Parent Hacks

8 tips for Moms : Organizing Time & Space

8 tips for Moms : Organizing Time & Space

Your baby is no longer an amorphous belly lump. He’s now a breathing, eating, pooping (and hopefully sleeping) human being who’s taken over your home and your heart. For such small people, children have an impact on every room in the house. This calls for some serious organization and time management. As it happens, you now have less time to think about how to use your time, and less mental real estate to devote to your actual real estate. The goal isn’t domestic perfection and robotlike efficiency—it’s a comfortable refuge and time to enjoy it.




18 Organize coloring supplies with a dish drainer.

Slide coloring books into the slots of a plastic dish drainer and crayons and markers into the attached cutlery drying cup—they’ll be contained, ordered, and easy to transport.

19 Contain books in a shoe box or wall-mounted file holder.

Corral board books in plastic shoe boxes or attach a plastic file holder to the wall to create “pocket” storage for a few books.

20 Set a reminder to revisit fun activities you’ve missed.

There’s rarely enough time to do all of the fun things that catch your eye. Instead of fretting about what you’re missing, make a note in your calendar to try again another time. Let’s say you come across a new local park: You want to stop and look around, but your kid’s pitching a fit. Add an appointment to your calendar for the following week so you’ll remember to plan for a visit. If the activity is seasonal (for a specific holiday, say), make a note to look for it next year. This hack also works for recipes to try and events to attend, with a reminder to purchase supplies or tickets ahead of time.




7 chores your toddler can do right now

That’s right, I just used the words “chores” and “toddler” in the same sentence. Toddlers can do chores! Not well, but that’s not the point. Chores are the best way to tap into a toddler’s natural excitement about growing up. Giving toddlers real work demonstrates that everyone in the family can pitch in, and that they are capable little humans. Let your toddler do these jobs:

1 Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth.

2 Throw dirty clothes in the hamper.

3 Put toys or books away in a basket.

4 Hang a jacket or backpack on a low hook.

5 Stow all shoes in a basket or bin.

6 Carry dirty dishes to the kitchen.

7 Water outdoor plants with a small watering can.

 

 




16 Install a tension rod inside the shower to increase storage and drying space.

If your bathtub ledges are overflowing with toys, shampoo, and soggy washcloths, install a spring-loaded shower curtain rod inside the bath, high enough that it’s out of grabbing and head-bumping range. Use it as a drip-dry rack for swimsuits and delicates, and hang lightweight plastic baskets from the rod with shower curtain hooks to hold bath toys.

17 Create a toy library to keep teddies and trucks from taking over your house.

A toy library keeps toys organized, adds variety to playtime, and makes it easier for older kids to clean up after themselves. Separate toys by category (blocks, cars, dolls, etc.) and designate one bin for each. (Choose clear plastic bins so it’s easy to see what’s inside.) When it’s time to play, “check out” toys from the library and move them to a small basket in the living room (or wherever playtime is happening). When it’s time to play with something new, “check in” the old toy.

If masking tape and sticky notes had a love child, painter’s tape would be it. It’s visible, easy to tear, and stays put—but leaves no residue behind.




18 Organize coloring supplies with a dish drainer.

Slide coloring books into the slots of a plastic dish drainer and crayons and markers into the attached cutlery drying cup—they’ll be contained, ordered, and easy to transport.

19 Contain books in a shoe box or wall-mounted file holder.

Corral board books in plastic shoe boxes or attach a plastic file holder to the wall to create “pocket” storage for a few books.

20 Set a reminder to revisit fun activities you’ve missed.

There’s rarely enough time to do all of the fun things that catch your eye. Instead of fretting about what you’re missing, make a note in your calendar to try again another time. Let’s say you come across a new local park: You want to stop and look around, but your kid’s pitching a fit. Add an appointment to your calendar for the following week so you’ll remember to plan for a visit. If the activity is seasonal (for a specific holiday, say), make a note to look for it next year. This hack also works for recipes to try and events to attend, with a reminder to purchase supplies or tickets ahead of time.




7 chores your toddler can do right now

That’s right, I just used the words “chores” and “toddler” in the same sentence. Toddlers can do chores! Not well, but that’s not the point. Chores are the best way to tap into a toddler’s natural excitement about growing up. Giving toddlers real work demonstrates that everyone in the family can pitch in, and that they are capable little humans. Let your toddler do these jobs:

1 Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth.

2 Throw dirty clothes in the hamper.

3 Put toys or books away in a basket.

4 Hang a jacket or backpack on a low hook.

5 Stow all shoes in a basket or bin.

6 Carry dirty dishes to the kitchen.

7 Water outdoor plants with a small watering can.

 

 




8 answers to the question “How can I help?”

People want to know what they can do to help, but you may be too tired or hormone-addled to come up with an answer. The next time someone asks, point to this page.

1 Bring a meal. The best meals come in a single pan or pot, are freezable, and make good leftovers. Then again, any meal someone else prepares is the best meal, especially if you can eat it one-handed. Tip: If friends bring meals in containers that need to be returned, label them (painter’s tape and a permanent marker) right away or transfer the meal into your own container so they can take theirs home.

2 Buy groceries. Keep your grocery list posted on a whiteboard in the kitchen or in an electronic version you can share. Ask your friends to text you from the store so you can send them your list, or message them a picture of the whiteboard. And keep in mind: One cannot live on enchiladas alone. Ask your friends to pick up some dried fruit and nuts or washed and cut fresh fruit and vegetables for salads and snacking.

3 Do dishes. Awkward as it may seem to ask friends to clean, doing the dishes is something anyone can do, and it’s time-limited enough to delegate. Just think how wonderful it will be to walk into a clean kitchen. Remember: Your friends want to help.

4 Do laundry. The great thing about laundry (in this case) is that there’s always some waiting to be done. Friends can throw a load in the washer or dryer, fold dry clothes, or change and wash the towels.

5 Address and stamp envelopes. Those baby announcements and thank-you notes aren’t going to send themselves. Let your friends pitch in with the stamping, sealing, and/or addressing of envelopes.

6 Walk the dog. Or pet the cat. Pets are bound to be confused and possibly agitated by your home’s new occupant and rhythms. Let your pet-loving guests offer as much extra attention as they are willing to give.

7 Take siblings on an outing. Older brothers and sisters will love special and celebratory treatment that’s “just for big kids.”

8 Watch the baby. Ask for an hour, so you can take a nap. Or 15 minutes, so you can shower. Or five minutes, so you can simply have a moment to yourself.




16 Install a tension rod inside the shower to increase storage and drying space.

If your bathtub ledges are overflowing with toys, shampoo, and soggy washcloths, install a spring-loaded shower curtain rod inside the bath, high enough that it’s out of grabbing and head-bumping range. Use it as a drip-dry rack for swimsuits and delicates, and hang lightweight plastic baskets from the rod with shower curtain hooks to hold bath toys.

17 Create a toy library to keep teddies and trucks from taking over your house.

A toy library keeps toys organized, adds variety to playtime, and makes it easier for older kids to clean up after themselves. Separate toys by category (blocks, cars, dolls, etc.) and designate one bin for each. (Choose clear plastic bins so it’s easy to see what’s inside.) When it’s time to play, “check out” toys from the library and move them to a small basket in the living room (or wherever playtime is happening). When it’s time to play with something new, “check in” the old toy.

If masking tape and sticky notes had a love child, painter’s tape would be it. It’s visible, easy to tear, and stays put—but leaves no residue behind.




18 Organize coloring supplies with a dish drainer.

Slide coloring books into the slots of a plastic dish drainer and crayons and markers into the attached cutlery drying cup—they’ll be contained, ordered, and easy to transport.

19 Contain books in a shoe box or wall-mounted file holder.

Corral board books in plastic shoe boxes or attach a plastic file holder to the wall to create “pocket” storage for a few books.

20 Set a reminder to revisit fun activities you’ve missed.

There’s rarely enough time to do all of the fun things that catch your eye. Instead of fretting about what you’re missing, make a note in your calendar to try again another time. Let’s say you come across a new local park: You want to stop and look around, but your kid’s pitching a fit. Add an appointment to your calendar for the following week so you’ll remember to plan for a visit. If the activity is seasonal (for a specific holiday, say), make a note to look for it next year. This hack also works for recipes to try and events to attend, with a reminder to purchase supplies or tickets ahead of time.




7 chores your toddler can do right now

That’s right, I just used the words “chores” and “toddler” in the same sentence. Toddlers can do chores! Not well, but that’s not the point. Chores are the best way to tap into a toddler’s natural excitement about growing up. Giving toddlers real work demonstrates that everyone in the family can pitch in, and that they are capable little humans. Let your toddler do these jobs:

1 Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth.

2 Throw dirty clothes in the hamper.

3 Put toys or books away in a basket.

4 Hang a jacket or backpack on a low hook.

5 Stow all shoes in a basket or bin.

6 Carry dirty dishes to the kitchen.

7 Water outdoor plants with a small watering can.

 

 




14 Batch-sign and -address birthday cards in advance.

My mom and aunt have the amazing ability to mail birthday cards to everyone in the family on time. Alas, that skill skipped a generation, and I’ve spent years feeling bad about belated birthday greetings. This system puts an end to birthday card guilt. Buy birthday cards four or five at a time. When you have some downtime, write the cards out to their intended recipients. Sign, seal, address, and stamp the cards, then file them in a place you’ll remember. Next, set an alert to remind you to mail the card three to four days before the recipient’s birthday.

The small, clear, gridded pockets in a hanging shoe organizer are great for collecting small items. Just keep the lower pockets out of reach of kids (or filled with kid-safe stuff).

15 Remove pet fur from furniture with a squeegee and a pair of dishwashing gloves.

Nothing attracts pet fur like the pant knees of a crawling baby or the sticky hands of a toddler. Give your carpet or upholstery a few swipes with a rubber window squeegee. Pet hair will gather into a pile that’s easier to pick up or vacuum away. For those spots the squeegee can’t reach, don a pair of dishwashing gloves to rub and gather the rest of the fur.




8 answers to the question “How can I help?”

People want to know what they can do to help, but you may be too tired or hormone-addled to come up with an answer. The next time someone asks, point to this page.

1 Bring a meal. The best meals come in a single pan or pot, are freezable, and make good leftovers. Then again, any meal someone else prepares is the best meal, especially if you can eat it one-handed. Tip: If friends bring meals in containers that need to be returned, label them (painter’s tape and a permanent marker) right away or transfer the meal into your own container so they can take theirs home.

2 Buy groceries. Keep your grocery list posted on a whiteboard in the kitchen or in an electronic version you can share. Ask your friends to text you from the store so you can send them your list, or message them a picture of the whiteboard. And keep in mind: One cannot live on enchiladas alone. Ask your friends to pick up some dried fruit and nuts or washed and cut fresh fruit and vegetables for salads and snacking.

3 Do dishes. Awkward as it may seem to ask friends to clean, doing the dishes is something anyone can do, and it’s time-limited enough to delegate. Just think how wonderful it will be to walk into a clean kitchen. Remember: Your friends want to help.

4 Do laundry. The great thing about laundry (in this case) is that there’s always some waiting to be done. Friends can throw a load in the washer or dryer, fold dry clothes, or change and wash the towels.

5 Address and stamp envelopes. Those baby announcements and thank-you notes aren’t going to send themselves. Let your friends pitch in with the stamping, sealing, and/or addressing of envelopes.

6 Walk the dog. Or pet the cat. Pets are bound to be confused and possibly agitated by your home’s new occupant and rhythms. Let your pet-loving guests offer as much extra attention as they are willing to give.

7 Take siblings on an outing. Older brothers and sisters will love special and celebratory treatment that’s “just for big kids.”

8 Watch the baby. Ask for an hour, so you can take a nap. Or 15 minutes, so you can shower. Or five minutes, so you can simply have a moment to yourself.




16 Install a tension rod inside the shower to increase storage and drying space.

If your bathtub ledges are overflowing with toys, shampoo, and soggy washcloths, install a spring-loaded shower curtain rod inside the bath, high enough that it’s out of grabbing and head-bumping range. Use it as a drip-dry rack for swimsuits and delicates, and hang lightweight plastic baskets from the rod with shower curtain hooks to hold bath toys.

17 Create a toy library to keep teddies and trucks from taking over your house.

A toy library keeps toys organized, adds variety to playtime, and makes it easier for older kids to clean up after themselves. Separate toys by category (blocks, cars, dolls, etc.) and designate one bin for each. (Choose clear plastic bins so it’s easy to see what’s inside.) When it’s time to play, “check out” toys from the library and move them to a small basket in the living room (or wherever playtime is happening). When it’s time to play with something new, “check in” the old toy.

If masking tape and sticky notes had a love child, painter’s tape would be it. It’s visible, easy to tear, and stays put—but leaves no residue behind.




18 Organize coloring supplies with a dish drainer.

Slide coloring books into the slots of a plastic dish drainer and crayons and markers into the attached cutlery drying cup—they’ll be contained, ordered, and easy to transport.

19 Contain books in a shoe box or wall-mounted file holder.

Corral board books in plastic shoe boxes or attach a plastic file holder to the wall to create “pocket” storage for a few books.

20 Set a reminder to revisit fun activities you’ve missed.

There’s rarely enough time to do all of the fun things that catch your eye. Instead of fretting about what you’re missing, make a note in your calendar to try again another time. Let’s say you come across a new local park: You want to stop and look around, but your kid’s pitching a fit. Add an appointment to your calendar for the following week so you’ll remember to plan for a visit. If the activity is seasonal (for a specific holiday, say), make a note to look for it next year. This hack also works for recipes to try and events to attend, with a reminder to purchase supplies or tickets ahead of time.




7 chores your toddler can do right now

That’s right, I just used the words “chores” and “toddler” in the same sentence. Toddlers can do chores! Not well, but that’s not the point. Chores are the best way to tap into a toddler’s natural excitement about growing up. Giving toddlers real work demonstrates that everyone in the family can pitch in, and that they are capable little humans. Let your toddler do these jobs:

1 Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth.

2 Throw dirty clothes in the hamper.

3 Put toys or books away in a basket.

4 Hang a jacket or backpack on a low hook.

5 Stow all shoes in a basket or bin.

6 Carry dirty dishes to the kitchen.

7 Water outdoor plants with a small watering can.

 

 




19 cleaning & organizing projects that take 10 minutes or less Swaths of uninterrupted time are a thing of the past.

One of the best skills you can develop as a new parent is the ability to knock off short tasks and to break larger tasks into 10-minute chunks. That way, you can chip away at those nagging chores even when you’re not sure about how much free time you have left. Set a timer or see what you can get done while the microwave reheats your lunch—you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish. A few suggestions to get you started:

1 Open the mail, write the due dates on bills, place them in a file folder, and recycle the envelopes.

2 Gather the old newspapers, magazines, and flyers around your house and recycle them.

3 Sort and refold all the clothes in just one of your dresser drawers.

4 Wipe or brush the crumbs and other debris out of the kitchen cutlery drawer.

5 Empty all the wastebaskets in the house.

6 Sweep and tidy the entryway (you’ll feel better about the whole house).

7 Wipe down the bathroom sink, counter, and toilet.

8 Open your file drawer, remove a single file, organize the contents, shred any outdated materials, then put back the rest.

9 Recycle the mismatched and throwaway plastic containers taking up space in your kitchen cabinets.

10 Straighten up a single bookshelf.

11 Clear off or neaten the coffee table.

12 Tidy the trunk and interior of your car and wipe down the dashboard.

13 Edit and organize photos (printed or digital) for 10 minutes.

14 Sort your email in-box.

15 Dampen a paper towel and wipe the inside of the microwave.

16 Organize the cabinet under your bathroom or kitchen sink.

17 Clear out the diaper bag or backpack.

18 Make the bed. (Bonus: You can even treat yourself to a fresh set of sheets!)

19 Clean out and wipe down your refrigerator crisper drawers.




14 Batch-sign and -address birthday cards in advance.

My mom and aunt have the amazing ability to mail birthday cards to everyone in the family on time. Alas, that skill skipped a generation, and I’ve spent years feeling bad about belated birthday greetings. This system puts an end to birthday card guilt. Buy birthday cards four or five at a time. When you have some downtime, write the cards out to their intended recipients. Sign, seal, address, and stamp the cards, then file them in a place you’ll remember. Next, set an alert to remind you to mail the card three to four days before the recipient’s birthday.

The small, clear, gridded pockets in a hanging shoe organizer are great for collecting small items. Just keep the lower pockets out of reach of kids (or filled with kid-safe stuff).

15 Remove pet fur from furniture with a squeegee and a pair of dishwashing gloves.

Nothing attracts pet fur like the pant knees of a crawling baby or the sticky hands of a toddler. Give your carpet or upholstery a few swipes with a rubber window squeegee. Pet hair will gather into a pile that’s easier to pick up or vacuum away. For those spots the squeegee can’t reach, don a pair of dishwashing gloves to rub and gather the rest of the fur.




8 answers to the question “How can I help?”

People want to know what they can do to help, but you may be too tired or hormone-addled to come up with an answer. The next time someone asks, point to this page.

1 Bring a meal. The best meals come in a single pan or pot, are freezable, and make good leftovers. Then again, any meal someone else prepares is the best meal, especially if you can eat it one-handed. Tip: If friends bring meals in containers that need to be returned, label them (painter’s tape and a permanent marker) right away or transfer the meal into your own container so they can take theirs home.

2 Buy groceries. Keep your grocery list posted on a whiteboard in the kitchen or in an electronic version you can share. Ask your friends to text you from the store so you can send them your list, or message them a picture of the whiteboard. And keep in mind: One cannot live on enchiladas alone. Ask your friends to pick up some dried fruit and nuts or washed and cut fresh fruit and vegetables for salads and snacking.

3 Do dishes. Awkward as it may seem to ask friends to clean, doing the dishes is something anyone can do, and it’s time-limited enough to delegate. Just think how wonderful it will be to walk into a clean kitchen. Remember: Your friends want to help.

4 Do laundry. The great thing about laundry (in this case) is that there’s always some waiting to be done. Friends can throw a load in the washer or dryer, fold dry clothes, or change and wash the towels.

5 Address and stamp envelopes. Those baby announcements and thank-you notes aren’t going to send themselves. Let your friends pitch in with the stamping, sealing, and/or addressing of envelopes.

6 Walk the dog. Or pet the cat. Pets are bound to be confused and possibly agitated by your home’s new occupant and rhythms. Let your pet-loving guests offer as much extra attention as they are willing to give.

7 Take siblings on an outing. Older brothers and sisters will love special and celebratory treatment that’s “just for big kids.”

8 Watch the baby. Ask for an hour, so you can take a nap. Or 15 minutes, so you can shower. Or five minutes, so you can simply have a moment to yourself.




16 Install a tension rod inside the shower to increase storage and drying space.

If your bathtub ledges are overflowing with toys, shampoo, and soggy washcloths, install a spring-loaded shower curtain rod inside the bath, high enough that it’s out of grabbing and head-bumping range. Use it as a drip-dry rack for swimsuits and delicates, and hang lightweight plastic baskets from the rod with shower curtain hooks to hold bath toys.

17 Create a toy library to keep teddies and trucks from taking over your house.

A toy library keeps toys organized, adds variety to playtime, and makes it easier for older kids to clean up after themselves. Separate toys by category (blocks, cars, dolls, etc.) and designate one bin for each. (Choose clear plastic bins so it’s easy to see what’s inside.) When it’s time to play, “check out” toys from the library and move them to a small basket in the living room (or wherever playtime is happening). When it’s time to play with something new, “check in” the old toy.

If masking tape and sticky notes had a love child, painter’s tape would be it. It’s visible, easy to tear, and stays put—but leaves no residue behind.




18 Organize coloring supplies with a dish drainer.

Slide coloring books into the slots of a plastic dish drainer and crayons and markers into the attached cutlery drying cup—they’ll be contained, ordered, and easy to transport.

19 Contain books in a shoe box or wall-mounted file holder.

Corral board books in plastic shoe boxes or attach a plastic file holder to the wall to create “pocket” storage for a few books.

20 Set a reminder to revisit fun activities you’ve missed.

There’s rarely enough time to do all of the fun things that catch your eye. Instead of fretting about what you’re missing, make a note in your calendar to try again another time. Let’s say you come across a new local park: You want to stop and look around, but your kid’s pitching a fit. Add an appointment to your calendar for the following week so you’ll remember to plan for a visit. If the activity is seasonal (for a specific holiday, say), make a note to look for it next year. This hack also works for recipes to try and events to attend, with a reminder to purchase supplies or tickets ahead of time.




7 chores your toddler can do right now

That’s right, I just used the words “chores” and “toddler” in the same sentence. Toddlers can do chores! Not well, but that’s not the point. Chores are the best way to tap into a toddler’s natural excitement about growing up. Giving toddlers real work demonstrates that everyone in the family can pitch in, and that they are capable little humans. Let your toddler do these jobs:

1 Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth.

2 Throw dirty clothes in the hamper.

3 Put toys or books away in a basket.

4 Hang a jacket or backpack on a low hook.

5 Stow all shoes in a basket or bin.

6 Carry dirty dishes to the kitchen.

7 Water outdoor plants with a small watering can.

 

 




11 : Sort your to-do list by the time it takes to complete each job.

A written to-do list is the best way to give your beleaguered memory a break. Give each to-do list item a time-based label (“5 minutes,” “15 minutes,” or whatever intervals work for you). Electronic to-do apps let you categorize tasks, but if you prefer a paper to-do list, just pencil a time label next to each task. When you find yourself with a snatch of time, scan your list quickly to see which tasks you can reasonably complete.

12 Organize electronics charger cables with toilet paper tubes.

Parenthood has probably added to your already overflowing collection of cords. Instead of throwing them into a drawer, coil each cable and stuff it into a labeled cardboard toilet paper tube.

13 Turn a bookshelf into a hanging wardrobe.

Short on closet space? Turn an adjustable bookshelf into a hanging wardrobe: Remove a shelf and fit a spring-loaded tension rod inside.




19 cleaning & organizing projects that take 10 minutes or less Swaths of uninterrupted time are a thing of the past.

One of the best skills you can develop as a new parent is the ability to knock off short tasks and to break larger tasks into 10-minute chunks. That way, you can chip away at those nagging chores even when you’re not sure about how much free time you have left. Set a timer or see what you can get done while the microwave reheats your lunch—you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish. A few suggestions to get you started:

1 Open the mail, write the due dates on bills, place them in a file folder, and recycle the envelopes.

2 Gather the old newspapers, magazines, and flyers around your house and recycle them.

3 Sort and refold all the clothes in just one of your dresser drawers.

4 Wipe or brush the crumbs and other debris out of the kitchen cutlery drawer.

5 Empty all the wastebaskets in the house.

6 Sweep and tidy the entryway (you’ll feel better about the whole house).

7 Wipe down the bathroom sink, counter, and toilet.

8 Open your file drawer, remove a single file, organize the contents, shred any outdated materials, then put back the rest.

9 Recycle the mismatched and throwaway plastic containers taking up space in your kitchen cabinets.

10 Straighten up a single bookshelf.

11 Clear off or neaten the coffee table.

12 Tidy the trunk and interior of your car and wipe down the dashboard.

13 Edit and organize photos (printed or digital) for 10 minutes.

14 Sort your email in-box.

15 Dampen a paper towel and wipe the inside of the microwave.

16 Organize the cabinet under your bathroom or kitchen sink.

17 Clear out the diaper bag or backpack.

18 Make the bed. (Bonus: You can even treat yourself to a fresh set of sheets!)

19 Clean out and wipe down your refrigerator crisper drawers.




14 Batch-sign and -address birthday cards in advance.

My mom and aunt have the amazing ability to mail birthday cards to everyone in the family on time. Alas, that skill skipped a generation, and I’ve spent years feeling bad about belated birthday greetings. This system puts an end to birthday card guilt. Buy birthday cards four or five at a time. When you have some downtime, write the cards out to their intended recipients. Sign, seal, address, and stamp the cards, then file them in a place you’ll remember. Next, set an alert to remind you to mail the card three to four days before the recipient’s birthday.

The small, clear, gridded pockets in a hanging shoe organizer are great for collecting small items. Just keep the lower pockets out of reach of kids (or filled with kid-safe stuff).

15 Remove pet fur from furniture with a squeegee and a pair of dishwashing gloves.

Nothing attracts pet fur like the pant knees of a crawling baby or the sticky hands of a toddler. Give your carpet or upholstery a few swipes with a rubber window squeegee. Pet hair will gather into a pile that’s easier to pick up or vacuum away. For those spots the squeegee can’t reach, don a pair of dishwashing gloves to rub and gather the rest of the fur.




8 answers to the question “How can I help?”

People want to know what they can do to help, but you may be too tired or hormone-addled to come up with an answer. The next time someone asks, point to this page.

1 Bring a meal. The best meals come in a single pan or pot, are freezable, and make good leftovers. Then again, any meal someone else prepares is the best meal, especially if you can eat it one-handed. Tip: If friends bring meals in containers that need to be returned, label them (painter’s tape and a permanent marker) right away or transfer the meal into your own container so they can take theirs home.

2 Buy groceries. Keep your grocery list posted on a whiteboard in the kitchen or in an electronic version you can share. Ask your friends to text you from the store so you can send them your list, or message them a picture of the whiteboard. And keep in mind: One cannot live on enchiladas alone. Ask your friends to pick up some dried fruit and nuts or washed and cut fresh fruit and vegetables for salads and snacking.

3 Do dishes. Awkward as it may seem to ask friends to clean, doing the dishes is something anyone can do, and it’s time-limited enough to delegate. Just think how wonderful it will be to walk into a clean kitchen. Remember: Your friends want to help.

4 Do laundry. The great thing about laundry (in this case) is that there’s always some waiting to be done. Friends can throw a load in the washer or dryer, fold dry clothes, or change and wash the towels.

5 Address and stamp envelopes. Those baby announcements and thank-you notes aren’t going to send themselves. Let your friends pitch in with the stamping, sealing, and/or addressing of envelopes.

6 Walk the dog. Or pet the cat. Pets are bound to be confused and possibly agitated by your home’s new occupant and rhythms. Let your pet-loving guests offer as much extra attention as they are willing to give.

7 Take siblings on an outing. Older brothers and sisters will love special and celebratory treatment that’s “just for big kids.”

8 Watch the baby. Ask for an hour, so you can take a nap. Or 15 minutes, so you can shower. Or five minutes, so you can simply have a moment to yourself.




16 Install a tension rod inside the shower to increase storage and drying space.

If your bathtub ledges are overflowing with toys, shampoo, and soggy washcloths, install a spring-loaded shower curtain rod inside the bath, high enough that it’s out of grabbing and head-bumping range. Use it as a drip-dry rack for swimsuits and delicates, and hang lightweight plastic baskets from the rod with shower curtain hooks to hold bath toys.

17 Create a toy library to keep teddies and trucks from taking over your house.

A toy library keeps toys organized, adds variety to playtime, and makes it easier for older kids to clean up after themselves. Separate toys by category (blocks, cars, dolls, etc.) and designate one bin for each. (Choose clear plastic bins so it’s easy to see what’s inside.) When it’s time to play, “check out” toys from the library and move them to a small basket in the living room (or wherever playtime is happening). When it’s time to play with something new, “check in” the old toy.

If masking tape and sticky notes had a love child, painter’s tape would be it. It’s visible, easy to tear, and stays put—but leaves no residue behind.




18 Organize coloring supplies with a dish drainer.

Slide coloring books into the slots of a plastic dish drainer and crayons and markers into the attached cutlery drying cup—they’ll be contained, ordered, and easy to transport.

19 Contain books in a shoe box or wall-mounted file holder.

Corral board books in plastic shoe boxes or attach a plastic file holder to the wall to create “pocket” storage for a few books.

20 Set a reminder to revisit fun activities you’ve missed.

There’s rarely enough time to do all of the fun things that catch your eye. Instead of fretting about what you’re missing, make a note in your calendar to try again another time. Let’s say you come across a new local park: You want to stop and look around, but your kid’s pitching a fit. Add an appointment to your calendar for the following week so you’ll remember to plan for a visit. If the activity is seasonal (for a specific holiday, say), make a note to look for it next year. This hack also works for recipes to try and events to attend, with a reminder to purchase supplies or tickets ahead of time.




7 chores your toddler can do right now

That’s right, I just used the words “chores” and “toddler” in the same sentence. Toddlers can do chores! Not well, but that’s not the point. Chores are the best way to tap into a toddler’s natural excitement about growing up. Giving toddlers real work demonstrates that everyone in the family can pitch in, and that they are capable little humans. Let your toddler do these jobs:

1 Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth.

2 Throw dirty clothes in the hamper.

3 Put toys or books away in a basket.

4 Hang a jacket or backpack on a low hook.

5 Stow all shoes in a basket or bin.

6 Carry dirty dishes to the kitchen.

7 Water outdoor plants with a small watering can.

 

 

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