15 Family Hacks from a Mom of 15

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.

family hacks

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.

That’s definitely not all folks! The more I type, the more ideas come to my mind. I’ll have to add another installment to my future posts list.

While we’re at it, are there any hacks you could add?


24 thoughts on “15 Family Hacks from a Mom of 15”

  1. We keep a hanging pocket shoe holder on our side door where everyone enters. As they enter the shoes go straight into their pockets before coming up in the house. Little ones on the bottom & bigger as they go up. So everyone can reach their own. Little ones all fit a whole pair in each pocket. Us older ones (including myself) fit a whole pair of sandals/flip flops in one pocket. Keeps shoes organized, off the floor & ready to go out quickly again.

      • Glad to hear! 🙂 I forgot to mention my favorite part about that is that there are tons of shoes in one area, but it’s off the floor. I love having less space taken up by our already teeny tiny entry way! In the winter we have one pair (no sandals, dress shoes, water shoes…) of shoes each and use the other pockets for hats and gloves as well. Again, each kid knows as soon as they walk in to put their stuff (shoes, hat & gloves) in their pockets. Even the youngest know the routine without harping. Just a friendly “Don’t forget about your pockets” is all it takes on occasion.

          • We have the pocket shoe holder, too, for our five youngest. Even the 1 year old knows where to put his shoes! I finally bought big packages of all black socks, each package has a different colored words stitched on, or different name brand stitched on. Hanes has different colored words stitched on for each size now. One child has Hanes stitched in blue, one in green, one has And1, one has No Nonsense, etc. Makes it WAY easier to know whose socks are whose. I don’t buy white socks anymore. When they are worn just one time, they look stained, and I can never get them clean-looking again. Kudos to Erika at largefamiliesonpurpose, she talks about using Zout to get all the kids socks clean, but I don’t have time to spray socks for five children, two or three times a week! We spend enough time just LOOKING for socks that match! Also, I finally SEWED hats and mittens to each of my younger children’s winter coats-ahhh, a definite stress reliever, especially on Sunday mornings!

  2. We don’t fold laundry. We hang things that might wrinkle and the rest juat goes into drawers. We train the kids to dotheir own clothes at an early age (not the washer, just the sorting and putting away).

  3. A bathroom caddy for the car. I can carry 6 cups, a checkbook and my cell phone in one hand. Leaving my other hand for a diaper bag and keys and a hip for the baby! Best lifesaving hack ever!

  4. I absolutely love this post! My husband and I are getting ready to add our 5th bundle of joy in February. I have been trying to figure out how to do once a month shopping but I always forget to put items on my list 🙁 Do you have any suggestions?

    • I’m so glad my post blessed you! The way I keep track of what we need is to make a master list to go by. I have pages I created in Word that are split into categories (such as “produce” and “dairy”) and then I have these categories split into two columns; the one on the left is for essentials, and the one on the right is for “niceties” or seasonal items (such as fruit in season, holiday fixin’s, etc.). Then, on the day before I shop, I go through the list and check it with what’s in the cupboards, freezers, etc. This way I keep everything stocked up and I don’t have to fry my already limited brain 🙂

      • Thank you so much! I will definitely be trying the master list. Your post has truly blessed me in so many ways. I really want our family to keep expanding so I need all the tips and hacks I can get.

    • I use the “Cozi” app for planning everything! It’s a family planner, so everyone adds to the schedule. You can add recipes in the recipe box and when you want to have it gir dinner you can add to the calendar with a click. Best part? You can also add it to your shopping list and it puts all the ingredients on the list for you! Check off what you’ve already got and there you go! When 4 grandchildren moved in this app changed my life!

        • If I remember correctly the single user app is free but you can upgrade, which is what I did, for less than $20 a year for the multi user. I upgraded so my husband can download and link to the app. I can put things on the calendar and have notifications go to him, or if I need him to do something for that specific event/appointment, I put it in the notes of the event. Its definitely worth the upgrade!

  5. Only one style (usually black for the winter and white for the summer) for all the kids until they are old enough to match them themselves. Until then, ALL socks match for the boys so you can just grab 2 socks and be sure they match!

    • Yep, this is truly an important idea, Sonyia! I try and keep to this one, too, only we do white socks for girls and black socks for guys.

  6. We go straight from bottle to CamelBak water bottles that only ever have water so not too hard to clean.

    I’ve learned to use my HUGE jam-making pot for cooking and to have a basement with shelves for staples like flour, sugar, cereal, crackers… And to buy in bulk for big sales.

    I’m with you on diaper changes – we have 2 baskets, one upstairs and one downstairs. Also – our grocery store brand diapers work great – save money, name brand is not necessary!

    Learn to can – jam is easy and we use a jar a week. Buy a really good bread maker and keep it going – we just started grinding our own wheat for bread too but so much easier to dump things in and walk away then attending to it all day. Grow a garden. Raise a few hens so you always have eggs.

    If you homeschool don’t stress the younger years! They WILL learn to read. They WILL learn to write. The things I have read say not to really stress much until about 3rd grade. Also ANYTHING can be a lesson down to helping Mama count teaspoons and things while cooking. Teach the older kids to teach the younger ones how to do things. Being able to teach something correctly is the ultimate level of knowledge mastery.

      • I would love to learn at your feet. I will have 6 within 8 years and I am daily struggling to feel like I do enough. It could be that I’m 35 weeks and as big as a whale and every movement hurts.

        It is hard to find good role models for living a traditional life with many children. It is also hard because for many of do not have mothers who raised us to have large families and the small numbers of the family we do have are spread over the country and not available for support as easily.

        Without the grace of God we would be completely lost!

        • Totally understandable! I agree that there are few women who actively promote traditional roles, but there are also a bunch of women who actively desire to learn! I started blogging because I was one of those women who was seeking what the Bible refers to in Titus 2 as an “older woman” whom is directed to encourage the younger women.

          Yes, without the grace of God I would be lost, too!


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