I have learned over and over again that as soon as I think I have my kids’ habits and quirks figured out and am able to anticipate their needs, they change things up on me.  So, I am always looking for new ideas, potential shortcuts, and fresh approaches to motherhood particularly when I feel like I’m experiencing a parenting slump.  Perhaps you do the same.  I don’t have any magic “good-behavior” spells to cast, but here are some things that are currently helping me get by each day:

Marker Board Agendas

If you’ve ever been in a pre school or a lower elementary school classroom you will notice the walls are speckled with schedules and calendars.  The children refer to the various outlines and find the information they need to the extent that they can, for the most part, autonomously participate in the morning routine.  Side note:  Teachers ROCK!  I decided it was high time to implement this strategy in my own home to help ease the tension we all feel in the morning.  I also found that the kids’ temperaments are more even keeled if I set their expectations for the day.  Enter:  Marker Board Agenda!  I list the boys’ specials, lunch options, and afterschool activities for each day.  It’s a good way to practice communication, demonstrate the merit of accountability, and empower young readers.  In turn, I am in a more peaceful place as we all rush to ready.  Now when they inevitably ask me:  “What’s afterschool?”, I can calmly and in my most saccharine laced voice reply:  Check your board, sweetheart.

marker board

The Grabber

Since our family expanded and our family car followed suit, this three dollar find in the Target dollar spot has been a much relied upon aid to keeping my sanity while chauffeuring my family around town.  Although I wish that I had the stretchy arms of the mom in the Incredibles, sadly, I am not an underground superhero which means my oldest, who sits in the vehicle’s third row, is pretty much on his own while we’re travelling.

THE grabber.

Behold:  THE grabber.

This handy tool helps him reach the normally unreachable snacks/toys/gear, etc. that he’s inevitably dropped seconds after we’ve started rolling.  If he’s eating/playing/comfortable, then I am just as content focusing on driving and my podcast.  (Serial Season 2:  not as good as Season 1, but I could listen to Sarah Koenig read the telephone book.)


I’m so jealous of her reach.



Let’s continue to keep it real here – the afternoon shuffle is the worst, especially the dinner time antics.  One thing that has made it a bit more enjoyable is music.  Thank you Pandora and my five dollar speaker from Big Lots.  It’s such a simple way to smooth the edges of a rough day.  I crank up the tunes, we sing a little, dance a lot and BAM!  Everyone is in a much happier place.  Also a bonus:  I can’t hear the whining.

Basket o’ Stuff

Every trip I make upstairs in my home – 15 times a day on average according to my FitBit – is a calculated move whereby I load my arms full of stray socks, misplaced books, and knick knacks of all kinds and deposit them in their respective homes on the 2nd floor.  My M.O. was to collect orphaned stuff and leave it on the stairs to be brought up all at once.  These piles were consistently ignored by all other passersby who stepped over them.  In an effort to get everyone else in the house involved in this daily maintenance chore, I’ve enlisted the help of a novelty basket.  The concept is a simple one:  when said basket is full, bring it upstairs and put everything away.  The chore is now considered an entertaining game for my older two children.  Who knew baskets could be so fun?!


For the directionally challenged.

What tricks of the trade are making your life easier?

*The opinions above are my own and I was not compensated by the manufacturers of the products in this post.