This week, I’m sharing a series to encourage you to Give Yourself Grace. Since having our third kid, I’ve had to let a lot of things go, and that’s okay. In the process, I’ve found a few awesome hacks that have worked for me when it comes to household chores, taking care of the kids and taking care of me. Yesterday, I talked about my 6 favorite household hacks. Today, let’s move on to kid hacks.

5 Kid Hacks for Little Ones

Give Yourself Grace: 5 Kid Hacks for Little Ones

1. Put shoes and socks by the door. Our wine cabinet has been repurposed to a shoe cubby (hello, #parenthood). I laugh at the irony, but it works amazingly. Rather than bringing the kids’ shoes to their room after they’ve been discarded in the living room (like I used to do), I simply ask the kids to put them right in their shoe cubbies as soon as we walk in the door. It’s so easy, and it’s right there, so it’s not even a struggle to get the toddler and preschooler to do it. We keep socks in the drawers. (Because, duh.)

2. Take everything out of the car every time you come home. I am a stickler on this, and as a result, we hardly ever lose things. Every time we come home, I insist that each kid gets their own shoes, socks, sippy cups and trash out of the car, and brings it inside. This way, when it’s time to go to school tomorrow, I don’t have to spend 20 minutes looking for that errant Converse that got lost in the third row of the Suburban. (And let’s be honest, on school mornings, there are plenty of other mountains to climb.) It’s a simple 2-minute hack that easily saves me 30 minutes a week. Along the same lines, I also unpack my diaper bag, and repack it, every time I get home as well.

3. No toys or pacis in the car. This may not work for all, especially if your baby needs a paci to survive the car, but I’ve found that, for me, the risk of losing pacis or toys in transit outweighs the benefits of bringing them. So, I simply don’t allow my kids to take them in the car. Because if they do, they will get lost. Somewhere. Anywhere. Everywhere. It will happen. So, I avoid the angst and drama, and just don’t allow the stuff out of the house.

Give Yourself Grace: 5 Kid Hacks for Little Ones

4. Keep toy sets in separate bins, and take them out one at a time. This is one of my favorite ways I’m surviving with 3 kids under 4. Basically, I realized that my kids’ toy sets were displaced in various baskets around the house, and all the sets that went together weren’t really together. Which meant that we never played with them. Because 6 mismatched Lego pieces in a random toy basket just doesn’t do anyone any good. I love this rule because it keeps all the toys together, and it gives the kids a sense of responsibility. They know that they can only get one bin out at a time, so when they’re done playing with a set, they automatically pick it up and put it in the bin, because they know that’s the only way I will get them the next bin. I also love it because it makes their toys feel special again, since they’re not always readily accessible. (Except when they are and the house is a mess and I take my kids’ toys out to a field to beat them, Office Space style. Yes, it happened.)

Give Yourself Grace: 5 Kid Hacks for Little Ones

5. Put plastic cups and bowls in a low drawer or cabinet. This is a 5-minute hack that is so simple and saves so much time. I realized that my kids couldn’t get their own water because I kept the plastic cups up in a cupboard that was too high for them to reach. So, a couple years ago, I moved them all to a bottom drawer, and now they don’t need to bother me when they need water or a snack. They just open the drawer and get it themselves.

What are your favorite ways to make mothering a bit easier? Share your hacks in the comments section below, and stay tuned tomorrow for my final Give Yourself Grace post, about making the time to care for yourself.