And let’s be honest, what mama isn’t looking for simplicity and efficiency?
From one busy, driven mama to another, this is a busy season of life. From the end of summer where there is one last push to fit it all in to the start of the school year and a new routine, to what is sure to be a full and joyful holiday season, there is always something demanding our time and attention, in addition to the usual. My life is no different. So much has happened over the last few months and despite my best efforts, there was no way to fully prepare and no way to maintain the same pace during this season of change. More than anything, this season made me realize the importance of mom hacks – a way to prioritize and bring a bit of ease into a time of change.
This fall, my oldest started kindergarten. Where did the last five years go? And while the transition to elementary school was an exciting one, it was not without its challenges. Let’s be honest… change is hard, for EVERYONE. At the same time, we bought a new house. Our family is so excited for a quieter street and a bit more space to make our own. But while we worked to sell our old house, we were also using our furniture to stage. For nearly two months, we lived in a house with only the essentials – a place to eat and a place to sleep. This made working from home all the more challenging, but being home was imperative as I managed the many tasks that come with homeownership and making a house a home. No one said #adulting was easy.
We many new adventures behind us, we are finally settling into our new normal. But it took time and I’m clinging to routine and the tools that make managing ALL.THE.THINGS. easier for me and my family. As a wellness coach, I know the importance of balance and self-reflection. I also know that we all need a bit of help and wanted to share a few of my secrets, because as moms, we are all in this together. So, here are my top mom hacks for the driven mama that seeks to simplify, while saving time and her sanity.
Communication is Key
As a busy mom and business owner, good communication is a necessity. And keeping a family organized and on-track is no easy feat. Slack is my go-to for communication, whether for my business or with my husband. Slack is a messaging tool, which might not sound that exciting or even unique. But it goes beyond simply messaging. Slack allows you to organize communication. From easily adding links and images to categorizing a conversation by topic, making it searchable. This is key for easily referencing a conversation later and so much more user-friendly than regular text messaging. The other great thing about Slack is that it is available via desktop and mobile, allowing greater flexibility to communicate throughout the day, when and where you need it.
With kids and work, there is so much going on and the only way to stay on top of it all – from activities to birthday parties, meetings and even time to work out – is to write it down. For us, this means a shared calendar where everything lives and I mean EVERYTHING. If someone needs to be there, it is on the calendar. For other families, this might come in the form of a big calendar on the kitchen wall, where the month’s activities are listed out, as well as the week’s dinner plan. The important point is that the information is in a central location where everyone can access and update.
What’s for Dinner?
Dinner is a constant struggle. Just when you think you have it all figured out, someone in the family gets sick or you are gone on vacation, and any positive momentum is lost. The simplest way to get organized is to develop an overall plan for each week. Often, this comes in the form of a theme for each night of the week – meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, pasta Wednesday, etc. This is helpful in that it focuses mealtime by limiting your options to the theme of the night and more importantly, it sets expectations for the family. This is also helpful when trying to get kids to try new foods. If they know what to expect each night at dinner, they are less surprised by what is being served and hopefully, this also means less resistance to trying new things.
With so many activities on the calendar, quick and easy is also super important. This might mean throwing everything in the Crockpot before heading to work, investing in an Instant Pot or prepping food and making extra, especially when it comes to family favorites. It’s so nice to pull a meal out of the freezer, defrost and pop in the oven for a quick and filling family meal on a busy night.
And if you are still struggling to get dinner on the table, there is no shortage of services available to help in this area. From recipes and ingredients delivered right to your door to in-home meal prep or hot and ready meals that can be picked up close to home, the business of feeding a family is no joke and there is no shortage of resources to help.
A Mountain of Laundry
Tackle one load of laundry every day. This is something I try to adhere to and when I do, I so appreciate the simplicity it offers. You might be thinking… who wants to do laundry every day? While it can be daunting to never finish the laundry, it feels so good to always be on top of this task. Because when you really think about it, laundry is NEVER done. The key to doing it daily is that it doesn’t build up. It never becomes the overwhelming mountain that means no one has anything to wear and you will have to stay up late to ensure your kid has pants for the next day. When you do laundry regularly, even if you miss a day, you aren’t really behind.
Prepare for the Day Ahead
This applies to everyone in the family. The morning always goes more smoothly when the clothes have been picked out ahead of time, the backpack is packed and most importantly, an expectation has been set for the flow of the morning. Instead of frantically running around to find what is missing, while still trying to get out the door on time or make the bus, everything is in its place and ready to go. There are no arguments about what to wear. Clothes are planned and set out. This allows you the flexibility to focus on the key priorities – a healthy breakfast and starting the day in a way that sets you and your family up for success.
The key to winning at motherhood and managing the chaos is creating a plan or system that works for you and your family. This plan or system will look different for every family. The important thing is that you figure out where you need help or support. From there, you can identify the tools and resources because there is literally a hack for everything. Need help staying organized and staying on the same page? Try a shared calendar and message app. Need help feeding your family well while on the go? Explore the array of options – from meal delivery services to in-home meal prep – to help plan, prepare and serve a delicious meal throughout the week. No matter the problem, there is always a solution. A tool or technique to simplify while saving time and more importantly, your SANITY!