As a busy mom, I have several “best friends” around the house that make my life easier and more enjoyable. Some are simple and free, others not so cheap, but all are things that I wouldn’t want to live without.
I have found that consistent and diligent use of these “best friends” makes the difference between an organized day and chaos, as well as the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling like I’ve had some “mommy time”. I’ve chosen my personal top 8 to share with you.
- A calendar Without a calendar, my life would be total chaos. I use the pages from TheHomeSchoolMom planner but you can use any calendar that works for you, from a PDA to a wall calendar. FlyLady has an excellent page about how to use a calendar. To some the suggestions in that article will seem obvious, to others they will be revolutionary. In addition to the items listed at the FlyLady site, I suggest adding things like library book due dates (aren’t you tired of supporting the library budget with your late fees??), due dates for videos, reminders to take meat out of the freezer to thaw a couple of days before you need it for a big meal, bill due dates and other important deadlines and notes.
- A menu plan This is crucial for me. Without a weekly menu plan, I am lost in the kitchen, scrambling to avoid yet another meal eaten out. If you like to plan your own meals, you will find TheHomeSchoolMom menu planner to be useful (I use this opposite my weekly calendar page and I took it to Office Depot and had them spiral bind 18 months worth). If you don’t have time to plan your own meals, try Menus 4 Moms, weekly menus for 5 nights of dinners with recipes and grocery lists.
- A feather duster I hate to dust. I also suspect that I am not the only one who does. I ordered the FlyLady ostrich feather duster; it is a bit expensive for a duster but I love it. It makes dusting much less of a chore and the purple feathers interspersed with the brown ones are cheerful to look at. I keep it out in a little decorative glass milk bottle I got in Japan and can easily grab it, dust, and be done in about 15 minutes. Keeping it out also encourages the kids to come get it when they clean their rooms. (No, I am not getting paid to promote it!)
- A cell phone About the only private time I get for conversations is when I am running errands alone. I use this time to call my grandmother and my parents to chat, and it is convenient to have the phone to call home when I need dh to check something I have forgotten (like the grocery list <g>).
- A stocked pantry By pantry, I mean the refrigerator and freezer, too. I’ve posted a detailed list of what I keep on in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer for those who are curious. By keeping the basics for several easy dishes on hand, I can throw something together in a flash when I don’t have a lot of time. Some of the things I keep on hand in addition to the usual flour, butter, milk, etc., are chicken and beef broth, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup, diced tomatoes and green chilies, canned mushrooms, frozen browned beef, frozen cooked chicken, frozen bread, frozen mixed vegetables, and cheese of all kinds (grated freezes well).
- A slow cooker I have an inexpensive Rival Crock Pot that I purchased at a warehouse club for about $30 (although I would love to have a programmable model). With this basic model, I can make sure that dinner is ready with only morning preparation on those days when I am “mom the chauffeur”. Almost anything that can be cooked in the oven can be converted to a slow cooker, and there are lots of cookbooks out there just for slow cookers. Fix It and Forget It (affiliate link) is a good one.
- A DVR I started with TiVo but now we have a Cox DVR. While this may sound like overkill for someone who doesn’t really watch much television, it is Mom’s Break. Both brands are great with different benefits. I have a TV hooked up to a DVR in front of my exercise machine, and for 45 minutes several times a week, I get to watch an hour show (no commercials takes it down to 45 minutes) while exercising. The law is that no one is allowed to talk to mom when she is exercising unless there is blood or death involved. This is my time to escape from “Mommmmyyyyyyy!” and enjoy something other than PBS Kids in peace.For what it’s worth, I also wear cordless headphones from Wal-Mart so I can hear without breaking the speakers on the TV. DVRs are absolutely the best. They are so easy to program (click the guide and select a show; it asks you if you want to record one episode or every episode) that they leave VCRs in the dust. Everyone in the family can easily program it and play back the contents. I never recorded anything with our VCR but our DVR is always full. The kids also never miss Cyberchase (great educational show on PBS) or Liberty’s Kids because it is on the DVR and can fit to their schedule instead of the other way around.
- A bath tub Another “mommy time” opportunity, the bath tub is the only place I get to read for pleasure. I keep a book beside the tub and read a chapter each time I bathe (with lots of dollar store bubble bath, of course).
While there are probably a few more I could mention, these are the ones that I love that are fairly universal in appeal, if not always in price.