Wearing all the hats is nothing new for your average mom. However, in the last decade, the introduction of social media has drastically influenced the pressure piled onto the matriarch of this new generation of mothers. Striving for the Pinterest-style life and the perfect children—especially while watching every other mom post about the craft they did with their 5,000 kids and the new milestone hit by the boy genius belonging to the mom in your play group—well, it’s exhausting. Keeping up with Joneses takes on a whole new meaning now that we can compare how organic and non-toxic our homes are and how many other moms take the time to research every single company they purchase their goods from to, you know, make sure it’s all fairly traded. Cue massive amounts of MOM GUILT.
We’re juggling meals, caring for kids, tending to the home, scheduling play dates and doctors appointments, working full-time jobs or working in the home. Single or married, time has become a luxury and we don’t have the spare moments, let alone the extra energy, to do much else. I feel you, mom. And I’m here to tell you that you’re doing a great job even though I know you don’t feel like it at times. I promise you that those glimpses of perfection from your mom-friends’ Facebook posts are only a snapshot in the middle of the tornado of crazy that was likely ensuing. Do not compare yourself because you’re already slaying this motherhood thing.
But, if you truly feel like you could use a little more assistance in this area, we are sharing some of the things that have just made this mom’s life a tad easier to handle.
1. Meal Plan
I used to sit down on Sunday night and plan meals out for the rest of the week. Then, I’d run to the grocery store and purchase the items. But, I started to take note of when my local grocery store marked items down and adjusted my schedule to theirs. For instance, I discovered my local market received a new shipment of meat each Wednesday and marked down the existing meat on the shelves. The meat was still perfectly good and not outdated, and I saved a lot of money on the more expensive items on my grocery list. Want to really save some time? Check to see if your local grocery story offers curbside pick-up (such as Food Lion, Harris Teeter, & Walmart) to prevent impulse purchases and save you lots of time (and money)!
2. Cook in Bulk, Then Freeze
Usually once every other week, I purchase a larger amount of ground beef and ground turkey. I’ll make several batches of chili meat, taco meat and Italian meat sauce for pasta. I’ll bag some of it up and freeze it for future meals. To stretch these even farther, I have started to toss in handfuls of shredded carrots while my meat cooks. The carrots take on the flavor of the meat, increase my servings sizes, and are a great way to sneak some veggies into my kid’s diet.
3. Lay Out Outfits For the Entire Family the Night Before
I’m a single working mom and time is limited in the mornings when I’m getting my daughter and myself ready to get out the door. So each night, I place our outfits on a small table in my room and on the bean bag chair in hers. We’ve heard this little piece of advice for decades, but it exists for a reason—because it works! Take it a step further and pre-pack lunches, work bags and backpacks the night before to allow for a much smoother morning. Bonus points if you pick outfits and pack lunches several days in advance! Double bonus points if you go ahead and load the car with anything that will need to be transported throughout the week. Not everything can be packed ahead of time, but the things that can be will be one less stressor for the week. (Think: those brownies you had to make for the PTA event Wednesday night—go ahead and put those in the car).
4. Dry Shampoo Is My Best Friend
A couple of years ago, while I was a busy work-from-home mom to a very active toddler, I saw a recommendation in my Facebook mom group for Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo. After trying several different brands, NYM is still my favorite. I have very oily hair and this glorious powder from the angels allows me to skip a day washing my hair and still look presentable now that I work full-time in an office environment! (And when your hair is halfway down your back, you’ll do just about anything to keep from blow drying it for 30 minutes in the morning!)
5. Get An Amazon Echo—Like, Now
When I was gifted this tall cylinder beauty named Alexa, I really had no idea how much I would use her. I actually thought it was a bit of a ridiculous gift, until I would use the last of the eggs and simply say “Alexa, add eggs to my shopping list.” In the mornings, I ask Alexa to read to me my morning devotion and the news; and at night, I ask her to tell me the weather for the next day while I pick out outfits. During dinner, it’s my daughter’s and my ritual to ask Alexa to tell us a joke or a short story. I can even sync my iPhone to the Echo and use it as a speaker. When I swing by the store to grab something, I simply check my shopping list on my Alexa app and see all of the items I told her to add to the list. I probably use her the most for music—my Pandora and Amazon Prime accounts are synced and my daughter frequently tells Alexa to “play the Disney Princess Channel on Pandora”. I even tell Alexa to set a timer for when we need to be prepared to leave, get ready for bed or dinner and for time-outs. Don’t want to pay full price? You can get a refurbished Alexa for almost half the cost at Amazon now.
6. Stock Up On Toys & Clothes at Kids’ Consignment Sales
Every few months, my city will host a massive consignment sale. These are excellent places to stock up on clothes, find Halloween costumes and grab Christmas toys. (My 4 year old doesn’t notice if it is a new toy or not. It’s new to her!) I save so much money this way—seriously, my child is leaping through sizes right now and buying new seems quite futile. The one thing I try to steer clear of are shoes since they mold to the foot of the child who previously wore them. Facebook Events is a great place to search to see what sales are coming to your area.
7. Shop Online
I’m an Amazon Prime member and order a large amount of my bulk non-perishables on a reoccurring schedule through Subscribe & Save. If you’re a mom of diaper-wearing kids, there’s few other places that can beat the extra 20% off that Amazon Mom Members save on diapers and wipes. I can do this at work on my Amazon app and it only takes a couple of minutes while I eat my lunch. I have several different Wish Lists and can share them with family members who want to know what to get my daughter for birthdays and holidays, too. I’m also pretty good about double checking prices to make sure, let’s say, Target or Walmart don’t have the items for less. And, as fast as my child is growing out of her shoes—we literally just sized up this week—I am all about saving money in this category. Purcado is an excellent hack for shoe purchases. I simply search the name of the shoe I am looking for, let’s go with Stride Rite Tilly Mary Janes, and I can compare prices across 60+ retailers. Sometimes I save up to 70% on brand new shoes for her and myself. As a working, single mother, those savings are important.
8. Schedule Everything, Including Self-Care
I love my Google Calendar, but I’m still the mom that prefers to write things down. Enter my Ashley G planner from Target. This is where I write down those smaller tasks. I schedule cleaning days (Tuesday nights) and hygiene days (Thursday nights when I wash my daughter’s ridiculously long hair and trim her nails, give myself a facial while she is in the tub and give the ends of my hair an oil treatment). I schedule my workouts, too. Seeing it on a calendar makes me more likely to stick to it! If I have a few minutes at night, I’ll crank out a 7-minute work-out routine (I’ve downloaded a couple of workout apps) while I watch a show or listen to a podcast. I even make sure to take a 20 to 30 minute walk on the trail outside my office each day. Walking helps me to not only take a break from my work, but also recharge so I’m more focused in the afternoon.
9. Give Yourself Grace
Allow yourself the grace to mess up. Order out when things get off schedule or unexpected issues arise. Motherhood isn’t about perfection; it’s about raising our children to see that we aren’t perfect, we’re a work in progress and we know when to say sorry, and to live life in the moment. Showing our children that it’s about progress, not perfection, is far more important than executing all of those Pinterest projects pinned to your boards. And don’t forget…You’re doing amazing, Mom.