids want something, take a picture and add it to their birthday or holiday wish list, sending it to family or friends who need gift ideas.
Out and About
Play areas: Big Grove and Wild Culture Kombucha bar were both recommended on Facebook for having unique play areas for kids. UIHC has a playground that is almost entirely enclosed which is great if you have a runner. Enjoy an appetizer or beverage while your kids play! Check out our indoor play guide for a full list of ideas!
Car music: In the car exclusively listen to CDs or the radio–no streaming off the phone to minimize arguments.
Early risers: Need to get out of the house early? The malls typically open early for mall walkers. Take the kids to run around or go to the play area and beat the crowds.
North Liberty resident: Check out their own local hacks here!
ROAD TRIP HACKS
Pack the snacks: Pack pb & j’s for meals and snacks, plus water and snacks for mom and dad, and save a ton at gas stations!
Prepare for sleep: Wear comfy clothes and have neck pillows and a blanket to help kids sleep
Clean as you go: At each stop clean out car- throw out trash, reorganize toys/books- get new stuff out
Pass it around: Keep extra paper cups for food distribution.
Lap trays: Use lap trays for eating and activities.
Pack purposefully: Pack clothes in packing cubes or put kid outfits in ziplock bags.
What MOM HACKS can you share?