staying sane in the trenches + three things that have helped!

10 January 2017

Alright, alright, alright.

Big fat disclaimer that I don't have it together. At all. I hate to ever come off as doling out parenting advice or any advice at all because I don't have it figured out and am not one of those moms that people look at with admiration, wonder, and sparkling eyes and ask, "how do you do it?!" because well, I don't!

But! I've been mulling over little things that have remained constants throughout my tenure as a mother of small children (I would say that I'm mostly out of the trenches! I drop two kids off at school in the morning! The majority of my kids aren't in diapers! etc etc etc) that have helped me in a big way. I've narrowed it down to three but there are many more. Maybe I'll spill and expound on those at a later date if you rub your lucky rabbit foot just so during an especially full moon. Or something.

1. walks - I'll never forget staring down a call weekend when Julia and Sebastian were little and I was pregnant with Theo and just feeling a greater sense of dread and doom than I normally felt. So I did something about it. I found a double jogger on Craigslist, drove to the seller's house, and bought it. Yes, I was bold back then. Joke font. But, it did completely change my life. Along with headphones. It's not always super fun to take multiple kids to the park (or is it ever fun? am I the worst? yes) but it we made a daily habit of taking long walks and sometimes runs around the neighborhood. When Theo came along we lucked out and found a discontinued triple jogger and the tradition continued. I had my weather standards but we'd bundle up when it was tolerable and everyone came back home feeling a little less crazy (or maybe that was just me). Now, the kids and I parade around the neighborhood with Diego in tow and sometimes it feels futile telling the boys not to wrestle in someone's front yard and Phoebe to please stop asking me to blast Sia but I never regret getting outside and letting everyone get some energy out. So, Walk Advocate - throw it on my impressive resume.


2. grocery delivery - I was so so adamantly opposed to this for so long. A few people suggested it to me but I actually liked getting out of the house to go grocery shopping (I still do! Just not with everyone) because it was a nice break in the day and the kids were USUALLY well behaved with the free cookie bribe at the end of the trip. And then Bosco came along and the logistics of keeping track of everyone in the store and in the parking lot was just too overwhelming for bb Grace. Someone had recommended Shipt (not sponsored in any way) so I gave it a go and my life! It changed! They've made a few errors but are always very apologetic and credit my account more than is necessary. I know there are lots of delivery services these days (I've tried Amazon Prime Now and was less than impressed but - I've only done it twice) and of course we still do the big Costco trip but for the things Costco doesn't carry - I'm allll about getting things delivered. I actually feel like it saves me money because I can see what is on sale that week and there is NO temptation for impulse buys (hello peanut butter Oreos).


  3. keychain thing - technical name. My mom came to visit and generously watch the kids way back when Simon, Phoebe, and I made a trip down here to Florida to scope the area and when I came back she had put one of these on my keychain. Bettina and her infinite wisdom! I thought it was ugly but QUICKLY saw the genius that it was and haven't looked back since. I used to lose my keys between the ignition and the parking lot ALL THE TIME. Between unbuckling and buckling car seats, making great compromises about who was going to sit where in the cart etc etc etc - I'd lose them. I'd always eventually find them but in the summer months when I never wore anything with pockets - it got ugly and I bet I lost hours of my life listening to crying kids while I looked for the cursed keys. Now? I just put the keys on my arm during that transitional time of getting everyone out and settled, locking the doors, and THEN putting the keys in my designated purse pocket. My life - it's complicated, I know.

So - trivial? Yes. Helpful? Hopefully.


If there's something you would add (there are hundreds - I know!) let a lady know!

Happy Tuesday!!

76 comments:

  1. I'm right with you on points one and two. Point three is in the bag!

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  2. 1000% agree on the walks. I've been contemplating making a sign to hang on our wall that says something like, "Lost your sanity? Try looking for it outside." But, you know, in a cute font and with flowers or something. Three are lots of days when I put off a walk out of laziness, and then when I finally cave and we head out, we ask immediately feel so much better. SO much better. It's magical.

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  3. Your keychain thing made me LOL! My mom has had one of those on her keys the last 10 years and now that you mention it, when i am driving her rig, it is helpful to just sling that on my wrist while I wrestle the kids, I had never really put that much thought into it before!! I think I will be ordering one of those too!! Thanks Grace!!!
    PS - you forgot #4 Alcohol. (Rum and Coke is my choice when it's evening and the kids have put me through the ringer that day! They all know it is "Mom's Beer" and that they can't taste it!) ;-)
    Always enjoy your blogs - Keep them coming!!!

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    1. haha! #4 is a given!! I know I put it on a baby essential list once .... ha!

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  4. Would you consider doing a post about your favorite Costco staples?

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  5. You once has a blog that recommended always parking next to the cart corral at Target/etc and that was a TOTAL GAMECHANGER for me, even with only one baby. I mean, duh!! Now that there are two babies, I am even more grateful for this handy tip. Bowing down.

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    1. I will walk so far just to park next to the cart corral!

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    2. Yes! When I had tiny twins and a newborn, I would circle the Target parking lot looking for one of those huge carts so I could park right next to it, because I literally couldn't get my three kids into the store without it! Such good advice.

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    3. I agree, parking next to the cart corral was a total gamechanger for me too!

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    4. Agree x1000 on that one. I park in the farthest spot in Costco to grab a cart from the corral. Going on a daily outing was/is a lifesaver too (bless the SoCal weather) and now the big kids have mandatory outside time right away in the morning on days we don't have school.

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    5. Whenever I nab that spot, even though mine are well past "little" stage, I always think of Grace!

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    6. i wrote a post on my blog a long time ago about how ppl (instead of making comments...) could HELP moms, and one tip was that they could put up her cart. like, if you see a mom who doesn't know the cart corral tip -- after she unloads the kids/groceries, take her cart. someone did that for me once and i almost cried with joy.

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    7. Agreed! You changed my life with that one! Also, I'm going to raise my boys to ALWAYS take the cart back to the store/corral for a woman w/ kids (or elderly people or really they should just do it for everyone). I never realized how that little kindness made such a huge difference.

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    8. I read this tip in the original post too! And I'm finally able to use it...but I've kept it tucked away until now. I'll never forget. Cart corral. Forever.

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  6. I love your tips! Keep them coming!

    Another mom gave me this parking lot tip that has saved my goose now that i have a million kids: when she gets her kids out of the car in parking lot she says "Two feet. White line." All the kids understand that they put both their feet on the little painted divider line next to the car. It gives them something practical to focus on while keeping everyone close while I get all the other kids out of the car.

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    1. My rule was that everyone who was NOT in the car had to have one hand ON the car at all times.

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    2. I do the same thing! The second they get out, they slap a hand on the car and know not to remove it until we're ready to hold hands and walk inside.

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  7. I just love getting to see these pictures of your first three when they were so tiny!

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  8. My friend told me how she takes an entire loaf of bread and makes it into PB&J at one time, then slices and freezes the whole batch. When I'm ready for a sandwich now, I just grab a frozen one, let it thaw while I throw the rest of the food on the plate or in the lunchbox, and boom, lunch made. Game changer.

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    1. Does the bread get soggy as it thaws?

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    2. Nope! I do this too. And with salami and cheese!

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  9. #3 is the best. My coworker gave me a keychain wristlet (like this https:/www.etsy.com/listing/286278149/coral-and-gold-key-fob-key-chain-gold?ref=market/) and it revolutionized my life! It has saved my sanity a hundred times while buckling kids into the car. Plus, it makes it way easier to find my keys in my purse.

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    1. ah! this key fob is from my shop! :) I was wondering why I was getting hits from this site. THANK YOU Ari for the lovely feedback. Glad to hear you love the key fob.

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  11. You never seem to moan about sleep deprivation which amazes (and impresses) me. Since most of us are A-hole parents without solid sleep could you add a post on how you get all of your kids to sleep through the night on a consistent basis? That would keep me sane in the trenches with tiny toddlers who can't both sleep through the night at the same time!

    My only advice - tell your toddlers really fun imaginary stories as you are pushing your cart through the aisle. For some reason it seems to make them focus and listen!

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    1. yessssssss! this is my biggest question for moms with big families. how do you manage sleep deprivation?? especially when kids are sick?

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    2. Seriously, when kiddos are sick (and mom too), you get everything you need in ONE room that is completely and totally baby proofed. phone, snackage, pillows, blankets, toys etc. Then you lock the door from the inside so no one can get out. (Yes, I've put a baby proof spinny thing on the inside of the door). Then you lie down and rest. It may not be good sleep, but its rest. Just my 2 cents.....

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  12. I still like grocery shopping (as much as one can love it with kids!) but I'm definitely missing my run/park trips during the cold (and Wichita isn't even that bad!). Also, I got a Jones Market Keychain wristlet and it was a game changer for me. I never loose my keys when running errands now or going to the park.

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  13. For me, it's always laying out clothes the night before somewhere like a chair in the living room or whatever right before bed. I've got two, an almost three year old and a just turned one year old, and they're both going through these insane developmental milestones so I stay on my toes. Laying out socks, shoes, our diaper bag (I use a bookbag because I learned a long time ago it's easiest) and their outfits if we have plans the next day. Also, refilling up snack and water cups and setting them in the fridge/bag the night before. Setting up the coffee pot the night before if I can remember. Like just an entire "night before" routine has been really crucial if we have a lot going on the following day. It saves me time, it saves my sanity and when my son says for the 8th time "we go in the car!!" I can just dress them and grab the diaper bag and go, hahah. Hypothetically.

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    1. haha you see you are WAY more on top of it than I'll ever be!! :)

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    2. Ditto - I bought a hanging cloth divider for my daughter's closet. Every Sunday I put in outfits for the week so I don't have to look for anything during the rush of weekday mornings. Total time saver.

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    3. We also look at the forecast on Sunday nights and pick out school clothes for the week. They go into little stacking plastic Ikea boxes and include underwear and socks. They can choose which box/outfit, which day, but nothing new comes out of the dresser after Sunday night. Makes morning choices less painful and we no longer have the "here, just wear your brother's underwear because Mommy's behind on laundry" problem.

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  14. The keychain thing is amazing! Dropping my keys while holding onto kids and multiple bags was one of my top mom pet peeves. A few months ago I got one of these (http://thejonesmarket.com/products/keychain-wristlet-in-pink-snow) from The Jones Market. It's adorable and no more dropped or misplaced-while-loading keys.

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    1. is it stretchy? I love that mine can go all the way up my arm - if it's stretchy then I'm sold :)

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    2. It's adjustable with a cinch but not especially stretchy. I guess it would depend on the person as far as how far up your arm it would go. I can definitely see the advantage in being able to push your keys all the way up.

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  15. So glad you shared your thoughts on Shipt. I used to live in Chicago and looked into a few grocery delivery options but never went for it. Now that I have a toddler who likes to run in stores grocery delivery sounds even more appealing. I hope they start delivering near me soon!

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  16. Thank you for this post! Curious which triple stroller you have? I have three, three and under, and have a double stroller it's not cutting it. I miss our walks!

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    1. She had an old model mountain buggy. We have the double and it's amazing!

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    2. I have an older baby jogger one. I haven't been able to find them new...Craigslist might be the best option!

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  17. Definitely agree with all of those :)

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  18. #3- yes! I have a carabiner from FUS that I use on my key ring and it is a life saver. It's handy to clip to metal rings on purses- ancient but does the trick!

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  19. I am always all eyes for your tips. As someone above mentioned, your tip of parking by the cart corral seem SO obvious, but is such an amazing tip. I used to be a total "best, closest parking spot" person, but now that is my go to space.
    I agree with the walk idea. I really need to implement it more often.
    With only 3 kids I feel like the grocery store is still a nice break to our day. Maybe at kid 5 I will give delivery a try.
    I have a problem with the keys, so that is going to have to be something I try. Again, never would have thought of that. SO SIMPLE, yet never occurred to me.
    Yes please, on the more tips post. I was disappointed when you stopped blogging before you could do a post on surviving 5 under 5.

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  20. 8 kiddos here... husband travels extensively.... 6 kiddos being homeschooled. Our survival = meal/snack plans and prepping on less than busy (when was that day/weekend?) time, and sticking to our at home schedule. My kids go nuts when there is no food and no routine.

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    1. Peklet Mom can we be buddies? We have 8 kids, 6 homeschooled too! It's rare to find someone in the same stage of life! richeyway@gmail.com

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  21. Thank you!! These are such great tips. We're expecting our third in 3 weeks and we'll have 3 under 3 for a solid 6 months. I'm all about any survival tips I can get so keep them coming! Also, as mentioned above, your cart corral parking tip was a game changer. ;)

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  22. Grocery delivery!!! I did this when Chris was gone for three months and I had Ace, and then I gave birth to Pierce by myself and I was destined to never leave the house because I was a crazy person. I wish so badly we lived in a place again that provided this service. Alaska was a no, and now I live in the boonies and "out of the delivery range". And I need to buy that keychain for Chris!!

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  23. Plus one for the walks! We walk all! the! time! If it's too miserable outside, we join the older folks at the mall, but my favorite is the 1 mile loop near our house. I make the kids walk from a really young age, so not just I get tired:) But I'm a whole new person when we get back. And as an introvert, I don't have to engage anyone but the kids...and the occasional person who stops to talk to the kids. I keep chalk in the bottom of the stroller when I'm feeling really nice and it's not freezing...it keeps the big kids entertained while the younger ones catch up. Walks have saved my sanity. You are so right.

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  24. when i had my second kid my biggest "how to survive with multiple kids" advice was to put a carabiner on my keys. i clip them to my purse or my belt loop. isn't it crazy how such simple tips can save your day OR derail your day?
    I tell my husband that it's juggling fine china -- what you're doing takes such skill and focus that something as trivial as stepping on a pebble will bring the whole thing tumbling down.

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  25. Love this Grace! Give us more tips! I need to read through your old posts, and am a relatively newer reader-- but can you share about snacks/meals with your kids? My big kids are 4 and 3 and they NEVER STOP EATING all of a sudden. Like all the packaged individual snacky things from Costco are gone within a week, they used to be special treats/add ons for meals now I need them to buff up the meals bc they are eating 2 sandwiches a piece and I'm dying. And we're running out of money. It is just seeming expensive and inefficient-- or is that just parenting in general? About to have 4 under 4 and am clinging to your posts for dear life, thank you for writing! And gosh are these Bachelor girls sluttier than usual or what?

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  26. I'm a caribiner gal myself, but you know...does the trick! I clip in on to basically anything that sucker can clip onto.
    Also another mom mentioned this above, but I will never again (during the years of littles anyway) carry a bag that does not have backpack straps. Bags falling off my should? Ain't nobody got time for that.

    This may not be something you necessarily want to dive into on your blog, but what were the downers about the Amazon delivery? And what about Shipt makes them better? Just curiosity...I haven't bit the bullet on grocery delivery.

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    1. Amazon doesn't have nearly the selection that Shipt does and it took much longer than promised - both times :)

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  27. Timers. Timers for everything. "We are going to bed in 5 minutes when my timer goes off" - "5 more minutes of iPad time, they go off when my timer goes off". For some reason they NEVER EVER argue with a timer.

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    1. YES! The iPhone timer is a lifesaver--but once we got an Amazon Echo I was all over its timer feature too. Why don't they argue with the timer?

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  28. I once went on a lovely long walk as part of my workout and as usual I tucked the car keys in my waist band. At some point on that long, long circuitous route I dropped my keys. My phone was locked in my car and I was in a remote area. Also... it was Sunday morning and everyone I knew was in church so I would have had to admit to skipping church. I retraced my steps, doubling my workout and went home in tears, hating life. My son gave me a lanyard he had gotten at school. That was 11 years ago. I can no longer walk more than a few feet at a time due to my screwed up spine but I still have that lanyard and I have NEVER lost my keys since! Now that I'm a grandma I'm super careful about putting things in the same place every time so that I don't have to hunt down a lovey or paci or whatever MUST be had for an upset toddler in the heat of the moment. That's my superpower - putting things where they go. Now I need to figure out how to keep my 20 month old granddaughter from melting down when she's in her carseat without someone in the back seat with her.

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  29. My kids are in elementary now, but every member of the family has their own 5 pocket hanger/cubbie thing. On Sunday evenings everyone picks out their clothes for the week. An outfit a cubbie hole. Underwear, socks, pants etc. Even shoes for me at least :) Check the weekly weather report while doing it. My kids have now learned what temps are ok for shorts and what is not etc. It has been a total time saver and game changer for all of us. It makes me get laundry done, and it makes a huge difference in morning routine. I dont know why it took me so long to start doing it.

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  30. I enjoyed reading this, Grace. :) I don't have any kids of my own (yet) but I've been following your blog for what feels like years ( I think it has actually been years now!), and often wondered what your advice would be... glad to read it! And now tell us more, please. :):)

    Flora
    www.theeverchanginghome.com

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  31. I only have two kids (so basically I'm a complete mom novice and still have no clue what I'm doing) and I finally allowed my husband to sign up for grocery delivery and it has been LIFE CHANGING. I resisted it for so long but it's basically magic that food keeps arriving at my door! Plus, I'm convinced we save a lot of money because I always used to go to the grocery store while hungry and we all know how that goes... -- Lisa | Naptime Chai

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  32. My kids are the same ages as yours and I have that same ugly keychain! My worst lost-my-keys while buckling incident was when I bought something from one of those Facebook exchange pages and went to pick it up. Could NOT find my keys after buckling everyone in and the lady was trying to leave her house, but I was blocking her in the driveway. She had to patiently wait for 15 minutes while I sweated it out searching for my keys. Good times

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  33. Yes to all these! Except I live in no man's land Wyoming so 1) it's freezing and can't go on walks, DYING. My boys are 4, 2, 2, 0 and I'm slowly losing apiece of my soul each day. Why do we live here?!?!?!?!!? 2) No grocery delivery services here. I ask my local store manager like every time I see him when they're going to get it, meh. 3) I use a super fancy ugly lanyard around my neck, I would have lost my keys thousands of time without that puppy!

    Someone before said it but years ago you mentioned parking next to a grocery cart stall and YES I will walk much further for that prize!

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    1. I meant to say it was YOU who said the grocery cart thing!

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    2. I really enjoy the 3 minutes alone it takes me to go to the grocery cart stall and back.
      They are locked and can't harm themselves, so I breath and relax for a minute and a half before I drive. I think it makes me a safer driver too!

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  34. Love how practical these 3 things are! Walks definitely help me maintain my sanity. Also have a small (like, really small) pink Zojirushi brand thermos for my one cup of coffee in the morning. Keeps me from feeling like a martyr when I take my 3rd trip to the microwave to reheat my mug. : )

    I'm a self care coach for moms so have been thinking about these things (what helps moms care for themselves / not go insane while parenting) a lot! Loved your take and tips!

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  35. These are excellent ideas! I would LOVE to hear more from you on parenting - how to manage baby's schedule, discipline, etc. :)

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  36. Some one my favorite tips. I bought a little leatherman(Leatherman - Micra Multi-Tool, Stainless Steel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JCN0FG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_1faEyb5CQW0K5) that has scissors and keep it in my purse, when we eat out I make sure to trim their straws down so they don't tip their drinks over trying to drink out of the straw. And my kids each have a water bottle and if they are thirsty that's what they drink from. It's by their beds at night and I don't have to worry about getting them drinks all the time!

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  37. On the keychain front...I bought one of these for my keys and it's saved me (I used to always forget my wallet in one bag another, going from bag to bag with kids' bags and stuff): https://www.threadwallets.com/collections/credit-card-holders
    Game changer

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  38. Pet spray to clean up kid messes (potty training and stomach bug). The enzymes are made to break down those kinds of smells and stains! On that topic, double ling a soup pot with grocery bags and a paper towel and handing it to a nauseous kid to take back to their bed.

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  39. Walking is so big. I wish we could do it and I really think it would improve life. I only have three kids (4, 3, and 10 month old boys), but we live in a third floor walkup on a busy street in a big city and I have five herniated discs in my back. It's next to impossible for me to leave with all three kids, walk, and then get everyone back in safely. Grocery delivery is a lifesaver, though!

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  40. I appreciated these tips from you and everyone.
    I taught my 2 school aged kids to pack their own lunches this year, and it was the best thing that happened to me in 2016. Still trying to figure it out. I also recommend grocery delivery or pickup and for those who still like to shop you can just go to get one item or treat as an outing with their kids and actually focus on them at the store. It has literally saved my sanity and my budget to not have to go into stores as often. Plus I can mean plan and not forget that one crucial item. Also Amazon and free shipping both ways from other stores.

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  41. I'll share a couple! I have four. We homeschool and my kids love library books but when my six week old was born it became too tough to go to the library with the savages. I have Google docs on my phone and make a list of about 25 or so books every week. DH can see it on his phone and stops at the library on his way home from work every Monday.

    Showers. For the kids. We have a large shower in the master bedroom and our climate does NOT allow daily walks. When they're tired and antsy I pop them in the shower with foam letters and toys. They'll stay in for a whole hour and come out much nicer. Same for me if I can swing one during nap time.

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  42. My trick is paper plates. I know, I know, it's wasteful. But in the trenches of young kids and sleep deprivation it has helped so much. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, but I started using them a few months ago and it's helped make clean up so much quicker!

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  43. I love this so much! The whole walk/jog thing really inspired me! If only I didn't live in Canada and I could enjoy walks year round haha... Can't wait for summer now to take my little girl on walks!

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  44. Also I love your posts about parenting! Do more!! :)

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