Missy is inviting moms to share tips that make their days easier. I have a newborn and two little boys, ages 4 and 2 1/2, so at this moment I'm not totally sure what day it is, much less if I have any tips worth sharing. But as I read other posts one thing did come to mind.
How we deal with toys and the plethora of CRAP that accumulates around small children.
I mean, really, how many matchbox cars or train tracks does a family need, anyway?
Two things help keep the toys in check for me:
1. I rotate toys. I know some people think it's a pain, but my experience has been that if children have thirty four choices, they play with the outlets. If they have just a few things out at a time, they will play with them. I put away about half of their toys at any given time in the attic, and every few months, when they start playing with the outlets (or climbing the couches or breaking the lamps) again, I pull out the boxes from the attic, and it's like Christmas Day all over again.
2. We had an issue for a while of puzzles being constantly dumped into a heap, or of finding little pieces in every corner of the house. Now, our puzzles are on a check-out system similar to the library. They are all in a giant bin in a separate room, and if someone wants to play with puzzles, they have to a. ask, b. take one at a time, and c. return it to me to get another. Cleaning up one puzzle is so much more tolerable than cleaning up fourteen.
Another thing that has been a life saver for me is the Fun Box. If you know me in real life, I've already mentioned this to you, because it was the key to my sanity for about a year.
My kids like to go and do just as much as anyone's. Swimming at the Y, story time at the library, parks, play dates, indoor play areas - we do all of that, just as most of you. But sometimes it rains. Or the car is in the shop, or the baby needs a nap, or whatever. Sometimes we just need to stay at home for the day. Usually this goes pretty well for a couple of hours, and then it devolves into the boys beating one another just to have something new to do.
Enter the Fun Box.
I have a little plastic box full of random things - glow sticks, the little capsules that turn into dinosaurs in water, bubbles, paint-with-water projects, silly string - whatever I find on the dollar aisle at Target that I think looks like it could be kind of fun. When the day is getting long, the Fun Box is a guaranteed way for all of us to spend some time engaged and playing together, with no prep time required from me. It has been invaluable in my house.
(I have also heard of older children using a Fun Jar in the summer. They write a list of fun - and inexpensive - things to do in the area on little strips of paper. Once a week they pull a strip from the jar, and have something fun to do that day, and their mom didn't have to be Cruise Director for them to get to do it).
Hope it helps.