Dear Homemaker: 70 Life-Hacks to Steal More Time

Dear Homemaker: Use These 70 Life-Hacks to Steal More Time -

I will bet you a million dollars (in Monopoly money) that I can describe you in just one word.  

*crowd gathers*

*flourishing my cape dramatically*

That word is…. HOMEMAKER.

Yes. You are the Maker of a Home.

I don’t care if you have a profession you dive into every day or if your main task is to stay home and care for your growing brood of minions…you and your spouse are both hard at work creating more than just a dwelling place. 

You are building a HOME.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, a strong and vibrant home-life takes a LOT of time and effort. There are meals to make, clothes to wash, and even a toilet or two to scrub.

In this latest installment of the Mighty Moms Secret Handbook, I’m going to offer different ways to help you steal a little extra time from the regular chores that keep your family’s engine chugging.  

Want to see the other articles in the Mighty Moms Secret Handbook? Scroll to the bottom of this page! (Hint: They all have that same “Stamp of Approval” in the left-hand corner!

15 Cleaning Tips for the
Smarty-Pants Homemaker

Keeping a clean house is important part of building a healthy and happy home. Disinfecting a few key rooms and trying to keep the general clutter off the ground can benefit the peace and health of your home.  (Unless you enjoy having to endure the Lego Walk at 3am in the morning on your way to the bathroom?)

Before you feel all shameful and self-conscious, though, I should tell you something. As I type this, I can see an embarrassingly thick layer of dust behind my computer screen. There are dead flies in my windowsills I’ve been meaning to vacuum out for AGES (we’ll just keep the windows shut…), and if you dare to “pop in” without letting me know ahead of time I’m not responsible for what undergarments you’re going to see.

In other words, I’m just like you. My house isn’t Mary Poppins kind of clean either.  Perhaps right now the best “clean” you can manage is an empty sink and a toy round-up at the end of the day. That’s okay.  

Decide what is acceptable as “clean” for your family by asking these two important questions. Then let any leftover guilt slide right off your back and get flushed down the toilet. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Homemaker Hacks: Get the Jump on Germs in the Bathroom

Get in. Get it done. Get out.

That’s my mantra when it comes to bathroom cleaning. Bethany taught us how to clean the bathroom (and a toddler) in 9 minutes, but I no longer have a toddler at home, so I need something other than bathtime to keep the cleaning time short (so it actually will get done). Here are a few of my favorite bathroom homemaker hacks.

  1. Use WD-40 in the toilet to break down stubborn stains without a second of scrubbing.
  2. Put Pine-Sol in the cup where the toilet brush stands. It will sanitize the brush while it just sits there.(Oh, and I definitely recommend a black colored toilet brush…less nasty brown-yuckness left on the bristles.)
  3. Shower drain clogged? Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, then 1 cup of vinegar. Let it foam up like a 5th grade volcano experiment, then rinse with hot water.  (Then get this Shroom hair-catching device.)
  4. Another amazing WD-40 hack is to spray it on your glass shower doors. It will magically protect the doors from water stains and soap build-up. (Yay for less scrubbing! I’ve also heard a quick wipe on the mirrors will keep them from fogging up.
  5. Dealing with hard-water soap scum stains? Rub a lemon on the bathroom fixtures. If that doesn’t work, soak a washcloth in white vinegar and then wrap it around the fixtures for 30 minutes. Works like a charm (while you do nothing).
  6. Stick your soap dispenser/toothbrush holder in the dishwasher once a month.

Eventually shower heads can get crusty and the flow can be compromised. If that happens, try detaching the shower head and running it through the dishwasher once in a while. What’s that? Your shower head isn’t detachable? Put down that wrench and follow these steps instead:

  • Fill a sandwich baggie with vinegar and then carefully secure the bag over the shower head so it’s fully submerged (I use an elastic hair tie because those suckers are EVERYWHERE in my house.)
  • Let it soak overnight.
  • Remove the bag before you hop in the shower, otherwise you’ll create a mini vinegar bomb…which isn’t going to be pretty.

If you’re going to use vinegar as an all-natural disinfectant, I would definitely splurge on a small oil diffuser to turn on when you’re done to mask the odor. (I’m a fan of lavender myself…)

SAFETY TIP: Vinegar and Bleach are not friends!  Never allow chlorine bleach to come in contact with other products, especially vinegar. They could party hard and produce chlorine gas,which is deadly.

Homemaker Hacks: Clean the Kitchen a Zillion Times Faster

Next to the bathroom, the next “least favorite” cleaning task for me is the kitchen. (In completely unrelated news…this is the “discipline” chore that comes up most with my older kids. Go figure.)

Since it feels this is the room I am CONSTANTLY cleaning, it makes sense that I toss in a few of my favorite homemaker hacks to get the job done as fast as possible!

  1. I LOVE this tool to disinfect the microwave: Angry Mama. It’s like it totally understands my feelings about cleaning the microwave. 
  2. Revitalize old pots that have that nasty residue you can’t seem to get rid of by boiling them with 1 cup white vinegar with 1 cup of water for five minutes.
  3. WD-40 to the rescue! Use it to remove stubborn coffee stains from ceramics, tile, and leather. (It’s like liquid duct tape. It can do anything.)
  4. Clean out your Keurig with this solution.
  5. Wipe down the grime on the inside of your dishwasher, by placing a dishwasher-safe cup of vinegar on the top shelf and running it on the hottest cycle. When it’s finished, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom, and run it through the hottest cycle again. Disinfects and gets rid of any scum hiding in the deep nooks and crannies.
  6. Disinfect your sponge by squeezing it out and putting it in the microwave for 1 minute. Then tuck it into bed (because that’s just too adorable.)
  7. Regularly clean your garbage disposal by using these foaming cleaning tablets. (This is often a place for bad smells and fruit flies to party.)
  8. Use the garbage can as your bucket while you wash the floor! Empty the trash (obviously) then fill it with water and Pine Sol. Two chores…at the same time. You are brilliant!

15 Laundry Tips for the
Fast-as-Flash Homemaker

As many of you long-time readers know, I have a hate-hate relationship with Laundry. (There’s no love. None.)

The washing and drying part I can handle pretty well, because all I have to do is push a few buttons. It’s the folding-and-putting-away part that I struggle with.

I guess you could say my follow-through needs some work…which is why “Folding Laundry” is on my list of “Suggested Disciplines” for parenting.  (If the girls are actually doing awesome and don’t need a discipline, it gets moved to the “Ways to Earn Money” category. That’s how desperate I am to have someone else do this chore.)

Still, I realize many of you don’t have the luxury of older children to pawn off train in the art of laundry. So here are a few time-saving suggestions to make you as fast as the Flash in the Laundry Room.

  1. Toss a few clever fluffing balls into the dryer before you hit Start. They really do an amazing job of making you feel REALLY GOOD about pushing those wash and dry buttons. I love these cute little hedgehogs, but these puffer fish and cacti are cute too.
  2. Use hair spray or hand sanitizer to get out ink stains. (I know this because my kids went through a “draw on my clothing is fun” stage.)
  3. 2 Tbs Hydrogen Peroxide + 1 Tbs dish soap  = no more grass stains
  4. Rub chalk on grease stains to remove the oil. No chalk? (Shocking) Keep piling on the baby powder until it’s gone.
  5. Put a few drops of your favorite essential oil (*ahem*Lavender again.) in a spray bottle with water and spritz them before tossing them into the wash. Smells heavenly!
  6. You can whiten your whites without bleach by adding 1/2 cup baking soda to the wash cycle.
  7. Speaking of whites, if you have the room, use laundry baskets that sort your clothes the moment you take them off. This removes the temptation to say what-the-heck and toss them all mixed into the washer. (Which will make your clothes last longer!) I would have one of these in each bedroom for instant sorting.
  8. Use lingerie bags to wash stuffed animals and avoid losing all your socks to the Mysterious Sock Monster.
  9. Write the items in the wash that should not end up in the dryer by making a note on the dryer lid with a dry erase marker.
  10. Accidentally shrink the sweater your MIL made for your husband last Christmas? This article shows how to un-shrink it with the help of hair conditioner.
  11. Avoid ironing forever (yay!) by tossing the wrinkled disaster in the dryer for a few minutes with a dryer sheet and an ice cube.
  12. Need the dryer to dry at hyperspeed? Toss a towel in there. It will absorb a lot of the extra water.
  13. Dry your tennis shoes without the cring-worthy banging as they tumble around and around by leaving the laces hanging out of the dryer door, holding them in place.
  14. Feel like your washing machine itself needs a wash? (Stinky clothes?) This blog breaks down how to wash the washer.
  15. Solve arm-pit stains by mixing some lemon juice with baking soda, spreading on the paste and letting it sit for an hour. Then wash normally.

3 Foodie Tips
for the Homemaker Chef

As a “maker of a home” it is the responsibility of at least ONE of the parents to provide healthy sustenance to the offspring. This usually involves cooking.

Homemaker Chef Tip #1: Have a Meal Plan

Sure, some of you will be able to walk into the kitchen and, in an instance of divine inspiration, whip up an amazing meal in 30 minutes, despite the fact that all you have in the fridge is two eggs, an open jar of pickles, a limp slice of ham, and some crusty mustard.

Good for you.  *grumbling bitterly*

I am no such woman.

I have to have a PLAN. I need to know, from the moment I wake up in the morning, what we’re having for dinner not only tonight but three nights from now.

And heaven help us if I get thrown a curve ball and realize that I don’t have the recipe’s yellow mustard. I only have dijon! Well, at least I tried. *dialing Dominos*

Having a meal plan is the only insurance our budget has against bloated restaurant costs.

Homemaker Chef Tip #2: Use Delegation Wisely

As the CEO (or Co-CEO) of your household, it’s important to be able to identify when you need a little meal-delegation.

  • If you have a major life event approaching (surgery, childbirth, etc.) ask a friend to set up a Meal Train on your behalf.
  • Try grocery shopping online during times of stress…or just when it’s 10 degrees outside and the thought of bundling all those little bodies up to go clumping through the grocery store gives you a headache. Peapod will give you $15 off your order if you use code PPCJ15. Or, if Peapod isn’t in your area, get unlimited grocery delivery every month with Amazon Fresh.
  • Delegate your meal planning and let eMeals send you a weekly plan (with grocery shopping list). I’ve used this service for years, that’s how much I love it. Try eMeals here for free.
  • Better yet, what if you want to delegate BOTH the menu planning and the grocery shopping. Ta DA! Hello Fresh, people. Click here and use coupon code HF40NOW to save $40 off your first two boxes.

Homemake Chef Tip #3: Be Sneaky

Unless you enjoy constant battles and arguments at home, being a parent sometimes means you have to employ your Ninja Skills. Why fight over the spinach if you can just hide it inside a brownie instead? Or, why not offer a snack that’s healthy, but so tasty they think it’s NOT healthy?

Yes, just as necessity is the mother of invention, desperation is the mother of the creative healthy snack.

14 Tips for the
Money-Managing Homemaker

Part of being a homemaker is helping make sure you still have a home at the end of the month. This means you’ve got figure out how much money is coming in and how much money is going out.

Honestly, if you’re not telling your money where to go, it’s going to find all kinds of microscopic holes and drain away faster than you can say Whoops. 

Here are several off-the-beaten-path suggestions for making and keeping more money at home:

  1. Consolidate your credit card debt so you can lower your monthly payment. (Sometimes you can even keep shifting to 0% interest offers to pay down the principal only!). Just remember to keep the cards open, because it makes your credit history look good.
  2. Consider renting your home out during high-demand times in your area. (We don’t all have to live near Disney World…think concerts, conventions, sporting events!) Click here to learn more about becoming an Airbnb host.
  3. Sell your extra stuff with the Letgo App.
  4. Sell your old CDs, DVDs, games, books and tech at Decluttr.
  5. Sell your old college textbooks here.
  6. Earn a little extra cash by participating in an Online Focus Group with MyPoints or Harris Poll. (both rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau).
  7. Use iBotta to get money back on the online purchases you were going to make anyway.
  8. Use a colored envelope system to help you budget for easily-overspent categories like entertainment and beauty supplies. Having the cash set aside is a HUGE help in preventing accidental overspending.
  9. Buy your over-the-counter medicines, pet treats, baby food (Gerber, even!), paper products, and plastic baggies at the Dollar Tree.
  10. Put your diapers on auto-ship on Amazon Family and save 20%. (Can cancel or return for free at any time.)
  11. Use You Need a Budget to save ahead for expenses, and get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck rut! (It’s my favorite budgeting tool out there, so much better than Mint.)
  12. Sign up for AskTrim and let them track down your subscriptions, get refunds for price drops on Amazon, and activate cash-back deals.
  13. Use the GasBuddy App to find the lowest price on gas in your are.

A Very-Smart Target Hack for Homemakers (#14)

Considering that we are all Target-Freaks here at, it makes sense that I should offer some of our Tar-jhay secrets for the rest of you hard-shopping homemakers!

Not sure if the price you’re staring at is as low as it will go?

  • Does the price end in 8? It will be marked down again eventually. Try again next week.
  • Does the price end in 4? That’s as low as it’s going to go. Grab it now!

Of course, as you’re waiting for that markdown, how do you know when to slip in and scoop the item up faster then the other homemakers down the street? Here’s when Target typically marks down department merchandise:

  • Monday ~ A great day to check out kids’ clothing and office supplies markdowns.
  • Tuesday ~ Expect to see new markdowns in womens’ clothing and domestics.
  • Wednesday ~ Slip in to get the newest markdowns of mens’ clothing, toys, and health/beauty.
  • Thursday ~ The perfect day to stop in for markdowns in lingerie, shoes, and housewares.
  • Friday ~ Stop by on this day to get the newest markdowns in cosmetics.
  • Saturday ~ Most people don’t realize that Saturday is when they mark down the puppies, Keebler elves, and nuclear warheads. (Hurry, though, if you want to get in there before Kim Jong-Un!)

15 Tips for the Wannabe
Organized Homemaker

There’s a reason there are 7 trillion blogs out there dedicated to home organization. (I’m sure that’s an accurate non-hyperbole number.)

It’s because ALL of us homemakers have this little voice in the back of our heads that says…“You know, if you were just a BIT more organized, the chaos swirling all around you wouldn’t feel quite so chaotic.”

That’s just bull plop. 

You cannot convince me that the Queen of Organization herself, Martha Stewart, doesn’t live in a day-to-day swirl of chaos. Meetings, photo-shoots, writing projects, sponsorships…there’s chaos there for sure.  In fact, she may have even MORE chaos than you. (Now, doesn’t that just make you feel better?)

It’s unrealistic to think that you can organize your life SO WELL, that no elements of chaos or stress remain. So what is the use of trying to get organized in the first place?

Simple. Your sanity. 

You, my homemaker friend, are never going to organize yourself into the type of peace that the Himalayan monks claim to have achieved. (Honestly, though, how much chaos and stress do they really have to deal with up there, anyway? Sitting in a room quietly with no kid-interruptions or work-pressures? pshhh EASY.)

The goal, then should be to organize yourself into a lower level of chaos than what you normally carry around. Here are a few organizational tips to help you get there:

  1. Have a charging station for all the handheld electric devices in your home, then make sure they all end up “in their home” overnight. I like this one (we have a lot of devices), but this smaller wooden one works well too and is prettier to look at.
  2. Look for places you can sneak in some extra storage. For example, create drawers under the basement stairs, or turn a chest into an office, or even transform the dead space on the garage ceiling into storage.
  3. Wrap up unused cords inside toilet paper rolls with a little washi tape style.
  4. Scoop up vintage door knobs and drawer pulls at flea markets to hang up keys, store glasses, or clip reminders.
  5. Use a hanging family calendar to keep everyone on the same page. (I’ve always loved the oversized Amy Knapp Family Calendars.)
  6. Repurpose ice cube trays to sort jewelry in a dresser drawer.
  7. Store all your nail polish in large candy glass jars and display them in plain sight.
  8. Save that empty tic-tac container and fill it with bobby pins.
  9. No dresser space? Hang jeans and shorts by their belt-loops with shower curtain rings. (Works for belts too.)
  10. Roll up chunky space-stealing sweaters and stick them into a narrow closet shoe organizer.
  11. Speaking of shoe organizers, my kids each have one of these. Every Sunday we set out the entire week of clothes in each “cubby” (and one for church the next Sunday). This has totally eliminated the clothing panic every morning before school.
  12. Hang a tiered fruit basket near the door for hats, gloves, and scarves.
  13. Use washi tape to identify each person’s phone charger (and stop all those accusations that keep flying around!)
  14. Use some of these clever storage ideas to store the toys that are everywhere in stylish (hidden) ways.
  15. Keep matching sheet sets folded inside the matching pillow case, so everything is together.

Capturing Hearts as a Homemaker

So Little Miss Homemaker (or Mr. Homemaker), you’ve kept the house relatively clean, dressed everyone in unsoiled clothing, given your offspring nutritious food, saved a few pennies, and avoided the torturous Lego Walk at 3am.

Well. Done.

But before you slide back into your chair with relief, there’s ONE more thing you have to do to really make this home a home.

You’ve got to go capture some hearts. In other words, it’s time to have fun, start some traditions, and make some long-lasting memories.

  1. Take a few days to make a falling leaves “snow” globe with your kids, snapping up photos like smiles.
  2. Have a road trip coming up? Use my free printable to teach your kids a few unique road trip games.
  3. Use my favorite tickle games to get your giggles on.
  4. Or perhaps head to the beach and actually enjoy yourself!
  5. Help your preschooler design a leprechaun trap that’s guaranteed to work this year.
  6. Don’t have the energy to even move off the couch? No problemo. Karen has got you covered.

Play with your kids, my homemaker friend.

THAT is much more important than all the cleaning, cooking, or organizing tips I can give you.

Someday, when your “baby” is smack in the middle of teenage-hood (and trust me, that day is coming a lot faster than you think) you’re going to want that angst-ridden daughter or son of yours to look back and remember…

“Hey! Mom and Dad actually really enjoy my company! I mean, we’ve laughed together and I enjoy being with them. Perhaps I shouldn’t just run out of the room in an emotional huff and blast them on Facebook. Perhaps, JUST PERHAPS, they have my best interest here at heart.”

As a mom living those days right now, I can definitely see all those hard-wrought emotional deposits we’ve made over the years starting to pay dividends.

Keep pursuing those tiny hearts, my friend.

Keep making that home.

The stronger you can make it now, the easier it will be to weather the heavy storms ahead. (Spoken from a mom with three teenagers!)

Have You Read These Yet?

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10 Awesome Vinegar Life Hacks You Should Know.
6 Ways Using These WD-40 Hacks Around the House Will Change Your Life.
7 Genius Cleaning Tricks for your Bathroom.
15 Brilliant Life Hacks to Speed Up Your Spring Cleaning.
12 Ways to Save Money and Add $5K to Your Bank Account This Year.
13 Things You Should Always Buy at Dollar Tree.
30 Squeaky Clean Laundry Hacks.
8 Laundry Hacks that will Change Your Life.
100 Best Home Organization Hacks for Every Single Room in Your House.
40 Brilliant Organization DIY Hacks.

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