Life Hacks for life – with IKEA

Camille and I had so much fun presenting at Pinners Conference! Thanks to all of you who showed up and supported us. IKEA has been wonderful to work with and we are all so lucky that they sponsored our class and shared so many fun things with us! We hope you truly enjoy your “Make and Take” tray, and use it with your family.

Because we know it was hard (or impossible) to take notes while you were making your tray, we wanted to share some bullet points from our presentation. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. Camille and I have been mothers to a combined 9 children, and we really have learned some things about making our day more manageable.

We decided it made the most sense to divide up the day by the times that naturally cause the most craziness, and give our best tips for you to use with your kiddos. If you have any ideas we haven’t thought of, we would love to hear! There are many ways to mother and so many tricks to bring happiness into our everyday routines.

We decided to make the trays in our class today, because they lend themselves so nicely to celebrating each special moment in our lives. It is a simple tray, and yet so much bonding and fun can be accomplished with them! Whether it’s used as a birthday tray with special notes written on them, a homework tray with a treat or a dinner table discussion starter – you can’t go wrong!

If you want to see our Channel 2 TV segment, you can find it here!

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All images courtesy of Ikea.com

Morning Schedule:

  • Janae: Each kid has their own alarm clock so they can’t blame me for not waking them up. I find that when I do this, the sooner they become responsible for themselves and actually getting to school on time. We keep a designated space for their toiletries in the bathroom so they know where to find them (toothbrush and toothpaste), We do label tooth brushes with a black sharpie. I feel like it’s my job to try and reset any bad feelings that happened the day before. Morning is a time to hug the kids and move on. This makes a HUGE difference with my teenage girls!
  • Camille: We always set out the kids outfits the night before on an “outfit hook”. This makes the morning routine run more smoothly because we aren’t trying to find socks or a certain jacket in the morning. I keep the snack bins low enough in the kitchen so the kids can help pack their own lunch boxes.  I try to make sure that every morning my kids hear the most important thing they will hear all day, which is “I love you”.

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Life Hacks for the car:

  • Janae: We always keep supplies in the car that we can’t live without. You’d be surprised how often myself or one of the kids needs simple things like: A hair brush, rubber band, band aids, money, sunglasses, or deodorant! And in the back of the car, you will find the current season needs, such as sunblock and chairs for soccer, or winter gloves and sled in the winter! (Yes, we have spontaneously gone sleigh riding when we find a fantastic hill!) It also helps to assign seats in the car – just trust me – it helps to stop random quarrels.
  • Camille: We like to get a Rubbermaid cereal sized container and line it a sack.  We use this for our garbage can, which saves a lot of clean up later. We also use shoe organizers that hook to the back of the car seat.  We fill them full of the necessities, such as diapers, wipes, bug spray, snacks, a deck of cards or coloring supplies.

The family car is a great place to have those discussions that you’ve been needing to have, because it’s a safe space and they can’t walk away.  Use this time together to play games, listen to books on tape or ask them what they are thinking and how their day went.

Homework Time:

  • Janae: We like to keep a drop station for homework and a designated place to get things done. Make sure it is well lit and find ways to lower the distraction. I like to help them rhyme things they can’t remember and make games out of it.
  • Camille: I like to have snack time with the kids when they get home. It helps calm them down, and be ready to start into the homework. I like to look for ways to motivate my kids with our family store or the option to play with friends or video game.

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Dinner time Hacks:

  • Camille: Make a meal plan and involve your kids. Bring them grocery shopping and when you’re setting the table, assign different jobs to each child – such as  silverware and drinks. We like to light candles and play music to make our time together at dinner more special. Serving family style is a great way to encourage the kids to try new foods and take the portion that works for them. The reward is blowing out the candle at the end of the meal.
  • Janae: In our house, we have decided to have the older kids help with dinner on “their” day. We also hold to the truth that “The cook doesn’t clean.” Everyone helps with dishes and this makes the clean up so much faster and fun. We like to keep a journal by our table to record our “best, funniest and worst” that we share during dinner. 

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Bed time:

  • Camille: Bed time is a great time to bond with the kids while snuggling and reading a good book. I love to tuck the kids in and tickle my kids. Keeping it consistent is important and I’ve found that helping the kids laugh helps them relax and fall asleep.
  • Janae: Bedtime is a great time to chat and bring up things your kids may be  struggling with. I like to start with youngest kid first so they can have their time and then fall to sleep. Then I work my way up the food chain. This is also a good time to help the older kids with their harder homework.

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