There is nothing I like more than random practical tips that I have learned from friends, my parents or that I have worked out myself. I absolutely love sharing them too. So below is a list of ideas, in no particular order. Some may be obvious to you, but others may be inspiring. Please send me any you may have and I'll add them to the list.
- Buy a labelling machine. We love our Dymo Letratag (available for about £20 from Amazon). You can type and print your own plastic, sticky labels and then have hours of fun labelling children's drawers with 'socks', 'pants', 'school uniform' etc. Once your children are able to help put stuff away, it’s clear to them where to put everything. The best idea my husband had was to label the back of our passports, making it so much easier to grab the right one when needed. I even have 'knives', 'forks' and 'spoons' labelled in my cutlery drawer so the children have no excuse when unloading the dishwasher.
- Lay breakfast out the night before. As obvious as this might be to some of you, it took me years to try this one. It gives you an extra few minutes in the morning and also means that from about the age of 4 onwards (depending on their dexterity) children can help themselves to cereal if you are busy elsewhere.
- Put up as many hooks as you can (and label them too!). Hang whatever you can: school bags, sports bags, bags with hairbrushes.
- Have separate baskets (labelled of course) for gloves, hats and scarves. I even have one for 'odd gloves' as occasionally the other half of the pair shows up.
- In the summer keep a basket with sun cream in it. In the winter put Vaseline in it too, as it’s great for chapped lips.
- Keep toothbrushes and toothpaste in the kitchen or downstairs loo. This avoids any excuses regarding toothbrushing after breakfast.
- Make yourself a sewing basket in which you keep buttons, poppers, name tape labels, a stitch unpick, small scissors, pins, needles and thread. It’s amazing how useful this is, and keeping it all in one place makes it so much more efficient.
- In your recipe books, put Post-It notes on the page of recipes you like and write on them what the recipe is.
- Make up a two week menu so that you can shop for the ingredients in advance. Some of my friends love to do this. I find it hard to stick to as I always seem to have an item in my fridge that I want to use up so I tend to change my menus. However, forward planning your menus is a really efficient way of cooking and shopping.
- Keep a pot which comes out for homework time with pencils, a good sharpener, ruler, rubbers, coloured pens and pencils. This avoids children scuttling off to find a ruler and never returning.
- A friend of mine, who is a regular library user, keeps a bag by the front door for library books to return.