Last month I posted about 5 things that I’d started doing that I felt like made my life easier and better, and it was a really popular post. I have been jotting ideas down for the last few weeks of things that I wanted to share with you all for the next “5 things” post, and today I have the best ones. I actually had nine ideas, but not all of them made the cut this time! If you like these types of posts I’d love to hear in the comments, also I really appreciated those of you that chimed in with your own ideas, so please share in comments what’s making your life easier right now.
1.) Individual Laundry Baskets
Ask any mom and laundry is the bane of her existence, I am of the same thinking. I don’t mind doing laundry as much as I mind putting it away for some reason (anyone else?), so I finally came up with a simple system that really helps. My kids are 10, 13 and 17 so there is absolutely no reason for them to not take a more active role in their laundry, and my teens do their own wash in the summer. In order to keep things moving along in our laundry room during the school year, I find it is easiest for me to combine everyone’s loads and do it myself but they are all responsible for putting their own clothes away. (See our updated + organized laundry room here!)
I picked up our lettered baskets last year during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and unfortunately, they are now sold out but I found a great alternative for you (above), these are on sale for 30% off (code: pin: in different colors and sizes. Like mine, you can have a name monogrammed on each basket. You can also grab baskets from HomeGoods or Target and attach a label but in our case, I like that these are clearly (permanently) marked, there is no mistake whose clothes still need to be put away. Plus they make sorting super easy, I throw in all the socks, underwear etc right into the basket and just fold the shirts and pants. My kids come and get their baskets and return them empty. This system has been working great for us so I thought I’d share it. Anything that makes laundry easier is a win in my book!
Along with loads of laundry, parenting teenage boys also means figuring out how to keep them fed. In our home, we’re dealing with the challenge of a 13-year-old who is growing faster then we can get food in him (at last count, he’s shot up 4 inches in the last 8 months). Since he’s very active in sports keeping enough healthy food in him is a challenge. A trainer/friend from church shared with me some protein guidelines in order to help augment his weight ( not just maintain it, he’s super skinny) and we figured out he needs over 110 grams of protein a day. To give you an idea a single chicken breast has 30 or so grams, so we’re always on the lookout for ways to add protein to help him grow stronger and stay healthy. I think these are a great idea for kids of any age though, just make the serving smaller 🙂
I’ve been making these protein pancakes for him, I just make two and save one for the next day. I just pour half of the one cup recipe into a 10″ skillet, it is super easy and fast, using milk (not water) and adding an egg version for extra protein. For the first time, he tells me he isn’t hungry halfway through the morning at school. I think this is a win, getting a healthy breakfast in my kids has always been a hard to manage as my kids are out the door at 7:10 but I can knock these out even before my coffee fully kicks in! I buy the boxes in bulk here and they go along way. We use them for breakfast for dinner nights too.
Note: I found out about these originally on a women’s health/fitness blog, so they are great for anyone who needs more protein, pretty much all of us, and not at all limited to hungry teen boys!
3) New Lunch Idea
I have a second food idea for you today; I stumbled upon these bulk Seeds of Change Quinoa + Rice packages and I am hooked. They are so easy to make (just microwave for 90 seconds) and they are healthy and filling. I mix it with black beans, or grilled chicken, and add some avocado for a fast, healthy lunch. I can be lazy about eating a good mid-day meal, and this has made it so much easier. I buy the packages at BJ’s or Costco but you can find them here. They make a great side dish for dinner too.
4) Mastering Gifts + Gift Wrap
This I could write a whole post about, and still might at some point, but I think I have finally gotten ahead of the gifts, gift wrap, card thing–can you believe?! This is one thing that always seems to throw me for a loop! My kids (at said ages above–particularly one 13-year-old boy) are notorious for having a birthday party to go to–in an hour that they forgot to mention–and oh, they need a gift for it. I finally have learned to keep iTunes gift cards on hand along with little gift bags so we’re ready to go at all times, this has saved me on many, many occasions recently.
I picked up girl bags with rainbows/unicorns and bulk plain colored bags for the boys and am all stocked up (all for less than the cost of a couple of regular bags sold singularly). I also ordered bulk tissue from Amazon so I have plenty on hand. Again, it was much cheaper than buying packs of 10 sheets at the grocery store. I also have been buying birthday cards at HomeGoods so I have extras, they have a great selection and at just $1.99 they are so much cheaper than elsewhere.
Part 2 of this idea was after having our gift wrapping “stuff” spread out in various spots in the house (my office, bedroom, and kitchen) I finally combined it all into the TV armoire in our room. We have a large custom armoire that holds our TV and it has drawers on the bottom. I used to keep sweaters in the drawers but realized that storing gift wrap was a better use of the space. Now, I have everything in one place including my rolls of wrapping paper, all our gift tags (I order them here and here so I have generic ones always ready, or you can find pretty printable ones here) and tape, scissors, etc. it has been a really good solution. You probably have an ancient TV armoire around somewhere but if you don’t use under the bed boxes like these and stock up your supplies, you’ll be glad you did! Just be sure to keep everything you need all in one spot, including tape, scissors, tissue, cards, and ribbons, it makes it so much easier.
5. Ordering Dog Food on Chewy.com
Finally, I started ordering our dog’s food from Chewy.com. Our Silver Lab Lucy is a big eater, and we feed her a special food for (cough) weight control, that I had to drive to get and then haul the heavy bag home. When I price shopped on chewy.com it was the same as the pet store. Since you can get free shipping over $100, I order two bags at a time every two months to save the shipping. It is one less thing I have to do each month and we aren’t running out of her food anytime soon. Now that we also have Auggie, I can get his prescription food from here too!
OK, I have a bonus one for you today since it’s tax time so this might be top of mind for some of you. Last year I started using a mileage app on my phone to track business miles, which made it really easy to deduct them this year (every little bit helps, right?). I used Mile Logger but just switched to try Mile IQ (both have a free version). What I like better so far about Mile IQ is you can add a designation for personal trips, this way I can also (separately) track the mileage I have for volunteering, like when I have a meeting at church, as well as business miles. If you own a business or volunteer this is an easy way to up your tax deductions next year.
That’s all for today, what tricks and tips have been making your life easier? Please share!
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