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The Imam's Daughter

Get Organized: Help for Moms

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It's amazing how many people spin their wheels each day looking for lost keys, phone numbers, the red shirt or a specific pair of shoes. Spend a weekend getting yourself organized.

Take a few minutes to examine your home. Take a walk through and pretend that you are seeing it for the first time. How do you feel about the physical state of the house? Does it provide a calm, soothing environment? Do you find it easy to think clearly? Does the visual clutter jangle your nerves?

You are not just organizing your home, you are creating a nurturing environment to soothe your own souls. A calm, peace-filled environment best allows us to understand and fulfill our purpose in life. Remember, your home isn't just four walls holding your furniture and clothes. It's an extension of your very being.

40 ways to save time and make life with a baby easier

After your new baby arrives, feelings of joy go head-to-head with heavy eyelids, drained energy, and fragile emotions. Fortunately, there are plenty of crafty ways to save time and make daily life run more smoothly when you're caring for a baby. The following tips gathered from BabyCenter moms and dads are designed to reduce stress, save time and money, and help you stay in touch with the joy of raising your child.

Feeding your baby

"A breastfeeding station is a must. Mine has a glider, a snap-on light, water, reading material, burp cloths, TV and CD players with remotes, and a portable phone." — Katherine

"Breastfeeding can be a good time to catch up on all those phone calls you don't have time for. I think the sound of my voice soothes my baby." — Trish

"One of our best investments was a co-sleeper. I don't have to get out of bed for night feedings; I just reach over and pull my baby to me. When she's done, I edge her back to her bed. Neither of us has to fully wake up, which makes getting back to sleep much easier." — Sally


"I bought Medela microwaveable bags to sterilize breast pump parts, bottles, and nipples. I rinse items as I use them, put them in the bag, and microwave the bag when it's full." — Suzanne

"Pump milk from one side while nursing on the other." — Melissa

"One of my best discoveries is a hands-free pumping bra. I can pump while reading the newspaper and eating breakfast." — Edy

Formula and bottles

"Buy a 30- to 60-ounce Tupperware pitcher and mix up 30 or more ounces of formula at once. It's good for 48 hours once mixed (refrigerated), and it saves you from having to mix the powdered formula with water for each feeding." — Julie

Once your baby's started solids

"I prepare a week's worth of baby cereal at a time, measuring out the right amount of dry cereal in individual bowls or cups with lids. Then all I need to do is add milk or formula." — Paula

"Make batches of baby food, like steamed veggies or cooked fruits, at one time and freeze them in meal-size quantities in small zippered bags. Heat the bags in the microwave." — Virginia

"I divvy up boxes of snack foods like crackers and pretzels into snack-size zippered bags and keep a picnic basket of bags on the counter so I can grab a few whenever we leave the house." — Maggie

Changing diapers
Be prepared

"I keep multiple diaper bags packed and ready to go with the basics, and I refill each one after I use it." — Juliette

"We've made mini-changing stations around the house, in addition to the main one in the nursery. Our stations consist of baskets filled with diapers, wipes, a changing pad, and a few toys. They can be stored under a table or bed." — Cathy

"Keep a diaper bag in the car ready for a whole day of emergencies: six to eight diapers, a supply of rash creams and wipes, a changing pad, one or two outfits, bottled water, formula if you use it, baby food, juice boxes, snacks, antiseptic spray, bandages, eye drops, fever reducer/pain reliever, tweezers, a jacket or sweater for sudden weather changes, sunscreen, sun hats, and bug repellent. You'll be prepared for nearly everything, from getting stuck in traffic to an extra night of vacation." — David and Kristen

Nighttime tricks

"Dress your baby in gowns instead of sleepers with snaps. It's much quicker and easier to do night changes, and you can do them without turning on the light." — Dana

Shower together

"To save time in the morning, I bring my 11-month-old son in the shower with me. We both get clean, and my son enjoys splashing around at my feet. This allows me almost as much time as I would like in the shower and gives me a chance to keep a close eye on him." — Heather

Have the right gear ready

"I keep a basket in the bathroom filled with supplies for my daughter's bath: towels, washcloths, shampoo, soap, lotions, diapers, and wipes. I fill it up each week so I don't have to run around gathering supplies while bathing her. They're always there within easy reach." — Melanie

Keeping house
The quickie cleanup

"I use laundry baskets for everything, especially to pick up toys strewn around the house. When I don't have time to clean and company's coming over, I throw everything in a laundry basket and put it in a closet." — Molly

"I purchase all the 'quicker-picker-uppers,' like sanitizing wipes and dusting cloths, and keep them handy in whichever room needs cleaning. As I walk through the room, I grab one and clean my way through. It's more expensive, but it saves time." — Catherine


"Emptying the dishwasher is a snap if you put your silverware in head-down and grouped together. This way, when you only have a minute to empty the dishwasher while the kids are asleep, you can grab a section at a time and slip it in the drawer." — Brenda

"I write a 'to do' list for the week on a dry-erase board. Having everything written down, and crossing things out once they've been done, keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. It also gives my hubby an opportunity to help without having to ask me what to do." — Natasha

"To keep track of bills, I use a flexible folder with 12 slots labeled January to December. After I pay the bills each month, I take the whole stack of paperwork and slide it into the appropriate slot. My checkbook and stamps go in the front." — Kate

Finding time

"If I straighten up the house each time my daughter naps it doesn't get overwhelming. When she goes down for the night, I usually don't have energy for much, so I pick one thing, usually the dishes, and allow myself to wait until the next day to do the rest without feeling guilty." — Ryan

"Keep a bucket near the sink. Each time you're done feeding your baby, rinse the bottle, nipples, spoons, bowls, etc. to remove food and put them in the bucket. Add some detergent and hot tap water. Tackle the rest of the cleaning when you have time. Because everything's soaked, it'll go faster." — Pravina

Make it a game

"When my daughter wakes up in the morning or from a nap I do things around her room while she's still in her crib. We sing, talk, and play games while I put clothes away, sort laundry, restock diapers, pick up toys, and vacuum. She watches me all around her, and she's in a safe place and not underfoot." — Heidi


"I place socks in large mesh lingerie bags so I don't have to search for them in the dryer." — Kelly

"Instead of using a long block of time for laundry, I do it as I go, starting a wash at night before I go to bed and switching it to the dryer in the morning. I throw dry clothes in a basket and fold when I get the time, like when my daughter's napping. I've also stopped buying anything that needs ironing. Those days are gone!" — Jill
Feeding the family
Cook in bulk

"When I do find time to fix a meal, I make huge amounts and freeze the extra in freezer bags, ready to be heated up when I don't have time to cook. Many foods lend themselves well to freezing, including soups, stews, pasta sauces, and bean and rice dishes." — Margarita

"I prepare enough food for three days. That way we don't get caught in the pre-packaged food trap. I make vegetables, steamed chicken, and other meats, cut up pieces of fruit, and put everything in zippered bags in the fridge." — Cathi

Keep it simple

"If you've put your slow cooker away, take it out again. I put in a bunch of veggies, rice, and meat in the morning, add water and spices, and turn it on. A hearty meal is ready by dinnertime." — Rosemary

"I try to make meals that require only one or two pots. They're faster to make and easier to clean up. We like pasta tossed with olive oil, garlic, broccoli, and precooked frozen shrimp." — Linda

Pick up the phone (or the mouse)

"I do as much online grocery shopping as possible. It's a super timesaver." — Claudia

"Delivered pizza or Chinese food is a godsend. Keep an envelope of cash in the kitchen for tipping the delivery guys and gals — they'll become welcome friends." — Sully and Nicky

Other things to remember
Teamwork works

"When we need to get our son ready to go to daycare, I express milk from one side while he nurses from the other. Meanwhile, Daddy is in charge of getting the diaper bag together and the car seat ready. All I have to do is burp him and strap him in." — Amanda

"My husband gives our 4-month-old a bath every night. Our son loves it, and it makes him sleepy so it's easier for my husband to feed him and put him to bed. It's great father-and-son bonding, and it gives me time to myself after a full day caring for our baby." — Callie

"My partner and I recently started a cooking schedule. During weekdays we each cook twice and on Friday we go out or get take-out. This has saved us tons of time. Also, knowing that I'm cooking twice a week means I plan my meals ahead so I have the ingredients on hand." — Heather

Stop and smell the roses

"I try to remember that the world isn't going to end if dinner isn't at a certain time, or if the house isn't completely clean, or if the laundry isn't done. If my daughter is crying or having a tantrum, the best thing I can do is forget everything else and give her all the love and attention I can. Soon she'll be so independent that she'll want to do everything alone." — Jennifer

"I think if you're a stay-at-home mom or dad, the main thing to remember is that you're staying home to raise children and spend quality time with them, not to have the perfect house." — Valerie

"When the world gets too hectic, I stop whatever I'm doing and just sit down and play with my daughter. It's amazing how much clearer my head is afterward, and I don't feel so pressured to get everything else done. The laundry and cleaning will be there the next day, but what you do with your child today will be a lasting memory for both of you." — Amy


Kids room

- You can create a night table and storage container for out-of-season clothes or linens all in one: Buy a metal or plastic 40-gallon garbage pail. Have a round plywood top made for it, and cover it with a circular cloth that hangs all the way to the floor. If kids are very little, you may even want tack a piece of vinyl over the top of the cloth to keep it clean and protect against spills.

- A divided bookshelf filled with storage baskets is an easy and attractive way to organize toys.

- a transparent shoe holder is a good way to organize anything you need to.

Getting toddler to clean

- Make Consequences and rewards. Make it a game to help and enforce those consequences! I find that young children, like puppies, really long to have someone in control. If it isn't you, they will, like puppies, happily take over.

Organizing with an infant around

- suggest working in shorter time spans because that's about all your children will allow. It is such a nurturing experience for children to grow up in peaceful environments. Let that desire guide you. Don't think of getting organized as an addition to a long list of should's. Think of it as a precious gift you give yourself and your family. With that motivation, it will be easier.

Getting older kids to help

- Remember, you aren't punishing them if you ask them to take on tasks around the house, you are giving them the opportunity to develop a valuable skill: getting organized. Not to mention that you, my dear, deserve the help!

- make a key hook by your door for keys so you always know where they are

- Rotate toys: put away most of the toys and keep just a few out. The next week, put those away and take out a few of the stored toys. That way they will feel they always have something new to play with and you won’t have so many toys to put away each day.

- Keep a list on your refrigerator and, each time you finish something, add it to the list.

- Write Things Down. Always, keep a small notepad on hand. When you think of something you need to do, jot down a reminder. This will save you endless minutes recalling just what you were supposed to do.

- Get An Engagement Calendar. Get a calendar to write down all your engagements, addresses and phone numbers. By keeping all the information in one place, you won't have to dig for it later.

- Keep A Notepad By Your Phone. How many times have you written a note on a loose piece of paper, never to see it again? Record those notes on a pad of paper to keep them from walking away.

- Designate Days. Choose a day or night to do your grocery shopping and errand running each week. Choose a day to clean your home. Stick to your schedule and forget about these responsibilities the rest of the week.

- Carry juice boxes and sugar-free snacks in the glove compartment. It will keep the kids from going ballistic in traffic jams and will save you that extra trip to the fast-food joint on the way home.

- Carry a plastic zippered bag in your purse for receipts. It will save you from hunting later when you need to return an item. It also helps with record keeping. Go through the bag every month and dispose of those receipts you no longer need. The best time to do it is when you receive your monthly credit card statement.

- Designate one or two days per week as your grocery shopping day and let your children know about it. Make a shopping list during the week and stick to it when you get to the store. The fewer extraneous items you purchase, the more money you save. Never shop when you're hungry, too. Otherwise, that extra bag of potato chips may find its way into your cart after all!

- Cull your recipe books on Sundays and make a meal plan for the week. Add needed items to your shopping list. Make a few meals ahead of time and freeze them for the busiest evenings.

- Tax time can be a stressful time of year. To head off last-minute scrambling, create a folder called "taxes". Place inside any tax-related documents such as business receipts, bills of sale, charity donations made throughout the year, etc.

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