The Hot Tip Exchange

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Has anyone else noticed that while we have been blogging a lot more (hello devotionals), we have been chatting a lot less?  It’s basically like trying to talk while you are on a jog. Not so much lung power leftover. But, in spite of this, we have gone on living a very chatty real life. Full of small news and less than fascinating anecdotes.

Some of the small news that I keep wanting to share falls into the category of hot tips. Things that I have tried at home and found to be a big help. I thought that it would be fun to ask you all to share any of these sorts of things that you discovered in your own homes as well. Since Pinterest is crawling with suggestions like this, I want to limit it to things that you have actually implemented. Things that you can testify to the helpfulness of.

Here’s what I’ve got  in random and unconnected order:

photo-83I’ve had this canvas sweater stacker for a long time and never really found it to be super helpful in the closet. Suddenly it occurred to me to pull it out for summer shoes. I printed out initials  and traced them with a sharpie onto the front of each one. Clearly I have the perfect number of children to use this, but even without that happy coincidence, I think this could be useful. I would have been happy to have an extra one for diapers and wipes – since this is by the door in our house.

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This is what I was trying to knit in the front yard in that first picture with Shadrach assisting. Teeny tiny dishcloths. I have a theory here, unproven. These are for my kids to use to clean off their faces, elbows, whatever, when I tell them to clean up in the bathroom. Big washcloths lend themselves to serious levels of sloshwashing. My theory is that due to ease of wringing out, these will work for them. Also possible – sloshwashing will takes itself to a new, cuter, and more colorful level. Either way I think I’m ok with it. These are super quick, mindless, and use up the random leftovers I always have from knitting real dishcloths.

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This random metal box that I paid too much for at a farm yard sale years ago has been around. But now it is helpfully around. This is in the living room, on a shelf- but inside is where I keep all the hair things for the girls. Brushes, “pretties” as we call hairbands, and even the detangling spray. Many the morning that I do hair while they are at the table eating breakfast. I find hair ties and brushes all over the house, and they all go right into this. For us, it works.

photo-87And my last hot tip is to buy extra vegetable peelers, and a lettuce knife. These peelers are not too sharp, but work well. Often times when kids come in wanting to help with dinner, I have them peel potatoes or carrots. When it is one of the littler ones, I have them do it even if we aren’t eating carrots or potatoes for dinner. Both are cheap, peeling is great fun and good practice. I have also put small people at chairs in the kitchen with a funnel, a jar, an ice cube tray, and a little bowl of dried beans with a spoon in it. So long as you are nearby to prevent stuffing it into ears and noses, that is also a ton of fun.

The lettuce knife is serrated plastic – it would be really hard to cut yourself with. We are just starting a rotation of who is on duty to help with dinner, and the greatest thrill of all is cutting up the lettuce for the salad all by yourself. Also – until I got this knife, I always used a disposable plastic knife to cut brownies (and I hear cakes and cheesecakes work too) as it keeps it from clouding up on the knife – it just shoots right through even the most luscious of brownies.

So – I like to think that I have a ton more tips where these came from, but I doubt it. I may have maxed out here. You may have heard all the ideas I have had, ever. But I’d love to hear yours! Share in the comments – you know we can all use a few more hot tips!

 

 

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55 Responses to “The Hot Tip Exchange”


  • Not a tip… But is there any way you guys could have a way to receive the new blog posts by email? Google reader is ending this summer and I keep up with my email better. I don’t want to miss any new posts!

  • Hooray for chatting and hot tips! …For a mom expecting their second (or so) child: I have a small chalkboard leaning against the wall in my daughters’ nursery only because I had not hung it, but it ended up being a great way for my toddler to entertain himself a few minutes while I change or dress the baby.

  • I keep all our pony tail holders on a large binder ring. It keeps them from escaping whenever we open the drawer.
    I can’t think of anything else particularly handy…I do make large amounts of Greek yogurt in a crockpot. I don’t know if that qualifies as a tip, but it does save money.

  • Buy some extra measuring cups and knives at the dollar store or thrift shop. Put a couple of convenient-sized cups in each of your canisters (flour, sugar, and the like) along with a knife for leveling off the ingredients. They’re always right where you need them, and you won’t need to wash them every time you use them.

  • In response to Jerilyn’s question: I’d try MailChimp to set up an automatic email to subscribers. I’ve heard it works great, better than the soon-maybe-to-be-discontinued Feedburner.

    Also: Jerilyn could try Feedly.com as a Google Reader replacement. It’s very good!

  • I’ve got a “hot tip” for Jerilyn…use feedly.com for your new reader. I really like it, also it will transfer all of your Reader subscriptions right over! Thanks for this post, all of them are great ideas, especially the last one :-)

  • For headband storage–
    Take a 2 liter plastic soda bottle and cut to size to fit a bathroom drawer. Turn the bottle so it fits horizontally in the drawer and ta-da! Just wrap your headbands around your bottle and you’ve got great storage!
    I also just bought a wooden magazine rack at a tag sale for $1. It will be installed next to my daughter’s bed so she can easily read in bed on those mornings when it’s WAY too early to be up.

  • I am not creative or patient enough to make a cute chore chart. However, we’ve been working with my two oldest daughters (4,5) to do *potty, clothes, hair, teeth, and bed* in the morning when they get up. I was ready for them to move to remembering on their own so I could help the little ones and make breakfast instead of policing their efforts.
    SO!
    I used an old trick from college dorm days and wrote their names and responsibilities with a dry erase marker on their bathroom mirror. When they finish something, they get to draw a smiley face next to it with the marker.
    It’s worked really well!
    The mirror gets a little cloudy and dirty by the end of the week, but it’s not much trouble at all to clean with Windex.
    There’s my tip! Can’t wait to read more…

  • Oops, I forgot to say that under the four-year old’s list I write the two words I know she can read and draw silly pictures for the rest. = )

  • I keep an empty sour cream tub with a snap-on lid in the car at all times. For discreet toddler potty breaks on the side of the road, throw-up, nasty diapers I want to contain, etc. It’s quick and cheap to replace. Saves tons of carseat washings!

    And we rotate toys – an oldie but goodie of a tip.

    Switching the clothes for the seasons – I try to keep just one rubbermaid box of each gender and size. I print off little checklists for each box to keep track of what is needed for that size so I know what to look for at the next consignment sale.

    Storing shoes: I like the under-the-bed sized boxes for the smaller sizes, regular rubbermaids for the bigger. I cut pieces of cardboard to fit like dividers and write the size at the top. I have boxes for girls’, 3-8, 9-12, 12 and up, and another set for boys. (We haven’t gotten into the really big ones yet!) Then I can just drop the shoes into the correct slot when we get or are given new ones and I can easily see that I need to stock up on girl’s sz.6 white dress sandals but I already have tennis shoes and black dress shoes.

    Something my mom always did to avoid washing a million cups everyday: plastic cups in different colors and everyone had their own color. You kept the same cup for the whole day. We have also started requiring our kids to keep their cups in the kitchen or on the table so we can find them come meal time. We used to spend a lot of time looking for cups while dinner was getting cold on the table!

    I save mayo caps to use on mason jars for food storage, salad dressings, etc. Not all of them fit the tops right, but a lot of them do.

    We grow basil and make a ton of basil pesto in the summer and then freeze it in ice cube trays to use on pasta and pizza and in tomato sauces all winter long.

  • Nice tips! Here are some of mine:

    I use a little decorative photo holder clip next to the kitchen sink to hold memory verses on index cards (where I can see it while I’m washing dishes) – this has been one of my favorite things.

    Keep a printed list of what I need for the diaper bag in the side pocket, and keep everything in the bag in big ziplocks (one for diapers, one for snacks, etc). The list is helpful to look over when I am packing it up in a flurry before running out the door – it would probably be more helpful to just be more organized and keep it all packed up, but hey, you do what you can!

    I have a chalkboard hung on the wall by the stairs with a verse or a quote or something that is encouraging to look at throughout the day – it’s fun to use lots of colors and make it look pretty, and it’s nice to work on something creative that has such low stakes. Mine is made of a cheap black IKEA 11×14 frame spray-painted with chalk paint (two tips for the price of one!)

  • For those of you who ambitiously buy the mondo block of cream cheese from Costco, but sometimes have trouble using it up before it gets moldy on you: slice right through the plastic to get the portion you’re about to use, then place a square of waxed paper on the end and stick the rest of the block right back in the cardboard box. I have forgotten this for an unconscionably long period of time and still found it mold-free.
    For pre-dinner entertainment, we like the OXO salad spinner. The kids feel so helpful, and once the lettuce is out, the fun doesn’t have to stop. One time my son turned on a flashlight and stuck it in the spinner for a little lighthouse imagination time.

  • Here are a few hot tips which I employ!

    1. Using old muslin baby wraps under the high chairs at meal time. Great goop-catchers!
    2. Teaching the kidlets to wait for ten to fifteen minutes in their car seats (strapped in), or on the doorstep (older children) while mama and dadda race around getting our last bits of act together.
    3. Using a pretty basket in the laundry for recyclables. (Their holding position before they get trekked out to the bin!)
    4. Rachel’s hair tie suggestion works a treat in our home, too.
    5. Using the “click and collect” free packaging/pickup option for your groceries (is this an Australian thing? I’m sure America must have it. We tend to follow ten years behind here in Oz.) (…did you know we still have kangaroo’s hopping down the main street…?)
    6. Using pretty, painted, low-profile bookcases as toy storage. The open shelves look cute when they’re stuffed with toys, and they’re more functional than tubs with lids, etc. (I find).
    7. And, the crowning glory of all glories – substituting a standard vacuum cleaner for a cordless, battery powered, heavy-duty stick vacuum. My hubby bought me a model which is actually a power tool. For reals. Guys use them in their tool-shops. Aside from it making me feel awesome that I’m using a bona fide power tool, it makes me happy that I no longer trip over the cord. And, I can whip it out at a minute’s notice.

    Happy times!

    Also, I need a hot tip or two. Any clever and quick tips for staying fit and trim? I have a small crew of children and a recent-ish caesarean. I am rather tired, but I need to diligently keep up with my children and stay fit!

    Thanks. Love, Ali.

  • I keep a box of medical grade latex gloves in the kitchen. Anytime I do something messy or don’t want to sanitize by scrubbing under my fingernails (!) I slip these on: mixing meatloaf, making cookie dough balls, cleaning up trash, my kids wear them to help in the kitchen at times, etc.

    I too use a tiny handheld vacuum that my kids can help clean up the spilled pencil sharpener and the like.

    I make a double batch of muffins and store in a bag in the fridge. Then I make a big pot of hardboiled eggs. My kids can practically get their own breakfast with some good protein and a healthy oat and fruit muffin.

  • *** When I fold clean laundry I do it on the living room floor and usually after bedtime. I keep my childrens’ clothes in piles on the floor and in the morning, they are responsible for taking it up to their rooms. The 9, 7 and 4 year old are perfectly capable of doing this AND keeping the clothes neatly folded. (I have to haul laundry up and down stairs FAR less when I am only doing it for the grown-ups and the baby!) (Having less clothes in rotation helps too-but you already did an excellent post on this!)

    *** I use rubberbands on my in-process knitting needles and use safety pins in the holes of my crochet projects. Little fingers just LOVE to unravel.

    *** We recently got a dishwasher and the biggles are in charge of emptying it. Instead of constantly asking whose turn it is- I made a magnet that says “Her turn/ His turn” and a smaller magnet that goes on top. When the girlie gets done, she moves the top magnet to “HIS TURN” and vice versa.

    *** I keep a basket at the bottom of the stairs and fill it up with stuff that needs to go UPSTAIRS.

    *** I have a coinage jar by the washing machine and everyone knows- if money is left in pockets it goes into the “Mama’s TIPS” jar. The kids are never big tippers- but the Papa, the Papa IS. That is my yard sale money. ;-)

    (I love the mini-cloth idea and fully plan to steal it. Thank you.)

  • Tiny tip here…
    Sort of along the each child one colour plastic cup….but we have tea time read aloud here, so often, there is a hot drink in the mix of the day. So each child has their own unique mug. They use it all day for all their drinks. They are kept by the sink in a row. Even if it gets put in the dishwasher by mistake, easy to retrieve their own mug:)

    Oh, and this is on old-y also, but a nice little basket at the top of the stairs to toss in the things that need to go downstairs.

  • Alison, so funny that you asked about staying fit and trim… I have struggled with my weight my whole life but after baby #5 I have lost those last stubborn ten pounds with the help of some of your fellow Aussies who wrote the book Trim Healthy Mama (Alison Pearl and Serene Barrett). In fact I used to exercise like crazy but haven’t really been able to fit it in as my family has grown quickly, and was able to still easily lose weight. The principles in the book are a little difficult to “get” at first, and I haven’t tried most of the recipes yet, but the basic idea of separating fats and carbs into different meals has worked well for me. And I have as much or more energy as I did when I was Taeboing four times a week! Best wishes for your efforts.

  • Great tips! I’m always looking for outside of the box ideas since raising 7 kids is outside of the box.

    A few of my own:

    1. My 7-year-old just made pancakes with the syrup mixed in the batter. Perfect for the toddlers, mess free but tasty. Especially for eating in the car on the way to church :)

    2. For days when the mess has gone wild (beyond regular chores), I use a clean-up game. One family favorite: Write several jobs on pieces of paper, include rewards. For example: Pick up 20 toys in the playroom, load dishwasher, kiss the baby, eat a marshmallow, etc… Then fold the papers, put in a bowl, and let them draw their next job surprise until the bowl is empty. (Give each kid a separate bowl so someone doesn’t end up with all the hard work and someone with all the treats).

    3. In the days before my kids, I was a photographer. I posted some of my tips for getting good family photos on my blog last fall. https://talkingwall.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/will-work-for-marshmallows/

  • Oo, these are some good tips! Glad to know they actually work, too. I’ve about given up on Pinterest tips, because they don’t work 70% of the time for me…

    One tip we use every week: when we bring a bag of grapes or berries home, first thing I do is wash them in a big bown filled with cool water and just about a fourth of a cup of apple cider vinegar. Then I rinse clean, shake dry, and put in the fridge. It gets rid of that film on the grapes and kills any mold that’s starting to grow on the fruit, causing it to not only last about a week (or more) longer, but to actually not get squishy as quickly! It’s nice pulling clean, firm, two-week-old grapes out of the fridge.

    Also, if you’re into essential oils: mixing a couple drops of a scent that you like with about two cups of baking soda is a great (and cheap) diaper pail and carpet freshener! I also sprinkle a little at the bottom of our trash bags to absorb and mask odor.

    If you have a Scentsy warmer, you can also put a bit of water in it and one or two drops of essential oil. Since you need so little oil, it really does end up being so much cheaper than even the store brand wax cubes!

  • Thanks for doing this post Rachel:)

    I have some meal planning tips to share.
    Each week I sit down and plan 8 dinners. One is a leftover night- so if there are no leftovers meal #8 is needed. I have found it to be especially helpful to have an outline of meal ideas. For example this is the general outline that I use(although it should probably be updated for the summer).
    #1- sockeye(we have a freezer full of salmon so we need to eat it once a week.)
    #2- breakfast for dinner(quiche/omelet/french toast/pancakes/waffles/etc)and a smoothie.
    #3- a meal that I can double and freeze the extra dish for next week or the week after- typically some sort of a casserole. Served with raw veggies or a salad.
    #4- a meal from the freezer served with raw veggies or a salad.
    #5- leftover night with raw veggies or a salad.
    #6- easy night(fries/frozen pizza/hamburgers/wraps)with raw veggies or a salad.
    #7- soup(our family loves to eat soup!)with biscuits.
    #8- meat and potatoes and cooked veggies.

    I have also found it extremely helpful to have our breakfasts organized in a similar fashion. I have been struggling to get our family away from eating cold cereal a lot and finally realized it was my own laziness that was the stumbling block. I have written out an outline with: Monday- cold cereal/toast, Tuesday- eggers(fried eggs/cheese/ham/english muffin), Wednesday- oatmeal/baked oatmeal/oatmeal cups, Thursday- pancakes/waffles/french toast, Friday- cold cereal, Saturday- cold cereal/muffins/toast, Sunday- boiled eggs and toast. Having each day lined out has motivated me to actually prepare the night before for the morning meal.

  • make your granola in a crockpot–amazing!!!

  • Will you post the pattern for the tiny dishcloths? They are such a great idea!!
    Thanks!

  • a few “hot tips” for alison about staying fit as a mama…

    1. wear your baby in a baby carrier around the house while you do housework. my fave carrier for little ones (like under 3 mo or so) is the moby wrap, and i like the ergo for bigger babies (all the way up to toddlers). this makes your housework a bit more of a workout, and baby loves it too :) this is especially good once little ones are mobile, then you dont have to constantly watch them while you are trying to get something done. not sure how soon you will be able to do this after a caeserean, but when its possible you should try it out. side note: to prevent hurting your back (and to get a better workout for your core) squat to pick things up while wearing baby (as opposed to bending at the waist).

    2. if you have like-minded friends with kids, start a mommy boot camp. i host one of these twice a week at our house. its a great outreach to non-believers as well as a good time of fellowship with believers, as it fills three needs most moms feel (need to get/stay in shape, need to have mommy friends, need to have playmates for your kiddos). mommy bootcamp is part workout, part playdate. the kids play in the yard while my friends and i workout on the patio. the good thing is that there is flexibility to attend to your kids’ needs when necessary (for example to nurse a hungry baby, discipline a disobedient toddler, etc) since we are all moms and understand these necessary interruptions. we work out for about an hour, but all of us moms are always in and out the whole time as needed. i write and lead the workout, though i pass off leading to one of the other moms for a few minutes when i have to attend to a kiddo.

    3. sneak in 10 minute workouts during free gaps in your day, like while kiddos are napping or before they wake up. 10 minutes may not sound like much, but if you are consistent you will see results. plus, when you are just getting into working out, 10 minutes sounds much more doable than something like 45 minutes. try to actually be working out for as much of that 10 minutes as possible, with few breaks since its such a short time :)

    4. focus on strength training! from all of my research, strength training (like lifting weights, doing planks, pushups, etc) is much more important than cardio activities (like running) for women, even though women are far more likely to do cardio than men.

    5. take daily walks with your kiddos. we try to walk to the store, the park or just around the block most days of the week. walking is probably the best fat burning exercise there is. furthermore, it gets energy out of your kiddos, boosts your vitamin d (from the sunlight) and helps calm your mind (at least it does for me).

    hope these tips are helpful!

  • OK, I’m back with my other hot tips. These are more “tip-like” than my book recommendation, probably more in the spirit of the post.

    1. Bath poufs instead of washcloths for the kids’ bathing. It’s a lot easier to teach a 3 year old to bathe himself with these!
    2. Get your own otoscope and learn how to use it. Actually, I got my husband to learn how to use it, but you get the idea. If you have a little one prone to ear infections it can save a lot of wasted trips to the doctor. Also can help you gauge how quickly they’re healing after starting antibiotics. I got mine from Amazon but then I saw them in the pharmacy at Wal-Mart.
    3. Think ahead about running that dishwasher. Maybe it’s only half full, but you’ll need it empty after supper, right? You’re not saving that much by waiting to fill it up. Go ahead and run and empty it to make clean-up easier when you’re in your post-meal coma. :) My husband did some calculations one time and figured that it costs us less than a dollar in electricity each time I run ours. So, I run that thing! Saves my hands too.
    4. Switch to decaf for your afternoon coffee. I know, who hasn’t thought of that? I deluded myself for years thinking that I really needed that 4:00 pick-me-up and I would be so tired later that it wouldn’t keep me up. And it never did really keep me awake but it sure affected the quality of my sleep. I still have the real thing at breakfast, but if I’m drinking any after 9 AM it’s only decaf. I am sleeping so much better that I really don’t need that afternoon boost anymore.

  • To keep little hands busy when there isn’t a good way to include them in your work: I keep a tub of multi-colored buttons and a mini-muffin pan and let them sort away. For my oldest, when we were beyond sorting by color, I wrote #’s on the bottom of the pan and she sorted the correct amt into each tin. I also have a metal cookie sheet and some round magnets I bought off Amazon when I was homeschooling. Tons of magnet pages online to print out for preschoolers to use as patterns. My toddler enjoys scattering the magnets and then using the magnetic wand to pick them up.

    For ease of meal times: We have a counter that acts as a landing pad for cups. I train mine early to drink out of open cups bc I hate sippys. Cups stay in the kitchen or at the table when we eat. No more hunting them down or finding a cup months later and having to pitch it bc I can’t bear to open it. Also, if we are going to be fone for a while and I think the kids might need something to drink while we are out, I carry a large 32 ounce water bottle and their plastic cup. All of my kids are color coded – cups, bowls, plates according to favorite color – to lessen arguments over who gets which plate. We’re fortunate there are no two kids with the same favorite color. For breakfast and lunch, I meal plan and grocery shop on the weekend and only provide one option for a week. Keeps me from being a short order cook and preparing LOTS of different options. I rotate who picks out the week’s choice and on Saturday when we’re a little more relaxed, they get to go “shopping” and choose any 3 items for lunch. It can get interesting!

    For snacks: I shop at Sams then come home and immediately break any prepackaged foods (cheese-its, tortilla chips, sliced cheese) into snack bags. I keep all the snacks on the bottom of the pantry or bottom shelf of the fridge so little hands can get their own snacks. There is also a fruit bowl on the table where little people can choose a fruit and bring it to me if they want it cut/peeled. Our “rule” is to alternate snacks fruit/carb…

    And since it is summer and we’ll be swimming in pools: I keep a bottle of shampoo in my bag and we wash hair assembly line style in the locker room before we leave. Keeps my blondies from looking like the Hulk and buys me another few days without baths (we have 5 in a one bath house!)

  • What a helpful post. I was also going to mention the dishwasher thing, which I think I originally read here on this blog. Run it in anticipation of when you need it empty, even if it’s only 50% full. Small thing, but very freeing for me! And I keep a deep but narrow box with a lid between the toilet and counter. It holds a roll of paper towels, a glove, toilet bowl cleaner and disinfecting wipes. Every single morning when I’ve finished in the bathroom I wipe the counter, dry it with a paper towel so it doesn’t streak, then use that (barely damp) paper towel to give the mirror a swipe. Then I use one wipe to wipe all sides of toilet seat. No toothpaste splatters on the faucet or mirror, no build-up on the toilet. We’re a 1-bathroom house, too, and although my little children make their own messes when brushing teeth, washing hands and using the toilet, the messes are much smaller and I’m much more inspired to clean them up swiftly and without procrastinating if the surfaces are clean each morning.

  • Loving the tip round-up! This is just a simple one, but years ago I started storing my plastic grocery bags in a little bread crumb can. (Hyvee brand with the plastic lid, if you want specifics :)) Rarely would you need more bags for your small trash cans, etc. than can fit in there, and it’s amazing how much tidier it is under the sink without them hanging out of a “bag saver” or all wadded up inside a bigger bag.

  • Helpful tip that an older woman gave me when my three boys were little: To make sorting clothes (especially socks) easier, take a permanent magic marker and mark them with small dots. The oldest child gets one dot, the second gets 2 dots, etc. When you pass the clothes down to the next child, just add a dot. I put initials for parents instead of dots. We had a cardboard box (later a wire basket) for each person with the their personal marking on the front. The kids learned to sort the laundry themselves this way.

  • This is in response to Alison who asked for tips about Mommy fitness (but probably ALL moms need this!). Check out http://fit2b.us/. It’s MADE for busy moms, and is focused on healing diastasis recti– the muscle separation that causes the “mummy tummy”. Healing that can help a lot with energy and general fitness, especially after birth (including c-sections, of course!). It helped me so much, I can’t recommend it enough!

  • Firstly…Gday, Gday to Allison and my hot weight loss tips: 1. Take a look at an online calorie counter or buy a little calorie counting book and check out (on average) how many calories you are consuming. I discovered that I was consuming only 200-400 extra to what I needed as a breastfeeding Mother but it does add up over time. Michelle Bridges says that weight loss is 80% what you eat and 20% exercise. 2. Stay active with your children. Go walking together. I have one of those BIG exercise balls and the Preggi Bellies DVD training guide & the children all sit on soccar balls, etc and we train together in our lounge room. Finding 50mins to do the workout is the hard bit. 3. Another way that has worked has been setting off for a brisk walk 45mins before the children are up. I come home to Daddy starting breakie and its been very refreshing. I hope this inspires you, remember Im a Mum too trying to work this out as I go. My last hot tip is: I have a bathroom microfibre cloth hanging over the towel rail for wiping up toothpaste slops, water slops, and you guessed it…wiping the shower down after the last shower. It saves the bathroom from being slop central AND it lasts longer between cleans.

  • So many great “tips” on here! I can’t wait to try them out. :-) Here are a few ideas that have been helpful around our home lately…
    1. Store plastic grocery bags in a 5 gallon bucket with a hole the size of your fist cut into the lid. It keeps the bag-mess contained and it’s easy to just grab the handle to tote around the house when you’re putting new liners into waste cans or clutter-clearing different rooms. My husband came up with this…love him!
    2. I hang complete Sunday outfits (tights/leggings/bloomers, dress/skirt, top, and cardi) in my daughter’s closet, one outfit per hanger. This makes Sunday morning waaaay less stressful since there is no searching for coordinating pieces.
    3. We store hair ties etc. in a zip-up jewelry travel case (I found ours at TJMAXX). Lots of clear sorting compartments so there’s no digging to the bottom of one big bag.
    4. We eat the same breakfast every Sunday. During the week I make cinnamon biscuits (like cinnamon rolls but with biscuit dough- yum!), refrigerate them, and put them into bake on Sunday morning. While it bakes we get all of the church cargo gathered up and put in the car, cook up some sausage, make a quick fruit salad, and then sit down to our family’s Sabbath Feast. It’s less stressful to have one less surprise on Sunday morning and it’s a breakfast that the kids love so they eat a lot of it, which keeps them happier during church. Oh, and on Sundays we always use paper plates. No dishes! Yay!
    5. I’ve found that it works for me to categorize our junk drawer carnage into ziplock bags. Still not a perfect system, but at least I don’t feel like I’m playing Where’s Waldo whenever I open the drawer to look for something.
    6. We buy our craft supplies mostly from Amazon. You can buy in bulk and if you have Prime then it’s really a great deal. Plus, the kids get a fun package in the mail. :-)

  • I keep a towering stack of prefold diapers for cleaning. They’re great for windows, mirrors, bathrooms, spilled milk, etc. The more washed and tattered they get the better they work. I usually only use paper towels for messes I’d rather throw away.

    I use a 1 to 1 mixture of water and white vinegar (with a few drops of lavender oil to smell nicer) to wash almost everything. It doesn’t streak on mirrors and windows! (Windex drove me nuts for years.) I clean the bathrooms and counters with it. Very cheap and if a kid grabs it and sprays anything (like their own face) no worries. (Though I’m a big fan of bleach or toilet bowl cleaner when/where needed.)

    This may seem like a total DUH, but I finally started using hairspray after fixing my girls’ very fine hair. I would do their hair and it would get fuzzy and fly-away after playing, putting on a hat, etc. Hairspray keeps it together much longer.

  • Came back to read everyone else’s tips and I remembered another one:

    I always line the bottoms of my oven and toaster oven with a couple layers of tin foil. If something spills over, I just have to replace the foil, rather than scrub the gunk off the bottom.

  • To keep the hair clips in order I installed two magnetic knife racks in the hair pretty drawer. Added bonus – when the racks get too full it’s time to pass a few clips on. These could also be installed on the inside of a cabinet door if you are short on drawer space.

    To keep the kiddos busy on planes, in waiting rooms, etc. I use the half sheet sized binders with an interior storage pocket/pouch. I printed out assorted free coloring pages as half sheets and restock the binder when everything is colored. I also printed out mazes, dot to dots, tic tac toe, etc. and put those in page protectors. The pocket holds a set of small markers and a couple washable dry erase markers for the activities in the sheet protectors as well as a piece of felt for erasing. Since the coloring and activities can be quickly changed out and they only use these when we are out and about they work great for keeping my girlies occupied. Now that I have a two week old son, I am probably about 2-3 years away from finding out this might not work as well with boys. :)

  • Hi! Yay for tips!

    I think a Microplane is a tool every kitchen should have. Basically a carpenter’s rasp with a handle, you can use it to grate hard cheeses, citrus zest, nutmeg, even the brown spots off a head of cauliflower.

    Whenever I make cookies, I do a double batch, shape them all, freeze them on cookie sheets, and then store in a large zip-lock with the name, cooking temp, and time written on the bag. They only take a minute longer to bake and you can have warm-from-the-oven cookies anytime you want. This tip also revolutionized my holiday baking!

    Whenever you need to roll out cookie dough or pastry, try doing it with your dough between two sheets of waxed paper. Once rolled out, refrigerate or freeze until firm and then just peel away the paper.

  • I thought of a few more!

    *** I have these antiquish colored glass cups that have VERY heavy bottoms that are great for childrens’ hands because they are VERY hard to tip over (being so bottom heavy.) My two year old uses them well. Each child has a different color glass and that is THEIR color for the day- they put it on the counter when not in use. For the smallest hands- I have a blue enamel cup. They go from nursing to enamel cup and never really go through the sippy cup stage- which helps with cupboard clutter. I do have ONE sippy cup for car rides but that is it.

    *** We only have one bathroom in our house (and it is a small one at that!) so I keep all toothbrushing stuff in the cabinet by the kitchen sink. Bedtime routine of “brush your teeth and go potty” isn’t quite as hectic when children can brush their teeth in the kitchen while they wait for the bathroom.

    *** Also about toothbrushing- we use a small pitcher to hold our brushes instead of those dorky toothbrush holders that are made for four brushes max. Easier to clean, too.

  • When my kids were young, I kept our picture books in plastic dish pans rather than on shelves. It’s hard for kids to reshelve books, but easy for them to put them away (standing up, covers facing front) in the dishpans. It’s easier for them to flip through them and see the covers to pick out their favorites (like a Rolodex). I kept the dish pans in various spots in the house, by comfy chairs and couches, so if I sat down to nurse or rest, the books were right there.

  • I thought of another one. As someone who struggles with being on time to things, before we had kids I started putting on my makeup in the car on Sunday morning (while my husband drives, obviously). Now that I have other people to get ready for church this is a great way I can redeem the 30-minute ride that we have and look “put together” when we arrive. Now if I could only find a way to plug in my curling iron and do that in the car too! :) I put my makeup bag in my diaper bag on Saturday night so I don’t forget it.

  • Lovin this hot tip exchange!
    Amanda Wells, I do the car makeup routine, too. And you might have been joking about curling your hair in the car, but they do make power inverters that plug into your cigarette lighter. And my sister was just telling me she had a friend back in the 80s who carried a butane-powered curling iron in her purse; couldn’t let those rocker bangs go flat!
    A couple hot tips for kids’ water time in this hot weather around these parts: my kids are only entertained by the sprinkler for like 20 minutes max. But I found that if I hang the sprinkler up in the tree, they will fill buckets, wagons, and sleds for hours! The sleds also make nice personal baby pools so the slightly older kids can splash all they want and not scare him.
    I would love any other tips on how to maximize water fun, and how to streamline the set-up and clean-up.

  • Food tip: keep your butter dish on the counter. Always the perfect spreading consistency (I never tear the bread anymore!) and butter doesn’t spoil–it can sit out endlessly (even here in the Deep South!)

  • Thanks for sharing these tips, Ladies!

    Here are mine:

    Use a rubberband to attach a doser to each bottle of Children’s Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I used to put the dosers in the kitchen drawer, but my daughters always “borrow” them for their doctor kit. Then, I would hunt and hunt when the baby is teething (or whatever). Now, the doser and the medicine are always together, and everybody is happy.

    Get a kitchen scale for baking. Seriously. Some recipes already have the weights for flour, sugar, etc. included. Others require conversion. But, this has revolutionized my baking (a pursuit I love). Now, I dumb in an ingredient, zero the scale, dump in the next one, etc. Super easy, and fewer measuring cups to wash! As a bonus: consistent results every time. It’s a win-win.

  • I remembered another! If you’re baking and find you’re out of vanilla, you can substittute an equal amount of leftover coffee. I’ve only ever done this with chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cobbler, so I can’t say it won’t ruin your angel food cake. But with chocolates things, the coffee does a great job of rounding out the flavor.

  • I bought one of those Scotch-Brite dish wands with a scrubbing sponge on the end, filled it with equal parts vinegar and dish soap, and I hung it in the shower. Whenever the bathtub needs a little scrub, I just grab it, shake it, and wipe the tub down after my shower! It foams and gets up soap scum and mildew easily, and since it doesn’t have anything that will irritate my sensitive skin, I can do it while still inside the shower. Cuts my bathroom-cleaning time in half, and my tub is always sparkling!
    Here’s what I’m talking about, in case you’re not familiar with these:
    http://www.amazon.com/Company-650-12-Scotch-brite-Heavy-Duty/dp/B00450LLYA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368469661&sr=8-1&keywords=scotch+dish+wand

  • Mine is a recipe! Dump everything in the crockpot on low for 7 hours or high for 4. Pull apart meet with two forks and serve on tortillas. It makes a huge batch and its so yummy we can eat it for a few nights in a row, tacos first then buritos and even with nachos!! The meet is really flavorful but its not spicy so kids will eat it up too! You can’t go wrong with this one!!

    - 2 lbs. pork (any kind will do, I use loin my mom uses whatever is on sale)
    - 1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed (about 3 large oranges or ready made juice works)
    - 1/4 cup lime juice , freshly squeezed (about 3 large limes or ready made juice)
    - 7 cloves garlic, (whole intact)
    - 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
    - 1 tablespoon cumin
    - 1/2 cup beef broth

  • I’m loving this tip exchange! I haven’t thought of any great tips to share, but the one about leaving butter out at room temperature reminded me of a little change I made. While I’ve always left my butter out in the butter dish, the lid was always getting messy, and on warmer days the butter would start to spread all over the bottom of the dish and sometimes spill over. I found a little square crock (about 4 x 4 with 2″ sides) with a lid to keep my butter in. Now I don’t have to worry about whether it stays in perfect “stick” form, and if it starts to melt, it’s well contained in the crock. An added bonus is that the crock is a pretty red, so it cheers me up whenever I see it on the counter. :)

  • A hot tip for kiddo-laundry: Buy several zippered, mesh lingerie/delicates bags per child and use a Sharpie to draw a colored dot or write the child’s initial on the tag or the bag itself.

    When your littles take off socks or underwear, have them put the items into their personal bags instead of the dirty clothes hamper. (To start, I would suggest using one bag per child for socks and one for underwear. If they fill the bags before you get around to laundry, just provide another color-coded bag… this is why I would buy several per kiddo. :) )

    Pop the bags directly into the washer or a common laundry hamper when they are full. If your bags are dryer-safe, you can also keep everything nice and organized in the dryer… if not, the items would stay together until they reached the clothes-line.

    This cuts laundry sorting time in half!

  • A gold star for everyone! I love these tips! Especially laundry tips. But Alison must tell us more about the stick vacuum!! :) Please!
    Reading this post was just what I needed to get me to let my 4 yo try peeling carrots today. She is always wanting to help with dinner prep and I discovered she is perfectly capable! I will be buying more peelers! (And looking for that odd knife!)
    We have two girls, so I use a medium clear fishing tackle box (or bead organizer, if you will) to sort every-day hair things by color and type (hair tie vs. clip). I still don’t have the fancy bow organization figured out but the daily one stores and travels well.

  • Hi ladies,
    Grateful thanks to those who responded about staying fit! And, in response to MaryOK, this is the stick vacuum I’m talking about.
    http://www.amazon.com/Makita-BCL180W-18-Volt-Lithium-Ion-Cordless/dp/B0039ITKLU
    What can I say? She’s a beauty.
    Love,
    Ali

  • This is just a small tip that worked for me – I always keep the crayons the kids get at restaurants in my purse, but have never used them until this week when we went to the Dr and I took them out and let my 2 year old colour on the sanitary paper on the bed. I also wrote a blog with some of my organizational tips for controlling school papers and such…
    http://www.bushellandapeck.blogspot.ca/2013/04/a-discourse-on-cleaning-organizing-and.html

  • Thank you Alison!! Makita! I love it! Will the name induce husbands to use it?? ;) I seriously dislike broom and dustpan sweeping but have never heard anything good about a stick vacuum till now. We have talked about installing a central vacuum but this would be cheaper. I will definitely be looking into it. Thank you again!

  • You’re welcome, MaryOK! I think the fact that it’s a power tool could work in your favour . Happy vacuuming!

  • We frequently end up at late night events with three (soon to be four!) under six. If I’m on top of my game, when I pack the diaper bag I toss in zip up jammies for each child. Then as the event is winding down and my husband is packing up his sound equipment, I can pop off to the bathroom and get everybody ready for bed. When they go to sleep on the hour drive home, they’re all comfy in their jammies and ready to be carried to bed- hopefully already asleep. :)

  • My Mom had the idea of hanging a canvas shoe organizer (the kind with clear plastic pockets that open upward) on the inside of our pantry door. The pockets are perfect for extra bottles of mustard, BBQ sauce, you get the idea. I also keep our sunscreen and bug spray in a pocket so it is always close by when we are heading out the door. (This likely only works if you have an actual hinged door to your pantry).

    Also, to add to the butter discussion, here is a “Butter Bell” that I received as a gift. It keeps your butter chilled for you but still spreadable http://www.amazon.com/Butter-Bell-Crock-Matte-Ivory/dp/B000H47H0A. We love it. I don’t think I’d pay full price as this link shows, but maybe they go on sale?

    Thanks! All of these ideas are great!

  • Whenever you purchase new software on CD, always write the serial number or license number directly on the CD. Lessens the risk of losing the packaging or product card with the crucial info and having to conduct a panicked search when you need to reinstall. Of course once you put the CD in the drive, you won’t be able to see the number, so it helps to have it someplace else, too!

  • Our laundry room is on the opposite side of our house so trekking our gobs of laundry to and fro is a pain. I finally started using my stroller (graco stroller that has a basket under the seat) to pick up my 3 littles’ laundry and roll it to the laundry room, fold it, hang it, using the stroller in every way possible for a folding platform, then roll it back to put it away.

    If we’re doing just a little laundry because we’re low on time then I’ll call the kids and grab as many shirts or pants as I can of theirs out of the dryer and have them run it to their room to put away – they think it’s fun, yay! – we have no dresser so shirts go in the closet on hangers, and pants, undies, pjs etc go altogether under the bed in a long shallow tupperware. Nothing stays folded for long but still nothing suffers in excessive wrinklyness…most importantly it easy to contain and that is what matters to me.

    Last is a mini tip. I used to have tons of mismatched socks. I finally went through and got rid of them. Now when I encounter a mismatched sock, I throw it back in the dryer so that as the laundry cycles through, hopefully eventually it’ll end up with it’s mate, and if not after I’m sure I’ve done all the laundry, it’s gotten rid of as well. No more baskets of mismatched socks.

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