Running a household with kids in tow is all about managing priorities. As much as Facebook would have us believe otherwise, no woman can do it all and survive. Tasks must be triaged, chores must be delegated, activities must be capped, and family members must come first.
Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about helping things run a little more smoothly around here, while keeping our priorities intact. Here are some of my favourite Mom Hacks that get the job done quickly, without sacrificing the things that really matter.
Crock Pot Dinners:
I am terrible at meal planning. I have such a hard time remembering to take meat out of the freezer in time to thaw it for dinner. So, I started cooking it from frozen. That’s right, I throw a frozen chicken or roast in the crock pot straight up. I add about a cup of liquid (broth, gravy mixture, water, whatever …), some pre-washed mini potatoes and several handfuls of baby carrots, and cook it on high for 5-ish hours. Viola – dinner is ready when you are, and it took just 5 minutes to make!
You probably already know how you can buy frozen bread dough that’s ready to bake … right after you let it thaw, rise for an hour, grease the pan, and preheat the oven. But what you may not know is that you can put that same dough straight from the freezer into a greased loaf pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it on the kitchen counter for the day to thaw and rise while you’re at work. When you get home from work, take off the plastic wrap and put the pan straight in the oven at 350F for 20-30 minutes. You’ll have fresh, hot bread to go with that Crock Pot Dinner!
Back when I was young and ambitious, I started the tradition of making homemade cookies for the kids everyday after school. They love the idea of coming home to fresh cookies, and while it’s not the healthiest snack, it makes them happy. I quickly realized that I couldn’t keep that tradition up everyday without cutting some corners. So now, I buy store-bought dough, the kind that you can just slice and bake. Many schools and organizations also sell pre-made cookie dough as a fundraiser. What better way to support the community while saving your time!
We keep a Go Bag in our van all the time. It has all of the things we may need while we’re out. When the kids were smaller, it had a first aid kit, extra diapers, wipes, extra clothing, and lots of plastic bags. As they got older, we’ve changed it up to add flashlights, sunscreen and bug repellant, along with lots of extra Band-Aids. The kids each have Bug Out Bags that contain more personal items (bathing suits, etc), but our Go Bag has proved invaluable on many occasions. And it means that when we get sidetracked with spontaneous adventures, we’re ready!
Individual Laundry Baskets:
Everyone in our family has their own laundry basket, which means that each load of laundry belongs to only one person. That immediately eliminates the unnecessary step of sorting clean laundry, and that makes my life MUCH easier! It also makes teaching the kids to do their own laundry a natural progression rather than a complete change in routine.
Minimal Prep Fruits and Veggies:
Apples, grapes, baby carrots, berries, mini potatoes, clementines, snap peas — they all require very little prep, which makes them a huge time saver! They’re also all super easy to pack for lunches, making them one of my favourite short-cuts ;-).
Brownie & Cake Mixes:
Because nobody really cares whether those Bake Sale squares are from scratch or not. They’re going to buy them 1) because they have lots of icing and their kid wants one or 2) to support the cause. Box mixes are a perfect way to save time and dishes – most are one bowl affairs.