Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

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Long before Pinterest and the fun little term “Life Hack”, I’ve been trying to find ways to make my life easier.  It’s a process, for sure, but I would like to share with you some of my favorites things and ways that I manage the chaos of life with kids.

Bins & Containers from Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree Bins

Every season, Dollar Tree restocks their shelves with all sorts of colorful bins and containers.  There are usually 4 new colors each season.  They go fast, and when they’re gone–they’re gone.  they do have some items that they always carry, but the seasonal ones are usually much more fun.  My favorite, which resides in nearly every room in my house, is a faux locker looking container that comes in two different sizes.  We have bright green for my oldest son’s room, blue and red for my middle child’s room, pink in my daughter’s room, purple in my closet, dark green in the garage, red in the kitchen, burgundy in the living room, orange in the basement den, and I’m on the lookout for white for the coat closet.  They’re easy to label, they fit in almost any space, and they look nice and tidy.  Some of the ways I use them are included below.

Washi Tape

Washi Tape

While not my own revolutionary idea, I am definitely on the washi tape bandwagon.  It’s so cute and perfect for labeling the aforementioned bins & containers.  It’s easy to rip off a piece, make a label, and slap it on.  It’s easy to remove and doesn’t leave a residue, but it holds well enough for more permanent use.  I mark snack containers if they’re not obviously identifiable, which helps distinguish the SPICY Cheez-its from the original.  I also use a thin version in my planner to color code events for different family members, and it’s easy to move or remove if an event changes.

Baking Cabinet

Baking Cabinet

I struggled for a bit with the kitchen space in my house at first.  I’m short on cabinet space, and I don’t have a built-in pantry.  I have one of those revolving cabinets that I found to be incredibly annoying for awhile, until I decided to make it my dedicated baking cabinet.  I purchased these Rubbermaid canisters after taking some measurements, and it has made a world of difference.  When I want to bake, everything I need is right under my KitchenAid mixer.  There’s not running back and forth, and I can clearly see what I have.  It’s such a small project that made a huge impact.

Pump Shampoo & Conditioner for the Kids

 Shampoo

I got a clearance deal on this pump container shampoo & conditioner set, and I had no idea how awesome it would be!  My kids know exactly how many pumps to use, so the product lasts longer.  There are no more blobs of shampoo and conditioner on the shower walls and floors.  I’ve refilled them a few times, scrubbed them clean, and refilled them again.  I’m not even sure where you can buy these, but you need to find out.  🙂

Future Clothes Bins

My kids always seem to sprout up at the most inconvenient times, but I luckily have a bin of “future clothes” always on the ready.  It’s full of hand-me-downs, Goodwill treasures, and clearance rack finds.  It saves me in those moments when nothing suddenly fits, and we dig through it as the seasons change to update their wardrobe.

Swim Gear Bin

We don’t swim all that often, but I love having everything we need in one location.  Swimsuits, goggles, sunscreen, and beach towels.  Ready to go!  I keep this in our coat closet.

Cleaning Bucket

All of our basic cleaning supplies are in a bucket under the guest bathroom sink.  When it’s time to clean any space, grab the bucket and go.  Not to sound like a Dollar Tree commercial, but the bucket and cleaning brushes are from there, too.

Getting the Kids to do Chores

I don’t have any fancy chore chart or grand ideas on discipline and allowances, but getting my kids to chip in more is a massive help.  “Many hands make light work”, right?  I saw something come across my Facebook feed that basically said that if a child can operate a smartphone or tablet, they can operate a washing machine, a dryer, a dishwasher, etc.  My kids clean their own bathrooms, the boys wash their own clothes, they put away the clean clothes, they sweep & vacuum, and they are responsible for their own spaces and cleaning up after themselves.  Is it always perfect?  No.  Does it help?  Definitely.  They are learning responsibility, and I can focus on other chores.

Purging

I hate that word, but I love the result.  Having less means less to clean & organize.  And this is coming from a person who has a natural tendency toward hoarding.  That small kitchen suddenly becomes enough when I clear the excess.  This is always a work in progress in every room of my house, but I encourage you to see what’s making your life harder–and see if you can eliminate it.  From closet to garage and toys to dishes, I am determined to keep the items I find most useful and most beautiful.

What sort of processes or products make your life a little easier?  Please tell us so we can give it a try!