Teeth brushing

because-I-said-so-goldI recently had an epiphany inspired by the most humble of objects: the lowly garbage can. For years, we’ve kept the trashcan in our master bathroom on the wall farthest from the door and next to the toilet. Almost daily, my husband and I stand at the threshold and chuck things in the garbage can. And almost daily, we miss. My husband, bless his heart, usually “forgets” to pick up when he misses. Insert grumbling wife here.

It’s been this way for years, until a day last week when I looked at the room and realized I could easily put the garbage can near the door. Not-so-big-problem solved.

What’s the big deal about moving a garbage can? It made be realize that rethinking how I do things may be just the ticket to making life run more smoothly.

This is the time of year when I get the itch to completely revamp every room, closet and system in our house in search for a better fix. I give the side eye to everything that is not nailed down and contemplate just getting rid of it all. But moving that measly garbage can a few feet made me realize that a small change may be all that is necessary. You know, that whole work smarter, not harder thing. Here are 5 other life hacks for moms:

1. Store your kids’ socks near the door

For reasons unknown to me, my children hate socks. No matter the season, if we’re inside, they are sockless. And when it’s time to leave the house, no socks can be found. I send them upstairs to get socks on, which trips up the already chaotic process of leaving the house. And half the time they return without socks!

Solution: Store their socks in the hall closet so they can grab a pair while they’re putting on their shoes.

2. Keep extra toothbrushes in the bathroom closest to the door

Am I the only mom who shudders in horror when her kids get home from school and have dinosaur breath? We’re often rushing out the door to make it to school on time, and my kids forget to run upstairs and brush their teeth.

Solution: Store extra toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathroom by the garage so it’s easy to get minty fresh before heading out the door.

3. Designate a grab-and-go basket

It seems like every time I leave the house I forget something: a bill to place in the mail, a book to drop at the library, an item to return to the store.

Solution: Place a basket near the door where you drop everything that needs to go out the door. Make it a habit to check the basket every time you leave the house — or if it’s not too large, grab the whole thing on your way out..

4. Make and freeze peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

I try to make healthful and varied lunches for my school aged kids. But some mornings we over sleep or are out of bread, and I just can’t pull a creative lunch together.

Solution: Make and freeze a loaf (or two) of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They freeze well and can be pulled out in a pinch for a better-than-nothing lunch.

5. Clean the bathroom while your kids take a bath

My 2 year old and 5 year old love to play in the bathtub. After we’ve washed their bodies and hair, they require my attendance (for safety) but not my assistance. I’ve tried to read a book while I wait but it usually gets wet.

Solution: Keep cleaning supplies under the sink and use that time to clean the bathroom. When they get out of the tub, spray it down, too. Then when they return to brush their teeth, you can quickly scrub and rinse the bathtub.

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