Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Making life easier while on the go

Ever think your life is too complicated?  You're driving your kids here and there, fixing food on the fly, driving back home to get things you've forgotten...generally just feeling like you are being pulled in 10 different directions at the same time!!

Um, then just stop reading now, because this post is for those of us who DON'T have it all together.

So there's my confession, I don't have it all together.  But, you know what?  I'd like to.
And because of that, there are a few things I've learned over the years that have made our lives just a little bit easier.

In no particular order, here are my top 10 tips for making life easier while on the go:

1) Always bring snacks and drinks.
It never fails.  You are out running errands with your kids and one of them says "Mom, I'm staaaarrrvvving!"  After wearing you down by whining for minutes on end, you finally decide to pull into the closest fast food place to MAKE THEM BE QUIET!!!

But the better solution is to have snacks prepared in the car in anticipation of those hungry moments.  It is healthier, cheaper and more efficient.  CapriSuns are my go to drink for the kids.  (Of course, us adults would rather prefer something like a Seattle's Best iced latte.)  I actually keep 2 insulated bags in the car, the snack bag and the drink bag.

2)  Let kids pay for things with their own money.
You might not agree with this, but in our family, our kids get paid for doing chores.  Then when we go out to Walmart or Target and they, inevitably, want something, our answer is always the same.  "If you have the money to get it, you can get it."  This does several things.  It allows them to learn to be responsible with their money, to budget their money and it keeps us from having to say NO to everything all the time.

3)  Check out books on CD from the library.
Our car does not have a built-in DVD player.  But instead of hooking up our non-installed DVD player and popping in a movie every time we go out, we choose to listen to books on CD.  Better yet, we check these CD's out from our local library, which means they are F-R-E-E!!!!  The kids stay quiet because they want to hear the story and it is more educational then a movie would be.

Our family has listened to the entire Narnia series, several Ramona books and various other stories on CD.  Don't tell, but usually I enjoy them too!

4)  Go over the day's agenda with the family.
Like most people, we are a very busy family.  So it helps if we are all on the same page.  I tell the kids at breakfast what our plans are for the day.  Of course, I have to remind them of those plans several times throughout the day, but we feel like if everyone knows what is coming next, there will be less complaining.  The kids won't ask, "Can I watch a movie?", if they know we have to leave in 10 minutes to go to story time at the library.  It also helps them realize how much of our schedule revolves around them.

5)  Keep a master calendar of events.
I'm a huge fan of the "Mom's Plan-it Calendar."  It keeps me sane!!  That calendar has a line for each family member's name. So for each day, you can have a separate event planned for each person.  Clear as mud?  Anyway, EVERYTHING goes on that calendar and without it I would never know what happens on what day in our house.  We keep our calendar on the kitchen refrigerator.  

6)  Keep reusable shopping bags in the car.
Besides being a very "green" tip, this is a very useful tip.  Yes, I take those bags into stores to shop with, but they are also super-handy for holding all your kid's stuff.  Need to take toys to Grandma's house?  Stick it in the bag.  Got muddy shoes after soccer?  Here's a washable bag to put them in.  Bags = handy.  Get some!

7)  Assigned seats in the car.
This may go without saying, but everyone has their assigned spot in our car.  If there is no fighting over who sits where, then you leave your house faster.  If you leave your house faster, then you may get where you are going on time.  End of story.

8)  Always make shopping lists.
If you try to shop by memory or by the seat of your pants, not only will you have more frustration at the store, but your trip will take a LOT longer.  Call me anal, but not only do I have a list, but I have my list marked with which items have coupons and which don't.  I also organize my list but aisle order.  Then you are not always going back for something you missed.

By the way this is very easy to do.  On one trip to your usual store, write down the aisle number of each thing you buy.  On the next trip, organize your list by those numbers.  Ta-da, that's all you have to do.  You can make a master list of what you normally buy by aisle and just circle what you need or you can just look at the aisle list you made and get an idea of the order of your list.

9)  Keep a basket or bag of "car-appropriate" toys in the car.
If you have room in your car, throw some Happy Meal toys, some stickers and markers or maybe even a DSi or two into a bag and stick it between your kids' car seats.  It should keep them occupied and quiet for at least 10 minutes :).

10)  Be flexible!!!
So maybe your well-planned outing didn't go like you planned.  It OK.  Laugh.  Cry.  Just remember the sun will still rise tomorrow and as Scarlett says, "Tomorrow is another day."

Well, there you have it, my attempt to make my life easier.  Does it always work?  Nope.  But the times it does, I'm glad.

What about you?  What would you add to my list?

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seattle’s Best Coffee blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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