I think we can all agree that life can be hard sometimes, life with little kids is tough more often than not, and there’s no shame in taking shortcuts and finding help wherever you can to make life easier. I’ve been keeping a running list of things that I have found that made my life easier — some in little ways and others in big ones. Some are super random and a few are kind of obvious but took me a while to figure out. So I thought I would share them in case they might help make your life easier too 🙂 Because life with kids is chaotic and crazy on the best of days!
Laundry Sorter Bag
When you have three boys there is just SO.MUCH.LAUNDRY! And it is more of a hassle to wash their clothing separately than just throw it all in together. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this but only in the last month did it occur to me to get a laundry sorter. I bought this one, which has three bins — one for each kid’s clothing. I keep a hamper in their bathroom and all of their dirty clothes go in it together. When it is full, I carry it to the basement where our laundry room is (two flights down), do it all together, and then as I empty the dryer of their clothes I sort each kid’s laundry into their own bin. Then I can carry it up to the main floor, where it sits next to the couch for 3-4 days until someone finally caves and folds it 🙂 But still, it is SUCH a lifesaver and cost less than $10!
Dry Erase Board Calendar
When you have mom brain and multiple schedules to keep track of, a dry erase board monthly calendar is life. I have a simple one from the Dollar Spot at Target, but this one is also a great choice and the reviews say the marker doesn’t stain and erases easily. I also love that there is a place to write notes or keep a to-do list or a grocery list.
I think this is the biggest discovery that has been a game changer in my life. Since I got my Instant Pot around 6 weeks ago I have cooked dinner every night unless we had leftovers from a previous home cooked meal. Not only has it saved us money from eating out or throwing out old food, but it has helped us to eat healthier meals as a family. I had heard about the Instant Pot for a while but kept thinking “do I need another appliance/device for cooking?” If you are asking yourself the same question then your answer is: YES!
The instant pot is a pressure cooker but is safer than other stovetop types. It can cook your food (from frozen!) up to 70% faster than traditional cooking methods. One of my meal planning problems was planning ahead — I always forgot to thaw items out ahead of time. Now I can literally decide what to make for dinner around 4:30 pm and we can be eating by 5. Also, the food is so much more delicious! It is juicy and tender. I’ve especially loved chicken and corned beef as well as soups and stews. If you only buy yourself one thing this year, let it be an Instant Pot. I can’t believe it took me so long to get one.
My Sleep Buddy
You’ve probably heard of OK to Wake Clocks (we used to have this one, which also worked well). But the My Sleep Buddy has been a game changer for us. It is an ok to wake clock that you can set for nap or night sleep (you can have alarms always set for both without constantly changing or setting each night). The light is a soft soothing blue (you can also choose an amber light) and you can change the settings to make it brighter like a nightlight or dimmer (which I love because my kids sleep best in the dark). It also comes with a book explaining what the Sleep Buddy is for and makes it fun and special for your kid. My toddler doesn’t always stay in bed until it goes off at 6:45 but it has helped.
I can’t believe it took me so long to buy chewable ibuprofen. Like, I’ve been a mom for 7+ years and only recently have I bought my first bottle. My kids HATE drinking medicine, so if something comes in chewable form then give me all the chewables. Just make sure your child is old enough to have it (I think they need to be two years old but check with your doctor and read the instructions before giving your kids any medicine). But honestly, chewable ibuprofen — SO SIMPLE AND YET SO HELPFUL!
Command Hooks & Hanging Strips
If you aren’t using command hooks and picture hanging strips for pretty much everything, then you are missing out on a major life convenience. I get the chrome looking hooks ones for hanging towels in the bathroom (each kid has their own hook so there is no excuse to not hang up their own towel!), backpacks, winter hats, etc. We have designated spaces where the hooks are, each kid has his own, and therefore we know where to find things and they know where to hang things up on their own.
And the hanging strips are genius for hanging art and photos. They let me hang things without stressing over hammering holes in my walls or changing my mind and wanting to change things up down the road. It also means I can do projects while the kids are sleeping because I don’t have to worry about the noise of hammering.
Apple Watch + Reminder App on my iPhone
So I know this is big ticket item and it better make life easier with the price tag that comes with it, I wanted to share in case anyone has been thinking of getting one but is on the fence about whether they actually need one. I got this one for my birthday (we never do big presents but my husband knew how badly I had been wanting one to help keep myself on track with my wellness) and I’ve found it so helpful in the 4 months since. The things I love best are the activity app (so you can keep track of your steps, time spent standing, moving, and exercising), the breathe reminder (which helps to remind me to do some deep breathing/quick meditation to keep my mental health on track all day), and the stand reminder (for when I’m working and forget to get up and move around. I also use my reminders on my phone synced to my watch so that I can set reminders to take my thyroid medication in the morning, my supplements after breakfast, and to drink water throughout the day. I even have one that goes off at 9:45 pm each night telling me to go to bed 🙂
I’m sure this is a given, but Netflix makes a great babysitter when you need 15 minutes to shower or get dressed or just need a momma timeout. And these days there are so many shows (pretty much everything but Mickey Mouse) that my kids watch, as well as movies that are new releases. We haven’t had to purchase a movie for the kids for a while because they are available for free on Netflix. And when I need to decompress at the end of the day, it is a great source for binge-watching some great shows.
If you have a school-age kiddo you may have heard of GoNoodle because chances are your child’s brilliant teacher uses it at school. Charlie came home talking about “brain breaks” and I looked it up and downloaded it on the spot. Anytime my kids clearly need to get out some energy and can’t get outside or are starting to get on each other’s nerves (usually right before dinnertime) we throw on GoNoodle and they get their bodies moving and focus on the fun little physical challenges and silly songs. And then we end with one of the Flow videos for a more calming effect.
It seems simple, but took me a while to actually use a timer with my kids. Whether it is for a time-out, or as a warning of an impending bedtime, or a timer on the iPad that turns off shows or games after a certain period of time — timers become the bad guy and let you off the hook a little. Every kid will agree to a specific time period to get what they want in the moment (5 more minutes!?) so the first time they ask you can agree and set a timer reminding them that when that timer goes off it is time to move on without complaining or whining. It usually works for me!
I love to read but rarely have time to read actual books (and when I do I often fall asleep) so getting an Audible subscription has been a game changer. I can listen to audiobooks in the car (especially with my littlest) or while on a walk, or even in bed at night as I’m falling asleep. You can set a sleep timer so your book shuts off after 15 minutes if you are likely to fall asleep (like I am) and you get two free books each month with your monthly subscription (which is under $16). I also have an easier time actually getting through parenting books this way, versus reading a physical book. If you are looking to try it out, you can get a free trial and if you have never accepted a book before, a friend can send you one for free! I recently finished this parenting book and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it. I also loved this, this, and this (though I’m probably a little biased.) If you have never received a free book, feel free to shoot me an email and I’d be happy to send you one of those.
Non Contact Forehead Thermometer
With three kids and a major cold and flu season this year, our non contact thermometer has been a gamechanger. My oldest can never seem to hold a traditional oral thermometer under his tongue. My middle can’t deal with keeping one under his arm long enough, and my baby won’t even let me use an ear thermometer on him. So the non contact one has been the only way I’ve been able to check temps this season. While not as accurate as a rectal or oral thermometer, it does at least let me know whether or not a fever is present. And for around $20, it is a great tool for your mom arsenal.
Do you have any mom sanity savers that didn’t make my list that I need to know about? What is your biggest life changing tip or product? The simpler the better!
This post contains affiliate links.
My struggle with autoimmune and thyroid disease is directly tied to my motherhood. I developed Hashimotos after I had my first baby. I talk about it here, but looking back I didn’t even have a clue about my disease. I thought one of the symptoms (postpartum depression) was the toughest part at the time. I had no idea that the depression and anxiety would come back and persist and that I would struggle with so many more symptoms because I never treated the Hashimotos, I only dealt with the resulting hypothyroidism and replaced my thyroid hormone. But honestly, I had no idea that there was more to do because my doctors never told me otherwise and I didn’t realize there were answers out there to look for. I thought that as long as my thyroid levels were within range that I was good. And for a while I was.
After I had Calvin, I went clinically hyper while still having underlying hypo — meaning I was getting too much thyroid hormone from my medication (probably because my body was used to sharing it with Calvin when I was pregnant) and my symptoms were those of hyperthyroidism (racing heart, sweating, anxiety especially) while my condition was still technically hypothyroid. My medication was adjusted. I had a major hormone crash when I weaned around 8 months postpartum (Calvin started biting and I couldn’t work through it). And then I got the surprise of my life when I found out I was pregnant with Quincy a month later. But I mostly felt good — I had lost all but around 5 pounds of my baby weight from Calvin, which was huge for me because it took me around 18 months to get to that point after Charlie, mostly because I probably gained 20 lbs from my hypothyroidism. But still, all of the changes and stress on my body were setting up the perfect storm for a Hashimoto’s flare up once Quincy was born.Read More
After having two babies who I felt I had successfully trained into good sleepers, I considered myself an unofficial baby sleep expert. Then I had baby three and realized the universe had thought I was a little too cocky and gave me a really tough nut to crack when it came to good sleep. Quincy didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost a year old (compared to his big brothers who were more like 2-3 months), and even then he was a very early riser. After almost two years of having to get up by 5 am with a screaming baby (he was never happy and rested when he did wake up), I was ready to find a better solution than three cups of coffee. So I called in expert Melissa Brown of Sleep Shop Consulting.Read More
My last baby turned two last week, and even though I was certain I was done having babies from the minute he was born I’ve been having the “maybe just one more…” thoughts lately. I always knew I wanted to have at least two babies, and when Calvin was born, something told me we weren’t done. And then Quincy surprised us not too long after that. But three kids, two really close in age, and a baby that had colic and reflux and wakes up with the roosters (still) just about did me in. I have felt ‘done’ for two years. But my health is starting to finally improve, and with it comes thoughts like “I could do this again.” And I have no doubt that I could. Sometimes I wonder if my having those thoughts means I’m not done — that another baby is meant to join our family — or if I will always have those thoughts. I think a small part of me will always yearn to have a tiny baby in my arms. To wear a baby wrapped close to my body. To feed and nurture a life at my breast. I know some women just know when they’re done and they feel good about that. I thought I was one of them after Quincy. But something in the back of my mind keeps pulling at me. And it doesn’t help that Charlie keeps asking for another baby. Actually he doesn’t ask, he just says that we’ll be having one more very matter of factly. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m not 100% sure either way, and I’m not 100% sure I’ll ever be 100% sure…Read More
This post is sponsored by Stonyfield® Organic Kids® but the content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Oh Lovely Day and its sponsors.
I think Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to remind us to do something extra special for our little ones and partners. But I think it is even better when we let it inspire us to show extra love to our families in little ways, every day. I’ve been trying to think of creative ways to show a little extra love to my littlest Valentines and I thought I would share some of my favorites. Here are 25 little ways to celebrate love with your family every day, not just Valentine’s Day.
ways to celebrate love with your family
- Leave little hearts in places they will find them: one stuck to a mirror, one taped to their cereal box, or one under their pillow.
- Put notes in their lunches (for your kids and spouse).
- Forgive them when they make a mistake.
- Make heart-shaped pancakes for family breakfast.
- Hold hands.
- Plan a special one-on-one date with each child individually, and a date night with your partner.
- Comfort them, even when what they’re upset about seems silly to you or is making your day harder.
- Make their favorite snack or dessert heart-shaped.
- Have family cuddle time.
- Give them a card for no reason.
- Draw hearts and notes in steamy shower doors or mirrors for your family to find.
- Put a surprise under their pillow.
- Offer hugs and kisses for no reason.
- Put away all of your devices and give them your undivided attention when it is their time. Quality over quantity.
- Give them extra praise for something they did well or did for you.
- Be silly together and show them how happy they make you.
- Cook or take them out for their favorite meal.
- Ask them, “Do you know how much I love you?”
- Let the little things go—try not to nag or be negative for an entire day.
- Dance together.
- Do their favorite thing with them, no matter what it is (like playing cars for hours or pretending to be a dinosaur).
- Let things get a little messy.
- Be silly together.
- Movie night in your bed.
- Give them a special treat or dessert.
While I don’t mind giving my kids a little sweet treat on very special occasions, during our day-to-day I try to keep things wholesome and good for them. So, I look for things that they think are a yummy treat but that I know are free of all of those ingredients that aren’t so great. One of my favorite sweet “treats” to give my kids is Stonyfield® Organic Kids® Choco-Mooo Yogurts. I love them because they are all Non-GMO Project Verified, have no high fructose corn syrup and now contain 25-40% less sugar than the leading kid’s yogurt. And because they are organic, I know that they are also free from toxic persistent pesticides and artificial ingredients. My kids love them because they are delicious, easily portable, and are a “sweet chocolate treat!” Win win 🙂
What are your favorite ways to show your family love? Do you do anything creative or extra special?
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic Kids®.
I can hardly believe it, but it has been six months since we said goodbye to Los Angeles and embarked on our next family adventure of moving to Columbus, Ohio. We took the photo above in front of our old home together before we left for the airport. My husband stayed behind for twelve weeks for work, and I flew with my mom to Columbus, stayed with a friend for a week until our belongings arrived via our U-Packs, and officially moved into our new home. I moved to a new state, new town, new home with three small boys all by myself. To a town we had never spent any time in and into a home we bought without being able to see it in person (thank goodness we had an amazing realtor who happens to be married to my best friend). When I reflect back on all of that, I cannot believe I made it. I had a ton of help from our parents and friends, especially my mom who has been a lifesaver throughout the hardships of a move and my solo-parenting weeks. But I moved with my kids, I got our house ready to move into, I got my oldest enrolled in a new school, I got our home unpacked and set up, and I mostly did it on my own. It is amazing the things we can do when he have to 🙂
The first couple of months were hard without my husband but were also new and exciting and fun. We were seeing friends and family more, we were getting to experience the end of summer and a real fall, and we had a new house that was all ours with a big yard and so much potential for making wonderful family memories. We watched birds in the feeder out of our front window and found frogs on our walk to school (yes, we can walk to school!) We stayed up to see lightning bugs and dug in our backyard to find worms and planted flowers and watched the leaves go from green to red and orange and brown. We played in our backyard a lot. We visited my best friend and my kids played with her kids and we met their chickens and barn kittens and my boys were in heaven. We tried our best to soak it all in.
Then at the end of October my husband arrived and everything fell into place. We started to explore our new city more, and we have fallen in love with Columbus. We are members of COSI (our science museum), the Columbus Museum of Art (which has a wonderful kids area), and the Columbus Zoo, which is possibly the best zoo I’ve ever visited. My husband and I took advantage of a weekly daytime sitter and went on day dates and explored new areas like German Village and the Short North and Clintonville. We’ve found places we love to eat and have discovered a great indie movie theater. We miss the beach and Griffith Observatory and LACMA, and I miss my hiking trails, but we’ve found some wonderful new places here in our new home city. And there’s so much more to explore once spring comes.
It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. In fact there hasn’t been nearly enough sunshine and there’s been way too much snow. The snow was fun at first, but I’m seriously over this brutal winter that is hazing the crap out of us. Seasonal affective disorder and cabin fever have really set in, and with it a level of homesickness for LA that is hard to describe. I don’t miss the traffic or how it would take hours to just run to Target or the supermarket. But I do miss being able to take my boys outside and feel the warm sun on my face. It’s cold y’all!
Even more than the sunshine and warm weather, I miss my Los Angeles friends. Meeting people here in the burbs has proven harder than I thought it would be. Charlie’s school is a good one and we can walk there but I don’t feel the sense of community that we had at West Hollywood Elementary where he went before. We really loved the kids and parents we met there. For example, when Quincy was born we had food delivered to our house for two weeks, all from parents of Charlie’s classmates. We just celebrated Quincy’s second birthday, so we’ve been here as long as he was in school that year and I only know two of the moms’ first names (and it isn’t for lack of trying, there just isn’t as much opportunity to connect with other parents). I think many people grew up in this area and have their friends and family already and aren’t in the “meet new people” mindset like we’re used to in a big city. We have some friends that we already knew before we moved here but we’d love to meet some people in our burb or neighborhood. Meeting new people that you connect with is always hard, but I’m hoping once we all come out of our winter hibernation that people will be all warm and friendly 🙂
I’ve had a few people contact me who are thinking of making a similar move (from CA to the Midwest) and asked me if I would still make the same decision or if we regret it now that it is winter. And as much as I’m slogging along through these cold months and stuck inside because it is too cold or flu germy to leave the house with the kids, I don’t regret the move at all. I miss LA tons. But the move was the right one for us and the boys are so happy. Life is easier and simpler here and things take less effort. And financially it was a great decision. We love being closer to our families. But we’ll always miss Los Angeles and our LA family and I’m looking forward to getting back for a visit.
So that’s our first 6 months in a nutshell. I’m really looking forward to the next 6, where we’ll thaw out, finish some projects around the house, and get back outside. I can’t believe 6 months have already gone by — just look how much they grew by comparing those last two photos. Insert all the bawling emojis.
Have you ever done a big city to suburb move where you needed to meet new people or acclimate to new weather? I’d love to hear how long it took you to adjust or any tips you have.