I have been a mom for almost eleven years now. I have mentally compiled a list of must-have items that have made my life and the lives of my family members much easier. Obviously, the types of things that keep many moms happy include a stocked wine rack and a healthy Pinterest habit, but Kelly and I wanted to really chisel down our practical top five mom must-haves. These are tried and true products that are approved by my family. This should be an effective endorsement, because our family is traditionally hard on things.
Picasso-Tiles are plastic magnetic pieces that connect to make different shapes and structures. These are absolute mom must-haves. These toys were given to us by my mother, and they have saved my sanity at many practices, games, meetings, etc. Any place that a mom would need to have her children simultaneously mentally active and quiet would be an appropriate situation for these tiles. They advertise that they help with math, science, and spacial skills. That is great news, and I believe it, but I mostly like how quiet they keep my children. If a structure isn’t working out the way one of my kids wants it to, they need to re-think their design. When my children run out of their own ideas (this takes awhile), then Magna-Tiles has a website with even more ideas.
I have used these everywhere. There were so many nights where my husband was in grad class, and I had to drag my two youngest children to football or baseball practice for my oldest. I put these Magna-Tiles in my bag, and I watched my children do so much with them. Sometimes they built amazing geometric structures that had everyone near in awe; other times they buried them in the baseball field dirt, only to test the magnetic strength by holding another tile above the buried one. Sure enough the magnets allowed them to fly right out of the dirt. They are durable enough to survive my three children and my two very chewy puppies, which is a big reason why I like them. To our family, this is the perfect toy, inside or outside.
Cuisinart Smart Stick Two Speed Hand Blender
I cannot say enough good things about this blender. I have had mine now for about five years, and it shows no signs of wearing out. We make a lot of smoothies in my household. I make them for fun, or I make them when my babies aren’t feeling well. The large cup and the hand-held blender are perfect for this. The hand-held is safe for kiddos that like to help in the kitchen, but it is also powerful enough to blend ice, celery, and kale into smithereens.
I use the shorter compartment for baking and cooking yummy goods such as peanut butter and banana muffins. This blender can mix the banana and peanut butter effortlessly. I also use it to make homemade guacamole, and it does a much better job chopping up garlic and onions than I could ever do by hand. In addition, it can chop two whole tomatoes and a whole avocado (minus the nut) during the guacamole making process. My husband is not a fan of broccoli being too thick in his broccoli and cheese soup, so I pop a bunch in there and it’s as if they are eviscerated.This device saves me so much time, while doing a better job than I could in terms of dicing, mixing, and cutting.
Okay, I tried to fight off the 31 bag. I was going to be strong enough to avoid the organizational goodness of this product, to turn my nose up at all of the colors and pockets and possibilities, to never utter the word “tote”. And then I accidentally went to a 31 party. I now have a favorite 31 bag out of the three 31 bags that I own. My favorite is the Organizing Utility Tote. I have linked Michelle’s website for the latest version of this. It’s too good not to share with the world. Its pockets hold four huge water bottles upright, while insulating just enough to keep them cold. Inside the main pocket is enough room to store mountains of snacks, a small cooler for fruit, AND the stack of papers I need to grade. Whether I am going to the zoo, a practice, a game or tournament, or on a long road trip, the snacks stay separated, the water bottles stay upright, and I have everything I need to take care of my three kids, a husband, plus twenty more kids if it becomes necessary. If you, too, find yourself fighting them off, give in now. If you, too, are holding up a steely reserve, and you feel yourself caving, give into the feeling. Especially if you feel the word “tote” growing on you, go with The Organizing Utility Tote. It is the best product for all of the things mentioned above, and no one can blame you for being practical. If it makes you feel better, you don’t have to call it a tote, just call it a necessity.
We have come to appreciate the beauty of the Amazon Fire Tablet. I feel like I’m making a confession, but there are few things as effective for discipline and reward as a tablet of some kind. I am a mom that craves the balance Kelly and I often mention in our blog, so I heavily monitor how long and when it is used, but it has been priceless with my children. As teens, if they get in trouble, cross the line, or talk back, their cell phones or cars can be taken away. This is the elementary school child’s car equivalent. A tablet helps on road trips; it helps as a reward for good behavior; and it helps my children to learn. My daughter and I work on phonics for about 15 minutes every week or so, and it has helped her understand initial consonant sounds. Now, I am old school when it comes to books. My kids read books on paper, but every once in awhile, the tablet is a great learning tool. If a kiddo misbehaves, I can take the tablet choice away even if I never planned on letting my child play that day. Is that horrible? Maybe, but used appropriately, they can be powerful tools. We like the Amazon Fire. It’s the best buy for the price. We stumbled upon this while searching for an MP3 player for my 8-year-old. He can have his music, construct Google slides, or read a book on a road trip. It has been more of a blessing than a curse, but we tried to approach it responsibly.
Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
Nutrition is important in our family, but my kids used to have a hard time trying new things. Jessica Seinfeld has created this amazing resource for getting kids extra nutrients while maintaining great taste. This cookbook has four different sections and a grocery list prepared. I have made almost every recipe, and my husband and children love the meals. I’ve only altered a few recipes due to taste preferences, but she has such good ideas for how to sneak veggies into delicious food. Just so we’re clear, I make sure my children have visible veggies and fruits on their plates when we eat, but a little extra boost of nature’s vitamins doesn’t hurt. And they are tasty. Two of our family favorites are: the peanut butter banana muffins (where she suggests to hide cauliflower, but we hide zucchini or spinach.), and the cheese quesadillas that almost always contain avocado.
There you have it. The top five mom must-haves. I would wholeheartedly recommend any one of these products for any family.