Yes, I am the mother of 15 children. It’s not really that many; I know all of their names in order and even have their birthdays memorized (I suppose being involved in their births makes it a bit easier for me to remember). Walking, running, and leaping down this amazing road of “mommyhood” I have discovered a number of family hacks that have kept me more on top of circumstances than underneath them.
When a passerby asked “How are you doing?” an acquaintance replied, “The best I can under the circumstances.”
“What are you doing under there?” was the return quip.
So, here are fifteen of them (not necessarily in any certain order). Of course, there are probably a thousand or more I could list, but I’m sure you need to hug, cuddle, wipe and feed your own children instead of sitting here in front of the computer all day. Maybe I’ll share another 15 in future post.
1.Keep diapers and wipers all over the house so you can change anyone anywhere anytime.
Changing tables haven’t been a need for me; I have learned to fix my babies up on any surface. If I have a really messy situation, I simply plop the tiny one onto a washable rag or towel.
2. Use bibs.
These save laundry and time in constantly switching outfits. The large plastic ones with the pocket are really handy because they catch both crumbs and drips pretty handily.
3. Just count on sticking babies learning to feed themselves directly into the bathtub after each meal.
Our littles found ways to get food stuck in their eyebrows and ears–too much for a simple wiping. Thankfully, we have a guest bath close to the kitchen, so it was routine to dunk our cute eaters immediately.
4. Shop all-at-once.
Running around steals time and energy from a mom who is already feeling the crunch at both ends. Taking the time to sit and make a plan and a list, and then planning errands around a huge once-a-month grocery trip has made the rest of my life more restful and pleasant.
5. Put your purse in your diaper bag, or vice-versa.
My bags have gotten so huge (I also put my homeschooling stuff in there) that on seeing one of them my husband’s boss said that it was a deterrent to purse snatchers–a definite side benefit! Oh, and I make sure my purse is pretty small, just in case I don’t want to lug the whole piece of luggage when I zip into the store for “only” six gallons of milk!
Something like this could work,
stuffed inside something like this:
6. Keep daily hygiene routines simple but elegant.
Not too much so that you won’t have time to do it, not too little so that you feel like a plain Jane. I think of it like this:
- skin–moisturizer, concealer, maybe a little foundation.
- eyes–eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara
- lips–I have really light-colored lips, so adding a nice tint makes all the difference in my overall appearance (as long as I have done my eyes adequately). I struggled for years and years keeping them covered (so that I didn’t look like a deranged clown after taking a drink of water) until Erika over at Large Families on Purpose mentioned she used lip stain. It was hard at first for this frugalista to pay the price, but it has been so worth it! In just a few minutes I’m good for the whole day! I am currently using Rimmel because it is cheaper but it still works like the more expensive brand and I can easily pick it up on a regular shopping trip to Walmart.
I keep all of my goodies in one tiny pouch which I include in a little wicker basket containing everything for my morning routine.
7. Keep a capsule wardrobe.
Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.
This is just a matter of weeding out what you already have, maybe adding in a few thrifted items to round it all out, and then sticking to it. I like to have a few scarves and even some pendants handy as embellishments (I try to dress nicely even when I’m just around the house because my husband and children really like it when I look pretty for them).
8. Use (and enforce) child gates, especially if you have a lot of little children.
This is a real sanity saver. It also fosters togetherness and has kept me from being a “yelling mommy.” I have simply cordoned off spaces, such as the “parlor,” or the rest of the house except for the playroom or the kitchen where they are either eating or playing and drawing at the table.
9. Bathe small children together.
This one has been around for eons, no explanation necessary.
10. Use a timer and do a quick pick up three times a day.
Basically we wake up and clean, then we do a quick pick up after learning time, another pick up after afternoon play, and still another just before bed. Using a timer keeps this practice within boundaries, gives little children a goal to reach for, and teaches them the concept of time.
11. Keep toys in one room.
Even if there is not a designated “toys room” playthings can be corralled so that they are not strewn all over the house. We have done this, no matter what type of house we lived in, for the last 30 years of parenting. (Of course, the children are allowed one special toy a piece which they could carry about, such as a favorite doll, stuffed animal, or action figure).
12. Keep shoes simple.
Summer, flip-flops and tennies; winter, tennies and snow gear and maybe some dressier shoes for each season for the girls to wear.
13. Pair up kids in beds and bedrooms.
This makes a real difference when a new baby is in the home or when a nursing toddler needs to be weaned. It also encourages a special bond between the older and younger children. We simply paired a much older child with the younger one. As they have grown up they all talk about the special memories they gathered from spending time together this way.
14. Have a number of hair “stations” stocked with brushes, barrettes, detangler, etc.
You could use an ice cream bucket stashed under the bathroom sink, under your desk, in the car, etc. This cuts way down on the time wasted trying to find these essential items during the morning rush or when headed out the door!
15. Have one central place for strewn shoes, one central place for socks.
This helps tremendously on church mornings when actually wearing matched pairs is important! We throw abandoned shoes in the front closet by the door. Our socks go at the bottom of the linen closet in two bins; one for colored or patterned, the other for white.