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I've seen a lot of scattered threads asking people how they manage to keep clean, or make dinner, or do crafty things. I was wondering if there was a thread where it was all compiled or if we should start one? We all know it's a heck of a hard job and I love hearing tips to keep me sane, and thinking maybe others do too?<br><br>
Anyhow, I thought I might start.<br><br>
Food<br><br>
Make enough for leftovers. On the weekends I'll often make waffles and I'll make a batch for 16 people (we're a family of 4) and throw the rest in the freezer. Same goes for anything that freezes well.<br><br>
I will often come home from shopping and chop up enough fruits or veggies for a few days. However much I think will keep before my kids can demolish them. I will pluck and wash some grapes. Unfortunately I go through a lot of zip loc type baggies, but I do rinse and reuse them as much as possible.<br><br>
I try to look for health snack foods that are easily taken out of the fridge and given to said child, like crackers, yogurts, heck even dried cereal. They know to go to the cupboard where I keep my tupperware knock offs and grab a bowl and I will fill it for them.<br><br>
I will often start dinner in the morning. Even if it's just chopping up a bunch of food to cook for later. I have more energy at the start of the day and I find by the end I'm lagging so having my onions/garlic/peppers already done helps immensely.<br><br>
I also turn on music while I cook. I have my ipod dock/radio in the kitchen and turn on some dance music. We usually listen to relaxing music while I eat.<br><br>
I hate doing lunch, truly! I will often just grab a bunch of my pre-chopped items with dried fruit, throw in some leftover cooked meat or grilled chicken, put it all on a tray and sit the guys down to a buffet.<br><br>
I will often grill up a bunch of chicken for situations just like that. Chop it up, throw it in the freezer. I nuke it, but I imagine it can be warmed up in a safe container in some hot water too.<br><br>
I love to bake, and so do my guys, but it's REALLY important to find easy recipes to do this. I find muffins and low maintenance cookies the best. If I'm sick, I'll often buy some cookie dough, pat it out onto a pizza pan, and let the kids go nuts with decorating it with coloured sugars and sprinkles before it goes into the oven and icing afterwards. Not healthy, but a time killer.<br><br>
Cleaning<br><br>
I have no system. lol I try to keep things as organized as possible, I use lots of bins and baskets I get on sale on bookshelves. I have file folders for the kids work, I'd actually like to get another filing cabinet to devote a drawer just to their stuff.<br><br>
Laundry is done as needed, would love to hear some tips on that. Other than listening to music while putting clothes away, I have nothing and try to pawn it off on DH as much as possible.<br><br>
I get the kids to help tidy up as much as possible. I will often bribe with a movie, craft or outside time for them to tidy up their playroom.<br><br>
They LOVE gardening, so I get them to dig holes, water plants, pull weeds, clean up leaves whatever they can manage.<br><br>
I have a spray bottle with a vinegar/water solution, I spray the floors and then go around with a wide fabric floor duster. Homemade Swiffer with less chemicals.<br><br>
I don't make beds in the spring/summer/fall. We have duvets which are folded, at put at the bottom of the bed. In the winter though, I'm stuck.<br><br>
Craft/play time<br><br>
I have a bookcase full of bins with craft stuff. Those bins have bins of all the small rolly things that like to spread. I totally take advantage of kits at craft stores or department stores. Perler beads and sticker mosaics are a Godsend!<br><br>
I have a cheap table cloth which they do everything on. I can throw it in the wash and then let it dry.<br><br>
I don't like playing much, but we do do puzzles, games, we'll do bubbles and I do baking with them.<br><br>
We go to the park, or in our yard a lot. They can make an unholy mess out there and it doesn't matter. I look for cheap yard toys at garage or end of season sales. We use a lot of chalk and bubbles, we also garden a lot.<br><br>
I often buy polished stones or seashells and bury them in the digging area of our yard and the boys will spend an hour looking for treasure.<br><br>
I want to get a cheap plastic drawer to put by the back door with sunscreen, hats, and some crocs, so I don't have to chase them all over the house.<br><br>
Does anyone have any tips for getting out of the house without losing their sanity, or doing a shopping?
 

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I'm one of the few weirdos that enjoys running errands with my DD [who's 2 1/2..] Here are some of my "key tips" to keeping it entertaining for the both of us:<br><br>
I DON'T get the bulk of my shopping done in one day; I know some folks have an errand day, but that doesn't work for us because too much time in the car/running in and out of stores = stressed momma and stressed toddler.<br><br>
Here's an "example" of our errand running:<br>
Monday we may grab lunch & go to the garden store - I let DD walk around and help me pick out flowers, we sniff them, and it's a great sensory experience and a bit educational too if there's new flowers or plants she's never seen.<br><br>
Tuesday we may food shop - I tend to do some bulk shopping online and go to specialty stores like Trader Joe's & Whole Foods. In TJ's she can push her own cart, and in Whole Foods we can get smoothies at the end/or smell all the candles in the candle isle. Yes this makes trips longer, but it keeps her involved and happy.<br><br>
Other errands are just trips to pick up odds and ends, or going to the bookstore. I bring along snacks, good mix cds for the car, bottles of water, and often we get a treat. This works well for me - my daughter is pretty awesome at going on errands, and hopefully the little boy will be too when he comes out.<br><br>
And as far as riding in the car - some stores I allow DD to walk around. If it's a reasonable time and the store isn't packed, I let her explore but the rules are she STAYS BY ME or she goes in the cart. Sometimes she doesn't take this seriously <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> but 8x out of 10 she does.
 

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I too start dinner prep early in the day. DD2 is still a baby, so on bad days sometimes all I do accomplish is dinner. It's a point of pride for me (and important to our budget) that we never end up needing emergency take-out.<br><br>
Fill the sink with soapy water while cooking dinner. That way dishes are 1/2 done by the time dinner is over.<br><br>
I get into routines as much as possible. Laundry is switched morning and night. And put away at night while DH and I chat. Dishwasher is loaded at night, emptied in the morning.<br><br>
We love baking, too. And in terms of simplicity: COOKIE BARS. No more scooping and cooking in a few batches.
 

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I order groceries online, and they are delivered the next day. This service costs $8.00... but we aren't paying for a second vehicle/I don't put it off (and therefor never NEED to order pizza because there's nothing left to cook!) and I'm much less tempted to buy junk. I don't have to deal with the kids begging for treats, or anything like that. If I'm not sure if I'm out of something I just wander into the next room and look.<br><br>
There is a clothing donation bin at the gas station up the street. I keep a bag going all the time and visit it often. The kids are constantly outgrowing things... or the season ends and if I know that winter coat/ boots/ bathing suit/ whatever isn't going to fit by next year it GOES! I detour up to the bin on the way to pick the kids up from school.<br><br>
For laundry if it's in the basket: I wash it! Until it's in the basket, it's not my job or problem. I will remind them while I'm putting in a load of laundry, but it's up to them to do their part. My daughter went to school in a bathing suit top (the t-shirt kind) because all her clothes were in a dirty pile in her room. She's starting to figure it out now... <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
If I remember not to, I don't fold the kids' laundry. They stir it all around in their drawers looking for a specific shirt or pants anyway!<br><br>
My son is in second grade and has spelling and home reading homework. I play a bugs bunny/ daffy duck/ etc cartoon on you tube for him when he's done. That way, he asks if he can please do his homework!<br><br>
Th kids have been using the coffee table for drawing. It has a glass top, so I put a small lamp underneath it so they can do tracing.... keeps them busy for a while longer sometimes.
 

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One thing that's really important to me is dinner. I like to cook it together (with the kids, that is!), and then we all sit down together and eat when Daddy gets home from work. I have found that a meal plan is essential. I have 2 lists (so far) of 12-15 meals. When writing the lists, I think about things like using up a big bundle of parsley across 2 meals, rotating carbs, what vegetables are in season, etc. This makes shopping so much easier - I usually get stuff for 2 or 3 meals in each shopping trip. I increase recipes as nec so that each meal makes enough for our family of 5 to eat 2 days (or more) in a row, so I usually end up cooking every other day or so. Sometimes I can make enough to freeze some, but not that often; we do occ order pizza when I just get tired of cooking, or even more occ, take the kids out to an early dinner.
 
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