5 Tips for Simplifying Life at Home With Kids

'As a multitasking mom I've learned some tricks that make it look like I have it all together'

By Laura Miller, publisher of Macaroni KID Appleton-Waupaca-Oshkosh, Wisc. May 14, 2023

Have you ever said to yourself that you just need to get through this week and then things will slow down?

... Get through the start of school, the holidays, the end of school, the summer ... the list goes on, but things never really do slow down, do they? Because of course there's the after school activities, meetings, fundraisers, and the other million things parents have to remember. Oh yeah, and the fridge is empty.

Sound familiar?

Organization is always not my strong suit, but through my years of experience as a multitasking mom I've learned some tricks that make it LOOK like I have it all together.

They're simple things I do to reduce the amount of brainpower I have to use in a day so I can use it for more important things than day-to-day tasks.

1. Assign ongoing chores

One of my least favorite things about running a household is constantly asking for help or reminding my kids to do chores. Instead I assign certain chores to each kid. They know when the task needs to be done, it's their job to do it. For example, it's always my daughter's job to empty the dishwasher and she knows that every morning before school she should to empty it so that we can put that day's dirty dishes right into it.  

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2. Color code everything

I have two kids. One gets activities marked in pink on the calendar and the other is blue. When both kids are involved, it's written in purple. Deadlines are red so I don't overlook them. The point of this? I can glance at the calendar and see "Doctor 4pm" in pink and I easily know that it's my oldest child's appointment and the red deadlines stand out so know when they're fast approaching.

3. Fold laundry into outfits, instead of by type

My youngest hardly cares what he wears and gets overwhelmed when faced with too many options. To make mornings simple for him, and make folding and putting away laundry easier for me, I fold his clothes into outfit piles. Each pile includes a bottom, top, underpants, and socks. I stack them all together so when he needs to get dressed, he just grabs a set and off he goes.

4. Keep extra socks where shoes are stored

We have cubbies for everyone to hang their coats and backpacks and put away shoes, so each kid has a small basket in their cubby where we store extra pairs of socks. They never seem to realize they don't have socks on until it's time to go. By having the socks with their shoes, we keep the kids from scattering to their rooms on the hunt for socks instead of heading out the door.

5. Make a monthly meal plan, grocery shop once a week

I know... meal planning sounds like what those overachieving "extra" moms do, but I love it because, like everything else on this list, it clears my head for thinking about/ remembering other things and not what we're going to eat... EVERY DAY. It's easy for us to get stuck in a rut of pizza and tacos when that happens.

I like to do my meal planning by the month. I just take one day to get it all figured out and then I don't have to worry about it for FOUR WHOLE WEEKS (which then almost feel like slacking off!).

I do the grocery shopping once a week so I don't end up impulse buying things we don't need or spending extra time going more frequently. 

During the summer I do my weekly big shop on the same day as our farmers market so I can start there and purchase as much as possible locally (and take advantage of the amazing seasonal produce) and then finish off at the grocery store.

Ready to take on monthly meal planning? Here's how I do it... step by step!

Little by little I have found ways to ease the burden on my brain and still get things done. I hope these tips help you find ways to simplify your life too!

Laura Miller is the publisher of Macaroni KID Appleton-Waupaca-Oshkosh, Wisc.