March 5, 2018 marked one year of survival with three-kids-under-three. My twin boys were born when my daughter was only two and a half. I love them all with so much of my being, but I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you: most of the time, I feel like I’m treading water. Like, the level right beneath my nose.
In order to “just keep swimming,” I’ve discovered a few mom-hacks that keep things organized, and life moving as smoothly and enjoyable as possible. Hopefully, they can help you, too!
Salad kits: I work full-time and believe it’s better for my body‒ and my budget‒ to pack a lunch. But, when it’s 10 more minutes of sleep vs. getting up a little earlier to pack it, sleep always wins. I need grab-and-go, but the frozen meal options wore on me, never seemed to fill me up, and had lots of additives and sodium. Solution? Enter salad kits. I like a few brands, but basically, it’s an all-in-one meal salad. They are a little pricier than if you chopped it all yourself (about $3-$4) but certainly cheaper than carry-out. I also like to add some rotisserie chicken, canned tuna, or chickpeas for a little more protein. It’s a quick, healthy option! PSA for nursing mommas: these kits are mostly cabbage, so beware if your little one is sensitive.
Diaper files: I need both arms and hands free but packing that backpack style diaper bag for three kids seemed impossible, and I was unloading the whole thing to find something that inevitably made its way all the way to the bottom of the bag. And to further complicate things, at one time each of my kids was wearing a different diaper size. You see the insanity I’m up against? Luckily I found these plastic zip pouches on Amazon! One color for each kid, which holds their diapers, change of clothes, extra paci, and anything else specific to that kid. I use the other pouches for toys, crayons, etc., and they are plastic, so they slide easily between one another, almost like file folders. I fill all the pouches and can get them in and out super quickly.I no longer have to dig or empty out the bag at the cash register to find my wallet! You’re welcome everyone waiting behind me.
Cubes and bins: I LOVE cube organizers and square bins! We use them everywhere: kids’ rooms, toy room, linen closet, and bathrooms. It’s seriously my go-to storage and organization hack. Why do I love them so much? Let me list the ways:
- You can match any decor and cheaply change your mind. There are so many options for fabric bins and woven baskets from a variety of retailers.
- Clean-up is a breeze; just throw it in the bin!
- Yep, same for clothes. (Full disclosure: I do not fold baby laundry).Bonus tip: I make outfits for the kids while putting away laundry. Makes mornings so much easier! You can hang it up altogether or rubber band, and, you guessed it: throw it in the bin!
- These dry erase bin labels from Target make it super easy to get everyone on board with home organization. If you need pictures for small kids, these are a great option, as well.
Stuffed Animal “Zoo” – My house is overrun with stuffed animals, and they needed a place to go. The bins I just mentioned would not work, but those cute Pinterest animal zoos were way outside of my budget. I wanted a DIY, but I’m not a carpenter, and even if I were, where would I find the time?! Ever the problem solver, I purchased this shelving unit from IKEA, left out a couple shelves, and then tied bungee cords purchased from Amazon top to bottom. For less than $100, we have our animal zoo. And, as a bonus, it doubles as a baby gate when laid on its side!
Digital Baby Books – I purchased a fill-in calendar style baby book for my daughter, and I can almost pinpoint the exact day I returned to work after maternity leave because the entries became increasingly more sparse. I did not get discouraged though! I created email addresses for my kids and email them letters, photos, notes, and milestones whenever I think about it. Sometimes the emails are long and emotional, and sometimes they’re a quick “You took your first steps today!” note. I plan to give them the passwords to their email accounts in their teenage years, so they can not only look back on their childhood but also have an email address that is simple and professional.
Bonus tip: I also created a photo stream to share our everyday photos with close friends and family (i.e. not all over social media) and backup my photos via Google Photo (unlimited and free!). I never worry about losing those precious memories!
Kid Playlist – This all started with getting my daughter dressed in the morning and asking her to put her hands up. Somehow, we would break out into Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.” I was inspired to create a kid-friendly playlist on my iPhone. It begins with some Moana and Frozen music, then moves to songs from Sing, then “Party in the USA,” “Happy” by Pharrell, and before you know it, we’ve got a playlist that everyone enjoys in the car. Whiny kids leaving grandma’s house? Offer up listening to Moana, and you’re home free! I’ve always got my ears open for popular songs with kid-friendly lyrics and beat.
Wunderlist App – As an organized tech-savvy mom. there are lots of digital things I love, but this app takes the cake! This list-making app is free, available on your mobile device and desktop computer (hello grocery list at work!), and is sharable. You can add notes, e-mail your lists, and set reminders. For example, I have my personal to-do list, but then the grocery list is shared between my husband and me. I also keep on-going wish lists, so I’m never at a loss of what to tell grandparents what the kids might want for birthdays and Christmas. Oh, and it syncs to a cloud so you won’t lose your lists‒ or your mind! I seriously cannot imagine life without this app.
Mommas, what hacks would you add to this list?