Managing the Mayhem :: Hacks and Products You Didn’t Know You Needed

I’m all about problem-solving, and my village and I have found some creative solutions to make the daily chaos of motherhood a little more manageable. Here are some of my tried and true favorites.

Gift Tags

We attend a few birthday parties each month. The cost of birthday cards adds up, and sometimes we’re crunched for time and can’t make one. I got the idea from a friend and started making our own tags on the computer. It only took 5 minutes. I have the file saved and print out sheets of these business card-sized tags on cardstock as needed. Each kid has a set ready to be attached to any gift we give. Use my template to create your own.

Perfect Party Cupcakes

I went to a friend’s party two years ago and had the best cupcake. When I asked where she got them, I was shocked to learn they came from Sam’s. Even more shocking? One tray contains 30 cupcakes and costs just $14! I tend to avoid grocery store cupcakes because I don’t like the taste of those icing mountains, which brings me to my next point: these perfectly moist cupcakes are unfrosted. She stores them in her freezer, and a few hours before the party sets them out to thaw and tops them with her own homemade frosting. I recently made the ones pictured for my son’s class using this 3-ingredient icing. So, to sum up: No wasting time screwing up the cupcakes baking. They taste great. You still get to customize with DIY frosting. They look high-end without breaking the bank.

Chore Sticks

I was gifted this awesome product at my first New Orleans Mom retreat. Various chores are printed on wooden sticks, and there are blank sticks to customize. It’s a great way to engage my kids in doing their fair share without any fighting. I don’t get accused of being unfair because I don’t assign the tasks; it’s left strictly up to chance based on which stick they draw.

Mason Jar Memories

A friend does these with her family, and I love it so much that I decided to start it with mine a few years ago. This large Mason jar, aka our “Mambo Jar,” is where we collect special Mardi Gras trinkets (i.e. king cake babies, rare beads or doubloons, etc.). It serves as a unique Mardi Gras decoration and conversation starter while also containing mess that might otherwise have my house looking like Orleans after Endymion. Not a Mardi Gras fan? This would also work as a yearly family time capsule to fill with vacation brochures, ticket stubs, etc.

The kids collect king cake babies, while I collect the ceramic pieces from Haydel’s.

The UnbuckleMe

I first learned about this little gadget from a friend with arthritis who had been struggling to unbuckle her grandchildren’s car seats. I knew I needed one right away, but unlike my friend, I needed it for my kids to use. It’s absolutely genius. I struggle to reach all the way into the back seat to quickly unbuckle them in the morning carpool line, and they aren’t strong enough to do it themselves. I taught them how to use it to let themselves out. We keep the UnbuckleMe where they can reach, which could also be beneficial in an emergency situation.

Google Home

Honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with these things (If I hear, “Hey Google, play ‘Old Town Road'” one more time…), but I do love the broadcast feature. We have two: one in the kitchen and one in the boys’ room, which means they can connect and be used as intercoms. No more screaming to put away shoes or announce that dinner’s ready. And speaking of dinner…

Fresh Market’s Little Big Meal

Sometimes I don’t want to do the heavy prep, or I want to change things up. Enter the Little Big Meal. Every week, Fresh Market prepares a meal that feeds a family of four for only $20. Each meal comes with a card explaining how to cook it. Everything you need is contained in one section of the store, so it’s easy to grab and go. You can’t beat that for the price, and every meal we’ve tried has been fabulous. You can view the weekly specials here.

One of my favorites! This is actually two Little Big Meals. For $20, each meal included 4 burgers, brioche buns, a pack of sliced cheese, a bag of fries, and 2 lb. of fruit.

Kid-friendly Calendar

My high-strung, Type A child craved structure at a young age. It wasn’t enough to say, “We’re going on vacation soon” or “Next week, you’re going to the dentist.” At four years old, he didn’t have a concept of time but longed to know what to expect. The solution? A fun, magnetic calendar labeled with all events relevant and important to him. We love this one.

Scribble Spelling

When I was little, my spelling homework involved writing ten words five times each in pencil in my notebook. My second-grader quickly got tired of that and instead began using markers to doodle his words on a blank sheet of paper. Colorful and engaging, the process didn’t feel like work, and he still learned.

I’m always looking for more tips and tricks to help me do this life! Whatcha got for me?

Alyson Haggerty
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their 8 and 5-year-old boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education and is now a full-time nursing student. In her hypothetical free time, Alyson would enjoy flipping furniture, writing, dancing, and painting. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.

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