Timesavers for Busy Moms

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As a mom of two, life can get busy. School, playdates, appointments, lessons.  Plus, there’s keeping the house organized, laundry clean, and putting food in our fridge and meals on our table. And, oh, trying my best to raise two kidsto be outstanding people. Not too much to ask, right?

There are a few tips and tricks I’ve found thathelp us save time with the small stuff, so we have more time for the big stuff. Family Dollar is filled with items to keep us on track with that goal. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to organize, prep, simplify, and keep our household running as smoothly as possible with two rambunctious kiddos keeping me on my toes.

Food Storage and Meal Prep

Carrie_SuperBowl2013_0002The first rule of making healthy meals on a tight schedule is prep, prep, and more prep. The more advance preparation you can do ahead of time, the less you’ll have to spend standing over a stove. First, plan out the menu and keep it somewhere prominently displayed so you remember exactly what’s for dinner– and when. Dry erase boards are an easy way to keep track of what’s for dinner each day.

I stock up on plastic storage containers to freeze large batches of brown rice, leftovers from certain meals to use later, or to store veggies I’ve cut in large batches for that week’s menu. It’s really important to me that we only use containers that are BPA free, and Family Dollar has tons of them.

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When I make dinner dishes such as a stir-fry, I’m often cutting meat and veggies at the same time. It’s super important not to cross contaminate, especially if you are eating anything raw. The solution? Use your red cutting board for meat, and a green one for vegetables. Now you won’t risk contaminating your food, which is especially important if you have little hands that like to grab raw veggies to snack on while you prepare dinner.

Certain items like tomato paste and chipotle in adobo are used in small quantities… but come in larger sized cans. Don’t throw out the leftover amounts, scoop it into ice cube trays and freeze. Then when you want to use it, simply defrost and you have the perfect amount for recipes!

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These plastic bins are perfect for organizing pantries and refrigerators. Label them using a dry erase marker, and your cabinets will be tidy and snacks easy to find.

Speaking of snacks, these NutriGrain bars are my on-the-go breakfast staple.  I always make sure the kids get breakfast before I drop them off at preschool, but breakfast for me? Unfortunately, that’s the last item on our list. Plus, they’re a good pre-workout snack — not too heavy, and just enough to keep me going until I have a minute to sit down and eat something more substantial.

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Organized Family

Carrie_SuperBowl2013_0002I did a happy dance when I spotted these small dry erase markers with magnets and erasers in the cap. Brilliant! We use them all over, but I especially love attaching one to my washing machine to write reminders right on the lid about what can’t go into the dryer.

This sticky note set has a lot of uses! Bookmarks, reminders, educational stickers (we like to use them on our globe to show where daddy is traveling), and more… sticky notes are a staple in our household.

Envelopes are a fantastic organizational tool. As soon as school papers arrive home, I quickly go through and sign permission slips, book orders, write tuition checks, etc. Then I stick each in an envelope with the date due and the contents. Each morning I check the envelope area, and pop the correct one into the proper school bag. No more late tuition payments!

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Organized Kids

I realize “organize” and “kids” might not belong in the same sentence, but we have a few tricks up our sleeve to help keep us on track. First up? Incentive charts and stickers. We use incentive charts for whichever skill we may be working on: potty training, quiet time, reading books, chores. Stickers for the charts can also be found at Family Dollar, so you have a great way to motivate kids right within reach.

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Timers are also great motivators, and have many uses. They help us count the minutes until something desirable occurs (this helps teach patience), or counts down until something desirable ends (as in, “I’m setting the timer for 5 minutes, and then it’s bath time”). Timers can also be used for playing games or for marking the minutes of a time-out. Who knew something so simple could teach important skills such as self-discipline and number sense?

My kids are water-holics. They love the stuff. Given a choice between juice and water, they’ll choose H2O every time. Carrying our own water bottles around saves a ton of money as well as fosters this important habit. My kids love these fun BPA-free water bottles from Family Dollar!

“Me” Time

The kids are in bed, we’ve come to the end of another busy day, and it’s time to nurture mama. Nothing better than a hot bath and a great magazine… there’s quite a few to choose from at Family Dollar, but the Food Network magazine is a personal favorite.

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There you have it– a few timesaving tips and tricks that keep our household running fairly smoothly. Do you have a great tip to share? What are your go-to Family Dollar items that help you save time?

By: Carrie of Making Lemonade                                                       Featured Products: Household