Parenting is a tough job. Only other parents understand how tough. And only other parents that have recently had children your age REALLY understand. I’m a stay-at-home-mom, so I call my stay-at-home-mom friends a lot to celebrate milestones, vent frustrations, and ask for suggestions and tips. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of helpful advice and I’m going to share it with you.
Part One: Multiplying
It’s 8:27 a.m. The bus arrives at 8:32. You have successfully fed both your first grader and your toddler breakfast. They both have on weather appropriate clothes. The first grader even puts her library book in her backpack AND brushes her teeth.
You feel like a parenting rock star! You are going to be on time! Then, the first grader says, “Mom, where are my shoes?” Commence the exhaustive tornado search under couches, beds, tables, etc.
Do you make it to the bus?
Sound familiar? Shoes aren’t the only culprit. Socks are notorious as well. Homework papers, library books, pencils, and permission slips round out the list. And that’s just the last moment before you head out the door.
Here is your first parenting survival tip: Buy multiples of anything you can’t go without.
When my oldest started preschool at age three, I got a short list of things required by the school. Each day, I was supposed to send my child to school with her own bag and it had to contain a complete change of clothes including socks and shoes. I wasn’t at all surprised that they wanted a change of clothes. After all, three-year-olds do still have potty accidents and they certainly get dirty easily. But an extra pair of shoes? I asked my daughter’s teacher why this was a requirement. She explained that shoes get dirty too, or wet, or whatever. It’s easier on everyone if the children always have an extra pair. I thought it was overkill, but it was the rule, so I went out and bought my child two new pairs of shoes for school.
And I’ve bought her two pairs of shoes every year since, because it wasn’t overkill at all. It was brilliant. Multiple pairs of shoes means you can always find at least ONE pair. And when you have school age children and have to be out of the house by a certain time, this is a wonderful idea. That year, my daughter only went to preschool two mornings a week, but both pairs of shoes got lots of wear. I still remember the first time she stomped into a deep puddle right after we walked out of the house to go to the grocery store. I grumbled for a minute until I remembered, oh yeah, I have another pair! We only lost a couple minutes and I didn’t have to listen to her complain about wet shoes for the next hour.
Shoes aren’t the only thing I multiply now. When my youngest finally transitioned to underwear, I bought her eighteen pairs. I keep several in the car, a couple in her backpack for the gym’s daycare, and the rest are in regular rotation.
Each child has two jackets. They always seem to get misplaced. I don’t bother to buy multiple winter coats though as they are expensive and somehow don’t get misplaced nearly as often.
My girls have several pairs of gloves/mittens, scarves, and winter hats. (We live in the lake effect snow zone.)
I buy toothbrushes from the dollar store in packs of three.
I buy the giant packs of paper towels and toilet paper from Sam’s Club.
I always try to have one extra shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and bar soap.
I have five laundry baskets for four people.
I am absolutely not a hoarder or a pack rat. I don’t own multiples of everything. Just the things I can’t really be without. And, as a result, my parenting life is a little less chaotic.
If you are wondering what you may need to multiply, just ask yourself what you always seem to be missing. Shoes? Yeah, start there.