Raising toddlers has taught me a few things. One, is that a lot of the day will be spent taking your kids to the bathroom. Two, is that life hacks that save time are necessary and help you feel like you have some control over your surroundings. We have a ton of fun as a family and make it a priority to explore and go on new adventures. Inevitably, things don’t go according to plan. Having certain life hacks in mind, like a few sets of spare clothes in the car for bathroom accidents or pajamas in case you’re out late and want to get the kids ready for bed before driving home, seem insignificant but make a huge difference in your mental clarity.
If you’re a mom or dad, keep reading for five life hacks that save time and maintain your quality of life.
Car trunk organizer
Diapers • Change of clothes • Sweaters • Tylenol • Saline spray • Pajamas
Using a car trunk organizer was a fairly recent discovery. Sometimes the kids are hot, sometimes they’re cold, and sometimes their noses are congested. I put this mesh organizer from Amazon in my car trunk and filled it with all of the above plus anything else I could think of that we have either forgotten in the past or would need urgently. Anything to avoid last minute trips to the pharmacy or store. One caveat-make sure you check expiration dates periodically and replace medicines as needed.
I can give you one recent example when this organizer saved the day. I went to the library and Whole Foods with the kids. Dylan had an accident at the library because he didn’t feel like stopping the fun to go to the bathroom. I was able to quickly change his clothes in the car and we proceeded as planned to Whole Foods. Anxiety-inducing parental moment avoided.
Shared Google calendar
For my own organization and planning, I use a physical planner. I love the feeling of writing things down from pen to paper. However, anything family-related goes on a shared Google calendar. Julian and I use it to keep track of our lives and figure out who needs to be where. We have the kids activities, friend plans, weekend trips, and everything family related on there. For example, if I’m in New York for the day, it’s on the calendar so it’s clear that Julian is picking up the kids from preschool that day. School picture days, sharing basket weeks, and pot luck days all go on the calendar so we’re not scrambling the night before.
Should I do a deep dive post on how we organize our shared family calendar? Let me know in the comments!
Hair brush straightener
For the moms, this isn’t kid-specific but anything that helps me look somewhat presentable is a life hack worth pursuing. My friend, Jenny, purchased one at the Penn Women’s Conference and her hair looked so good, I had to try it for myself. I was skeptical as I’m usually the one that quickly passes by any hair tool demonstrations at the mall while avoiding eye contact. I went through a demo and ended up loving it.
My normal hair straightening/waving routine consists of washing my hair, blow drying it straight, creating waves with a wand and lastly, straightening the waves for a more natural look. Since I started using the brush hair straightener, I now wash my hair, let it air dry and then use the brush straightener to either make my hair straight or create loose waves. After air drying, the entire process takes about 20 minutes.
I wish I could say I figured this tip out sooner but one way to prevent your clothes from wrinkling is to avoid throwing them on the floor. Also, maybe not leaving them in big piles on a chair. That definitely helps. My other biggest anti-wrinkle tip for clothes is to get a portable steamer. I’ve tried ironing in the past but it takes up too much space and time. I don’t have that kind of patience. A smaller steamer makes your clothes look brand new and eliminates wrinkles within minutes. I often take one with me on business trips for a quick refresh after unpacking.
I started using packing cubes during our summer travels. I separate the kids clothes into a cube for Perry, one for Dylan, one for bathing suits and one for pajamas. Everything fits in the suitcase neatly and it’s also easy to find throughout the trip. I started using them for my own suitcase and it has made for a more enjoyable packing situation. I feel like I pack more purposely now instead of just throwing in multiple options and wearing whatever I’m in the mood for during the trip.
More seemingly minor life hacks that make a major difference:
♥ A coffee mug warmer. My dad got me a coffee mug warmer after he started noticing mugs of cold coffee scattered throughout my house. I will admit that I’m guilty of pouring a delicious steaming mug of coffee for myself and swiftly abandoning it. There is something so comforting about the coffee remaining nearby, ready to drink when I remember that it exists.
♥ If you know you’ll be driving home during bedtime, dress the kids in their pajamas, brush their teeth and then put them in their car seats. When you get home, you can transition them from the car seat to their beds without having to wake anyone up. We do this often when we’re visiting family.
♥ Lay out kids’ clothes the night before to minimize arguments in the morning. I also like to lay out my clothes the night before so I can make one less decision in the morning.
♥ Set up your coffee machine timer so that coffee is ready as soon as you wake up. It’s minor but smelling freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
♥ Donate toys on a regular basis. We went through all our toys this week and donated anything that the kids haven’t played with in over a year. It’s a great teachable moment and helps declutter.
♥ Take 10 minutes at the end of the day with your kids to put away toys and tidy up high traffic kids areas.
♥ Use a grocery delivery service when needed. For instance, when you’re flying solo for the day and don’t feel like taking two kids to the grocery store.
♥ Do your makeup and hair before the kids wake up when you have some quiet time. Then, get them ready. Put on your clothes right before you leave the house to minimize the chance of acquiring stains, spit-up, or wrinkles.