Mornings are busy around here. Fortunately, I have a fairly self-sufficient 9 year old who knows the morning routine. She will get dressed on command and generally doesn't need much prodding. My 5 year old, on the other hand, is easily distracted. If I sent him into his room to get dressed, 10 minutes later I'd be likely to find him sitting there in his underoos building a castle with Legos. So for him, we need lots of structure and constant monitoring. This gives me less time in the morning to get everything done, so I have to do things to simplify my life and make life easier for me in the morning.
Here's what I do:
1. Every month the lunch menu comes home. We go through the whole month's worth of menu choices and write "B" or "P" for buy or pack. Each kid has their own color (currently blue and red). This means at a glance, I know who is buying and who is packing. If he is buying, I put his lunch money in his back pack the night before. This is a time saver since no time is wasted because someone doesn't know what they want to eat for lunch that day.
2. The lunch menu trick is also a great way to know how much cash I need to have on hand for lunches. The menu rules, so unless there's a bread emergency, whatever was pre-selected is how you are taking lunch that day. If I count up the buys, I'll know approximately how much money I need to get out of the bank in single bills. No digging around my purse for money and hoping it is there!
3. Do laundry on a consistent basis. I hate laundry. Really hate laundry. However, if I keep up with it, I don't feel so overwhelmed and, more importantly, I don't have my husband telling me that I need to do work clothes for him at 11 PM when I'd rather be sawing logs.
4. Keep grocery bags in the car. I am the worst at remembering my bags at the grocery store. If I do happen to remember to bring take them in and use them, they never seem to wander back to the car. In this day of remote locking, I find that it is easy to remember to take them back by locking your car the old fashioned way - once you've walked the bags back to your car. This makes life easier because you can fit way more into reusable bags than you can into plastic ones. This means less trips to and from the car when you are bringing in groceries.
5. Plan to eat last night's dinner for lunch. This is something that is extremely easy for me right now because I'm a stay at home mom. It is also a life saver for me because I have food allergies and sensitivities that make traditional freezer meals a non-option. If I set aside left overs and earmark it for lunch the next day, I find that deciding what's for lunch is a whole lot easier.
6. Cash back at the grocery store. My bank is a good 15-20 minutes from where I live. It is inconvenient to get there and the ATMs for it aren't wide spread. Sometimes you just need cash and getting cash back is so much easier at the grocery store or Walmart or wherever you happen to be. Plus, you avoid ATM charges if you try to use an out-of-network ATM. So when I know I'll need cash for a hair cut, I typically get it as cash back when I run into the store for milk, bread or eggs.
7. Google Calendar is my friend. I am, at times, forgetful. I am always afraid I'll forget something important... like, oh, making a dentist appointment for the kids... hold on, I'll be right back....Ok, I'm back. I just went to my Google calendar and told it to send me an email next Monday to schedule the kids' dentist appointment. Now, it will email me Monday morning bright and early to remind me that I really need to get them in to the dentist. Using Google Calendar makes my life easier since I know I can create an important date and then have it email me to take action.
8. Buy catsup in bulk. I know, what does this have to do with making life easier? Well, for one thing, I'm pretty sure that catsup is a vegetable in my house from the nearly daily appearance on the kids' plates. It nearly made my hubby sick the one time the kids' slapped catsup on the filet mignon that I'd made for dinner one night. Since we go through catsup like water, it is so much easier to buy it in bulk. Knowing what you go through like water means you can target things that you should just buy without thinking whether or not you need it at this very minute.
9. Shopping online. Shopping online is a gift you can give yourself. Seriously. This time of year is difficult with so many birthdays so close to Christmas (my son's is 2 days after Christmas), so shopping online is a must. I can buy presents all day long and have them delivered when the kids are at school. This way, I don't have to try to hide things in carts so the kids won't see. It also means less crowds to fight through and no rude people running me over with their cart because they just have to get the last Zhu Zhu pet. It also means Cyber Monday!
10. Cook and freeze. As I mentioned, I have pretty much limited options when it comes to frozen meals. My store here is fairly small and while it does have some gluten free options, most of it is too cheesy for me or just has weird ingredients I'd never eat alone, nevermind it being mixed into a "lasagna". Therefore, when I make a huge pot of gluten free chicken noodle soup, I get out my Ziploc round freezer safe plastics and scoop extra portions into them for later use. Each time I make a spectacular gluten free meal, I make sure I save a portion for the freezer so when I'm short of time or just don't want to cook, I have my own home-made gluten free options to choose from.
That's what I do to try to make my life easier! What tips do you have that keep you sane? I am considering a strict cleaning schedule to help keep the house more clean and orderly. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you do that in your own home.
Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Oral-B blogging contest, making me eligible to get full-sized Oral-B Glide products and a $30 Target gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”
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