As a mom of four kids under 12, time is at a premium. No matter how much I lean in, I’ve learned a tough lesson: I can’t do everything, and prioritizing what matters is critical to my happiness (and my family’s happiness!). My husband is pretty frugal, but I’ve managed to convince him that there are a few “splurges” that make things run more smoothly, give us more quality time to spend as a family, and make me less grouchy.
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In no particular order, I present my mom splurge list:
Between the family, a full-time job, and volunteering, it isn’t easy to find time to get to the store or run errands. Amazon has been my go-to for holiday gifts, party supplies, home décor, kids’ school uniforms, school supplies, and food. Amazon may not always have the lowest prices, but sometimes splurging for convenience and my own time savings trumps a couple of dollars. I’ve recently been using Amazon Pantry for non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene stuff. The website makes it easy to “fill a box” and even includes online coupons to “clip.” Plus, there’s almost always a “free shipping” deal with the purchase of certain products. Recently, the family used Amazon Pantry to get snacks for our summer vacation. Each kid got to pick something, and there was a lot less frustration than when I was taking them to the store to pick snacks in person. Plus, I bought sunscreen, shampoo, and other items we needed for the trip. Two days later, the Pantry box was on my doorstep. Perfect!
OK, it’s another Amazon entry on this list, but the Kids tablet is amazing. The kids can navigate between books, videos, and games independently, and everything is age-appropriate for the three youngest. We don’t do a lot of screen time, but for the times we allow it, like on long car trips up north or as a reward for a job well done, the tablet makes me feel a little better about letting the kids experience technology.
I love clean floors. Like seriously LOVE clean floors. I can feel the slightest grain of sand on my hardwood floors, which is why I usually wear slippers or flip flops in the house. But with kids, I found my floors were never clean. From crumbs under the kitchen table to small pieces of paper and glitter in the living room, I realized I couldn’t keep up. Enter Roomba, or Mr. Clean, The King of Clean, as we affectionately call him. With the touch of a button, I can walk away and do something else while Roomba takes care of the floors. An hour or so later, the vacuum is full, parked back on its base, and my floors are clean enough to walk on barefoot. Seriously, life-changing. There are even some models that mop the floors too!
Forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner? No problem! I became an Instant Pot convert at the beginning of the year, and I’m hooked. If you haven’t heard of this kitchen appliance, it’s an electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and slow cooker that also sautés, sears, steams, sterilizes, and warms. It’s basically EVERYTHING. Super flavorful meals (including desserts!) in no time means less fuss in the kitchen, easy cleanup, and absolutely no complaints about dinner. From General Tso’s chicken to broccoli and beef to lava cake to lasagna, the family gobbles it up. Plus, it’s a lifesaver, being able to put FROZEN meat in the pot and still have home-cooked dinner ready to go in under an hour!
Finding time alone with your spouse is crucial to a happy, healthy relationship. Being able to eat dinner without cutting someone’s food or blowing on it to cool it down is a natural recharge. Whether it’s burgers in a dive bar, a decent sit-down joint in the Third Ward, or a visit to Cedarburg for an appetizer-and-drink tour of restaurants, it’s incredibly refreshing to have time, just the two of you. There are some pretty incredible options for at-home date nights too, from date night subscription boxes to a romantic outdoor picnic!
What splurges help you keep your sanity?
Editor’s note: This post was written before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly encourage date nights, but remind everyone to follow their local health authority’s recommendations and all social distancing guidelines when you go out!