We all know we get by with a little help from our friends. I thrive off of getting good tips and guidance from other moms. And when I stumble upon something that works great for me, I love to share it with others. So here are the top things that come to mind right now when it comes to making my life easier. I hope you’ll chime in, too!
Keen shoes: I buy a lot of used things like clothes and toys, but I generally buy new shoes (or very gently used ones). I think the marketers at Stride Rite convinced me that until age 5 or something, it’s very important for kids to have new shoes as they learn to walk and run (away from you). I looked and looked for summer sandals that would work in and out of the water, protect my kids’ toes, have a whole heel, be comfortable and durable, and had good reviews. I found Keens, and though pricey, they are worth every penny. I have washed them in the washing machine and they don’t smell at all, even though my kids wear them just about every day without socks. They still look new and I’ve had them a couple of months. I am a believer. I found mine online at backcountry.com for much less than they sell in retail stores.
Water Wow products: These are great because you fill these “pens” with water and they draw, and unlike Color Wonder markers, they don’t need lids and won’t ever dry out. The color is already built into the pages. Eliza has not gotten bored with them, Zach is now using them, and every friend who has tried them has loved them. They’re especially great for car trips and restaurants when your kids, like Zach, are still in a phase when they eat crayons. I stumbled upon a couple of packs of these at Kohl’s and just went back for more.
The Good Nite Lite: Thanks to a reader recommendation, I FINALLY ordered one of these a few weeks ago and have been using it with Eliza. It took three nights for her to understand that she couldn’t get out of bed until her “sun” came up. Now she doesn’t come out of her room until after 7, and is sleeping past then sometimes. It is magical. I can’t wait until Zach is able to understand what it is.
Deceptively Delicious: Every time I tell someone I bought this cookbook, I hear something about some lawsuit. I don’t care who’s suing whom; I care about getting my kids to eat semi-well-balanced foods. I hear there’s another cookbook just like it called the Sneaky Chef. Buy that one if you think she came up with the idea first. The bottom line is it is genius and it is making me think more creatively about how to add nutrients to everyday foods my kids like. And when I do my meal planning, I am looking to it right now for at least one or two meals a week.
Coated tablecloths and place mats: These are fairly expensive tablecloths that have acrylic coating, so they wipe clean like a countertop would. I have ruined all of my machine-washable tablecloths with stains. Not only are these coated linens machine-washable, but a sponge works really well at getting food off. They are Ah-MAY-zing and well worth the money. My kids spill spaghetti sauce on them, and hours later I wipe them perfectly clean without a trace of stain. I have Le Cluny place mats that can be found online here, and I have a Sylvie Jourdan tablecloth. You can find them on eBay.
Bull Frog Marathon Mist: We are super anal-retentive about sunscreen. I have tried kid sunblock after kid sunblock, and my kids always seem to end up burned or splotchy at best. But I recently bought this continuous spray SPF 50 sunscreen and it’s fabulous. It is so easy to spray on evenly, soaks in without feeling greasy, and protects them like nothing else I’ve found.
My minivan: I rock a swagger wagon, and am proud of it. I’ve named her Evita because she has liberated me. There really is nothing else like it for utility and value. You tell me what other vehicle can haul 8 people, allow you to take out all the seating and transport 5 X 8 sheets of drywall or a dining room table and six chairs (like we did), and tow a 3,500 pound boat, all while getting 20+ miles to the gallon. On a day-to-day basis, it’s also awesome that I can leave my double and single stroller in it with the back row folded down and fit all 6 bags of groceries I buy at the same time.