You don’t need to look very hard to find a gazillion mom hacks to make life “easier” for you. Pinterest. Mommy blogs. Facebook. And each list is filled with amazing and genius mom hack ideas that I always want to implement, but rarely ever do. However, there are a few tricks that I’ve picked up over the years that legitimately are worth the effort.
Confessions time: I don’t do this one as often as I would like/should, but when I do the results are magical. Seriously. Very magical. Every 3-4 months I gather up all my kids’ toys and go through them. Anything broken I trash. Then, I pull down a big tub of toys from the attic and rotate them. The “old” toys get placed into the attic tub. And the attic toys become the “new” toys. Of course, I always leave out their five (or so) favorites, but everything else gets switched. When they wake to find “new” toys, I swear it’s like Christmas morning again! This also keeps them entertained and engaged in their toys, which means I purchase fewer toys overall for my kids (and save that cash for the college funds – cha-ching!)
Instead of always being the bad guy, I let my kitchen timer take the rap quite often. I use the timer for picking up toys, finishing chores, getting undressed and into the bathtub, eating breakfast (or lunch…or dinner), separating fighting siblings…the timer is my favorite kitchen gadget. But when I use the kitchen timer, I have to stick to the time given. No extensions unless if they really can’t finish that bowl of cereal in the time given.
Two years ago I became so fed up with doling out appropriate disciplines that I vowed to come up with a consequence chart to make things consistent and appropriate. It took me a whole summer to create the chart, but when I finished it, it was a thing of beauty. I made a list of all the actions or behaviors that I was constantly disciplining my kids for. Then I thought long and hard about appropriate consequences to those actions. I even took it a step further and make level 1 and level 2 consequences…you know, for those really bad days. Now my kids know that if they do such and such an action, the consequence is already determined for them. The consequence chart has helped make things more consistent in our home (but only when I stick to the chart).
To make sure everyone felt like they were being treated fairly, we take turns with a day. This just means that one of my kids gets to make the choices for that particular day. If it’s someone’s turn to pick a board game to play, then I ask the kid whose day it is. Likewise, if there’s a choice for a kid to make, I default to the “kid of the day.” That way we’re not spending 10 minutes fighting about which board game to play or which story to read before bed. Then, the next day is another kid’s turn. And I rotate that way until each kid has had a day, and then I start over. And trust me, the kids will remember who’s day it is. 😉
Pick Up Rewards
This one kind of goes along with chore charts and kitchen timers. To save myself from constantly picking up after my kids, I require them to take care of their own things if they want a reward. For example, my kids must bring their empty plates, cups, and utensils to the sink if they want dessert. If they want to make a craft or read a story, they have to first pick up their toys.
I’m not the type of parent that lets them bounce from room to room leaving a mess in their wake. Instead, I taught them to pick up after themselves when they finish with something. This saves me the trouble of either cleaning it myself (and it teaches them responsibility) or getting upset before they pick it up (which teaches me how to delegate and stay calm). It’s really a win-win for us. I desperately want my kids leaving home with the ability to take care of themselves, and that starts with teaching them responsibility.