Mommy Hacks – Tips for Improved Efficiency

Mommy Hacks Tips for Moms

I’ve had a running list in my phone of tips I found that saved me time or money (or made my life much easier). My hope was to work them into posts so I could share them, but the list was getting longer and I was having trouble fitting a bunch of random helpful tips into posts about detoxing your pits or mthfr mutations.

So they get their own post instead!

Mommy Hacks

These are some random “Mommy Hacks” that save me time, or money or are just plain convenient. Have any tips that save you time or money? I’d love if you’d share them in the comments below…

1. Keep an All-In-One Cleaner In Your Purse

I don’t love using hand sanitizers or antibacterial soaps, but my kids have a way of finding germy messes to touch on a regular basis. I’m definitely not scared of a little dirt, but gym floors and public bathrooms are another ball game.

My kids also have a knack for spilling brightly colored substances on their clothing. From paint to beet juice, few shirts make it to the laundry without at least one stain.

I found one solution to both of these problems. I keep these baby wipes in my purse at all times, even when I don’t have a baby in diapers. They double as hand wipes, stain removers, and I use them to wipe down surfaces at restaurants and in airports.

UPDATE: I used to link to a spray cleaner in this post, and that is why it is in the picture above. When that product was discontinued, I started using baby wipes instead and love them!

2. Keep Lettuce in Glass Mason Jars

I wish I’d know this years ago…. it would have saved so. much. lettuce. A friend share this recently and I’ve been doing it since.

The process is simple. Just wash, dry (or use a salad spinner) and pack into glass quart size mason jars. Greens stay crisp and fresh in jars for 1-2 weeks instead of 3-4 days this way.

To save time, I’ve also pre-packed salads into these jars. Put the meat or protein on the bottom of the jar with any sauce or dressing, then add any other chopped veggies or toppings, then put the lettuce or spinach in last. I pre-make these for the week, especially if I’m on the go.

When ready to eat, just shake the jar to mix in the dressing and pour out on to a plate.

3. A shirt that improves other shirts…

I am by no means a fashionista… I’m more of a yoga pants chic kind of girl, so I don’t typically write about clothing…

A recent purchase inspired me to break this (self imposed) no fashion blogging rule, however. It is called a lace extender and it has allowed me to wear shirts I haven’t worn since a decade ago (and now I feel old…).

It is a camisole that can be worn under shirts to make them longer and dress them up a little. I’m long waisted and no longer like the midriff or hip bone baring styles I wore in college, but I still love some of the shirts I have (that are now *actual* vintage).

These lace extenders have seriously expanded my wardrobe and they even dress up shirts, cardigans or sweaters.

4. Dry Shampoo

In a perfect world, I wake up early each morning, workout, shower and do my health routine before my children wake up so I am calmly making breakfast when they come downstairs.

In reality, this only happens about half of the time and the other half, I’m on deadline or they wake up early so I don’t have time to wash my hair before they wake up. On these days, dry shampoo is my best friend.

I make my own (cheaper + natural) and customize it to my hair color. Here’s the recipe and how to customize it.

5. Reuse Old Socks

Our home could be re-named the land of mismatched socks. I don’t know how, but somehow my children manage to lose, ruin or hide socks, but only one of them…

My ever-growing mismatched sock bin was frustrating me, until my daughter figured out how to make kid-sized heat packs out of old socks, and until we figured out we could mop the floor with them…

Here is the tutorial for the homemade heating pads (and kid-sized hand warmers). For floor mopping, I just give each child a spray bottle of diluted Sal Suds cleaner, let them all put on several layers of mismatched socks and “skate” on the floor. They spray a spot and then glide over it to clean it. As socks get dirts, they just peel them off to get to a clean layer.

Result? A fun activity for the kids and a clean floor for me!

6. Get a Diva Cup

So we all know tampons and pads are unhealthy… didn’t know? Here’s why.

If I had to name one thing that has saved me time, money and hassle, it would be my Diva Cup. Yes, it is strange to adjust to. Yes, my hubby still thinks it is weird, but it is the closest thing to not having a period when you’re on your period. Here’s why I love it:

  • My period has decreased in length by 1-2 days per month since I started using it (other women report this as well and also report having their cramps vanish)
  • I only have to change it every 12-24 hours and in between, it is like not having a period. I can swim, run, exercise, sleep etc without worrying about changing it
  • It has saved me up to $10 a month on buying natural feminine care products

Here is the model I have (get this one if you haven’t had kids) and I LOVE it (strange to say about a menstrual product). Seriously- try it… I dare you! TIP: if it is uncomfortable or leaks, try turning it inside out…

7. Foaming Hand Soap

To make our hand soap last longer, I make my own by using natural organic soap and a foaming soap dispenser.

Here’s the tutorial.

8. Whiten Teeth with Charcoal

I’ve whitened my teeth (like really whitened them) completely naturally with natural coconut charcoal (not the stuff from the grill!) and it has improved my oral health in the process.

It sounds strange and looks even stranger, but it works. Here’s the how-to. I find this works best in combination with my simple whitening toothpaste.

What tips and “mommy hacks” do you have to help save time and money? Share your best ones below!

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Reader Comments

  1. Awesome tips, thanks! Maybe you covered this else where, but do you bleach or color your hair? What do you use? Also….love your gorgeous new photo, your improving health definitely shines through!!!

  2. Thanks for the tips! I love your blog. When it comes to the tank-tops- I have made a promise to myself not to buy clothes that I can’t be reasonably sure were not made in a sweatshop or in an unethical manner. Basically I rely on thorough social responsibility statements and practices being published on websites…and this company doesn’t seem to have any of that! Are you aware of their policies so that I can feel good about purchasing from them?

  3. Love the spare sock floor cleaning idea! Why didn’t I think of that?!

    • A huge boon for me was a trick my grandmother taught me. We live in an area where water deposits form, look unsightly and damage faucet fixtures, even with a water softener. Consistent early training with family members, from the time they are held up or are on a stepstool at the sink establishes this one habit that makes deposits not even form, and makes cleaning sinks a breeze, with little scrubbing. It extends to use of the kitchen sink, too when kids get older. The habit is: when finished using the sink and drying hands, use the towel to wipe sink, counter and around faucet fixtures, before replacing the towel on the towel bar. Every time. Every person. It takes less than 30 seconds. Before I started this, towels didnt even make it to be hung after use. Yes, the training took little time but on a regular basis until it became routine. I wash hand towels more often, but cleaning the sinks is a breeze, a spritz of vinegar/water or whatever you use to clean and disinfect, and a quick buff, seldom any heavy scrubbing required. The sinks always look clean, my daily bathroom cleaning is easier, and once we started doing it the routine was in place and I seldom have to remind family members.

  4. Hey there. Thank you for all of your wonderful advice and ideas. I am very interested in trying the natural hair color methods. My hair has been partially highlighted in the past (and is badly in need of a touch up!). Has anyone tried the chamomile/calendula with previously color treated hair? Also, do I need to get the dried flowers, or will this method work with a high quality tea from my health food store?

    Thanks again!

  5. Thanks!

    1. You could also make your own lace camisole if you’re handy with needle & thread or sewing machine.
    2. You could also re-use the socks to wash delicates, such as bras and sexy underwear. Just put the bra inside the sock and viola.
    3. Could you use activated charcoal for the teeth?
    4. Just bought a femme-cup, but I never thought about the having have had kids before. I haven’t used it yet. Hope it works.
    5. I saw the other day that if you get a food-saver with a canning extension, you could vacuum out the air and make the lettuce last even longer. I totally want one.

  6. great tips, Katie!
    The number-one thing I’ve done to simplify my life is to subscribe to a real food menu planner (from Holistic Squid). It keeps me on track nutritionally with no planning or stress. Love it!

  7. Love this post. I have a Luna cup and started using it a few cycles ago and for the first time in my life my period was 6 days rather than 7.

  8. I like these ideas. I already do some of them. I have been using the Diva cup for 2 1/2 years (minus the 9 months I was pregnant) and my cycle length has actually increased from 7 days to 9 days. I didn’t think it had anything to do with the cup, but now I wonder since you mentioned it.

    • It very likely has nothing to do with the cup. I’m confused about the anecdotal reports of a shorter cycle from the cup, as well. It’s just something we bleed into; it doesn’t have any magical powers to lengthen or shorten our cycles.

      • Generally what happens is the chemicals/toxins from the pads/tampons have built up over the years, causing longer periods. So when you switch to a toxin-free option (cups or mama cloth), your period tends to shorten back to what it *should* have been for you. I have heard other stories of periods lengthening, but haven’t delved into any research on it – if there is any.

  9. Just wondering…is it maybe a bad thing that your period length has decreased? Is that messing with what nature intended and causing a problem elsewhere?
    I despise my period }:-( ….and wouldn’t mind a shorter one…I am just wondering what your thoughts are on that. Thanks!!

    • I use the Lunette cup, when not pregnant, and the decrease in cycle length is due to not exposing your body to the chemicals they put in disposable pads and tampons. The chemicals that they use can make women’s periods heavier, longer, and have cramps- so they have to spend more money on menstrual products. When you use a silicon cup you are eliminating those chemicals and it can therefore reduce the symptoms of your period to what it would naturally be without the expose to the chemicals. Hope this answer helps.

  10. I haven’t used a Diva Cup, but I have used Soft Cups and they are awesome. I have PCOS so my cycle is super heavy and they work great at preventing most (not all) leaks.

    • I have two children but had to have cesareans. Do I use the diva cup for moms or people who have not had children? Thanks!

      • I think you should use the post child birth one even for a CS. I do because when I was fitted for a diaphragm my doc said the weight of the pregnancy is enough to change things around. And the post baby one has worked for me. Hope it works for you. I used one called a Keeper for 7 years and loved it! Upgraded after the babe. Hope that helps.

        • Thank you! After reading more it mentioned that after 30 you should use the post-childbirth version. I’m definitely over 30! ????

  11. Thank you for the ideas. I never listen about the diva cup until I read your blog. I promise I will try. I love the idea of lettuce and spinach in a jar. One of my favourites products is the coconut oil , has a lots of ways to use it. One is to remove the makeup ;).

  12. I read your blog almost daily and really enjoy your thoughts and tips. I’m 67, well past the mama stage, but most of your posts are still relevant at my age. I just started using Branch Basics and that stuff is AMAZING! For anyone not inclined to DIY for whatever reason, check out their website. And no, I’m not on their payroll. 😉

  13. Well, that’s what I get for moving fast! *blushing* Sorry – meant to say, I really liked your post about the “mom I’m bored” jar.

    Hope to hear from you!

    – Kelly

  14. I would bold that part about turning the Diva cup inside out, after a year of a love/hate relationship with that thing I finally flipped it and it is the best thing ever! I too have noticed at least a day, probably closer to two day shorter periods!

    • I flipped my diva cup inside out and I seriously could not get it out. Super weird, scary feeling. My hubby had to get it out. Super humbling and as much as I liked using mine, I couldn’t get past the feeling of not being able to grab it????

      • I was wondering about that, what is there to grab hold of if its inside out??

  15. The spare socks work great as bottle covers for my glass water bottles that I take with me when I go out. Then when I accidentally drop my bottle and it breaks, the glass is contained in the sock. This is what I do: I put the bottle into the sock and then at the top I put a rubber band below where the lid is and then fold back over the bottle. Makes it easier to hold onto also.

    • That is a fantastic idea for the water bottles.

      I’ve also learned that canners use the elastic part (top) of socks to wrap the jars so they don’t bang next to one another – whether on shelves or boxed. Also they sometimes use rubber bands – from pics I’ve seen them with 2 bands – one closer to the top & the other closer to the bottom of the jars.

      Always great to read about re-using ‘stuff’ – especially socks – which I recently took a sack full to the Salvation Army and through away some with holes. Now I could use the top parts…. Oh well I’m sure I’ll remember next time.

  16. Wow! Haven’t tried the charcoal yet or taking cleaner in my purse!

  17. I dont normaly post but I LOVE my diva cup. My cramps all but dissappeared, to answer the question of shorter menstration most people were tampons. Tampons can cause you to not bleed correctly or can stop you from bleeding. I personaly can not use tampons because of this, I clot and the tampons mess up my abbility to bleed correctly. So based off of my personal experience if someone who has been using tampons switches to the cup thier body is probably able to do what it needs to do faster because there is nothing in the way. Also you dont smell if switching from pads to the cup the smell is gone pif gone. Best investment I made last year. While I am posting thanks for all the helpful things you blog about this is my go to place.

  18. Awesome post! I am loving that lacey cami. I had no idea charcoal can clean your teeth, either!

  19. Question: do you refrigerate the jars of lettuce/salad? Thanks for the tips.
    My daughter (6) loves to pretend she’s skating on the floor, and because of you I have Branch Basics so maybe we’ll give it a shot — great way to use up her incredible energy.

  20. I LOVE my Diva cup!!! I will never go back to tampons again! So comfortable, you hardly notice it, less expensive, and sooo much better for my body. After only a couple of months, I notice that my cramps are less and my period isn’t so long or heavy. And, since it IS heavy naturally, I’ve also started using cloth pads, saving the Diva cup for heavier days. Oh.my.gosh…so comfortable!! I will never, EVER go back to store-bought tampons and pads. Ladies, if you’ve been on the fence about this, TRY IT! You will not regret it!

  21. Has anyone had a problem with the suction from the diva cup being so strong that it’s hard to break the seal? Is it possible that it can cause uterine prolapse?

    • I used to worry about it causing problems when I had an IUD (that it would suck it out or move it) and my obgyn said it was no worries. I use a diaphragm now which also has suction and those have been around for a long time. But I have often wondered the same thing. The suction can be intense. That said the uterus is sooooo strong….

  22. Love my diva cup!

  23. If your diva cup feels too big or like it’s falling out, you can get a smaller size from Meluna. Plus the have colors.

  24. I really like the lace cami and would like to order one. Can you comment on the sizing? Do they fit true to size or run smaller? Thank you!

  25. FYI – I was at Lennon & Lace’s FB page and they replied to my message right away about sizing for someone that normally wears a medium but has a broad back. Thought I’d share:

    “i would suggest a medium in our Sweet Laceys and a large in our Sweet Lace Extenders.”

  26. Hey
    I love your website I use it regularly. I’m a nanny in the UK for two family’s of four and I’m always trying to get stains out and keep hands a clean as possible I saw the post about branch basics. As Im in the UK is there a home made or store version that sells here.
    thank you

    A

  27. I went to the Lennon and Lace site and I’m excited about the styles there. I like your ideas behind the lace cami extenders, but I’m browsing through the whole site now. Do you shop at L&L often and how do you find the quality and service? Thanks for sharing your tips.

    I like to save Kombucha drink bottles and reuse for water bottles. Or reuse them for bottling your own.

  28. would either of the camis work for nursing??

  29. I love this list,thank you! I do a couple of these things already like reusing the foam soap despenser. These other tips are really helpful as well,having 3 kids, im always looking for ways to save money and using products which are not harmful to our health.

  30. I’ve been using a menstrual cup for years and I highly suggest cutting off the tail! It is way better. I used to pretty much only use the cup but now I am pretty attached to my PIMP cloth pads. They are seriously the best brand and my homemade pads are modeled after them.

  31. I’ve also loved the DivaCup for years. However, quick note on that: if your cup is leaking or uncomfortable, there is probably an actual issue.
    1) Leaking? It either needs to be emptied, or else it has not sealed properly.
    2) Uncomfortable? Since the DivaCup sizes are made to accommodate most women, discomfort is probably a sign of the cup being inserted incorrectly. Try a few different methods (see instructions), get up and move around (helps for the cup to expand and seal)…
    …but DON’T turn it inside out. It is a product intended for use in a certain way, and fiddling with that by inverting it is unnecessary and most likely not nearly as effective.

  32. Thanks for all the good advice, Katie. I just came up with a hack I thought you might appreciate: I now use castor oil to take off my eye makeup (on the days I wear it). It works great and hard to say, but I think it could be helping my eyelashes grow. I also rub some castor oil into my eyebrows for good measure (since fuller brows are in these days). Two birds, one stone- got the idea from your post on castor oil.

  33. One way we save time and sanity is that each person has their own type of sock. We still have dressy socks for special occasions but each members’ every day socks are all exactly the same. This way when sorting laundry, I only have to sort socks by person, not color or size. They always have a match and if one gets worn out or lost, we keep it because once it happens again, they can make a pair out of the two left.

  34. Great ideas. 🙂 I can’t do menstrual cups – I’ve used them for years, and always felt uncomfortable – somehow unnatural and wrong. So I’ve switched back to my reusable pads, and as I don’t like wearing underwear (shock horror, hehehe!) either, my new pads (which I’m going to make myself with organic flannel and old shirts, etc.) will be belted, to avoid underwear. 🙂

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