It's a new year and a great time to start some routines to make our lives as Momma's (or Dads) a little easier!
With three kids myself, laundry is NEVER ENDING (I am not even exaggerating...it is literally never ending). Though it's not really a "hack" it will make all the difference if you can do one load of laundry a day. It keeps the pile small and manageable.
Don't be afraid to get the kids involved. My 5 year old is totally capable of putting away her own laundry and my 3 year old helps me to match socks!
For the older children, lunch making can be a total pain. I am in the thick of it with my five year old and have found the easiest way to manage it is to make it the night before. I unpack it as soon as we get home, clean her lunch box (we have Planetboxes, which I am obsessed with) and re-make it as I am making their dinner. All the food is out, kitchen is already a bit of a mess and stick it in the fridge for the next morning.
It also helps to make water bottles the night before and stick them in the fridge. The next morning when everyone needs water, they can either grab it themselves or you can hand it to your baby right away. One less step while you are trying to chug that coffee!
3. Car Travel
Suburban life requires lots of in and out of the cars (and sometimes rides longer than anyone wants to). We keep a bag of snacks, first aid kit and some activities on hand in the car at all times. If you have a baby, keep a container of wipes and diapers for emergencies so you don't have to bring a diaper bag for quick school pick-ups, etc...
We also have a rule that we keep one hand on the car at all times while we are waiting for everyone to exit the car. It helps me keep track of each child and prevent them from wandering too far while I am unbuckling the others.
My children make so many pieces of artwork. At the end of the year they come home with all their "work" too and I find myself overwhelmed with what to do with it all. I've gotten into the habit of taking a photo of each piece and saving it using an app called "Artkive". It allows you to save the art work, label and date it and even create books or other things when you're ready.
We are knee deep in Winter here (literally knee deep in snow) in the Northeast and so crafts are happening on the reg (stay tuned for some fun craft ideas to come soon).
Make a bin of craft supplies and bring it out when you're in need of an activity. It doesn't have to be fancy-keep a pile of construction paper, markers, paints, feathers, pom poms, glue, whatever and just let them create! If they're old enough, they can even pull out the bin themselves and work on projects. Keep a plastic table cloth on hand for those projects and just roll it up when you're done and save for next time.
We try to do as much as we can the night before school to keep the morning as smooth and easy as possible. This means we lay out the kids clothes before they go to bed. If you have a child who likes to choose their own outfits, this is the best way to save time. There aren't any arguments or discussions on what to wear the next morning because they've already had the chance to choose what they would like to wear the night before. They also then have the chance to wake up and dress themselves. It's so wonderful for them and for parents.
Order groceries online (Instacart, Peapod, Amazon, whatever you have!) Just do it. Once you start you will never go back. And don't make apologies for it either (you still have to COOK the food delivered!)
Keep a stash of easy meals for those long days when you just can't deal. Our faves include Amy's Organic frozen pizzas, Mac n' Cheese (every flavor and dietary preference these days), frozen fruits and veggies for smoothies and and mix ins for pastas, etc...
Breakfast can be tough when you have kids to get out the door for school. One of my fave hacks is to make a big batch of homemade pancakes or waffles on the weekend and save them in the freezer for weekdays. We will double our pancake recipe and then stick a stack in the freezer. A quick defrost and toast and your kids think you're making them a Sunday special!