A Mom’s “Best Friends”

As a busy mom, I have several "best friends" around the house that make my life easier and more enjoyable. Some are simple and free, others not so cheap, but all are things that I wouldn’t want to live without.

I have found that consistent and diligent use of these "best friends" makes the difference between an organized day and chaos, as well as the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling like I’ve had some "mommy time". I’ve chosen my personal top 8 to share with you.

  1. A calendar

    Without a calendar, my life would be total chaos. I use Mac’s iCal because it syncs between my phone and computer, but you can use any calendar that works for you, from an iPhone calendar to a wall calendar. FlyLady has an excellent page by Kelly about how to use a calendar. To some the suggestions in that article will seem obvious, to others they will be revolutionary. In addition to the items listed at the FlyLady site, I suggest adding things like library book due dates (aren’t you tired of supporting the library budget with your late fees?), reminders to take meat out of the freezer to thaw a couple of days before you need it for a big meal, bill due dates, and other important deadlines and notes.

  2. A menu plan

    This is crucial for me. Without a weekly menu plan, I am lost in the kitchen, scrambling to avoid yet another meal eaten out. If you don’t have time to plan your own meals, try Busy Mom Menu, our weekly menu for 5 nights of dinners with recipes and grocery lists. If you like to plan your own meals, you will find Menus4Moms’ menu planner to be useful (I use this opposite my weekly calendar page and I took it to Office Depot and had them spiral bind 18 months’ worth).

  3. A feather duster

    I hate to dust, and
    I suspect that I am not the only one. I ordered the FlyLady ostrich feather duster; it is a bit expensive for a duster but I love it. It makes dusting much less of a chore and the purple feathers interspersed with the brown ones are cheerful to look at. I keep it out in a little decorative glass milk bottle that I got in Japan and can easily grab it, dust, and be done in about 15 minutes. Keeping it out also encourages the kids to come get it when they clean their rooms.

  4. A cell phone

    About the only private time I get for conversations is when I am running errands alone. I use this time to call my grandmother and my parents to chat, and it is convenient to have the phone to call home when I need soemone to check something I have forgotten (like the grocery list!).

  5. A stocked pantry

    By pantry, I mean the refrigerator and freezer, too. By keeping the basics for several easy dishes on hand, I can throw something together in a flash when I don’t have a lot of time. Some of the things I keep on hand in addition to the usual flour, butter, milk, etc., are chicken and beef broth, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup, diced tomatoes and green chiles, canned mushrooms, frozen browned beef, frozen cooked chicken, frozen bread, frozen mixed vegetables, and cheese of all kinds (grated freezes well). For more about keeping a stocked pantry read the Menus4Moms™ Primer and The Well Stocked Pantry.

  6. A slow cooker

    I have an inexpensive Rival Crock Pot that I purchased at a warehouse club for about $30 (although I would love to have a programmable model). With this basic model, I can make sure that dinner is ready with only morning preparation on those days when I am "mom the chauffeur". Almost anything that can be cooked in the oven can be converted to a slow cooker, and there are lots of cookbooks out there just for slow cookers. Menus4Moms menu plans feature slow cooker recipes regularly.

  7. A DVR and/or Netflix Instant Streaming

    With DVRs and Netflix Instant Streaming, you can fit TV shows to your schedule instead of the other way around. DVRs are wonderful. They are so easy to program (click the guide and select a show; it asks you if you want to record one episode or every episode) that everyone in the family can easily program it and play back the contents. I have a TV hooked up to a DVR in front of my exercise machine, and for 45 minutes several times a week, I get to watch an hour show (no commercials takes it down to 45 minutes) while exercising. The law is that no one is allowed to talk to mom when she is exercising unless there is blood or death involved. This is my time to escape from "Mommmmyyyyyyy!" and enjoy something other than PBS Kids in peace.

  8. A bath tub

    Another "mommy time" opportunity, the bath tub is the only place where I get to read for pleasure. I keep a book beside the tub and read each time I bathe (with lots of dollar store bubble bath, of course). it is refreshing and peaceful and helps me to wind down.

While there are probably a few more I could mention, these are the ones that I love that are fairly universal in appeal, if not always in price.

©2005 Mary Ann Kelley

Mary Ann Kelley homeschools her two daughters in Virginia.

About Mary Ann

Mary Ann Kelley has been creating meal plans online for over 15 years, first as part of TheHomeSchoolMom's cooking resources for busy moms and later on Menus4Moms, which has been highlighted by "Diner's Journal," The New York Times' Blog on Dining Out, and PBS Parents' "Kitchen Explorer."

Mary Ann loves cooking and she loves planning/organizing, so meal planning is a natural intersection of the two. She believes her mission for the meal plans is being fulfilled when visitors let her know that she has helped them save time and money by teaching them to plan ahead and become more efficient in the kitchen.

When Mary Ann is not cooking, she enjoys reading, researching genealogy, and traveling.

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