A lot of us are ready to start an organized year! Here are some tips to keep the household running efficiently with your family of multiples.
-Decide whether you want all toys together in large bins (easy to clean up fast, but everything is mixed up) or smaller bins with toy sets separated (harder to clean up and manage, but things are together and easier to play with) or do a mix of these.
-Have a plastic bin for broken toys, which you intend to fix (eventually).
-Have a plastic bin for outgrown toys, which you can easily sell or donate. Keep them hidden from the kids or else, they will not want to let them go, even if they’ve previously agreed to let them go.
-For outdoor toys, get a plastic deck box and store all outdoor toys in it. Periodically, throw out sun-eaten old toys.
-Keep extra items in clear plastic bags (like the ones sheets come in) or small bins in the back of the vehicle. Suggested bags are: warm clothing, regular change of clothing per kid and a towel (in case you happen upon an unexpected water feature or have a terrible throw-up incident), diapers/wipes, bottled water, nonperishable snacks like graham crackers, emergency supplies, first aid kit, portable potty with extra bags and wipes, extra couple of bottles and powdered formula, an extra small blanket or two, extra bottle of detangling spray/comb/nail clippers/sunscreen, extra adult jacket and socks (some play places like Billy Beez won’t allow you in without socks and if you happen to be wearing flip-flops that day, looks like you’re buying some socks).
-Keep tissues in the front of your vehicle for running noses.
-Keep a trash bag/bin in the front.
-Keep a big Ziploc bag of crayons and small coloring books and stickers in your vehicle, diaper bag, or purse for restaurant entertainment to make the wait bearable.
-Keep some lip balm, hand lotion, a nail file, and a non-perishable snack for you somewhere reachable from the driver’s seat.
-Plan meals a week or two ahead of time. Have some easy-to-make kid dinners on hand in case life gets busy and your meal plan falls through. Easy-to-make suggestions: mac-n-cheese, lunchmeat, frozen veggies, frozen chicken nuggets, frozen meatballs.
-Suggested recipes for meals that can be made ahead of time or frozen: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aIwXRVFruuIuUIlo9p8FrQnEJD8IQUgL/view?usp=sharing
-Use a service like “Dream Dinners” to make several meals and bring them home.
-Use a service like “Doordash” to have hot takeout meals delivered to your door.
-New parents of multiples can sign up for a Meal Train, where club volunteers will bring meals to their door for a period of time.
-Keep art supplies in a single area or bin. An outdoor waterproof table cloth is useful to keep tables from getting overly glued and painted.
-Use a system to archive and share your photos such as Shutterfly, Facebook, iPhoto, or Instagram
-Make books as you can (because someday we will all wonder what happened to those photo files online somewhere) using software like http://www.blurb.com/bookwright (for those who want the ability to edit a lot) or an easier option that does more of it for you, like https://chatbooks.com/ or https://www.collage.com/
- Weed out the “keepers” or artwork you want to hang onto as you go. Trying to go through boxes of it later will be painful.
-Make binders of kids’ art or use a site like https://www.artkiveapp.com/ to make the book for you.
-Have a few large plastic bins for outgrown items. Wash and fold them and keep them together by size. This will make it easy to sell or donate them.
-Have an area or bin for clothing that doesn’t yet fit so you’ll know where to find it when you’re ready for it. Keep tags on clothing as long as possible in case you need to return it.
6. Diapers/Diaper Bags
-Keep the diaper bag stocked with diapers, ointment, doggie bags for used diapers, and a small blanket to put down when using a public bathroom diaper table. Keep some extra powdered formula and a bottle.
-lubricate the wheels of your stroller once in awhile. It’s surprising how much easier it is to push.
-Keep a diaper or two and some wipes and a quick non-perishable snack, some powdered formula, and a bottle of water in your stroller if it has pockets.
-Use a service like “Google Express” to have non-perishable items delivered to your door (usually the same or next day). https://express.google.com/
-Use a service like “Farm Fresh to You” to have fresh organic fruits and veggies delivered to your door regularly. http://www.farmfreshtoyou.com/
-If shopping in person, Target has shopping carts that hold up to 3 kids at a time (sitting). Costco shopping carts can hold 2 kids (sitting).
-If you’re not in a hurry, check the Gemini Crickets Swap Group on Facebook for current and former members or shop at the twice-yearly GC garage sale, where multiple families sell gently used baby/kid gear. www.facebook.com/groups/geminicricketsswap
-Amazon prime is helpful for ordering random items you’ll need, and the video streaming, which is included, has some great free kid’s programs. Don’t forget to sign up to support Gemini Crickets by using Amazon Smile. A percentage of your purchases will be donated to GC at no extra cost to you.
-Sign up for eScrip and have the proceeds of your shopping go to GC at no extra cost to you (works at select stores).
-Instructions on how to sign up for Amazon smile or eScrip: https://www.geminicrickets.org/give-back
9. Household Cleaning
-Have a bin or bags for used household items, clothing and books you’d like to donate.
-Have a small versatile vacuum cleaner near your eating area for regular cleanup. A Roomba is very useful, as vacuuming is required just about daily with children who are mobile.
-Have an area near the door for shoes. This makes them easier to find when leaving the house and keeps the house cleaner.
-Wipe down the kids’ bathroom just after bath time or toothbrushing time. The steam helps clean things and odds are, you already have a bunch of water splashed all over the place anyway. Keep some paper towel or cleaning wipes handy.
-Keep a stash of cleaning supplies in each bathroom in case you have a spare few minutes to wipe it down when it’s starting to look dirty.
-Keep user manuals and extra hardware for cribs and other baby furniture in a Ziploc bag in a safe location. This will make it easier to sell/donate the items later on.
-Have a bin somewhere for random stuff you have no idea where it came from or what it’s for. You might find out later that you really need these things and you’ll know where to look.
-Use a service like “Task Rabbits” to help put together or move furniture or other random tasks around the house or yard. https://www.taskrabbit.com/
10. Helping Others
-Have some disposable aluminum pans ready so you can volunteer to bring a new family of multiples a Meal Train (the Dollar Tree always has a good deal on these). Meal trains are posted regularly on the GC members-only Facebook page. Here are some meal train recipes (but feel free to make whatever you’d like): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aIwXRVFruuIuUIlo9p8FrQnEJD8IQUgL/view?usp=sharing
-Get an idea of how much time you’re willing to volunteer for GC, your school or any other cause, and stick to it. If you don’t have time to give, perhaps you can donate items, participate in GC fundraisers (GC makes it easy to donate in a way that is a win-win, like restaurant days where the club gets a portion of proceeds or the silent auction where businesses donate items which are bid on, usually at a reduced price from retail), or donate money to causes.
-Check to see if your work has donation matching for non-profits. GC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and can provide you with a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.
-Join the GC board. It is fun and social without being a huge commitment and a great cause!
-Full list of ways to give back with GC: https://www.geminicrickets.org/give-back
-Stay on top of GC educational and social events by checking the events section of the members-only Facebook page periodically. Check your own GC Playgroup Facebook page for playdates and parents’ nights out.
-Use an online calendar for your long-term planning (months ahead), which you can share with other adults in the family.
-It’s helpful to have a monthly calendar on your wall to pencil (or chalk) in everything happening during the month from playdates to doctor appointments. Don’t forget to schedule date nights and parents’ nights out regularly!
-For birthday party planning, use an app like “Thumbtack” to find quality entertainment for your party. Check the GC silent auction (usually in late spring) for good deals on gift certificates for birthday parties. https://www.thumbtack.com/
-Have a supply of birthday cards on hand, and maybe some spare gifts, for the birthday parties you’ll be invited to (most of them probably for twins).
-For date nights, if you don’t have a regular babysitter, consider using a service like “College Nannies + Sitters.” GC members get 20% off the registration fee and sitters are background checked, trained, and insured by them. Try out a sitter during a time when you’ll be home ahead of the big date if you’re not comfortable.
12. Getting rid of things
-Use the Gemini Crickets Swap Facebook page to reach current and former members with items you want to sell.
-Sell your baby/kid related items at the twice-yearly Gemini Crickets garage sale, usually held at a local church parking lot, where parents rent a space and offer up all their items for sale. Multiple families participate in the sale and there is usually a great turnout. Items you don’t sell, you may donate to the Savers drive by dropping them off at the designated truck(s) after the sale (only during the spring sale, usually). Donations are tax-deductible. The event will be listed on the members-only Facebook page as well as the public GC Facebook page.
-For non-baby/kid related household items, you may bring most of them to the Savers drive at the spring garage sale. A list of accepted items will be posted in the details of the event. Donations are tax-deductible.
13. Keeping track of things
-Use washable Mabel’s Labels or plain old Sharpies and painter’s tape to label your childrens’ items that will be taken to school or daycare. Mabel’s will give a portion of proceeds back to GC: https://www.geminicrickets.org/give-back
-Post-it notes on the main door at eye-level never fail for parents with too much on their minds.
-Have a physical location for keys, mail, important reminders, and notes for babysitters (preferably out of the reach of the little ones).
14. Staying healthy
-Use an app like https://www.myfitnesspal.com/ or https://www.loseit.com/ to track calorie intake and physical activity.
-Use something like a fitbit to track your activity: https://www.fitbit.com/
-Join a gym (especially one that has childcare included) like the YMCA (http://www.ymcasv.org/) and take advantage of group classes to stay motivated.
-Look for local stroller fitness classes if you need to have kids with you and look for fellow POM workout buddies by posting on our members-only Facebook page.
-Look for a free group like www.momsrunthistown.com to find running/walking groups that fit your schedule.
-Take time for yourself and your mental health on a regular basis. Pedicures, nights out with other parents, or anything relaxing and non-kid related is usually good.
Have a happy and organized new year! If you have additional tips, please share them with the rest of us on our members-only Facebook page.