Moms today have it incredibly easy since the invention of smart phones. We can pay bills, make homeschool plans, take pictures of our cute kids and share them with family and friends, all with a few flicks of a touch screen. I recently handled our entire Christmas from my phone during nursing sessions, everything from ordering gifts and dinner ingredients to writing and sending cards.
That’s about all that makes modern motherhood easier; we still have toddlers who throw fits, teenagers who test the limits, and loads of worldly dangers to help our kids face. Anything that can make our days easier is a welcome relief. That’s why I devour Mystie’s blogs and why I wanted to share one of her golden nuggets with you.
The Portable Command Center
As a mom of four, three of whom are three years old or under, I find myself all over my house all day. I joke that the reason I don’t workout is that I get a workout running up and down the stairs and hauling babies and toddlers all day. Really, I just don’t like working out. I’m sure none of you have that problem.
When I sit down to do something homeschool-related with my 8-year-old, I may be nursing upstairs or in the living room, feeding the toddler at the dining table, or hiding away from sleeping babies in said third grader’s room. I never realized how much time I spend going to get that “one thing we forgot” in the other room, though I’m sure my 8-year-old realizes how often I send him to grab something from elsewhere; I can’t yet count on the next oldest to actually bring the thing to me.
Enter the mom’s everything bag.
Call it a toolbox, portable command center, or whatever. I call it an everything bag because it has everything I need–not actually everything.
Mine is a craft tote bag that I picked up at Michael’s for about $17 on a 40% off sale (I also saw them at WalMart for the same price), but Brandy got hers from Amazon for around $5.
Whether you choose a craft tote with a thousand pockets like this or a simple plastic tote like Brandy’s, the important thing is that what you need fits, and is accessible. I have a closet full of backpacks and other bags, but the fact that I don’t have to unzip pockets with this bag is a huge win when I usually have one hand occupied with a baby. Everything’s accessible and visible.
You’ll want to personalize your own bag, but here’s what I put in mine just in case you need some ideas:
- Water bottle. A.K.A. My invincible Nalgene from a decade ago. I never get enough water because my water bottle is never close at hand. So now I have no excuse.
- Pens & pencils. Lots of color here, both because they’re fun and also because I grade Bubba’s work with colored pen. Pencils for the kids because they are forever searching for a pencil even though they know we’re doing school and they have their own supply boxes.
- Kindle, iPad, iPhone. I keep different electronic resources in different places. Evernote and iBooks are on the iPhone & iPad, but I like to read library books and Story of the World with the kids on the Kindle. Now they’re all at hand so I don’t have to send my kids to grab one or the other from somewhere else in the house. I have high hopes that will save a ton of time.
- Timer. We don’t use this for a lot of things, but needed to formalize how much time we’re spending doing certain things. My guy likes to know we won’t be doing math forEVER. I’m also using this to incentivize my bigger two into spending more time outside. An unhealthy fear of bugs (I may blog about that later) and the impending cold weather made me realize we needed to be more intentional about getting some outside time everyday. My kids have a chart where they earn a smiley face for every half-hour spent outside. A full chart translates to cartoons.
- Mom’s commonplace journal. Mine is just a spiral notebook this year, not a fancy journal like I’ve had in the past, but I try to model writing about the things I’m reading. This tote fits an 8.5 x 11in. notebook perfectly. I’ll probably keep Bubba’s in the tote bag, too, just to make life easier for him.
- Clip board/folder. If I’m ultra prepared the night before and get out Bubba’s worksheets or handwriting pages, etc. for the next day, they go on a clip board (if we’re staying home) or in a folder (if we have to do school out in town). The clip board can actually fit in my tote bag. I’m not a huge fan because it fits vertically, but it does work in a pinch.
- Catechism, memory work flash cards, ruler, play clock, sticky bookmarks. The miscellany will change, but right now we’re using our catechism and flash cards for Morning Time, ruler and play clock for math, and I always love to have new sticky bookmarks handy.
There you have it, my toolbox/portable command center, my everything bag. Thanks to Mystie and Brandy for the idea!