Game-Changing HACKS for Mom
Welcome to the Blog – Game-Changing Hacks for Mom
A few weeks ago I ventured back out into fresh airconditioned air that was shared with other people in the same room if you know what I mean (LOL). We all gathered in the same space, for a women’s event where I was speaking. People sat around tables sort of separated. Then we were called up table by table to pick up our portioned-out lunches all wrapped in plastic. We were even sung to, rather than asked to join together in worship.
Even the girls and I came prepared differently for this event, as we had wrapped every product available at the merchandise table in resealable plastic bags, providing hand sanitizer on the table, and ensuring people could stand six feet apart from one another. Honestly, the whole thing was WEIRD.
But even though it was nothing short of weird AND uncomfortable, it brought to light the reality there something about being together that is different than being apart. I’m not suggesting by any means you and I drop our face masks and start hugging. I probably won’t reciprocate, but it did make room for connections and intimacy people crave. We need each other.
You and Me Everyday
The connections left room for conversations to move into everyday life experiences. Even as we were cleaning up afterward, a conversation turned to a young mom with a hoard of kids, herself (maybe four or five). She was looking relieved to have had the experience from the women’s event because let’s be real. Everyday life is hectic, especially now since everything is canceled. Lots of places she could normally utilize for outside resources are closed, and she’s been holding down the fort for months with no end in sight. And it’s still June.
Over the next few minutes, we talked about some of the things I want to bring you today. In the past, I have offered some tricks of the trade on things that will help moms in the kitchen or even the laundry room. But today I’m going to be more generalized, and hone in on what can really be Game-Changers. This present moment is unique. It’s not like we all just landed at home and we’ve got full calendars to work around. You could be finding yourself wondering how on God’s green earth you are going to make it through these next few months with few scheduled activities and a slew of closures and limitations keeping you close to home– and no hay that needs to be bailed to keep everyone occupied. Today I am here to help by bringing you help.
FIVE Game-Changing HACKS for Moms
Frankly, I don’t write much about parenting or things of this nature very much because I feel like I’m not very authoritative. I’ve only launched two and they aren’t even really fully “launched” yet. We moved the first one out officially this summer. The second is back and forth from college.
But then I go to Pinterest and spin-off to blogs where these sweet girls are offering all their parenting wisdom and tricks of the trade working from their experience from two years of parenting one toddler. Or the Mom of the single 8-year-old boy brings to you “33 Ways to Make Your Life Less Chaotic,” which happens to include buying the cute planner from the affiliate link off her page. I think maybe there is another agenda there.
So, let me set the record straight. I have no affiliate links to anything I am about to suggest. I benefit from nothing presented here outside of believing this is really game-changing stuff in the nitty-gritty of life. No. I don’t have all the answers. But I have some street cred. I’m not working with an N – of 1. I’m fairly educated in the area and I have some grey hairs to go with it.
If you come over RIGHT NOW unannounced there would be mail, a few dirty dishes, and the stuff we haven’t had time to put away from the week out. Jolee is in the middle of a puzzle on the dining room table and clean laundry is half folded on the couch downstairs. I’m also cleaning out a closet. Always. We live here and there are 10 of us. But give us 15 minutes and we could be ready for you (not for a photo op with a magazine, mind you) and we don’t have a housekeeper. These hacks I’m about to offer actually work in real life and are designed for regular people.
Getting Down to the Hacks
I want to address five areas I think Moms struggle with most and offer one Game-Changing hack for each.
In the quietness of our minds, sometimes you and I look at our life, in the nitty-gritty, and think, “I can’t do it. Unless the sun stands still, or God lightens my load or changes my circumstances, I can’t do it ” Whatever ‘It” is. There is too much responsibility or stress or not enough resources, or a mixture of all of these that play out in the chaos of the day. This is where we need to grab hold tightly to the Truth of God’s word. Your God will equip you with everything you need to do what He had called you to do. We have this promise in Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
Game-Changing Hack #1: Get out of the Drama
I am the mother to six daughters and two dramatic never hushing sons. The fairness meter in a house filled with EIGHT siblings lights up constantly. Unchecked, someone can always be upset with something they didn’t get that someone else did and always, ALWAYS the last cupcake, oreo, slice of pizza, or bite of mom’s best recipe is climactic. Mom’s play referee to all of this drama making sure feelings are not hurt, that no one is bullied and everything is, as often as humanly possible, fair.
Here is what I learned in the fire. That is an exhausting task. At our house, this left someone unsatisfied at all times, and me feeling like the worst mom ever daily.
Wisdom from the trenches: Get out of the drama business. Buy yourself a pair of dice. Keep them in the junk drawer in the kitchen. Make them available for any discrepancies. You get one roll. That’s the rule. No do-overs. Make it count. Put it in a cup if necessary, to keep people honest. No longer must mom negotiate the last piece of cake, who gets the best leftovers, or even whose turn it is to take out the trash. If more than one person wants it, roll for it. If no one can remember, bring out the dice. Mom or grandma, your life just got 12 times free-er.
Game-Changing Hack #2: Camoflague the Clutter
I realize the best thing to do it get rid of the clutter. But let’s say you can’t. You need two weeks to get through all of that stuff–give or take four years. Or maybe it’s all the toys they actually play with that have you living in Chaosville. For my friend, it’s the clothes they string all over the floor. Constantly.
Admittedly, outside of the stacks of projects which ALL MAKE SENSE TO ME, I am fairly organized everywhere else. My house is pretty put together most of the time, but my standards are low. I’m not one of those people cloaked in 14 shades of white –who clearly haven’t cooked in their white kitchen for five years or had a Goldfish-snacking toddler on that pristine white carpet under the solid white couch.
And I don’t have the space to clear every single solitary thing off the counters. (Finally, I have given up on the toaster. The kids use it every single day, now even at lunch. For a while, I insisted they move it back where it lives in the cabinet, every day, but then, the crumbs…and the reality they were going to break it sooner than later, I said, “Uncle,” but I digress…). I’m not THAT kind of impressive Pinterest-worthy organized.
Instead, I have learned to camouflage the clutter.
Camouflaging the Clutter
In my home are strategic places where things are not so put together and orderly. For instance, I use a lot of decorative boxes in my office with chalkboard labels stacked on the bookshelves. They are super cute. Inside those boxes, is a different story. It”s not so orderly, necessarily. Maybe it is, sometimes isn’t, but the boxes do not demand it.
Besides these are canvas bins. Bins are EVERYWHERE in the Strange house: on bookshelves, in closets, all various sizes, and shapes. Yes, I admit it. I am a bin lover. I have empty ones just sitting out so that when someone like you might be coming over unexpectedly we have an immediate place to put whatever project we are in the middle of temporarily. You can even purchase special bookshelves from Ikea or even Walmart for these, but you don’t need to do this. I use them inside my built-in cabinets and closets, and even the garage.
Bins are game-changing helpers. You can spend $18 or so on nice whicker ones at Ikea or more like $8 at Walmart or Target. Most recently I purchased some from Amazon and they work well, but I have even made use of the ones from Dollar Tree in my cabinets. I may not win any decorating awards by my use of this camouflage strategy, but you will find little clutter in the Strange house. That reality is a game-changer for me. It lowers my stress level, somehow increasing my ability to think more clearly in a more orderly environment.
My suggestion for you—if this is hitting a nerve is to start with one room. What room drives you the most batty? That’s your starting place. Then go from there.
Game-Changing Hack #3: Teach Toward Independence
Another point in the mom experience that can create a lot of stress is in the endless responsibilities necessary for daily survival. I’m thinking about the daily hum of life like breakfast, lunch, dinner, laundry, cleaning EVERYTHING- and making life roll along smoothly. Maybe you are in a season when all of these aspects make up your reality or the reality of someone you know, such as your daughter or daughter-in-law. It’s just the way it is. Let’s say there is a baby and a toddler involved. No one can help. It’s just you, Mom. Ok, then put this away as a nugget of truth for the coming days. Make this your future goal.
Let me address the rest of us, a moment. Our aim should be to teach toward independence. Think about what you want your kids to be able to do when they leave the house.
Before Leaving the House
- Cook for themselves – and all sorts of things about the kitchen
- Be able to clean a bathroom by themselves using the right cleaners
- They should know how to clean floors
- Need to know how to change and launder sheets – and put them back on by themselves
- What would they need to know to live in the house by themselves at 18-19 years old?
You have no more than eighteen years. It sounds like a lot of time when they are three, but it’s not when you think about it in terms of all that you much teach. Also, keep in mind, by age 12, their worldview is already set, your job of leading in their lives is vital. Little time can go to waste. Think about the logistics of the day. What can you begin teaching them that could make the daily hum run more smoothly, give them some independence from you, and provide some breathing room for mom? Warning: This will take effort. You will want to quit and just do it all yourself.
Don’t do it.
Teach for independence.
You can start young. Colors. Plastic dishes, sorting clothes, matching outfits, folding towels, walking things down the hall, just taking the clothes out of the dryer. As they grow, they can be taught how to place the dishes in the dishwasher and to take care of animals. These jobs and responsibilities must be taught. Your kids need this independence. They should not be relying on you for life skills. They will need you for other things. I assure you. I can almost guarantee, you will be needed. But not for laundry. Give it up. Teach it well so that you can walk away and know in confidence it is being done without you, AND without your favorite shirt getting ruined.
Game-Changing Hack #4 – Use your Freezer
This hack can take on a few different faces, depending on your preferences and the needs within your household. I will admit we do not adhere to a whole 30 diet or a sugarless quest, although we do have some dietary concerns we have to look after and workaround. This hack still works for us.
Use your freezer.
Buy meat at the store and freeze it for later. But even more than that, put meals together in bags so that all you need to do it pull it out and cook it in a crockpot or the oven or even grill it. Swoosh all the ingredients in the bag and dinner just needs to cook. I generally have these labeled on Pinterest as Freezer Meals. Sometimes I double the ingredients so that I can freeze one and cook the other. Other times I just prepare both for a later date. There are tons of resources available with a variety of needs and desires. When I began to use my freezer, it got rid of my stress-filled afternoon panic of what I was going to cook. The decision was already made and was cooking.
What I like to do is keep these recipes separate so I have a board on Pinterest, as I said, and I have a cookbook with cards I have created of freezer recipes we like. I will pull out a few of these every few weeks, buy the ingredients, (now that the stores are restocked), and make a few to store away. Since doing this my stress level for meal planning and preparation has plummeted. I hope you, too, will find it to be a game-changer.
Game-Changing Hack #5: Let Peace Rule (with a timer)
Gone with a good hot bath is the peace of a mom. You will be lucky to find a chance to potty by yourself in the first four to five years. And maybe more unless you can lock that door, much less take an uninterrupted shower. How do you find peace where there is no peace?
Living with a herd of people who do not need personal space and cannot understand the solitude I personally need to survive has been a genuine struggle. I NEED TIME ALONE like I need water. Away from everyone. I need lots of it, even though I love them deeply. What we have learned in failure after failure is that peace cannot rule in the home when mom has no peace.
The solution for us has come with time. Literally. As the kids have grown, I have been able to get more of the time I need. But then there are the summers, the vacations, the pandemics and sheltering in place, with the uncertainty of the future, and even the years of homeschooling that usher in the need for an alternative to the natural course of events that bring peace. So we artificially imposed time. Much like we artificially imposed the peace-maker with the dice in Hack #1 by taking mom out of the drama business and giving her some dice, in this final Hack we are putting her in the peace business by giving her a timer.
Create a space and time for peace.
Use a timer to keep everyone honest.
We are not talking about going shopping for the day or catching up on your Me Time. We are making a way for peace to occur in your daily life and for those in your midst to help make it happen. What this could look like is setting a timer for x minutes. Mom tells the kids or whoever what the rules are for that time period and what she will be doing. Make sure the kids are okay and safe during that time and she is free.
My kids are older and most of the time there is someone here who is at least a responsible age, such as sixteen to eighteen. I am finding my peace by taking a walk by myself. I will tell them what I am doing and how long I will be gone. And right now that’s really all I need. It’s not the only solitary moment I’m getting so it works. But it is timed, measured, and purposeful. Knowing I need it and I am taking it really does something for me mentally as well as physically.
What About You?
What do you need to put in place to allow peace to rule in your daily life? If you have found that urge just needing to get out, talk to your family. Maybe you could try a timer? It doesn’t take long but it needs to be consistent and regular. Of all the hacks offered today, personally, this one has impacted me internally the most.
I don’t know what you need but I do believe God will equip you.
I pray these hacks will enable you to save time, serve more efficiently, live more peacefully, and parent more intentionally in the days to come.
With Much Affection and For His Glory,
If you would like to listen to a version of this blog, you can find a recorded of Game-Changing Hacks for Moms on the Stirring Faith Podcast here.