Tips and tricks for being a stay at home mom. Or dad. Or just a mom or dad. Or just a person.

Today marks my little sister’s last day in the United States Air Force. She’s starting a new chapter in her life and though it took me a while to get on board with her decision, I’m on board now. Next week she’s moving to Alaska, getting married and starting her new life preparing for her precious little guy’s arrival in May. Since she’s going to have her very first home to make for her new family, and since I’m her know it all big sister, I thought I’d share some advice to help her get started on figuring out this whole “grown up” thing.

1. Buy a washer with a timer. Seriously. It is glorious to have your laundry washed by the time you wake up. All you have to do is throw it in the dryer, sort, fold and put away. Laundry builds up quick. Especially with a newborn, so get routine and stick to it.

2. Don’t fold your pajamas or workout clothes or towels. Best advice ever! Folding all of that stuff is a time suck. It’s okay if your pj’s are wrinkled and most workout clothes are made out of materials that don’t wrinkle. I throw mine and the kids’ (Josh is a little prissy and prefers his nice and neat) straight into the designated drawers and it takes me 5 seconds versus 5 minutes. As for towels, we don’t have a linen closet in our apartment so I just keep a clothes basket on top of the dryer and throw the towels in it after they’re clean. I know it’s unconventional but when you get past the stigma, you’ll realize that it’s completely practical.

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3. Make your bed. If you are completely bogged down by mommy duty and you can’t get anything else done around the house, just make your bed. Seeing a nice, neat bed (even if it’s amongst chaos) will help you feel tidier and more relaxed. I read this in a “Happiest Mommy on the Block” sort of book a few years ago and it works. Plus it feels fantastic to tuck into a crisp bed.

4. Go to bed early. Yes, it sounds lame but once you have a newborn waking you up all hours of the night (or a 6 year old starting your day at 5 am), lame will no longer be a bad thing. Lame will equal sleep and sleep is happiness. Some of my best nights have included being in bed by 9:30.

5. Drink coffee first thing every morning. It’s magic potion. Taking this a step further, buy a coffee maker with a timer. Waking up to coffee already made is as equally as wonderful as waking up to laundry already cleaned.

6. Make lists. Write down everything. Make menus, grocery lists, budgets, to do’s, husband’s to do’s, etc. I even separate my lists in to categories – ie. grocery lists are written in the order of the store aisles, which you’ll know like the back of your hand within a month.

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7. Buy rubber floor mats for your car. It might seem like an unnecessary expense but I promise you the first time little jr tosses his cookies in the car, you’ll know you got your money’s worth.

8. Learn to love dark furniture. This goes into the same category as the floor mats. There’s basically a law that says anything that can get dirty will get dirty so just do yourself a favor and buy a brown couch.

9. Decorate with purpose. Those toys that will eventually be thrown all over the house every single day of your life look a lot cuter placed in baskets or storage ottomans.

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10. Embrace the monotony. It’s true what they say. The days are long but the years are short. Really, really short.

And as a bonus, Josh’s advice to Blake: Happy Wife, Happy Life.

I love you sis and I’m very proud of you. You’re brave and a little crazy. Just like always. 😉

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