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Creating a stress-free home sounds like something other people have, doesn’t it?
I walked in the front door, set down the diaper bag and 3 bags of groceries, slung my youngest down from the baby carrier, reminded my daughter to put her shoes away for the millionth time, tried to think of what we were making for dinner, looked around the general mess of our apartment and thought, “this whole freaking place is just one more thing on my to-do list.” The mere idea of a stress-free home felt like an impossibility. I had had enough.
I hated walking into our apartment and immediately feeling stressed out about everything there.
I mean, I already feel as though I’m juggling a million things at once, and since 90% of said juggling items are located within my house, the entire place felt like one big mountain I needed to scale.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I was determined to find resources to get my little place in order and create a stress-free home I felt calm in.
Since living with young kids means the chances of having a clean home are next to impossible, I knew I could do the best thing: concentrate on the things I could change, and felt like I had some sort of control over.
After all, the messes kids make won’t last forever.
(I repeat that to myself like a mantra as I use a baby wipe to furiously scrub yogurt stains off my favorite jeans.)
Here are the things I’ve started implementing that save me time, reduce the overall stress and overwhelm of my house, and get me closer to the stress-free oasis of my daydreams…while ignoring the day-old, half-eaten banana I found behind the couch the other day.
AROUND THE HOUSE
1. Get it together the night before.
I will confess, I struggle with this one. After my kids go to bed, I’m usually too wiped out to do a whole lot. But I make an effort to at least pack their babysitter bag, clean out their lunchboxes, and pull out clothes they’ll wear the next day.
I do this for me, too! My husband is usually sleeping in the mornings when I get my kids ready (he works late) so I grab my clothes the night before so as to not wake him up rifling through our dresser.
I also preset the coffee maker every night before bed. We have a Keurig, so before I go to bed I’ll top up the water canister, fill the reusable pod with fresh coffee grounds, and place a coffee cup underneath the spout. Then when I wake up, I just press the start button!
2. Keep a stocked bag at all times
I keep my diaper bag and purse stocked at all times, as opposed to refilling it as needed. The second we run out of diaper wipes, snacks, diapers, changes of clothes, crayons and paper, etc- it gets restocked.
We don’t have a car here in NYC, but when we visit my parents in Michigan, I also pack a ‘survival bag’ to keep in the trunk. This bag has things like extra band-aids and batteries, an umbrella, raincoats, blankets, and towels.
Why don’t you keep a survival bag in your stroller in NYC? Because I hate pushing around a giant stroller and I love my super lightweight Zoe stroller! I figure if we need anything while we’re walking around, there’s always a bodega or a Duane Reed no more than a block away to pick up supplies. That’s the beauty of living in the city!
3. Water Your Plants the Lazy Way
This tip was lifechanging for me, since I kept inadvertently killing the cute little succulents I have all over the apartment. So I started tossing ice cubes into the planter pots and now watering the plants is SO EASY. Much easier than going around with a heavy watering can, stopping to refill it, etc.
4. Have Mommy Hiding Places
While there is something to be said about “a place for everything and everything in its place”, I sometimes find new places for things- even temporarily – that save me tons of time and hassle.
For instance, the hinges in the glider in the kids’ room from time to time gets super creaky. My solution? I keep a can of WD-40 stashed away at the back of my son’s pajama drawer. I can grab the can, lube the hinges, and replace it quickly- without mentally adding it to my to-do list.
Other sneaky things I have hidden around the place that save time:
- candy in my underwear drawer for late night binges (every mom does this though, right!?)
- Roku app on my phone so I can control the TV from the kitchen and turn off the Mickey Mouse Club when it’s time for dinner
- a phone charger in the kids’ room, for the nights I’m up in the middle of the night rocking a teething baby back to sleep
- garbage bags in the kids’ room so I can quickly change out a stinky diaper pail
- kids’ pajamas in the bathroom so I can change them in straight after their bath at night
IN THE KITCHEN
Two Ingredient Banana Pancakes! 🍌🍌 We make these super simple pancakes for breakfast just about every morning. It's just one mashed banana and one whisked egg. Dead easy. Make sure your pan/griddle is hot and greased, and keep them small, since they can be tough to flip. My 3 year old lovvves them with 🍯honey!
5. Whenever possible, batch it out
I batch cook as much as I can, whenever I can. I find that batching my prep always saves me time later on.
Batching can mean different things depending on that you’re cooking. Here are some of the things I tend to batch prep together:
- When I make pancakes for the kids, I’ll cook up another 5 or 6 at the same time, wrap them, and then reheat for breakfast the next morning
- When I’m making lunch for myself one day- say, a sandwich or a salad- I’ll double it and store for the next day, so I can grab it and go. (This is a great tip for those of you who don’t have the time or motivation on the weekends to make a week’s worth of lunches!)
You know the adage “cook once, save twice”? It really works!
6. Make lunch at dinner
This goes hand-in-hand with my batching trick- while you’re making or cleaning up from dinner, get lunch ready for the next day.
My kids bring lunch to their babysitter and eat there before coming home and taking a nap here. And the mornings are already insane enough without packing a full lunch for them!
So, while I’m cooking or while I’m cleaning up, I’ll make sure to portion out their lunches for the next day. This might mean putting leftovers into small containers so I can grab and go in the morning. Or it might mean that while the casserole is cooking, I put pretzels into baggies and set them aside.
Whatever makes my life easier in the morning rush is a huge help!
7. Get the rotisserie chicken
For whatever reason, I was always against picking up those $5 rotisserie chickens you see turning on a spin in the grocery store. Why was I so resistant? No freaking clue. Because once I started picking one up with just about every trip, I realized how amazing they are.
It’s not just about a deliciously juicy chicken with crispy skin. It’s about what you can do with that chicken that saves so much time!
I’ll give some chicken to my kids at dinner, then I’ll shred the rest and store it. It goes into chicken salad sandwiches or a quick chicken noodle soup, and then I toss the bones and some veggies in the crockpot with water and let it simmer all night long. In the morning I have free chicken stock.
$5 chicken for the win!
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