Tomorrow, we will once again celebrate Mother’s Day and with it, all of the mothers in our lives. We will remember our own mothers, our grandmothers, godmothers, maybe some aunts and friends.
Personally, I view Mother’s Day like we Catholics see any Sunday, a day of rest. I am lucky. I have a very helpful husband on all days of the year but on Mother’s Day, especially, I love to enjoy a day off. Of course, I want to be with my daughter, but I want to be with her while I lay back, relax and maybe even prop up my feet.
All mothers know, after all, that there aren’t many days off for us. Motherhood is a full-time job, all hours in the day, all days in the week. And I’m not complaining. I really do love being a mother, and I really am so grateful that I am lucky enough to stay home with Rosemarie.
That being said, motherhood is still hard. Along with all the joy and fun of being a mother, comes challenges and while the good days seem to win out, there are some bad days too.
For Mother’s Day then, I decided to share some of my own little Mom tips that can maybe make those bad days a little easier. Okay, so I’m not an expert. I only have one child and she is only three and a half after all, but since I always appreciate any help I can get, I thought I’d share some of my own.
Ya know those little life hack posts that make their way around the Internet, little videos on YouTube, some BuzzFeed lists, even creative memes like these?
Well, here are some Mom hacks for all you mothers out there. Happy Mother’s Day to you all! May your good days far outweigh the bad ones and may the worst of your bad days be merely made up of temper tantrums and giant spills.
- Don’t throw those clothes away too fast: Kids, especially babies, grow very quickly. Unlike adults, who usually stay in a certain size for a long amount of time, kids breeze through them at top speed. If you are anything like me and dislike clutter, you may be tempted to get rid of an item of clothing as soon as your kid outgrows it.
The good thing about little girl clothes, though, is many of them have nine lives. Those adorable dresses your toddler waddled around in last summer? They can be tunics on the newly slim body of your preschooler. Down the line, those tunics can be regular ‘ol shirts. And the full-length leggings of last year or even last spring can easily become capris the following summer.
One item you definitely want to hold onto are those little diaper covers that come with all those frilly dresses. Eventually, they stop making those ever-useful bloomers. Apparently, once your daughter potty trains, she is also supposed to learn to keep her skirt down and cross her legs. We all know this isn’t happening, so save ‘em up. They will come in handy while your daughter frolics around the dance floor of your cousin’s communion and shows everyone just how well she does cartwheels. Her Dora the Explorer undies just don’t go with the Ralph Lauren plaid dress you so carefully picked out. The best part? Those bloomers last a long time. Rosie turns four in August and I just now got rid of those she had in 24 months.
I apologize to those of you with only boys. I doubt there are many second-life uses for T-shirts and jeans.
- Invest in a pair of food scissors: Okay, I thought everyone knew this. My oldest niece is 20 now and her mother used one to feed all of her toddlers, my sister uses one with her three kids and, of course, I used one to cut up Rosie’s food as well. I have used food scissors since I had to turn chicken cutlets into morsels small enough for Rosie’s tiny-toothed baby mouth. While I don’t need to cut up much of her food nowadays, I still break out the scissors whenever I do.
I had no idea this was a unique use for food scissors. I did not know this until I suggested my friend use them to cut up her son’s food and she looked at me as if I had suggested she use a cooked piece of spaghetti. In further conversations with my sister, I learned that many of her friends had the same reaction. And in speaking with my brother-in-law recently, I found that he found the idea ridiculous.*
None of these people understand how much easier feeding a baby/toddler becomes when you use the darn food scissors! Seriously, I have shaved hours off my food preparation by using this gadget. Instead of schlepping away with a knife and fork, cutting….one….small….piece at a time, I can cut four or five at a time instead! Please try it. I promise it is worth it.
*My brother-in-law swears by a pizza cutter for this purpose. I do not agree but, heck, try both! Pick your favorite. Both are better than the butter knife and miniature, Toy Story fork you’ve been using.
- The plastic tablecloth = your new best friend: This one seems really, really obvious. Please don’t think I actually believe I am the first person to think of this idea. However, if you are anything like my mother was when we were young (Love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day), it is possible you really haven’t.
I have exactly three memories of playing with Play Doh as a child. One was in my grandmother’s sunroom in Florida. I remember how the dough got stuck on the faux grass floor. The other was in my cousin’s basement…the unfinished basement (Apparently, my aunt was a lot like my mother.), and the third was in my backyard. It must have been during the changeover from winter to spring because the yard wasn’t set up yet and the patio table was still dirty with the remnants of winter. I remember being cold. It was still chilly, but I wanted to play with Play Doh, and in my house that meant I had to be outside.
Since my mother banished me to the yard despite the chill in the air and probable goosebumps on my arms (maybe even a blue tone to my lips), I can only imagine that she didn’t think of my brilliant plastic tablecloth idea.
It’s simple, ladies. Just keep a plastic tablecloth with your kids’ Play Doh. (I have been using the same Christmas Tree Shop one for three years.) Every time they want to play, lay out that tablecloth on the floor. No Play Doh is allowed to leave that area. Ever. And once they are done, pack up the dough and all its paraphernalia, roll up the plastic, take a step outside and shake it out. The rain will eventually wash away the lime green and hot pink bits that are now sprinkling your front stoop.
Extra tip: I use the same tablecloth for painting, particularly messy gluing, egg coloring, etc.
- Keep strolling with that stroller: The first few times I went shopping with Rosemarie in her stroller, I was amazed. Sure, it can get a little tricky when the baby needs to eat or something, but I was lucky that way. Rosie was always good on the go.
That, however, is not what amazed me. What amazed me was the fact that I had been shopping for so many years without a stroller, a stroller equipped not only with a large basket to hold my winter jacket, my wallet or what-have-you, but also one or two handles that could hold two or three Mommy Hooks on which I could hang my purchases.
What on Earth did I do before? Did I seriously walk around the mall for hours carrying these bags, their plastic holes for handles cutting into my fingers? And what did I do with my iced coffee?
I just can’t imagine. And thank goodness it is now something I only need to imagine. You may be thinking, “But Rosie is almost four. She must not really need a stroller anymore.” And you are correct! She doesn’t need one most of the time. Sure, if we are on a particularly long walking trip, it is good to have it around for when her little legs get tired. But more importantly, we need it so that my arms don’t get tired!
Keep that stroller easily accessible in your trunk. Forever. I was at the mall this week. I took the stroller and what sat on the seat while I pushed it around? My pocketbook, of course. And I still attached my cup holder for my food court drink and each time I made a purchase, I hung that baby on a handle.
When Rosie turns seventeen, I may still bring a stroller to the mall. Keep it around, people. You’ll thank me later.
- The smaller the stall, the better:* I happened upon this Mommy Hack by accident. When Rosie needs to use the potty in public, I normally use the extra large stall whenever possible. I am even more inclined to do so when I have one or more of my nieces with me. The other night, however, with only a regular-sized stall available in the Applebee’s bathroom and my bourbon skillet getting cold on the table, I took all three of them into that very small stall.
Do you know what I discovered? It was far easier than the using the stall that actually has space for four bodies. Yes, if you are claustrophobic, this tip is not for you, but if you are cool with confined spaces, read away.
Why is the small stall better? Control. Restriction. In the big stall, Rosemarie will insist on showing me her dancing school dance that I have watched only three times a day for six months. Lynda will proceed to hug the others while they meanly whine in protest and attempt to push her off.
In the small stall, ain’t nobody got room for that. All arms must be crossed and hugged to one’s own chest. One child uses the potty, I slide her back into her spot and lift the next child for her turn. There is no room for dancing, hugging, playing, falling, etc. It is quick and efficient. I will be a loyal small stall user from now on.
*Disclaimer: This tip will not apply when you are using Tip #4. The stroller just can’t make it into a regular stall without someone or something having way too much contact with the toilet.
Well, there you have them, fellow moms. I hope one or two of my tips will help one or two of you. What about you? What hacks do you have for me? Share below!